This September the world’s biggest wing festival will return to Manchester, bringing together the UK’s best for a two-day event celebrating the humble chicken wing.
Set to serve a whopping 200,000 wings over that 48 hour period, expectations are already high for Wing Fest’s return this Autumn.
As it gears up to make its way back to the city, we take a look at some of the winners from years past to give you an idea of what to expect (and who to make a beeline for).
From established restaurants to pop-up concepts launched on furlough, there’s some real variety to be discovered here amongst the street food stalls – making Wing Fest a must-attend event for foodies that are serious about their chicken.
First up we spoke with hall of flame multiple award-winners Mexican Seoul, who have taken home a host of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards in recent years.
Founded in lockdown after owner Ashley Chipchase found himself on furlough from his job, Mexican Seoul first attended Wing Fest as customers before deciding to give the street food festival a go themselves.
After winning three awards in a row, he made the decision to quit his job and go pro – right there on stage.
Ashley told The Manc: “After getting furloughed from our jobs we decided to turn a negative into a positive and spent the next 6 months refining our home recipes and trialling different frying methods.
“We ended up juggling a full time job whilst working street food markets at the weekend and prepping into the early hours of the morning.
“We’ve been going to Wing Fest as customers since 2016 and it’s always been a goal to compete. We were lucky enough to be invited down and it really gave us a fantastic opportunity to showcase our menu and we are still blown away we picked up awards.
“When we got invited on stage for three awards it was like a movie. Being recognised for what we do was amazing. They told us to say something on the microphone and we ended up quitting our daytime jobs there and then, on the stage, at Wing Fest.”
Inspired to get into street food by fellow Wing Fest trader Wingman’s after discovering them in 2016, he also tells us he drew inspiration for his wings from the LA food truck scene – naming Korean-American chef Roy Choi as a particularly strong influence.
The signature wings to look out for here at Mexican Seoul are the Gochu-Gang, made spicy with fermented Korean chilli paste then sauced up with added sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger, All made using free range, halal chicken that’s been brined for 24 hours in buttermilk chicken, wings are then double fried to create a signature crispy texture.
That’s not all he does, though, Ashley also serves a range of different Korean-inspired tacos with special sauces made in house from scratch.
Asked how he feels about coming back to Manchester this year, he said: “Each time we visit we notice that the street food scene is growing rapidly… the last time we were there we found an amazing pizza place called Ramona that had one of the best Detroit pizzas we have tried in the UK.
“We never thought we would be showcasing our food across the UK so it feels like an amazing opportunity be able to bring our Gochu-Gang wings to Manchester.”
Yard and Coop
Alongside Mexican Seoul, we also spoke with local Manchester-based winners Yard and Coop who have been a fixture of the Northern Quarter’s culinary scene since 2015.
Owners Laura and Carl Morris took home their first Wing Fest award last year, scooping up third place in the Judges’ Choice Buffalo Wing category but tell us they ‘plan on coming back bigger and better this year.’
The pair, who tell us they have eaten in ‘just about every fried chicken joint in the UK and a fair few in New York and beyond’ say there are plenty of Americana influences to be found in their food before adding: ‘we will literally deep fry anything’.
They’re not kidding. Tihs Easter just gone, they deep fried a creme egg for a special – something that went down an absolute treat with customers.
As for what their Wing Fest signature recipes will be this year, they say they’re ‘still testing recipes’ but will definitely ‘bring that extra level’.
They said: “At wing fest as we 24hr brine them then pressure fry so the meat falls off the bone. Then we buttermilk and crumb them with our secret recipe. Each wing has had so much love before it ends up on your plate!”
“It’s our manor – we are here to bring the title home where it belongs.”
How to get Wing Fest tickets
Taking place this year from 24-25 September, tickets for Wing Fest Manchester 2022 are on sale now.
Combining wings, music, beer and bourbon across a two-day celebration of the best chicken wings the UK has to offer, festival-goers can expect to find over 20 different street food traders, restaurants and BBQ teams on site across the weekend.
Stockport restaurant becomes only the third in Greater Manchester to receive four AA Rosettes
Where The Light Gets In in Stockport has been awarded a fourth AA Rosette, becoming only the third restaurant in Greater Manchester to receive the accolade.
The huge loft-like restaurant, tucked up the stairs on the top floor of an old warehouse, has a surprise menu every day.
With chef patron Sam Buckley at the helm, Where The Light Gets In plans each service around what produce they can forage, farm or find from local suppliers.
It means a dining experience that will never be the same on each visit and has earned it plenty of national and international acclaim.
Where The Light Gets In can now add a fourth AA Rosette to its crown, alongside its Michelin Green Star (awarded for sustainable practices).
