The Manc Asks: Which local/independent restaurants do you miss most?


If you heard a collective whoop ringing around your neighbourhood this morning, don’t be alarmed.

It was just people reacting to the news that McDonald’s has confirmed its return to Manchester from next month.

Big wigs over at The Golden Arches triumphantly announced that branches across the UK would be reopening from June, and the statement was met with feverish delight.

The Great Big Mac Drought of 2020 is finally over. Fast food is officially back on the menu.

Still, as exciting as a greasy burger in a brown paper bag might sound after yet another Friday night getting trollied in front of the tele, the return of Maccies D is just a stopgap. We’re still waiting on the bigger announcement: The date that Manc-made eateries finally start to operate again.

The local restaurant scene was pushed into cryopreservation by government decree in March, but the sight of some propped-open doors in the city centre suggest some venues are slowly beginning to thaw.

Dunk 🐝/ Flickr

As if tiptoeing to avoid disturbing their sleeping neighbours, independent eateries are slowly, carefully, cautiously setting up to go again.

Early days, yes. But it’s hard not to get excited about. Oh, how we’ve missed them.

The Manchester restaurant rejuvenation is beginning, and whilst the dawn of a fresh chapter in local hospitality poses a number of complicated questions (Which venues will be reopening? What will be different?) there’s one query in particular that’s been eating away at us.

Which restaurant have Mancunians been craving most?

Well, we wanted to find out, so we we took to social media to ask our audience – ‘Which local/independent restaurants in Manchester do you miss the most?

Here are the results…

Salt & Pepper

The Arndale Food Market is smorgasbord of independent delights spanning almost every continent, and whilst everyone has their own personal favourite here (there were a few mentions in our comments sections for Blue Caribou and Holy Crab) it looks like Mancs are yearning most for a Salt & Pepper.

This little pop-up restaurant – launched by “Chinese kids born and bred in Manchester” – is unique in how it pushes one particular takeaway dish right to the forefront of its menu; giving every meal its own superbly-seasoned, spicy spin. Whether you go for wings, chips or beef or tofu, the results are invariably incredible.

There’s queues clogging up the walkways in Arndale Food Market at Salt & Pepper five days a week, so it should perhaps come as no surprise that Mancs are jonesing for their fix after a ten weeks of malnourishment.

Another humble eatery that emerged as an unsurprising entry for “Most Missed Restaurant” was the curry kitchen that sacrifices plush surroundings in favour of stunning grub.

It’s This & That, of course – the longstanding, diminutive Northern Quarter Indian where you get three generous heaps of deliciously different curry on your plate and pay six quid for the pleasure.

This & That / Facebook

NQ’s wildly popular vegan venue V-REV was packed to the rafters every weekend before quarantine and many of our fans appear to be missing the diner’s meat-free dishes, whilst several others claimed their first port of call after lockdown would be Sugo Pasta Kitchen (which has charitably shared recipes for some of their plates for customers to try cooking themselves).

Elsewhere in the city centre, votes came in for Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn, Federal Cafe and Cocktail Beer Ramen & Bun, whilst on the outskirts of Manchester there were comeback cries for Pagliacci Restaurant in Hyde, The Old Boat House in Astley, San Juan in Chorlton, and The Waggon At Birtle in Heywood.

Chadderton’s inimitable Old School BBQ Bus (which offers a taste of America’s southern states in both decor and food) is clearly, sorely missed – with one user clamouring for the relaunch of Darby’s, The Italian Job and Proost in Urmston.

And there were some voters, sympathetically, who just couldn’t settle on a single spot – with several shouts coming in for the amazing Mackie Mayor food hall up towards Great Anocats Street.

Old School BBQ Bus / Facebook

It’s likely to be at least July when we’re allowed to return to our favourite homemade restaurants and bars and rediscover the Manc flavour that makes them such affable residents of the region.

But one thing our poll certainly proved is that Manchester is spoiled for choice when it comes to great local eateries.

It’s going to be good to welcome them back.

Thanks for responding to our latest The Manc Asks! If you’ve not yet had the chance to react to our polls, there’s still time to cast your vote. Visit our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to take part and chat with other fans about the local restaurants you miss the most.

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