The best restaurants in Greater Manchester according to the Michelin Guide 2021
This year’s Michelin Guide has been announced, celebrating the very best of the globe’s food and drink industry.
19 restaurants in Greater Manchester have made it into the prestigious guide, from pubs to fine dining to tapas restaurants.
The prestigious Michelin stars were handed out in a live-streamed event on Monday, with two new venues in London nabbing a coveted third star.
Here in Greater Manchester, Mana retained its Michelin star – the first in the city for more than 40 years – but there were no other new additions.
Stockport’s Where The Light Gets In, however, was awarded a new ‘green’ star, celebrating its sustainable practices.
Popular Spanish restaurant El Gato Negro earned a Bib Gourmand for the fifth year running, too.
While every venue on the list is closed for now under the national lockdown, many are offering takeaways, meal kits and other ways to sample their food.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What the Michelin Guide says: “There is so much to love about Mana, not least of which is the service; the team create a relaxed atmosphere, while at the same time letting you know that this is a place that’s serious about its food.
Chef Simon Martin has spent years garnering experience and ideas from restaurants around the world and now brings this knowledge to Manchester. The room is modern, with an impressively high ceiling and immaculately laid tables set with bespoke earthenware and china.
“The smartly fitted open-kitchen is a reflection of Simon’s clear, unadulterated vision; here the chefs create exciting modern dishes with Nordic influences. These are packed with originality and, while at first they might appear simple, are complex in their delivery. The menu is a 12-16 course surprise which unfolds throughout the evening and is perfectly paced.”
What we say: When we reviewed Mana just weeks after its opening, we found ‘a remarkably assured operation’ with a ‘clear, strong, and exciting’ vision.
Mana is a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime experience and a real bucket list visit for fine-dining Mancunians.
How you can get a taste: Mana surprised us all with a huge twist in this third lockdown, launching its own takeaway burger offering – burgers are apparently chef patron Simon Martin’s favourite food.
They have plans to start selling takeaway tacos once they’ve finished with the current offering of lobster rolls.
El Gato Negro, city centre
What the Michelin Guide says: “ The buzzy ‘Black Cat’ sits in a pedestrianised street. The ground floor houses a bar, the first floor plays host to an industrial-style dining room and the top floor is home to a private events space with a retractable roof. Appealing tapas dishes include meats from the Josper grill.”
What we say: Simon Shaw’s King Street restaurant has been winning awards and topping best restaurant lists ever since it opened, and for good reason.
When we reviewed it in 2016, we said: “Put simply, El Gato Negro is bloody brilliant. It has that understated, easy going charm that is hard to capture and easy to get wrong if you try to force it.
“By putting the food at the centre of everything, the rest of it – location, rooftop bar, open kitchen, all of that – orbits around it quite nicely. If it can keep up the early work – the casual brilliance that belies the blood, sweat and tears powering El Gato behind the scenes – it has to be considered one of Manchester’s best restaurants. Yes, it is that good.
“This time, the stars have aligned on King Street. And El Gato Negro shines more brightly than most.”
How you can get a taste: The restaurant itself is obviously closed, but you can go some way to creating your own El Gato experience at home through their online shop.
Hampers start from £45 and go all the way up to £165, all stuffed with top-quality wines and Spanish snacks.
Where the Light Gets In, Stockport
What the Michelin Guide says: “This large, loft-style restaurant is located on the top floor of a Victorian coffee warehouse and its open kitchen forms part of the room. The surprise menu is formed from whatever they have foraged that day and beasts are brought in whole and fully utilised. Matching wine flights focus on natural wines.”
What we say: It’s hard to have this much fun at dinner – Sam Buckley and his team of chefs are engaging and each one proudly presents the dish from their own station.
With a menu that changes daily, you never know what you’re going to get, but you can guarantee a spectacular evening.
In our 2016 review, we said: “Whether it’s a bull’s testicle entrée or biting the head off a fish before you’re at the table – the message here is clear: you’re in Sam’s world now, go with it. It’s uncompromising, exciting, in some places challenging, and all inspiring.”
How to get a taste: WTLGI hasn’t dipped its toe into meal kits, but locals can still visit the restaurant which is open as a provisions store for now.
You can pick up essentials like bread, seasonal veg and flour, as well as pasties, wines and beers. They’re also doing meals to go from the kitchen.