It’s a ‘huge achievement’, they said on receiving the award. The only other Greater Manchester restaurants to hold this many AA Rosettes are the Michelin-starred Mana, and long-standing fine-dining restaurant Adam Reid at The French.
Where The Light Gets In said: “We are so thrilled to receive 4 rosettes from the @aa_hospitality.
“This is a huge achievement that highlights just how hard our team works to create an engaging and innovative experience for our guests each night.
“As proud as I am to receive this acknowledgment I am even more proud to work with the team that have achieved it.
“Thank you to the AA for your recognition and thank you to the team that makes me giddy to be here.”
Inspectors for the AA said: “Right in the centre of the old industrial part of Stockport, Where The Light Gets In is across the street from the Victorian market and accessed via steps to the top floor of a former coffee warehouse.
“Inside, red brickwork and plain floors with Scandi-style furnishings are illuminated by large windows and the lounge, kitchen and dining room all share same open space. Tables face the chefs and there are seats at the kitchen counter for those diners who want to be ringside.
“The style is somewhere between Scandi and Japanese, with occasional influences from China, and there’s a strong sustainable, no waste ethos.
“Flavours are defined, interesting and balanced. BBQ lobster tail dressed with lobster oil and sea buckthorn butter sauce might precede tender pork fillet topped with tiny pieces of crackling, purple spouting broccoli and spicy steamed pork dumpling. Finish with burnt apple sorbet and artichoke vodka.”
The new restaurants and bars opening in Manchester this month | October 2023
October will be a big month for new restaurant openings in Manchester, with some of the most high-anticipated launches of the year taking place.
There is, of course, Sexy Fish, that hugely glitzy London establishment that’s moving into Spinningfields at long last.
Also branching across into Manchester in October will be Louisiana fried chicken legends Popeyes, Leeds’ favourite ramen house House of Fu, and Broadway Diner, where wait staff sing musical numbers at you while you eat.
You’ll also find new restaurants to check out right across Greater Manchester, from an Italian restaurant in Stockport’s Underbanks to a couple of new spots at Kampus in the city centre.
Keep reading for all the new restaurant and bar openings in Manchester this October.
Bondi Bowls, Kampus
Bondi Bowls will open its first permanent base at Kampus this September, offering healthy choices to residents and visitors alike.
Bondi Bowls first began life as a delivery-only service during the pandemic before taking on residencies at street food markets Hatch and Freight Island.
Set up by founder Jamie Tones, a chef who has worked in kitchens around the world, the menu takes inspiration from his time in Sydney with a selection of different açaí and poké bowls.
Diners will find an all-day brunch offering from morning to night with global flavour inspirations from the likes of India, Mexico, and Australasia.
Finally, Manchester Victoria is going to have a decent beer bar – and we honestly cannot wait.
The team behind Piccadilly Tap and Euston Tap are at last gearing up to open their new taproom at the city’s original train station, and are promising commuters their arrival will mark a new chapter with ‘no more £7 pints’.
Progress on the site seems to be ticking along nicely with an opening date due in the coming week.
Opening date TBC
Love From, Kampus
A new alcohol-free pop up bar experience is taking over the bungalow-on-stilts at Kampus next month, promising a series of events that don’t rely on booze.
The pop-up, open between 12 and 22 October, is founded by Karl Considine, who hosts the What Next podcast and shares stories of sobriety.
Love From will help to pave the way for the rapidly-growing alcohol-free market as more and more people turn their backs on booze.
Manchester’s iconic nightclub Panacea – a celeb favourite – has reopened its doors as Ikaro, a new grill and champagne bar.
This lavish newcomer has announced its arrival with huge LED screens that light up John Dalton Street with stunning graphics.
At the restaurant, diners will find two menus focusing on two different elements, fire and ice. On the first, you’ll find Grilled Lobster Tails, Japanese A5 Wagyu Ribeye, and Australian Wagyu Tomahawk.
On the second an array of Sushi and Sashimi such as Torched Hand Dived Scallops and Bluefin Tuna Otoro.
House of Fu, Portland Street
An all-time favourite of our pals across the Pennines in Leeds, House of Fu will be making its first foray into Manchester in October.
The ramen restaurant will bring their modern ramen, rice bowls and small plates to Manchester from 11:30am every day.
The venue also boasts a late-night party spot, state-of-the-art karaoke rooms, and a private dining room, offering a brand-new feasting menu for parties of up to 30, alongside their everyday menu.
Opening Friday 20 October
Birria Brothers Tacos, Northern Quarter
You probably already know Birria Brothers Tacos – they had a queue going right down Oldham Street during one of the many lockdowns when they popped up at Koffee Pot.
And now it’s official, with the team taking over a chunk of Koffee Pot’s cafe and tiling above the door shouting ‘TACOS’ to passers-by.
