Confidential's guide to the best places to eat around Manchester Arena
Take That play six shows at Manchester Arena this month, and with a capacity of 21,000, that’s a whole load of people that need feeding. So here's our guide to the best and most convenient places to grab some food before watching the Fab 3 in action...
Perhaps not an obvious first choice and with limited seating, you’ll have to book early, but this intimate sushi bar under a railway arch only a stone’s throw away from the arena has been wowing punters since it opened four years ago. It even caught the attention of Observer food critic Jay Rayner recently, who praised Umezushi for its reasonably priced and bob on authentic sushi and sashimi. Earlier this month, Chef Terry Huang was named 'Chef of the Year' at the recent Manchester Food and Drink Awards.
The menu changes regularly to ensure the ultimate freshness of ingredients. As well as a range of freshly prepared fish and seafood, you can expect heartier bowls of Donmono and sharing platters.
Umezushi, Unit 4, Mirabel Street, M3 1PJ. Tel: 0871 811 8877
HARVEY NICHOLS SECOND FLOOR BRASSERIE
If the raw Japanese vibe is not quite what you’re after this time, but you still like a bit of order with your, er, order, then head towards the Second Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols. The all day contemporary menu features delicious seasonal brasserie classics and the views over Exchange Square are ideal for people watching. If you’re keen to get to the arena in good time, or feel like treating yourself, we recommend Harvey Nichols very stylish Afternoon Tea which is served every day from 12-5pm. For only £20 per head you’ll be treated to an abundant selection of sandwiches and savouries, as well as indulgent handmade cakes, tarts and titbits. What the hell, you might as well upgrade to a Champagne Afternoon Tea for £28. We bet that’s what all the arena wrestlers do before a bout.
Harvey Nichols Second Floor Brasserie, 21 New Cathedral Street, M1 1AD Tel: 0161 828 8898
THE CORN EXCHANGE
This section will have to be split into several sub headings, as here you’ll find a hive of dining options only a short skip across from Manchester Arena. With a baker’s dozen of restaurants to choose from with menus that span the globe, you’ll pretty much find whatever you fancy here. Here’s a few we recommend:
Good Italian restaurants dominate, with each offering something unique; Salvi’s is an independent family-run restaurant and deli with a fantastic Italian wine cellar. They also make a mean negroni. Original home of pizza, Napoli, is in their core and you’ll find a wonderful range of more unusual (but authentic) pizzas including pizze bianche – a selection of white pizzas for those who prefer no tomato. Salvi’s is also a ‘mozzarella bar’ and they serve several different varieties as part of their famous sharing platters with finely carved hams and specially imported salamis.
If you’re fans of Gino D’Acampo then you’ll be thrilled to know that he has opened ‘My Restaurant’ in The Corn Exchange where, as well as lots of photos of the suave Italian telly chef and numerous copies of his books, you’ll find a family friendly restaurant serving regional Italian favourites that Gino has handpicked from his travels around his native Italy.
Vapiano is all about the vibrant freshness of Italian food and is the next best thing to making it yourself, exactly the way you want it. Pasta, pizza dough and breads are made on the premises each day and there are several open kitchen counters where chefs create salads, pasta dishes and pizzas to order. Customers are encouraged to visit various stations to order directly from the chef and watch their food being made, to their exact specifications, right before their eyes. More chilli? No problem. Less garlic? Absolutely.
If your visit to the arena is likely to involve a bit of dancing, Cabana will definitely get you in the mood with its Latino vibe. Inspired by Brazilian street food, their menu features marinated chicken, beef and pork skewers grilled fresh to order, including their best-selling Spicy Malagueta Chicken. You can also choose from other hearty dishes such as the popular Picanha burger made from the ultimate Brasilian cut, Cap of Rump. Pão de Queijo (cheesy Brasilian dough balls) and indulgent sides like Feijoada Fries (sweet potato fries topped with melted cheese and a classic Brasilian stew of pork and black beans) will definitely line your stomach.
The Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, M4 3TR
If you need to keep it light and prefer not to go down the traditional three course route, then tapas might be the answer. Manchester has quite a few good Spanish restaurants to its name but Lunya in Barton Arcade is the nearest to Manchester Arena. Here you’ll find an emporium of Spanish and Catalan goodies on the ground floor along with a bar area serving fantastic wines, beers, Sherries, vermouths and cocktails. Upstairs is a restaurant area for you to graze through a range of delicious regional cheeses, Iberico hams, croquetas, meatballs, squid and chorizo or choose from a variety of heartier paellas.
Lunya, 7 Barton Square, M3 2BB. Tel: 0161 413 3317
CANE & GRAIN
Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter is not too far away from Manchester Arena if you know a couple of short cuts and this place is where the NQ meets NYC. Americana is served in the form of dirty food heaven; sticky ribs, salty fries, fried chicken, stacked burgers and various things smothered in delicious, gooey cheese.
Cane and Grain 49 -51 Thomas Street, M4 1NA. Tel: 0161 839 7033
If you’re after an evening of relative sophistication, perhaps with a European influence, then a bit of French cooking might suit your needs. This family-style bistro on the arena side of the Northern Quarter is the place to head for a taste of Paris. Enjoy a set lunch, choose from the a la carte menu or indulge in their multi-course tasting menu. Classic French seasonal dishes include their signature dish Volaille 63 Degrés, tomates confites et sauce au cidre. Chef Eric Moreau will tell you that 63 degrees is the temperature of a unique cooking technique that he’s perfected after many years of experimentation.
63 Degrees 104 High Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1HQ. Tel: 0161 832 5438
This might not be an obvious choice, but there are lots of excellent quality ‘fast food’ stalls in the food market area which open until 6.30pm. Many are independently owned businesses, selling a range of globally inspired street food dishes with an emphasis on quality and freshness. Amongst others, you’ll find food from the Caribbean, Chinese noodles and dim sum, burritos and Cypriot kebabs. There are also a number of healthier options including a place that makes fresh smoothies and VietShack which make a range of fresh dishes from Saigon salads to the satisfying Quack Fries which ingeniously match shredded salted duck with hot fries and crunchy Viet Slaw. La Bandera (pictured) has also opened a stall here.
Arndale Markets, 58 High St, Manchester M4 1EF
We realise we’ve included quite a few Italian places in this list already, but we felt we couldn’t miss this one out for a couple of reasons. Firstly it’s on Shudehill, so it’s really close, and secondly because it’s really, really good. Its spiritual heartland is Piedmont in North Western Italy (also home of Nutella) and here you’ll find a range of fantastic fresh pasta dishes using recipes handed down by various people’s nonnas. Pasta shapes and fillings vary according to availability of seasonal produce and the creativity of the chef. The food here is great value and they also have a lovely wine list as well as a cracking range of beers and ales. Please note, they’re closed on Mondays.
The Pasta Factory Limited, 77 Shudehill , M4 4AN Tel: 0161 222 9250