Adam Reid at The French, city centre
What the Michelin Guide says: “An intimate hotel restaurant created in the Belle Époque age and brought up-to-date with a moody colour scheme, striking chandeliers and booths down the centre of the room. Boldly flavoured modern dishes focus on one main ingredient and the chefs present and explain the dishes themselves. Desserts are playful.”
What we say: From our 2017 review, we wrote: “It’s more relaxed, more…fun. A lunch time hangout as well as a fine dining destination. There’s a confidence about it that should be catching the attention of any passing inspectors. There’s a quiet determination about Reid, but on this showing, one of Manchester’s finest chefs is grabbing his chance to be in the spotlight with both hands.”
How to try at home: Adam has launched £90 menu boxes during lockdown, which serve two and tend to sell out within an hour. You can keep an eye out for each week’s offering on Twitter and place your order at adam-reid.co.uk.
20 Stories, Spinningfields
What the Michelin Guide says: “On the 19th floor of No.1 Spinningfields, beside the Opera House theatre, is this huge design-led restaurant. A central cocktail bar divides the room and there’s a large glass-fronted roof terrace with super views. Modern British menus offer everything from refined dishes to homely classics.”
How to try at home: 20 Stories is owned by D&D London, which is doing its own range of at home kits with nationwide delivery.
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Tast, city centre
What the Michelin Guide says: “Tast is housed on the first two floors of this three-storey operation; ask for a seat on the lower level to watch the chefs behind the counter. Uncomplicated Catalan dishes are executed to a high level and are tasty and satisfying. A set menu is served in top floor Enxaneta Tast.”
What we say: Here’s a snippet from our review in 201 9: “Go to Tast for a playfully inventive menu, carefully executed, and a relaxed, classy environment. Back of the net for me.”
How to try at home: If charcuterie meats, cheeses and wines are your thing, Tast’s online store should have you covered. You can build your own box to be delivered.
Bull & Bear, city centre
What the Michelin Guide says: “Start with a cocktail in the bar beside the marble fireplace, then head through to the ‘bear pit’ – the elegant former trading room of the Manchester Stock Exchange – with its marble pillars and wonderful domed ceiling. The menu offers an appealing mix of British brasserie classics.”
What we say: The arrival of Tom Kerridge to Manchester was all anyone could talk about, but we also struggled to stop talking about those giant TVs he erected all over the restaurant.
Our review said : “The food here is great, but there’s room for improvement, and a clearer focus is needed – does anyone want to drop £80+ on a lunch for two and then spend the whole time watching telly?”
What the Michelin Guide says: “Grab a seat at the counter to watch the chef’s hard at work preparing a mix of vibrant Spanish and Portuguese small plates. The fish dishes are the best, along with the delicious Portuguese custard tarts. The room has a fun, industrial feel and is decorated with traditional blue tiles.”
What we say: We loved El Gato Negro’s new Portuguese sibling, especially the decor inside and the ‘prego’ steak sandwich. We wrote: “El Gato Negro is a tough act to follow, but Canto looks set to corner the neighbourhood market nicely.”
63 Degrees, Northern Quarter
What the Michelin Guide says: “The bustling Northern Quarter is home to this family-run restaurant. The experienced owner-chef hails from France and his classic dishes are cooked with pride and passion using both local and imported French produce. The set lunch represents good value.”
What we say: It’s been a while since we visited 63 Degrees for a review, but back in 2016 we said : “I would eat there all the time… if I could afford it.”
What the Michelin Guide says: “Joe has a passion for all things Spanish – he’s even a trained flamenco guitarist – so, unsurprisingly, his sweet little tapas bar has an authentic feel. The menu is dictated by market produce; be sure to try some of the freshly sliced Iberico ham. He also owns the nearby Basque-style Baratxuri pintxo bar.”
How to try at home: Levanter’s sister site Baratxuri is one of many great restaurants in the region to launch at home kits, which arrive either chilled or frozen and are yours to defrost and eat as you wish.
Dishes include salt-baked seabass, hand-carved Iberican ham, and Galician octopus, as well as a six-course Valentine’s menu.
What the Michelin Guide says: “Enthusiastically run restaurant in a beautiful old manor house – a popular spot for afternoon tea. Appealing menus list modern British dishes with international influences. Can’t decide? Go for the 6 course ‘Surprise’ menu.”
How to try at home: As well as lockdown cocktails, Nutters has been doing special menus for local deliveries. You can see the latest on Twitter at @NuttersOfficial.
