Supporting Manchester’s Restaurant Industry

Supporting Manchester’s restaurant industry is one of our prime motivations at Manchester Bites. There’s never been a more critical time for the industry than that at present. Businesses have clung on by their finger nails through covid and then the cost of living crisis.
The start of 2024 has seen the closure of more restaurants in our city and it’s not just the smaller operations. Here we take a look at what’s been happening and perhaps what we can do to help.

A Worrying Start to 2024

Manchester has been known for many things in it’s history. Birthplace of industry and home to some of the best music bands and sports teams in the country. More recently the city has gained a reputation as having some of the best dining outside of London. From uber trendy sushi joints to the Instagramable names of The Ivy and Sexy Fish, no longer is Manchester a backwater for the discernible diner.

We are blessed with some serious local talent. Simon Martin at our very own Michelin recognised Mana, Michael Clay just down the road at Elnecot and now Tom Barnes with his exciting opening of Skof mean that Manchester is a force to be reckoned with on the dining scene of the UK. Add to this the countless smaller businesses and locally run food heroes and we’re really lucky to have such a scene.

Unfortunately, the start of 2024 has seen a very worrying pattern not emerge but grow. Restaurant closures. This has been happening since Covid but perhaps now it seems more worrying with big names and long-term businesses shutting up shop.

We’re not just talking about the smaller operations. Just last month the doors closed on a south Manchester institution Greens in Didsbury. Helmed by TV chef Simon Rimmer, the restaurant has been a go to in the city’s vegetarian community for 33 years and introduced unique flavours to herbivores and carnivores alike. On the closure of his restaurant Rimmer said

“Our landlords have increased our rent by on the region of 35%. The cost of raw materials, the cost of heat, light and power, employing people and generous food costs had meant that the business unfortunately has become unviable”

Just this week we have lost a restaurant and deli that was well loved by guests on our Canals to Canapes food tour. Lily’s deli in Ancoats (pictured) closed it’s doors for good on 13th January. Whilst it’s original branch in Ashton and the Chorlton branch are still open, we will miss the staff and of course the food at this little gem of a place. Another locally run business that just couldn’t justify remaining open.

Why is This Happening ?

The closure of restaurants in Manchester is also reflective of evolving consumer behaviors, with a growing preference for food delivery and takeout services. The convenience of ordering from the comfort of home, has prompted a shift in how some people choose to enjoy their meals. As a result, many restaurants, especially smaller establishments without robust delivery infrastructure, have struggled to adapt to this changing landscape.

Additionally, the rise of virtual kitchens and ghost kitchens has added a new dimension to the competition, further squeezing traditional dine-in restaurants. These establishments, operating without a physical storefront, can often offer lower prices and a more streamlined operation, posing a formidable challenge to brick-and-mortar restaurants in Manchester.

Rising Rents and Property Prices:

Manchester’s urban landscape has been undergoing a transformation in recent years, with gentrification driving up property prices and rents. This has placed an additional burden on restaurant owners, especially those located in popular and trendy neighborhoods. As property values soar, many restaurants are faced with the difficult decision of whether to absorb the increased costs or pass them on to consumers in the form of higher menu prices.

For smaller, independently owned restaurants, the rising cost of real estate can be particularly detrimental. The closure of such establishments not only diminishes the city’s culinary diversity but also erodes the unique character that these smaller ventures bring to Manchester’s neighborhoods.

Business rates, VAT, food costs, wages. Everything is up. Last year in a local news article Sud pasta (now Rigotonis) explained what the costs were involved in their “house pasta”dish. The dish cost £16.50 and after all costs the restaurant made 50p. Think about that for a moment. If you had to get up every morning and work hard to keep your standards high, your reputation in tact and your staff all employed. Wouldn’t you want more than 50p per dish for your efforts?

Community Impact

Beyond the economic implications, the closure of restaurants in Manchester has a profound impact on the community. These establishments serve as social hubs, contributing to the city’s identity and fostering a sense of local pride. The loss of these gathering spaces creates not only a void in the culinary landscape but also a gap in the social fabric of the city.

We pride ourselves on being a friendly city. This is so apparent with the warm welcomes we receive on a daily basis when taking our food tours into businesses such as The Butcher’s Quarter on Tib street or This n That café. We feel almost like family and the community spirit that is created amongst the restaurant industry seaps into every customer.

