What do people eat in Manchester?
Manchester is one of the UK’s most multi – cultural cities. So what do people eat in Manchester? From our world famous curry mile, to the new up and coming Mexican food trucks, you’ll find us eating everything at all times of the day.
Manchester’s food communities.
On our Canals to Canapes food tour we like to talk about the communities that have made their home here in Manchester. One of the most important communities is the Caribbean community. After world was 2 many residents of the Caribbean came over to England to start new lives. Moss Side, an area to the south of the city was the main focal point for the community and still remains so to this day. Of course these new immigrants brought their food with them and the west Indian food scene has been an ever present in Manchester ever since.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s if you wanted to sample some of the best West Indian cooking you’d often have to go to private houses. Many small businesses were set up in West Indian homes and finding them could be difficult. Taxi drivers were always a good source of information as to who was knocking out the best jerk chicken or curried goat. Today Manchester has a vibrant West Indian restaurant scene.
Places like Rad’s in Ancoats feed their loyal fans until they sell out. Have a look here for some inspiration of where to get the best Caribbean food in the city.
Another community who have thrived in Manchester is our Chinese community. Did you know that Manchester has the second largest Chinatown in the UK?
Chinatown is well worth a visit when you’re in the city. Old favourites like the Yang Sing have been feeding us Mancunians some of the best Chinese food in the UK for generations. Over time and with new arrivals into the city Chinatown has also become home to some of the best Japanese and Thai restaurants in the North West.
English food classics
Whilst we love eating food from all over the world we also love our old school, local dishes. One of our favourite English dishes is the good old pie. The Great North Pie company are about to open up in the city centre and we can’t wait to try their award winning beef and ale pie with some creamy mash potatoe and a pint of Manchester Ale.
Did you know that Manchester introduced vegetarianism to the UK? In fact, in the south of the city the vegetarian society runs weekly cooking classes. The city has some amazing vegetarian and vegan places. On our vegan tour we try out some of these spots. One of our favourites is V rev in Ancoats.
If you’d like to explore Manchester and some of it’s amazing food vendors why not join our Canals to Canapes tour.
Mackie Mayor Food Hall: A Manchester Must-See
Manchester’s food scene has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. And one of the key players in the city-centre dining is the Mackie Mayor Food Hall.
Housed in an 1858 grade 2 listed building that was one a part of the bustling Smithfield Market area, Mackie Mayor today houses an eclectic mix of food and drink vendors. From top-notch pizza at Honest Crust to amazing beers at Blackjack Brewery and Brewtap and quality, locally-sourced meat at Tender Cow, there’s really something for everyone in at Mackie Mayor.
Sometimes we visit the food court on our From Canals To Canapés walking food tour of Manchester’s Northern Quarter and sample some of the tastiest dishes on offer while exploring the history of the area.
Read on to learn more about this awesome food hall that blends historical charm with inventive, modern cooking.
The History of Mackie Mayor
The building itself was once part of the Smithfield Market area. This neighbourhood of market halls and stalls ran from the early 19th century. Smithfield was a huge market site on the edge of the city that brought a whole community of consumers and producers together. And that’s what the Mackie Mayor aims to do today.
During the market’s heyday, the mayor of Manchester was called Mackie, so one of the market’s buildings was inscribed with his name.
Originally used as a meat market, the building ran into disrepair during the 1970s and its future seemed to be in grave peril.
However, the building was one of the only surviving remnants of the former Smithfield Market. So its significance was thankfully recognised and developers Muse set about restoring and developing the site.
The Mackie Mayor Food Hall Today
Today, Mackie Mayor has become an anchor point for Manchester’s food and drink scene.
Throughout the week, it’s a popular meeting point for office workers looking to grab lunch or some after-work dinner. While at weekends, the food court is busy from morning to night with shoppers, diners, and those out for a drink.
The strength of any food hall lies in the quality and diversity of the food being served. Mackie Mayor is home to a great mix of vendors. You’ll find exciting drinks, healthy foods, international cuisine, and indulgent, comforting choices.