The order of the day here is almost always traditional birria tacos, a Mexican dish where slow-cooked bef is stuffed into corn tortillas, ready to be dipped in the rich cooking stock.
Sexy Fish, Spinningfields
One of the most luxurious and highly-anticipated openings of the year is due to open this month, with Sexy Fish taking shape in the former Armani site in Spinningfields.
The Manchester restaurant will be the third global outpost for the restaurant concept, which has already seen electrifying openings in London’s Mayfair in 2015 and Miami’s Brickell district in 2022.
On the menu will be high-end sushi, a large Champagne collection with a selection of the world’s top vintages from leading estates, and an excellent sake wine selection.
OpeningThursday 12 October
New Wave Ramen, Tib Lane
New Wave Ramen has built a reputation for having the best bowls in the city, despite not having a restaurant space of its own – until now.
The Mackie Mayor legends have taken up a two-storey space in a historic building on Tib Lane, serving signature ramen bowls and small plates from the binchotan-fired grill, alongside sustainable seafood.
These giant bowls of broth and noodle are so moreish you could drink gallons of the stuff.
All of us Mancs over a certain age will remember Cord, the legendary Northern Quarter boozer that opened at the turn of the millennium.
Now the founding team behind that institution are heading to Stockport to open Alfredo’s Social, an Italian social, in the Winter’s Building.
They’ll be serving authentic Neapolitan pizza, small plates, salads and charcuterie, with ingredients sourced locally or even grown in their own allotment.
Opens Saturday 14 October
Popeyes, Piccadilly Gardens
FINALLY – Louisiana’s famous chicken chain Popeyes is opening its brand new Manchester restaurant this month.
Known for serving fried chicken dishes with sides like red beans and rice, Cajun fries, mashed potatoes with Cajun-style gravy, Cajun rice, macaroni & cheese, southern-style biscuits, and coleslaw, it’s opening a new location on Piccadilly Gardens.
And then there’s the breakfast menu, with dishes including the Big Breakfast Roll (a sausage patty, egg, streaky bacon, and American cheese in a soft bun), a variety of sausage, bacon, egg and cheese muffins, cajun hash browns, and its famous Louisiana buttermilk biscuits served with cinnamon sugar or Nutella.
Opening Thursday 26 October.
A Broadway-themed diner where the wait staff serenades you with hits from your favourite musicals is set to bring a little razzle-dazzle to Manchester.
Staff at Broadway Diner, which comes from the team behind Karen’s Diner, will sing hits from iconic Broadway musicals, like Oliver!, Rent, Lion King, Hamilton, Cats, and more.
The new musical diner, which is set to open in the Trafford Centre later this year, will also host performances from local artists in a bid to give back to the local community and offer a platform for up-and-coming homegrown talent.
Opens Sunday 22 October
Things to do and events in Manchester in October 2023
Oast House Teepee – The Oast House has confirmed that its legendary Christmas tipi draped in twinkling lights is set to return for the festive season. The Teepee will be made up of three tents joined together with a huge open hub. It opens on Wednesday 11 October.
Madre Sunday roast – Kampus’s excellent Mexican restaurant Madre is launching a Sunday feast menu, where you can order a choice of meat cooked Mexican-style, accompanied by traditional sides including salsa, papas con crema (roast potatoes but better), Refried beans, Elote and grilled cabbage.
Evelyn’s new menu – This Northern Quarter institution has a shiny new menu from October, with seasonal dishes focusing on Levantine and Pan-Asian flavours. New additions include whol Cornish sole, Za’atar lamb chops, picanha steak, and chocolate soufra.
Indy Man Beer Con (IMBC) – Manchester’s enormous celebration of independent breweries is heading back to Victoria Baths between 5 and 8 October. There’ll be talks, tastings, street food, merch, and everything else a beer-lover could possibly want.
Strike Steak at Hawksmoor – Hawksmoor decided in summer to start selling absolute bargain steaks whenever the trains were on strike (so, always), and are now switching the deal up. For £15, you can get a Hawksmoor burger with beef dripping chips, between 12pm and 3pm, on strike days (30 September, 4 October, and 6 October).
Bundo does Oktoberfest – To celebrate Oktoberfest, Bundobust have shaken a spice rack over some iconic German dishes for hungry punters to enjoy alongside a cold German beer. A proper match made in heaven if you ask us. The limited-edition specials will be available until Sunday 15 October,
Bottomless curry at Zouk – For National Curry Week, Zouk’s famous bottomless curry offer is back, with all-you-can-eat curry for £20 per person. The deal is available from Monday 2 October to Friday 6 October, with 120 bottles of Cobra given away each day to the first people through the door.