When restaurants close we don’t just loose a place to eat we loose familiar faces, friendly smiles and a genuine pillar of the communities. We lose a place to come together, celebrate special occasions, or simply enjoy a meal with loved ones. The closure of these establishments resonates beyond economic statistics, touching the hearts of residents who have forged memories and connections within the walls of their favorite restaurants.

The worrying surge in restaurant closures in Manchester is a multifaceted issue rooted in economic challenges, changing consumer behaviors, rising costs, and community impact. As the city grapples with these closures, it becomes crucial for stakeholders, including local authorities, business owners, and residents, to collaborate in finding sustainable solutions to revive and support the beleaguered hospitality industry.

What can we do?

The resilience of Manchester’s culinary scene lies in the ability to adapt, innovate, and collectively work towards ensuring that the city’s diverse dining experiences continue to thrive. We have amazing people, doing amazing things and getting little if any reward. This won’t continue. We all need to be supporting Manchester’s restaurant industry.

We can all do a little bit to help this year. Have that lunch catch up you’ve been meaning to have for months, celebrate that milestone, order take aways directly from the restaurant and if possible, go and collect. All small things but if we all do them, we can help.

Prices will increase but you can be guaranteed that every restaurant owner and manager will be doing their upmost to make sure that service is on top form and that your experience is reflected in those increases. We speak to countelss business owners in the industry and one thing that ties them all together is the reluctance to pass these costs on to the end customer. But needs must and if we’re to keep enjoying Manchester’s food and nightlife economy as we all love to, we need to be aware of this.

Of course, the main people who really can make a difference here are the government. Ending ridiculous business rates and giving tax breaks to an industry which employs over half a million people directly and millions more indirectly.  The restaurant industry has been battered more than most in the past few years and the help from above is pitiful.

How many more loved restaurants need to close before our communities are just a generic copy type full of Starbucks, Pizza Express and Nando’s?

A group of food tour guests visit Lily's in Ancoats. Now sadly closed.

The best pizza in Manchester.

The best pizza in Manchester has been a subject of great debate amongst locals and visitors alike over the past few years. The pizza boom that the city has experienced over the past decade has brought some of the country’s finest artisans to our streets.
We’ve done the hard work and tried them all and here’s some of our favourites.

Rudy’s Pizza

Rudy’s pizza consistently rates as one of the city’s favourite pizzas. In 2015 owners Jim Organ and Kate Wilson opened their first site in Ancoats, where our canals to canapes food tour explores. Rudy’s wood fired pizzas quickly gained a reputation and people flocked to the restaurant. 7 years on and Rudy’s hasn’t just expanded across the vity but now also has branches across the country.
One of the reasons for the amazing success of Rudy’s is their attention to detail for their pizza. The neapolitan style was so strictly adhered to that even the ovens were sourced in Naples. The dough is double fermented over 24 hours giving the end result an authentic floppiness. Classic Margheritas sit alongside flavours like the Meridio which is a white pizza with butternut squash, chillis, red onion and sun dried tomatoes. Our favourite is the Cinghiale which has wild boar salami and nduja.
www.rudyspizza.co.uk

Nell’s

The biggest compliment we can pay Nell’s is that we’ve included them on some of our food tours. We were a bit nervous at first as we worried that people can easily find pizzas across the city and perhaps it’s not why you’d join a food tour. However we repeatedly get rave reviews from our guests about the pizza. New York inspired, Manchester made is their tagline. The 100% organic English flour provides a crispy base that you just don’t find on other pizzas in the city. Owner Jonny Heyes wanted to escape the strict rules of the Neaplitan pizza and create a unique Mancunian product. Over the years they’ve gone from strength to strength and have just opened up at Kampus.
Recently to celebrate 20 million downloads of one of his songs, Lewis Capaldi ate a whole Nell’s pizza. The flavour was their speciality called “Do you Roni Honey” which is a pepperoni pizza with a drizzling of honey. If you haven’t tried it yet, get down to Nell’s and give it a go.
www.nellspizza.co.uk