A well-brewed morning pick-me-up can be found at Atkinsons Coffee Roasters. And if you’re feeling thirsty the Water Station offers sustainable, locally sourced and bottled waters.
Enjoy craft beers from the Black Brewing Co. microbrewery, or explore a menu of wonderful wines at Reserve. If you’re stopping for lunch, Pico’s serves delicious tacos! They’re perfect for sampling, with the chefs recommending you try about 3 tacos from the menu.
Elsewhere, New Wave Ramen, Chilli B, and Mumma’s Fried Chicken are excellent options for a hearty dinner before a night on the town. All three vendors offer exciting vegan and veggie options, too.
Meat-lovers can be assured of quality from the guys at Tender Cow who prepare delicious burgers and steaks. And if you’re looking for pizza, look no further than the long-running Honest Crust. You can’t miss their sourdough pizzas.
Other Manchester Food Markets
Looking for similar food court options around Manchester? The owners of Mackie Mayor also own the Altrincham Market House, a short train ride from Manchester city centre.
Like Mackie Mayor, you’ll find great beers and wine, and food that caters to a wide range of tastes. And whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or perhaps just plain fussy, you’ll have plenty to choose from.
It’s also worthwhile checking out the latest news from Altrincham Market House. It’s regularly home to themed weekend markets covering regional food producers, vintage fashion and furniture, contemporary craft, and much else.
Elsewhere, you can visit Society MCR, the city’s latest food hub. Offering exciting international street food and first-rate craft beers, there’s plenty to explore in this new addition to the city’s cultural scene.
Again, variety is everything in a market. At Society, you’ll find a marvellous selection of foods, from snacks to accompany your beers to satisfying meals from the likes of Slap & Pickle Burgers.
Another famous option is the Arndale Market, conveniently located within the massive Manchester Arndale shopping centre. The market offers plenty of tasty street food options and makes for a nice, vibrant place to take a break from shopping.
Finally, we want to give a shoutout to Hatch, an amazing confluence of creative Mancunian businesses (including more tasty food!).
At Hatch, you’ll find 30 independent retail, food, and drink traders that embody Manchester’s famous creative brilliance. Grab something sweet, chat over a coffee or beer, and peruse locally-made crafts.
Several of these spots feature on our list of the best places to visit in Manchester, with plenty more suggestions as well!
If you’d like to learn more about Manchester and its amazing food scene, book one of our foodie walking tours of Manchester today. Manchester bites food tours take you to our favourite hidden food gems of the city. Great for visitors and locals alike.
If you have any questions for us about this blog or any of our tours or services, get in touch.
This post was originally written in June 2020 and updated in March 2022.
Best Manchester Eats: The Lancashire Hotpot
A lot of guests on our Manchester food tours ask us what are the most famous foods from Manchester? What is the typical cuisine of the region?
Well, given Manchester’s famously – or, perhaps, infamously – drizzly weather, it should come as no surprise that we enjoy warming, hearty dishes.
Rich Bury Black Puddings are served at breakfast. Eccles Cakes make a fine accompaniment to a hot cup of tea. And an indulgent Manchester Egg is just the thing after a couple of pints!
But perhaps most beloved of all is the Lancashire Hotpot. This irresistible dish is so simple to prepare and makes a perfect choice on a cold night.
The History Of The Lancashire Hotpot
First, the name. Though Manchester today has its own council area, the city has historically formed part of the county of Lancashire. A fact witnessed in the city’s sports, with Lancashire Cricket Club playing their home games just south of the city.
Hotpot is cloaked in a little more mystery. Does it refer to the pot or the style of food being prepared? The famous 1861 cookbook Mrs Beetons Cookery Book contains a recipe for a simple stew called ‘Hotch Potch’ and it’s likely that hotpot similarly refers to any straightforward stew that can be cooked in a single pot.
The Lancashire Hotpot, like so many Manchester traditions, is bound to the city’s history of work. Before industrialisation, many families would work at home spinning thread. A meal that could be left to slow-cook above a fire was most convenient.
