Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Top 10 Vegan Friendly Places in Manchester's Northern Quarter

Welcome to my next post about vegan places in Manchester, my top 10 vegan friendly places in the Northern Quarter, my favourite place in Manchester City Centre. After the success of my Top 10 vegan places in Manchester 2015 post recently I thought I'd write my top 10 vegan friendly places in the Northern Quarter. For clarification the boundaries of the Northern Quarter that I will use is from Piccadilly Gardens to Great Ancoats Street and between Shudehill and Piccadilly train station.

As with all of these posts, I have not visited every vegan friendly place in the area and this is just my favourite 10 places that I've visited. There are other vegan friendly places in the Northern Quarter that I haven't visited yet and there are dozens of cafes and restaurants in the Northern Quarter I know next to nothing about. Particular mentions go to Pie & Ale which does a vegan pie, and Oak Street Cafe in Manchester Craft and Design Centre which has a good few vegan options. I've heard good things about these places and I will visit them at some point.

10. Ning, Oldham Street

Ning is a Malaysian restaurant and catering company. Ning has plenty of vegan options, all of which are labelled. If you want a formal evening meal and not go to Dough, this may be suitable for you.


9. Beermoth, Tib Street

Beermoth is a specialist beer shop that has a special partnership with local brewer Marble Beers, a vegan brewery in Manchester. Beermoth has an amazing selection of beers and ales from all over the world from rare, alternative and independent breweries. If you're into beers and ales, this is certainly the place for you. I often buy people birthday/Christmas presents from here.


8. This & That, Soap Street

This & That is known for one thing, rice & 3. Rice and 3 portions of curry for a small amount of money (I forget how much). The curry changes each day of the week. There is a place just around the corner called Hunters that is similar and offers a good range. They also serve meat so if you want to avoid that, go somewhere else.

7. Bonbon Chocolate Boutique, John Street

This gem is the best place in Manchester for vegan hot chocolate, without a shadow of a doubt. They melt vegan chocolate, and add flavours such as orange freshly zested in front of you, vanilla and dark truffle. Not all the hot chocolate flavours are vegan though, although they do label the vegan options. They also have a range of chocolates and truffles, many of which are vegan and would make a great birthday present.


6. Odd Bar, Thomas Street

Odd Bar is part of a chain, that used to have 3 locations Odd, Odder (on Oxford Road) and Oddest (in Chorlton). Unfortunately Odder has recently closed down. The Odd chain is one of my favourite places to get vegan breakfasts, and is my favourite place to get a vegan breakfast in the Northern Quarter. They even call it a Vegantastic breakfast. They offer a few other vegan options, but the breakfast is the main reason to go here. Be aware that they also serve meat for those who want to avoid that.


5. Dough Pizza Kitchen, High Street

Dough is probably the place (other than Lotus in Withington) that I get told about most on social media. I had quite a number of people mention that is wasn't in my top 10 vegan places in Manchester. There's reasons why it wasn't, such as it serving meat, it being not that cheap (although reasonable for restaurant prices) and for the dessert menu being unreliable for keeping good vegan options. That being said, this is probably my favourite place in Manchester to eat vegan pizza (now that Teatime Collective have stopped doing pizza - which they may be starting up again next year). It's also one of the only places in the City Centre that I feel comfortable going out for a good quality fancy formal meal out, such as for a birthday meal. Dough use good quality vegan cheese, and has gluten free pizza dough as well. They also do vegan cheesy garlic bread. Given that lots of pizza places do vegan pizza bases and most are happy to use any vegan cheese you bring in yourself, I wouldn't automatically say that these pizzas are any better than that option (feel free to disagree). What really was the star of this restaurant was their desserts menu, which when it started out used to offer great vegan options, possibly the best in Manchester. They were provided by Lily & Dilly, a Manchester-based cake company. This included my favourite, vegan chocolate peanut butter brownies with vegan ice cream. However, to save money Dough changed their menu and started making their own desserts, and they aren't as great. Recently however they've changed and apparently improved, but I haven't yet tried them. Still not a bad place to eat out.