Crazy Pedros


Crazy Pedros is an institution in Manchester. As the name suggests not much is normal in the world of Crazy Pedro and that’s why we love it. These guys are serious about their pizzas. So much so that before they opened they tested no less than 20 different pizza doughs. The original Pedro’s opened in 2014 on Bridge street and ever since they’ve been famous for their wierd and wonderful ingredients. World famous hot dog pizza, and the KFC pizza are amongst the favourites. One thing that Pedro’s also shines at are their cocktails. The mix of great drinks, amazing pizzas and pretty low prices has made them a firm favourite across Manchester.
www.crazypedros.co.uk

Book a food tour of Manchester

We could go on forever talking about our favourite pizza joints in the city. Hopefully these 3 have given you a taste of what the city offers. One thing we know about Manchester is that we are blessed with hard working, creative chefs and owners who are opening up new venues all the time.
If you’d like to explore more of Manchester’s food scene why not get yourself on one of our award winning food tours. We explore the Northern Quarter and Ancoats over a 3 hour period. Stopping off at 6 different food vendors along the way. Perfect for friends, family and even corporate groups. You can find out more about our canals to canapes tour here.

A slice of pizza from Nells

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.
 https://www.manchestersfinest.com/eating-and-drinking/restaurants/get-best-caribbean-food-manchester/

Manchester’s Chinatown

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.

a pie and pint. popular dish in Manchester

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?

Lancashire hotpot
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.

Lancashire hotpot

The Arndale Shopping Centre. Love it or hate it?

Manchester’s Arndale centre is a marmite building. You either love it or hate it. I think most of us hate it but have at least some fond memories of how it was when we were younger.

It was built in phases between 1972 and 1979. At the official opening the Mayor of manchester, Dame Kathleen Olerenshaw said disappointingly, “I didn’t think it would look like that.”

During the 80’s a retail company called Arndale owned quite a few shopping centres around the UK. This was the biggest. In 1996 the IRA bomb was detonated right under the bridge that connected the Arndale to Marks and Spencers. Following this the centre was refurbished to look more like it does today.

Interestingly enough, in the 1970’s there was a plan to build an underground railway station in the Arndale. The council had a plan to link Piccadilly and Victoria train stations via an underground line. Nothing ever came of this and today we have the metrolink.

It’s not all bad, the food market is even on our food tour.

Manchester has an out of town shopping centre called The Trafford Centre. The Arndale however is still the busiest of the two.

We visit the Arndale centre on our food tour. In fact the best part of the Arndale is on our food tour. The food market is at the High street entrance, next to Shudehill. This is still a hidden gem in the heart of the city. When we were doing our food tour research we asked a lot of people if they knew this market existed. Suprisingly, a lot of local mancunians had no idea of its existence. Another great reason to take a food tour.

If you’d like to learn more about Manchester and especially the food scene, book a food tour with us. www.manchesterbites.com

For more information about Manchester’s food scene follow our blog at www.manchesterbites.com/blog

Manchester's Arndale Centre in the 1970s

What exactly is a Manchester tart?

You have to be careful who you ask this question to. We are talking the food sense here so don’t get any ideas.

A Manchester tart is a traditional English baked tart. There is the normal shortcrust pastry with a filling of jam and custard. On the top is grated coconut and some Maraschino cherry. You might also find some banana sliced under the custard. It can be a bone of contention the banana. Many people believe that a proper Manchester tart should have nothing to do with bananas.

Robinson’s bakers in Failsworth near Oldham are the original bakers of the tart. It was first recorded in Victorian times.

The Manchester tart is even loved down south.

Another interesting fact about the Manchester tart occurred in world war 2.  During that time it was one of the top 5 foods of children in the East End of London. We like to do our bit to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

Manchester tarts used to be a staple of school dinners back in the 70’s and 80’s. Sadly, those of us who suffered Manchester council’s school dinner offerings have differing views as to their taste. It’s fair to say that the Manchester tart you’d buy in many of our bakeries today is a much better version than those we were offered.

One such bakery is The Manchester Tart company. Based just south of the city in Whalley Range The Manchester Tart company is a mother daughter team. They like to create local recipes and specialise in tarts and pastries. We always like to give a shout out to smaller, local food businesses. You can take a look here www.themanchestertartcompany.co.uk

If you’d like to learn more about Manchester and especially the food scene, book a food tour with us. www.manchesterbites.com

We promise we won’t make you eat the school dinners version.

A Manchester tart