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Food & Drink

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When it comes to food and drink, in Manchester we take it very seriously. In fact, The Manchester Food and Drink Festival started back in 1988 to prove to the rest of the UK that there was more to Manc than meat pies and gravy (but don’t be mistaken, we’re the best at those too). Since then, it’s grown into a huge, exciting and influential festival that people visit from all over the country. When you’re looking for places to get your food and drink in Manchester, you’re in luck because we’ve got events, unique drinking and dining experiences, as well as a Michelin star which we’re definitely bragging about.

The Big Food and Drink Events in Manchester

So you already know about the Manchester Food and Drink Festival, you can rock up to the Festival Hub and enjoy live music and delicious food, and celebrate those who make food amazing in Manchester. You can add it straight to the top of your ‘things to do’ list, but what else is on the menu (groan) when it comes to food and drink around town?

If you’re looking for the best places to get food and drink in Manchester and like a unique atmosphere, you’ll definitely want to head to Escape to Freight Island where there’s loads of different vendors all in one place. It’s a long-forgotten freight depot from the city’s industrial past, reimagined as an inspiring food and drink market. It’s intimate, unique and the perfect place for escapism. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else in the country so you’d be a fool to steam past this destination.

What if we told you that you could get five (yes FIVE) whole hours of unlimited craft beers and a huge array of cracking food to choose from? Well you can at the Manchester Craft Beer Festival.

It’s another huge event in the Manchester food and drink calendar with dozens of breweries offering hundreds of varieties, and pouring you pints all weekend. You’ll get to choose from fruity sours and triple hopped IPAs as well as rich stouts and aromatic pale ales. To soak up all the beer you can get delicate fine dining plates or you can sink your gnashers into fat LA-style burgers and saucy, spicy tacos.

When you plan on getting food in Manchester you might not think ‘Italian’ straight away but the Italian food festival Festa Italiana will definitely change that. It’s a free, weekend-long event celebrating all things Italian, where you can get carbs on carbs (on carbs). It’s inspired by Manchester’s Italian heritage and traditional Italian festivals. It celebrates the community coming together to socialise, enjoy incredible food and drinks and chill out with live music. It’s another don’t miss Manchester food and drink experience, with pepperoni on top.

Manchester’s Food and Drink Journey

Even though we’re great at pies and gravy (it’s just in our region’s veins) there’s a huge fine dining scene when you feel like eating out fancy-style in Manchester. Our trip to Michelin star glory was a long one, 40 years in fact.

Michelin stars are often awarded to Eurocentric style restaurants (think of cordon bleu and lots of foam) and often the restaurant atmosphere in a Michelin star joint can be a little uptight. But in Manchester our restaurants have a warm northern charm with great service, unique food and a cracking atmosphere.

Mana was awarded the city’s first Michelin star in 2019. Mana is the old name for ‘manna’ which is apparently what the Big Fella fed the Israelites after their exodus and exile. The exile also lasted 40 years. Spooky, right?

So now when you’re pondering where to eat and drink in Manchester you can trust you’re in great hands, we have a Michelin star after all.

The Unique Food and Drink Scene in Manchester

Ever heard of the Curry Mile? It’s exactly what it sounds like, a whole mile packed with restaurants and takeaways with South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine in Rusholme, South Manchester. Though it’s not technically a whole mile it’s still a pretty big stretch and is home to some of the best curry houses in Greater Manchester. The first half of this impressive stretch has over 70 establishments alone, and we believe this is reason number one to add it to your eating out in Manchester destinations. Why run a mile when you can eat one?

Another go-to spot in the Manchester eating out scene is tucked away down an alley in Ancoats, a Sopranos themed sandwich shop Bada Bing. They serve Italian-American style sandwiches that are so big, two hands are recommended at all times. It’s inspired by tv grub that looks so good they opened a shop to make it, so you know you don’t want to miss out on it. For the couple that brought you Bada Bing it turns out serving Italian-American street cuisine to Manchester is a passion because they also opened Lazy Tony’s Lasagneria, which serves giant mozzarella sticks and even bigger slabs of lasagne, and they get queues down the street daily.

The unique streak extends to Manchester’s watering holes too. You know that hungry feeling you get after a good day drinking sesh? Ramsbottom’s Eagle + Child has an edible beer garden growing its very own fruit and vegetables. It’s so good that it’s been named one of the best beer gardens in England. You get to enjoy your favourite tipple whilst surrounded by the glorious greens that will go in your dinner. There’s also messy play workshops to keep the little ones entertained while you grab a pint. Unique and idyllic!

Greater Manchester is actually so good we’ve got 6 of the best beer gardens in the UK. One of the pubs that made the list even boasts the biggest collection of Jack Daniel’s in the whole of Manchester making it a pretty good shout for drinks. When you go for drinks in Manchester you deserve the best beer garden on offer so browse the list and pick the one nearest you, slap on some SPF and soak up the sun with your favourite drink.

Food and drink is all about perfect pairings so why not find a cracking activity to go with your food and bevs? You can use our list of what’s on in Manchester to help and don’t forget to keep up with all the latest in Manchester’s food and drink scene on The Manc Eats Instagram.