Don’t let all the giant meaty burgers and steakhouses put you off – as the birthplace of the vegetarian society, Manchester is seriously friendly for meat-free diners.
You might be trying Veganuary for the first time, or you might have gone years on a plant-based diet. Maybe you’ve just read all those studies about the environmental impact of meat production and want to consciously reduce how much of it you eat.
Whatever the reason, we’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite vegetarian and vegan restaurants to try in and around the city.
Vertigo, Royal Exchange
The latest to join the fray is Vertigo, a completely plant-based cafe and restaurant just next door to the Royal Exchange theatre.
They have a pre-theatre menu to cater for audiences next door, a selection of low-intervention wines and First Chop beers, and are open from early in the morning until late in the evening.
Expect hearty stews and soups, smoothies, porridge, waffles, vegan full English breakfasts, pastries, and tarts and pies.
With a large kitchen in the basement they’re well-equipped for takeaways for office lunches, as well as having a small restaurant on the ground floor.
Read more about it here.
18 Cross Street, M2 7AE / vertigomcr.co.uk
V Rev, Northern Quarter
At first glance, V Rev’s menu looks much like every other diner’s – there’s buttermilk chicken, bacon-topped burgers, macaroni cheese, hot dogs and mozzarella sticks.
But on closer inspection you’ll realise that every item on this menu is fully vegan, swapping out chicken for seitan and fish for tofu.
You’ll also find plant-based milkshakes, sundaes and cakes.
It won itself a cult following on Oldham Street before moving to a bigger home on Edge Street.
20-26 Edge Street, M4 1HN / vrevmcr.co.uk / 0161 806 0928
Folk & Soul, Northern Quarter
We damn near lost our minds over Folk & Soul’s mashed potatoes with gravy – they come highly recommended, served on the side of deep-fried buffalo mushrooms and a celeriac remoulade.
This new-ish addition to the Northern Quarter has taken over the former Odd Bar site and serves an entirely vegan menu, with dishes including nachos (£8) and risottos (£9) as well as salads (from £8) and a mezze plate of a bit of everything (£10).
The frontage has been painted with a mural of foliage, and inside it’s been stripped back to natural wood with wildflowers on every table. They also host live jazz nights, which is a nice touch.
The menu does change seasonally, but if that mash is on the menu, order it.
30-32 Thomas Street, M1 1ER / folkandsoul.co.uk / 0161 204 7174
Lily’s Vegetarian Indian Restaurant, Ashton-under-Lyne
Lily’s enjoyed so much success as a cafe tacked onto the side of a cash and carry that they’ve crossed the street and opened a brand-new restaurant.
We loved it before, but having recently taken a look around the new site, it’s a serious upgrade.
Lily’s popular sizzlers and grills are also back alongside a range of vegetable or paneer curries, daals, tandoori breads, rice dishes, sweets and desserts.
75-83 Oldham Road, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 7AN / 0161 339 4774
Bundobust, Piccadilly Gardens
Established in Leeds in 2014, the Indian street food and craft beer bar has since branched out across the Pennines with a huge Manchester city centre site.
It picked up the best restaurant gong at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival Awards 2017 – beating competition from some of the city’s higher end venues.
Specialising in south Indian-style small plates – all 100% vegetarian and many vegan or gluten-free – the menu includes dishes such as broccoli and kale bhajis (£4), an Indian take on arancini, idli sambar (steamed rice dumplings in a spiced lentil soup, £5); and the famous vada pav burger (£5).
Or you could just order THE WHOLE MENU for £66.
59 Piccadilly, M1 1RG / bundobust.com/manchester / 0161 359 6757
The Chorlton Tap, Chorlton
Sunday roasts don’t necessarily need to involve a lump of meat – not when you’ve got a chef like Kelly Bucher in the kitchen.
The Chorlton Tap’s recently made the shift to go fully plant-based, serving tacos (which are £1 on Tuesdays) and other Mexican street food throughout the week, and epic Sunday lunches on Sundays.
There are usually five options to choose from, with previous dishes including creamy leek and potato pie, vegan haggis Wellington, spicy stuffed squash, and Cornish pasties.
533 Wilbraham Road, M21 0UE / barchorlton.co.uk / 0161 861 7576
Ice Shack, Withington
You would think that cream would be a pretty key ingredient in ice cream, but you’d be wrong.
Ice Shack is the north’s first fully vegan dessert parlour, and here you’ll find ice cream flavours like apple pie, chocolate peanut butter and mint choc chip, plus sorbets, truffles, cakes, pastries, chocolate and milkshakes.
As well as being plant-based, they’re environmentally conscious too – you can get a decent discount on your next purchase if you bring back your takeaway boxes and cups.
160-164 Wellington Road, Withington, M20 3FU / iceshack.co.uk
The Allotment, City Centre
The Allotment has recently upped sticks from their site near Stockport Market and made the move to the city centre, snapping up the former Buca di Pizza site on Lloyd Street.
After being named the number one vegetarian restaurant in the UK by The Times, and winning the award for the best restaurant at the CityLife Awards 2018, this larger restaurant will also have longer opening hours.
Chef Matthew Nutter is still promising the same top-notch menu and relaxed, casual atmosphere, but they’re now adding in lighter bites and sharing platters in their bar area.
There’s a three-course menu for £30, seven courses for £48, or 10 courses for £65, with dishes including confit aubergine and Thai squash pie.