Following industrialisation, this characteristic of the Lancashire Hotpot became even more important. A workforce was now leaving home for several hours at a time. The hotpot was a perfect meal as you could leave it on low heat to cook while you were out.
Hungry workers would race home at the end of a shift and find a hearty dinner awaiting them. Presumably, their home was also filled with the pleasing aroma of the stew.
Learn more about the city’s starring role in Britain’s Industrial Revolution with our From Canals To Canapés Manchester Food Tour.
So What Is A Lancashire Hotpot?
Well, three ingredients are essential for the Lancashire Hotpot: lamb, onions, and potato. Lamb refers to the meat of a young sheep, though mutton (cheaper cuts from older sheep) was traditionally used.
The lamb is slowly stewed along with onions, stock, and some flour to thicken. Thinly sliced potatoes are placed on top to act as a lid, sealing in the meat and veg. The dish is then cooked in the oven for an hour or so until ready.
Couldn’t be any simpler! Although you will today find plenty of variation from the original three-ingredient recipe.
Carrots are often added to the stew, as are leeks and turnips. Historically, lamb’s kidneys would also be added, though this is less common today.
The topping is also sometimes varied, with a pastry lid added instead of potatoes.
One notable absence from contemporary recipes is oysters. In early versions of the hotpot, oysters regularly formed part of the mix. By the 18th and 19th centuries in England, oysters were hugely popular and were added to all kinds of recipes.
During the 19th century, in particular, oysters were the affordable street food of choice (in the year 1864, over 700 million oysters were consumed in London alone). But due to over-fishing, oysters became the high-end delicacy we know today.
If you like seafood, check out our blog on where to buy the best fresh fish in Manchester.
The Perfect Dish for a Cold Manchester Day
So, why do we love our Lancashire Hotpot so much in Manchester?
Its simplicity means that a delicious Lancashire Hotpot can be made on a budget. This was a dish for working people and you won’t need to break the bank to buy enough ingredients for a generous serving.
You don’t need to have a wealth of cooking knowledge to prepare the dish, and, once in the oven, you’re free to relax and get on with other things. You’ll also get plenty of nourishment from a Lancashire Hotpot.
In an era in which we’re repeatedly encouraged to reduce the number of processed foods in our diets, here’s a meal that’s packed with nutritional value and made only of a few fresh ingredients.
But perhaps more than anything, we love Lancashire Hotpot because of its place in the story of our city. It’s been a staple of the Mancunian diet for a long time!
Travel through the city and you’ll find pub after pub serving hotpots on their menus. If you find yourself caught up in one of our rain showers, take the opportunity to find the nearest pub and order a restorative portion of Lancashire Hotpot.
The Best Place in Manchester to Eat Lancashire Hotpot
If you want to enjoy a real manchester experience you should try Annies on Old Bank Street. It’s our top choice for ordering a Lancashire Hotpot when in Manchester.
Owned by Jennie McAlpine, a star of the legendary Manchester soap opera Coronation Street, Annies offers a cosy setting and an array of classic British food.
In addition to an out-of-this-world hotpot, head chef Richard Moore includes many other local specialities on his menu, from sausage & mash to Bury Black Pudding, and steak & ale pie.
Those wishing to explore English culinary traditions further can also enjoy Afternoon Tea at Annies.
How to Prepare a Lancashire Hotpot at Home
Decided to spend a night in, or just love the thrill of cooking new dishes? Preparing a Lancashire Hotpot at home is low on effort, big on reward.
You have a wealth of recipes to choose from with almost every British celebrity chef having given their own version of the Lancashire Hotpot.
Excellent traditional takes on the stew can be found over on Kitchen Sanctuary or at BBC Good Food. And The Guardian’s (another Manchester institution) How to Cook the Perfect Lancashire Hotpot makes for great reading.
And if you like testing the recipes of the famous tv chefs, you can find Jamie Oliver’s take on a lamb hotpot here.
This brings to an end our guide to the Lancashire Hotpot, but sign up for our newsletter below and we’ll keep you updated with our latest foodie news.
If you have any questions for us about this blog or any of our foodie walking tours of Manchester, get in touch.
