Manchester may not be known as a great food city. But don't get a false impression of what the city has to offer. In recent decades, this former industrial town has come a long way in terms of tourism, and with that, the food scene has evolved. In modern Manchester, you'll find everything from a Michelin-starred restaurant to a fantastic hole-in-the-wall joint that serves incredible food to locals.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Manchester, and you'll be ready to enjoy everything you can think of, from the best restaurants in the city centre to the best street food in the city. And although waves of immigration have shaped the food offerings in Greater Manchester, you'll also find plenty of traditional northern English dishes that are the perfect way to taste the culture of this unique town. Plus, don't worry if you don't eat meat. The best vegetarian restaurants in Manchester are ready to keep you satisfied.
Track down some of these dishes for the finest examples of northern cuisine. Eating your way through the city is the perfect way to enjoy yourself when you visit Manchester.
Manchester Food: Manchester Tart
This is a classic dessert that you'll find on the menu of any good British restaurant. The Manchester tart consists of a shortcrust pastry shell filled with jam, custard, and fresh fruit. It's a simple dish, but it's oh so delicious.
You can find Manchester tarts at cafes and bakeries all over the city. Robinson's Bakers claims to have invented the Manchester tart, although other people give the credit to famous Victorian cook Mrs. Beeton. But whoever created this famous Manchester dessert, it has become a staple in the city and a menu item that is guaranteed to plunge any local into nostalgia any time they eat it.
Manchester Food: Pork Pies
Pork pies are a traditional British dish that originates from the north of England. They're made with minced pork, gravy, and spices enclosed in a hot water crust pastry. Pork pies are usually served cold, making them the perfect picnic food. Try them with mustard for a delicious treat and a true taste of the north of England. And, whatever you do, don't get it confused with the hat of the same name!
You can find pork pies at most supermarkets in Manchester, but for the best ones, head to a butcher or a specialist pork pie shop. There are a few of these around the city, and they'll be able to provide you with a delicious pork pie that's perfect for your picnic. Pieminister Manchester and Pie & Ale are two favorites.
Manchester Food: Black pudding
Black pudding is a type of blood sausage that's popular in the north of England. It's made with pig's blood, oats, barley, and spices, and it has a distinctive flavor that some people love, and some people hate. If you're feeling adventurous, why not give black pudding a try?
You can find black pudding at most butcher's shops and supermarkets in Manchester. But if you want to try the real deal, head to a specialist black pudding shop. There are a few of these around the city, and they'll be able to provide you with a traditional black pudding that's perfect for your meal. Alternatively, black pudding is a common element in a full English breakfast - which we'll get to later.
Manchester Food: Lancashire Hotpot
Lancashire hotpot is a traditional dish from the north of England that's made with lamb or mutton, vegetables, and a thick gravy. It's usually cooked in a pot on the stove or in the oven, hence its name.
The history of this dish goes back to the Industrial Revolution that transformed Manchester and the world. Farming families would slowly cook mutton over an open fire, rendering cheap cuts of tough meat soft and palatable. As industrialization took hold in the city, people would prepare this stew at home, then bring it to a local baker who would keep it warm in his oven so that they could pick it up on their way home from the factory and have it for dinner.
You can find Lancashire hotpots at many restaurants and cafes in Manchester. Try the Northern Quarter, which is located well within walking distance of the city centre, for some traditional restaurants that will serve this and other local favorites like Sunday roasts. Albert Square Chophouse is also a good place to try, thanks to its focus on traditional British dishes. And don't neglect the pubs of Manchester, many of which pride themselves on serving hearty home-cooked meals like this.
Manchester Food: Meat and Potato Pie
This is a classic British dish that's perfect for a winter meal. It's made with minced beef, potatoes, and gravy enclosed in a shortcrust pastry shell. As you may have already guessed, savory pies are extremely popular in England and, more specifically, in Manchester.
You can find meat and potato pies at many cafes and pubs around Manchester. But for the best ones, head to a specialist pie shop. There are a few of these around the city, and they'll be able to provide you with a delicious meat and potato pie that's perfect for your winter meal.
In this often cold and rainy climate, there's nothing quite like settling down into the dining room of a city centre pub and tucking into a good pie, washed down with a pint of beer. However, pies are such a staple of northern cuisine that you'll also find them on the menus of some of the best restaurants in the city.
Manchester Food: Vegetarian Meals
Manchester is home to some of the best vegetarian restaurants in the UK. If you're looking for somewhere to eat that will cater to your dietary needs, then look no further than Manchester. Some of the best vegetarian restaurants in Manchester include 1847, The Allotment, and Moss Side restaurant V Rev.