4. Go Falafel

This is just for the City Centre location of Go Falafel, not the Rusholme branch. Go Falafel just made it into my top 10 vegan places in Manchester. The City Centre location closes at 10pm while the Rusholme location stays open until 2am. Go Falafel is one of my favourite places to go for smoothies and juices. I've also just discovered that it does great salads as well, but what it's really known for is falafel. It does the best falafel wraps in the city centre. Go Falafel is 100% vegan. Brilliant, cheap, fast vegan falafel takeaway food.


3. Soup Kitchen, Spear Street

Soup Kitchen is a bar, a cafe and a music venue all in one. Beware that this place also serves meat, so if that's not your thing best not to go here. Yes, this didn't make my top 10 vegan places in Manchester but is higher than Go Falafel. This is because Go Falafel has a location in Rusholme so overall I'd rank to 2 together higher than just Soup Kitchen on it's own. The fact that this is a bar that has live music on downstairs and often DJs upstairs in the evening means that it can get busy and noisy in the evenings. During the day however, this place is a quiet place to have good food. They tend to serve food until 9 or 10pm so if you want a late meal that's not an expensive restaurant, this is the place for you. They offer jacket potatoes with vegan fillings, various curries, salads, sandwiches, fritters and cakes all with vegan options.


2. Earth Cafe, Turner Street

Earth Cafe made No 7 in my top 10 vegan places in Manchester, and has been a long stable favourite of mine in Manchester. Earth is 100% vegan, except for offering cow's milk in tea or coffee. Earth Cafe offers a range of salads, curries, chillies, pies, soups and burgers. They also offer amazing vegan cake (some of which is raw) and juices & smoothies. Apart from perhaps busy Saturday afternoons, there's more than enough space for you to get a table to sit at. I've been going to this place for longer than I've lived in Manchester and is one of the longest standing vegetarian cafes in Manchester.


1. V Revolution, Oldham Street

Obviously you knew this would be my number one. V Revolution made No 3 in my top 10 vegan places in Manchester, because it is awesome. V Revolution is the place in Manchester for vegan junk food. If you want vegan milkshake ice cream floats, go to V Rev. If you want vegan cheese chicken bacon burgers, go to V Rev. If you want vegan hotdogs, go to V Rev. If you want to buy vegan cheese, go to V Rev. If you want to buy awesome vegan chocolate, go to V Rev. Just go there already. Every single thing here is 100% vegan. They will be moving early next year to another much larger location in the Northern Quarter with a larger menu and I cannot wait! They will even be open until midnight.


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Top 10 vegan places in Manchester 2015

It's been 2 years since I made my blog post about my top 10 places for vegans in Manchester. You can view it here: Manchester's top 10 vegan friendly places.. Quite a few things have changed in those 2 years. Sadly 2 places on that list have closed down or relocated out of Manchester - Safad and Anand's Vegetarian Deli (now in Bolton). A few new places have opened which is really exciting, and a lot of existing places have just been getting better and better. I genuinely believe Manchester to be one of the best places in England for vegans. I will be doing further lists of either specific types of vegan friendly places or cover specific areas of Manchester in the future but, as of November 2015 here are my top 10 vegan friendly places in Manchester:

10. Go Falafel, City Centre & Rusholme

The first new addition to this list, and the first to be a chain. This is a 100% vegan chain with just 2 locations, first in the city centre just outside of Piccadilly Gardens, sort of on the way to Piccadilly train station. The second location is at the beginning of curry mile in Rusholme and replaces Annand's Vegetarian Deli (which is now in Bolton) as the only Rusholme location on this list. Basically, this is a takeaway that does vegan falafel wraps and salads and the best juices and smoothies fresh in front of you. Really quick service and fairly cheap as well. Perfect for when you're in a rush and need to grab something cheap to eat. Since Safad closed down I'd probably tie this joint first for falafel in Manchester with Falafel also in Rusholme.


