Manchester: ‘Madchester’, ‘Granadaland’, ‘Gunchester’.
Credit: Paul Grogan Photography
So many nicknames that are so rarely used by anyone anymore.
Each one of them is attributed to a specific time or period in the city’s history. It was Granadaland when the Granada Studios were the city’s biggest claim to fame during the fifties, the media named it Gunchester during a spree of violence during the 1990s and it was Madchester when the Happy Mondays, amongst others, were riding a hallucinogenic high during the late 80s. These landmark moments (as well as two iconic, competing football teams) have coloured the city with a vibrant cultural history which has sustained it’s tourism trade for the last 40 years.
It’s this cultural significance that has made it a magnet for big brands (including the one I work for) who see the huge retail boroughs as a golden opportunity for creating awareness and generating income. ‘Going out’ as a culture, is a well-refined art up North and each major city (including Newcastle and Liverpool) has it’s own take on this past time. The importance that the citizens of these cities put on eating and drinking out make places like Manchester a perfect place to open a restaurant.
Whilst a number of high-profile chefs have opened fine dining restaurants in the city, hoping in vain to attain the city’s first Michelin star in 40 years, there’s still enough retail space in the city centre to accommodate for all kinds of establishments. With the foodie revolution well in swing this has lead to the rise of a new kind of restaurant: not quite fast food, not quite restaurant.
The street food eatery is an ideal business for first time owners who wouldn’t feel confident running a full-size restaurant or kitchen. The fare served these places are simple to cook and quick to eat, encouraging a high turn over of checks and reducing pressure on chefs.
Although most street food places mostly serve interesting takes on World foods such as Indian or American-styles, there’s still room for innovations in the game. Manchester’s regular food markets are often the best places to try out these new tastes, although some of them might not always be worth the price tag.
Like many other modern ‘innovations’, such as self cleaning ovens, there might be a few misses that don’t quite warrant their existence (I’m looking at you Mac Daddies – mac’n’cheese really isn’t that great), but there’s always something mind-blowingly awesome that will stay with you for a long time to come (Dim Sum Su – I owe you a lot).
Not that I’ve effectively beaten round several bushes, I’m going to rundown my top five street food places that you need to check out should you find yourself in Manchester. This list is of establishments only, so no street food vendors I’m afraid (sorry Su!):
Changos Burrito Bar
Northern Soul Grilled Cheese