What the Michelin Guide says: “A modern, industrial-style wine bar run by a group of friends, laid-back Erst offers something refreshingly different in the city. It specialises in natural, low-intervention wines – many of which you can buy to take home – accompanied by a selection of flavoursome small plates.”
What we say: This is one of our favourite restaurants in Greater Manchester, with every dish a winner, and gave us the best meal we ate in 2019
“With December rain pelting the windows and the small restaurant murmuring with laid-back chatter and the sound of meat sizzling on the grill, the feedback is unanimous.
“Erst is a restaurant our city should be very, very proud of.”
How to try at home: Meal kits are finally a thing from Erst, priced at £45 for vegetarian and £55 for meat. Each one includes a flatbread, potatoes with yeast sauce, a blood orange posset and then either a butter bean stew and bitter leaves salad, or pork and fennel sausage and salt cod.
Allotment, city centre
What the Michelin Guide says: “A basement in the heart of the city plays host to this spacious modern restaurant with a rustic bar and a dining room adorned with monochrome photographs. Flavour-packed vegan dishes take on a modern approach and are prepared with skill and care; the cauliflower 3 ways is very tasty.”
What the Michelin Guide says: “Authentic Spanish flavours reign at this pleasant little tapas bar with an open kitchen. Appealing dishes change throughout the year according to the availability of ingredients, and even the basics such as pan con tomate and salted Padron peppers are wonderfully fresh and full-flavoured.”
What we say: We didn’t make it to review Porta’s Salford site, but loved its home in Altrincham. We said: “The nonchalant Porta straddles bar and restaurant comfortably – service here is brisk, but warm and engaging. The dishes are how Spanish food should be – simple, affordable and well executed.”
How to try at home: The brothers behind Porta also own Joseph Benjamin in Chester, and through that platform you can order tapas to prepare at home.
Bird at Birtle, Rochdale
What the Michelin Guide says: “A very popular restaurant in a modernised pub. Start with a cocktail on a comfy sofa or out on the terrace then head upstairs to the stylish dining room with its balcony and fell views. Classic dishes are given a modern touch.”
What we say: “The service is friendly, the atmosphere is warm and the kitchen team can cook with delicacy and precision, while also serving up proper good plates of northern pub food.
“‘Simple food, cooked really well’? Mission accomplished.”
How to try at home: Locals can order and collect meals from this popular pub – the menus are posted weekly on Instagram and you can call up to book your slot and place your order.
Hungry Duck, Ramsbottom
What the Michelin Guide says: “Black and white photos adorn the walls of this sweet neighbourhood bistro, which is split over two levels and run with plenty of purpose by its owner, Joe. Hearty, seasonal dishes are cooked with care and full of flavour. Everything is homemade – including the ice cream – and the cheese pie is a hit.”
How to try at home: There are two options from the renowned Hungry Duck – locals can grab food hot to go, while if you’re further away or fancy finishing your food at home, you can order a meal kit.
Perfect Match, Sale
What the Michelin Guide says: “At this simple, honest little bistro you’ll find Jacinda in the kitchen creating tasty, well-crafted dishes from across Europe, while Andrea picks out the perfect match for each dish from the wine list. Andrea’s family make Prosecco back in Italy and some of their wines are here to try.”
Experience it at home: The restaurant has started doing cook-at-home boxes, including a Valentine’s Day beef wellington.
They share the details of their at-home offerings on their Facebook page.
White Hart Inn, Oldham
What the Michelin Guide says: “ Never one to stand still, this 18C stone pub on the moor is constantly evolving. It’s a busy place but the staff have it all under control and there are comfy bedrooms for those wishing to stay. Dining takes place in a large rear room; the appealing menu has a British heart and global influences.”
What we say: From a Sunday roast review in 2019, we said: “Head chef Mike Shaw has previously worked in Michelin starred kitchens including at Windermere hotel Gilpin Lodge and Raymond Blanc’s fêted Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire.
“He’s been here for over 10 years, overseeing a consistently strong food offering that’s claimed the pub its rightful place in just about every food guide going.
“For a special occasion meal with finesse but no fuss, The White Hart is up there with the best restaurants in Greater Manchester.”
Borage, Bow don
What the Michelin Guide says: British and Polish flavours combine at this friendly neighbourhood restaurant located in a pleasant village. Well-presented, colourful modern dishes reflect the seasons and are full of flavour. The homemade breads are a highlight, as is the chocolate mousse.
How to try at home: The restaurant is doing takeaways on Saturdays and Sundays – all the details are posted on their website at boragebowdon.co.uk/takeaway