18-22 Lloyd Street, M2 5BE / allotmentvegan.co.uk / 0161 478 1331
Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen, Withington
Prawn crackers, crispy duck pancakes, ribs with Peking sauce, sweet and sour chicken – Lotus has managed to pull together all the classic and comforting Chinese dishes without having to touch any actual meat.
Their fully vegetarian menu uses mock meats and fresh vegetables to fill plates with home recipes and dishes from all over Asia.
536 Wilmslow Road, M20 4BY / lotusvegetariankitchen.com / 0161 445 7457
1847, Chapel Walks
Recently relocated from Mosley Street, the reopened 1847 serves inventive, modern vegetarian cuisine in smart surroundings.
Mixing local produce with global flavours, the menu includes dishes such as spiced aubergine with miso butter, cashew crumb, coconut, lemon curd and curry foam, and malt battered halloumi with pea hummus, tartare mousse, lemon air, black olive crumb and triple cooked chips.
Vegan and gluten-free options also abound, and are clearly marked out.
Chapel Walks, M2 1HN / by1847.com/manchester / 0161 832 8994
TV chef Simon Rimmer’s vegetarian dining experience in West Didsbury could convert even the most die-hard carnivore.
There are also plenty of clearly marked vegan options, including the filling deep fried oyster mushrooms with pancakes and plum sauce (£7 for a starter) and the truffled wild mushroom, aubergine and shallot cottage pie (£13.50 main course).
Gluten-free diners are well catered for too.
41-43 Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury, M20 2NT / greensdidsbury.co.uk / 0161 434 4259
The Garden, Hale
Though not entirely vegetarian, you won’t find much meat on the menu at The Garden in Hale, where ingredients such as acai and avocado are king.
The pretty, colourful brunch dishes and fresh smoothies and coffees draw in a post-yoga crowd, hungry for dishes such as rainbow lasagnes and buckwheat pancakes.
154 Ashley Road, Hale, WA15 9SA / thegardenhale.co.uk / 0161 941 6702
Earth Cafe, Northern Quarter
Located beneath the Buddhist Centre in the Northern Quarter, Earth Cafe serve a constantly changing range of hearty, home-cooked meals every day.
Dishes include Caribbean curry, black bean and sweet potato pie, and Spanish chickpea stew, and you can pick up four items for just £7 – perfect for the indecisive.
16-20 Turner Street, M4 1DZ / earthcafe.co / 0161 834 1996
This Fallowfield curry house is another great option for anyone looking for vegetarian and vegan Indian food. Constantly in or around TripAdvisor’s top ten restaurants for Manchester, this South Manchester restaurant has become something of an institution.
95 Mauldeth Rd, Manchester M14 6SR / sanskrutirestaurant.co.uk/manchester / 0161 224 4700
The Deaf Institute, Grosvenor Street
The Grosvenor Street bar and kitchen hosts The Vegan Hangover club every Sunday. Serving everything from pancakes and burgers to tortillas and ‘cheese’cake from 3-10pm, it’s the answer to every partied-out vegan’s prayers.
The menu throughout the rest of the week is 80 per cent vegan anyway, so you’ll never struggle for a feed – and on Wednesdays it’s buy one get one free on mains.
135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester, M1 7HE / thedeafinstitute.co.uk / 0161 276 9350
The Eighth Day, Oxford Road
A vegetarian cafe and shop with food freshly made each day including raw and vegan options, head downstairs for a no-frills canteen-style restaurant. It also sells nutritional supplements, cruelty-free cosmetics and eco-friendly cleaning products.
111 Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7DU / 8thday.coop / 0161 273 1850
This hidden gem in the heart of Wigan has upped sticks and moved from its Hallgate restaurant, due to open at The Old Courts arts centre before the end of September.
The new menu will be fully plant-based and you can almost certainly expect hearty buddha bowls, nachos, and comforting stews and curries.
The Old Courts, Crawford Street, Wigan, WN1 1NA / thecoven.biz / 01942 834 747
Sidney Street Cafe, Sidney Street
A cafe and community centre serving fresh and affordable veggie and vegan food, often using food grown and harvested at community allotments in Fallowfield.
49-51 Sidney Street, M1 7HB / theproudtrust.org/sidney-street-cafe / 0161 660 3347
The Globe, Glossop
The Glossop pub serves up simple and satisfying vegan pub grub at bargain prices (seriously – we’re talking £3.40 for a chilli and £4.25 for a chickpea and spinach curry) as well as offering a broad selection of vegan drinks.
144 High St West, Glossop, SK13 8HJ / theglobeglossop.co.uk / 01457 852417
This tiny Bolton caf serves wholesome vegan and vegetarian food, with options for a quick snack or a hearty meal. Moreover, it provides valuable volunteering and training opportunities for local people, including asylum seekers and refugees.
Unit 4, Commercial Union House, Great Moor Street, Bolton, BL11NH / thekitchen.coop / 01204 770881
During the day the pub and live music venue is home to Mod’s Vegan Cafe, serving up meat-free all-day breakfasts, brunches and pub classics. The portions are massive.
New Wakefield Street, Manchester M1 5NP / 0161 236 6071
A vegetarian cafe in Ashton-under-Lyne with plenty of vegan options and free wi-fi. There is also a sister site, Topaz Tea Rooms, in neighbouring Dukinfield.
In 2010 they launched the Kitchen Garden – as well as providing community allotments to locals, this is also where a lot of the cafe’s fresh veg is grown.
216-218 Katherine Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 7AS / topazcafes.org / 0161 330 9223.
Know any more great veggie or vegan restaurants? Leave a comment below or Tweet us @CityLifeManc to let us know.
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