This post was originally written in June 2020 and updated in March 2022.
Castlefield: What To Do In Manchester’s Canal Basin
A great place to go on a Manchester summer afternoon is Castlefield. Situated at the southern end of Deansgate, Castlefield is a great spot for a few drinks and some lunch. The area sits in the city’s historic canal basin where converted warehouses are now home to apartments, restaurants and bars.
As local travel experts based here in Manchester, we’re always keen for visitors to explore more of this fascinating, diverse city. That’s why we lead food tours in Manchester! We love to show off the incredible variety of cuisines and cultures that make up the heart of the city.
If you’re looking for local things to do in Manchester and wanting to explore more of the real city, we’d love to show you around. For now, learn a bit more about the Castlefield area. Then you can plan your trip to Manchester and feel like a local.
A History Of Castlefield
Castlefield was the centrepoint of Manchester’s earliest beginnings. A Roman fort was built here around 79AD and from this springs the city we know and love today. The name Castlefield itself represents the fort (castle) which was then surrounded by farmland (i.e. the field).
We’ve already explained what the people of Manchester are called, but it’s these very Roman origins that give us the word we still use today for a person from Manchester: Mancunian.
Walking down Liverpool Road, you can see the ruins of Mamucium (the Roman name for Manchester) opposite the Science and Industry Museum. But ancient Roman ties isn’t the only historically significant part of the area’s story; in fact, Castlefield has remained at the heart of Manchester across the centuries.
A village developed and flourished in the area throughout the middle ages. Then, during the Industrial Revolution, the Bridgewater Canal, the world’s first industrial canal, arrived in Castlefield. This area was the at very epicentre of the industrialisation of Britain, a process of change that would have a global impact.
Liverpool Road was also the site of the world’s first passenger train service. In the 1830s, the route between Manchester and Liverpool opened here.
Sadly, after the boom years of the Industrial Revolution, Castlefield was to endure a period of neglect. The old warehouses and canals were left to ruin.
It wasn’t until the late 1980s that life started to be breathed back into the area. Enterprising developers began to buy land around the canal basin. Soon, the old warehouses were turning into trendy flats and bars. The canals were cleaned up, and now it is common to see fish, ducks and other wildlife enjoying them.
Things to Do in Castlefield Today
Castlefield is a hive of activity these days. The area around Liverpool Road is where you’ll find the Science and Industry Museum and the old Roman Fort. We included the museum in our list of the best places to visit in Manchester, but there are loads more recommendations there for you to enjoy!
There is also a great bar near Castlefield called Cask, which has a fantastic array of craft beers to enjoy. Further towards the canal, you’ll find the Castlefield Bowl. This outdoor arena has a capacity of 8,500 and is excellent for live music.
Around the canal itself, there is a bar called Dukes 92. The name comes from the bar being housed in a converted warehouse next to the 92nd lock on the Bridgewater Canal. During the summer months, the huge outdoor space is full of Mancunians soaking in the sun with a few cold beers.
When visiting Manchester, take a walk around the basin in Castlefield. There, you’ll be sure to find some great photo opportunities and excellent people-watching.
How to Get to Castlefield in Manchester
Castlefield is straightforward to find once you’re in Manchester. You can get the tram to the Deansgate – Castlefield stop and then make the 1-minute walk to get there.
It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!
If you’d like to explore Manchester in a unique way, come and join one of our food tours at Manchester Bites. We love to tell the tales of the communities that built this great city. And, of course, we taste some of our favourite dishes along the way. If you have any questions about our tours or about Manchester, feel free to get in touch!
This article was originally written in August 2020 and updated in February 2022.
The Manchester Egg: A Manchester Food Innovation
At Manchester Bites, we naturally like to talk about Mancunian food innovations. One such dish is, of course, the Manchester Egg. Never one to be left on the sidelines when something good happens, Manchester has developed its own savoury egg snack, a spin-off of the more famous Scotch egg.
If you like learning about the origins of different foods and the various cultural influences that impact our cuisine, you would love our Manchester food tours! Come join us for a walking tour of the city. You’ll learn about the different people and places that have helped create the eclectic food scene we enjoy today.