To give you an idea of how popular meat-free eating is here, the city was named the top vegan-friendly hotspot in the entire UK in 2022. You can easily leave your meat-eating days behind when you dine in Manchester.
Manchester Food: Lancashire Cheese
For a strong, tangy flavor that can either be perfect or a bit much (depending on your preferences), try Lancashire cheese. If you're looking for something different, then why not give it a try? That way, you'll know exactly where you stand.
You can find Lancashire cheese at most supermarkets and specialist cheese shops in Manchester. And if you want to try the real deal, head to a Lancashire farm where they make their own cheese. There are a few of these around the city, and they'll be able to provide you with a delicious Lancashire cheese that's perfect for your picnic. You'll also find Lancashire cheese showing up as an ingredient in many traditional foods around the city, including pies. Keep an eye out for it and enjoy this taste of the culinary traditions of the north of England, knowing you're enjoying locally sourced produce as you do.
Manchester Food: Eccles Cakes
Eccles cakes are a type of turnover that's made with flaky pastry and filled with currants, and is sometimes topped with sugar to take it to the next level. They're named after the town of Eccles, located just outside Manchester, and the first bakery made them here in 1796.
You can find Eccles cakes at most bakeries in Manchester. But for the best ones, head to a specialist Eccles cake shop. There are a few of these around the city, and they'll be able to provide you with a delicious Eccles cake that's perfect for your afternoon tea. In Manchester, Real Lancashire Eccles Cakes Ltd is one of the many producers of this fine treat. But, for the truly authentic Eccles cake, you must head to the dessert's birthplace and sample one from the Albert Street Bakery in Eccles.
Manchester Food: Bakewell Tart
A Bakewell tart is a type of large tart that's made with shortcrust pastry, almond filling, and raspberry jam. It's usually topped with sliced almonds. It's named after the town of Bakewell, which is located just outside Manchester. Therefore, it's not hard to find this celebrated treat in shops around the city.
You can find Bakewell tarts at most bakeries in Manchester, and a particular favorite is a variation on this classic dessert called a cherry Bakewell. They're individual tarts with a moist frangipane sponge and soft, white icing. And, like the popular saying, there's a cherry on top.
Manchester Food: Lemon Curd
Lemon curd is a type of lemon custard that's made with eggs, butter, sugar, and lemon juice. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a tangy lemon flavor. You'll see this tasty concoction in tarts, on toast, or even eaten by itself.
You can find lemon curd at most supermarkets and specialist food shops in Manchester, and for the freshest stuff straight from the producer, head to the Northern Quarter Makers Market or the Platt Fields Market Garden. In fact, you'll find many of the items on this at the local farmer's markets.
Manchester Food: Yorkshire Pudding
Yorkshire pudding is a type of pastry that's made with eggs, flour, milk, and beef drippings. It's usually served as a side dish to roast beef, but it can also be eaten on its own as a snack. There's nothing like a typical Sunday roast dinner with all the fixings, including a Yorkshire pudding for dipping.
Many people from Manchester make these themselves, but pubs that serve traditional fare are great spots to get them as well. Make sure it's soaked in a rich gravy, and you'll know you're doing something right!
Manchester Food: Full English Breakfast
This meal may not be a specifically Manchester tradition, but you will certainly find it well represented on the menus of cafés and restaurants around the city. And it provides the perfect way to fuel up for a long day exploring the city — or a powerful hangover cure if you overindulge the night before.
A full English breakfast typically includes eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, baked beans, mushrooms, toast, and tomato. And it's often served with a cup of tea or coffee. Search around the city, and you may even find vegetarian versions so that herbivores don't have to miss out on this great British culinary tradition.
A full English breakfast requires a hearty appetite. After one of these mammoth feasts, you won't need lunch and may even want to skip dinner. But bring your appetite, and you'll be glad you sampled this traditional meal.
Manchester isn't well known for its local dishes, but maybe it should be. Traditional northern English meals tend toward the hearty and the filling, but there's a place for that, especially when you're spending a long day walking around Greater Manchester. And if you're concerned about your calorie intake, don't be. The Greater Manchester area is home to some exceptional hikes that will help you burn off those unwanted calories, so you don't go home carrying more pounds than you want to.
Speaking of unwanted pounds, don't forget to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Manchester. Eating your way through the city is so much fun, but it will be much more enjoyable if you're not carrying more than you need to. Leave your bags behind and get ready to enjoy all the fantastic food in Manchester, and before you know it, you'll be planning a return visit as a flimsy excuse to try more of what there is to eat in the city.