Manchester has a lot going for it. A great music scene, excellent sports team and a fantastic nightlife scene. It has also been my second home at points of my career working with the Co Op.
One thing that Manchester is also well known for is its range of restaurants and food places. As it is such a diverse and varied city, so many different cultures have intertwined to create some amazing dining destinations. It can be hard to find the truly original Manchester restaurants in between the chain restaurants, so here are 5 of Manchester’s hidden food gems that you need to check out next time you’re in the city.
The Pasta Factory
There’s always something and somewhere different and new opening in Manchester, whether it be a secret bar or an inner-city Bee trail, but if there is something that the city of Manchester love, it’s Italian restaurants.
Set in the building of an original Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank in Shudehill, The Pasta Factory serves delicious pasta dishes, with the pasta freshly made in-house every day. Right in-between Shudehill Interchange and the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the dishes here find their inspiration from the Piedmont region of Italy.
The Pasta Factory is the brainchild of 4 Italian-born friends who had spent years working in the hospitality industry in Manchester. Not many people are aware of the restaurant’s whereabouts thanks to its location, but those in the know are frequent visitors. Most evenings, the tables can be found surrounded by local Italian families and friends who can’t get enough of the traditional dishes.
Pasta, much like the name suggests, is the main focus here and there is always a speciality dish that’s packed full of interesting ingredients, from rabbit to octopus. There is a varied wine list that accompanies the pasta dishes, along with a range of Italian craft beers.
For a place which originally started out as a street vendor, Rudy’s Pizza has been so popular in the Manchester street food scene for the last few years that they now have 2 permanent locations in the heart of the city centre and have even been hailed “one of the best places to eat pizza in the world”.
The pizzas here are made using authentic and fresh Neapolitan ingredients and the pizzas are ready in just 60 seconds. Known for their amazingly soft pizza dough, Rudy’s Pizza is one of the best places to eat in Manchester. If you’re on a tight budget or just fancy somewhere laid back to enjoy some good, simple food, then this is the place for you!
Just like you would find in Naples, Rudy’s dough is made on site every day and is given 24 hours to double ferment, making it into the dough that is so well loved. Rudy’s Pizza has the ethos of being a truly independent artisan restaurant and offers a relaxed dining experience, as well as following the traditions of Naples – the birthplace of pizza. You can’t reserve tables here and it can be extremely busy on the weekends, so be sure to get there early!
Ho’s Bakery was Manchester’s first Chinese bakery in the Chinatown area. Established in 1980, it is currently run by the third generation of the Ho Family. The freshly baked goods that are on display in the counter are the work of over 25 years of baking experience.
With a wide range of over 40 traditional Hong Kong style savoury and sweet buns, cakes and pastries, there’s plenty of choices available if you’re unsure what to go for. The Honey Buns come highly recommended by local Mancunians, as well as the Coconut Buns, which come with a moreish coconut crunch mixture that is set on top before baking.
As a result of the city’s rich culture and influence, you can also get some delicious Portuguese pastei de nata and Japanese cheesecakes. The satay beef pasties and steamed char sui pork buns are extremely popular during the dinnertime rush with local office workers and tourists who know about the bakery’s location.
Northern Soul Grilled Cheese
A Manchester institution, Northern Soul Grilled Cheese has become a much-loved foodie destination for the locals in Manchester. Even winning over the heart of Man VS Food’s Adam Richman, this little eatery is the place to go if you’re looking for somewhere a little quirkier to eat during your time in the city.
Set back from the hustle and bustle of the busy Arndale shopping centre and Market Street, not many people are aware of its location at the beginning of the trendy Northern Quarter. With a menu boasting numerous grilled cheese variations, Mac’n’Cheese dishes and loaded fries, they have plenty of options available, no matter what you’re after.
Don’t be put off by the exterior. At first glance, you may assume that you’ve gone to the wrong place. With a wooden and plastic facade, it may not look all that great, but step inside and take a seat at one of the small wooden tables. The staff are friendly and welcoming, and the cheese grater light shades are the perfect touch. This is the perfect way to shelter from the Manchester rain with a warming and decadent cheese toastie.
Originally nestled underneath the Piccadilly arches, Pollen Bakery has moved to new premises in Ancoats and is set to be one of the city’s best-kept secrets.
At their old site, people happily queued in all weathers to get a taste of their amazing homemade offerings. From pastries and sourdough loaves to their legendary cruffins, there was nothing that wasn’t sold out by the end of the day. In their new location, there is now enough room for people to sit and enjoy their baked goods with a fresh coffee, and there are huge floor to ceiling windows that let light pour in.
With huge and fluffy sourdough loaves and mouth-watering pastries priced from £1.80, you may still have to queue for a while if you’re after a taste of their freshly baked delicacies. Thanks to the space in their new venue, they have now expanded their menu to accommodate seasonal lunches. There are plenty of organic and simple ingredients that make up the dishes at Pollen Bakery, with a particular focus on local produce, too.