What exactly is a Manchester egg?
Let’s just jump right into it: A Manchester egg is a pickled egg wrapped in pork meat and black pudding (another Manchester favourite!). The egg is then dipped in breadcrumbs and fried. It’s served warm, generally as a pub snack.
If you haven’t yet tried a Manchester egg, then you’ll need to seek one out during your visit to our fun city! You’ll find them quite easily. But if you want to know where to find the best Manchester egg, then you really do have to ask the locals.
When we get talking about local foodie favourites, we just don’t stop! So come join one of our tours to learn more about the city and to ask our expert foodie guides about the best places to try a Manchester egg…or any other foods you want to try here in the city!
The Story Behind the Egg
As with many great foodstuffs, the story of the Manchester egg begins in a pub.
A Mancunian called Ben Holden was enjoying a few pints with his mates in The Castle Hotel pub on Oldham Street. As we all often do, Ben enjoyed a few snacks to go along with his pint. His choice on this occasion: a pickled egg, a scotch egg, and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps.
It was then that the (glorious) idea hit Ben. What if he could create a hybrid of his three favourite snacks?
Well, Ben being true to his roots and being an industrious sort of lad, took off to the kitchen, and before long, he had perfected the original Manchester Egg.
We like to imagine Ben shed a prideful tear when he hit upon the recipe, then took himself out for a few celebratory pints.
A few weeks later, the egg was introduced to the regulars at The Castle. The dish was an instant success (Mancunians being people of discerning taste). Ben was quickly selling no fewer than 30 eggs a week. He knew he needed to get some help to satisfy demand.
At this point, Ben persuaded a local chef to lend him some kitchen space, and the eggs began to be made in larger and larger batches. Ben had cemented his place in the prestigious ranks of great Manchester innovators. And we certainly have our fair share since the industrial revolution started in Manchester!
How to Make a Manchester Egg
While we do claim to be experts in all things Manchester food scene, that doesn’t mean that we ourselves are chefs. In fact, we have great respect for the art and science that go into excellent cooking!
That said, we all like to dabble in the kitchen. So here’s a Manchester egg recipe we found in The Independent that looks to hold fairly true. Of course, you’ll have to be the judge yourself after you make it!
Mr Holden’s Famous Manchester Egg
- 300g premium sausage meat
- 200g Bury black pudding
- 5 free-range pickled eggs (ideally pickle your own, but shop-bought work just fine)
- Japanese panko breadcrumbs (from the Chinese supermarket or easily ordered online)
- Salt and pepper
- Beaten egg
- Vegetable oil for frying
First, take the Bury black pudding and the premium sausage meat and remove the skin. Mix them together at a ratio of 60-40 (as per measurements above) with your hands (you have to boil the black pudding for a minute to soften it up; alternatively, ask your friendly local butcher to grind them together for you).
Next, wrap the mix around a pickled egg. The best technique is to flatten the mixture into a patty about 12cm in diameter and place the egg in the middle. Then fold the mix up around the egg.
I find Pandora’s is the best pickled egg brand you can get from the supermarket – and the right amount of mix is around 100g per egg. Roll the mix into a perfect ball around the egg.
You then dip into the egg mix and roll it in the breadcrumb. (I also add a secret blend of my own Mr Holden’s spice mix into the crumb. I can’t tell you what the ingredients are, but have an experiment with spicing it up a bit. You can’t go too wrong by just making sure the crumb has a good amount of top-quality sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper added).
Press down to make sure as much crumb is coating the egg as possible. For extra crunch, try double-dipping in egg and crumb for a really substantial bite.
Deep fry at 170C for 7-8 minutes and give it a moment or two to cool before tucking in.
Learn Manchester’s Story Through Food
The Manchester egg is just one example of the many culinary delights you can thank our fine city for sharing with the world. There are plenty of things Manchester is famous for, including being a leader in the UK vegetarianism movement!
We love the Manchester egg, but our diversity of tastes and culinary preferences is as wide as the diversity of our people.
If you’d like to learn more about Manchester and its fantastic food scene, join us on a food tour. We love to share the hidden Manchester that’s too often overlooked. We showcase our local food heroes and the stories behind the people that feed the city. Come join us!
This article was originally written in August 2020 and updated in February 2022.
Why does Manchester have a bee as its symbol?
Have you ever wondered why there are bees all over Manchester? Or maybe you’ve never visited our city before but you’ve seen the bee on some Manchester-associated logos. This tiny creature is the perfect representation of the very heart and history of Manchester, which we’d like to share with you today.
Of course, we’d prefer to share this insight and stories about the city in person during one of our Manchester food tours! If you’re visiting soon and love to learn about local culture while enjoying local fare, get in touch and let’s explore together.
What does the Manchester bee represent?
The Manchester bee is all about the true story of the city. Back in 1842, the worker bee was added to the new Manchester coat of arms. Those little bees represent so much about the way Manchester forged a new path for itself during the Industrial Revolution.
In fact, did you know the global Industrial Revolution actually began right here in Manchester? We wrote all about it if you’re keen to learn more: Why Did The Industrial Revolution Start In Manchester?
The Manchester bee represents the hardworking Mancunians and the hive of activity that Manchester became during this era. As industry changed this city, so it changed the entire world. As a single bee contributes to the hive, so do all Mancunians contribute to the fascinating, diverse, fabulous city that we all call home.
Speaking of Mancunians…you did know that’s what the people of Manchester are called, right?
Going Beyond Industrial Manchester
In case you didn’t yet know, you have Manchester to thank for a great many things! From The Stone Roses to Alan Turing, football to Vimto to the Manchester tart…the creativity and industriousness of Mancunians is something of a wonder.
But, of course, while the worker bee represents Manchester, we definitely leave room for leisure pursuits beyond work.
Just explore the Northern Quarter today, which is a hive of culture and food beloved by locals and visitors alike. Or head to the People’s Museum to learn about the many social justice causes Mancunians have fought for over the generations.
We may be well represented by the bee, but Manchester is truly so much more beyond industry and work! Check out some of the places you can visit for free in Manchester and learn more about our history and contributions to the world.
Where to Find Manchester Bees in the City
If you’re coming to visit Manchester, you’ll almost certainly stumble upon the bee in various spots throughout the city. But there are a few in particular that you may want to seek out. And we also recommend asking your tour guide during your foodie tour of Manchester where their personal favourite bees are – they’ll surely have some suggestions!
At Manchester Town Hall, you’ll find a variety of bees both inside and outside the iconic building. First, look for the bees in the coat of arms above the main entrance at Albert Square. Notice anything different about the number of bees here versus the modern coat of arms? That’s right – there are only 5 here versus the normal 7 bees!
Inside Manchester Town Hall, you must seek out the Great Hall to see the stunning mosaic floor. There are an astonishing 67 bees on this marble floor, the designs for which became the common design for bees elsewhere in the city.
Those common designs can be spotted on flower boxes, bollards, and sign posts across the city. But – perhaps these are our favourite bees here at Manchester Bites – we like to spot bees at our favourite places to eat! From menus to window decals to murals to integrating bees into a logo, we love trying to spot them at our local haunts.
We also love to share our favourite eats with visitors, so come join us on a walking tour!
Manchester Bees as Symbols of Unity
While the Manchester bee was originally incorporated into the city’s coat of arms as a symbol of industriousness, the bee has taken on much greater significance in recent years. After the tragic Manchester Arena attack in 2017, the bee became a symbol of unity.
In honour of the 22 lives lost that day, 22 worker bees were painted on the side of the Koffee Pot building in the Northern Quarter. That mural shared the feeling across the city: that Manchester is unified and strong and will always work together for the greater good.
Since then, the bee has been such a powerful representation of everything Mancunian. This city is a hive of activity, a collaborative environment, and a hard working community. We stick together and we are Manchester Strong.
Come see for yourself! We’d love to share even more stories about the people and places that make Manchester such a thriving cultural hub. Get in touch if you want to book a tour or learn more.