9. Mod's Veggie Cafe at Thirsty Scholar, City Centre/Oxford Road

Situated just off Oxford Road, 2 minutes away from Oxford Road train station, Mod's Cafe at Thirsty Scholar is one of the longest running vegetarian places in Manchester (if you also count the previous locations of the cafe) and has been somewhere I've been visiting since before I even moved to Manchester. It has been the venue for Manchester Vegan Society meetings and Christmas meals for years and years. In the last few years, it has been holding a monthly Meat-Free Mondays rice & 3 (where you get rice and 3 different portions of curry for a set price, various places in Manchester do this). If you're into cheap decent simple vegan pub grub then this is the place for you.

Thirsty Scholar website:

8. Sanskruti Restaurant, Withington

Another new addition to this list is Sanskrurti, a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Withington. I believe it was opened in 2013 to my memory (correct me if I'm wrong). At the time there were only a small handful of evening restaurants that were any good for vegans in Manchester, especially for formal meals out so this sort of thing was sorely needed. This is the only place I've ever visited that serves vegan korma! Everything here is vegetarian and they label all vegan options, and even have vegan deserts. Ideal if you're in the mood for South Indian foods. If you don't know Withington very well it can be difficult to find, especially travelling by bus. It's a 5 or so minute walk from Mauldeth Road train station however.


7. Earth Cafe, City Centre

Another long-standing vegetarian cafe in Manchester that I've been visiting since before moving to Manchester. Really good wholesome food freshly prepared. A good selection of salads, curries, roasts, cake, and juices. The specials here change almost daily. It's 100% vegan, with the exception of offering cow's milk in hot drinks. Plenty of gluten free options as well. Situated in the heart of the Northern Quarter, Earth is ideal if you're spending time in the City Centre, either after a long day shopping or before an evening out.


6. Fuel Cafe Bar, Withington

Arguably the best vegan home made pub grub in Manchester. Fuel is a vegetarian cafe situated in the centre of Withington, and is a bar, a cafe and a venue all in one. The upstairs is used a lot for all sorts of events from quiz nights to gigs. For a long time, this was one of the only places to eat out for vegans in the evening, and you could argue is still one of the best places for vegans to go out for a light bite to eat and a drink out with friends. Fuel is also home to one of the best vegan breakfasts in Manchester. I will do a top 10 vegan breakfasts in Manchester list at some point, and Fuel will come up high on that list.


5. 8th Day Supermarket & Cafe, University/Oxford Road

8th Day is one of my favourite places in Manchester and massively shaped my experiences of Manchester as a teenager and young student. 8th Day was the first workers co-operative I had discovered, the first vegetarian supermarket and the second vegetarian cafe. Upstairs is a reasonably sized supermarket full of all sorts of really ethically sourced goods, most of which are vegan. Discovering 8th Day allowed me to boycott Holland & Barrett as I could get vegan cheeses and meats and chocolates from a much more ethical business with frankly a larger selection. The deli at the supermarket has a large selection of pasties and pies that can be warmed up as well as cake, so I frequently had lunch here. Downstairs is a good quality cafe. The cafe is not too dissimilar to Earth, in that it serves really wholesome food and amazing vegan cake. The cafe also does one of my favourite vegan breakfasts in Manchester, if not my favourite. Manchester Animal Action, Manchester Vegan Society and Manchester Vegetarian and Vegan Group have all held their monthly meetings here. Really worth a visit.


4. Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen, Withington

Lotus. The highest placed new entry into this list, and well worthy of it. If my memory is correct, this opened in early 2014 (correct me if I'm wrong). In my opinion this is the best place to eat out for an evening meal in Greater Manchester and possibly beyond. Lotus is a vegetarian Chinese restaurant with amazing vegan fake meats. They do the best vegan king prawns, prawn toast, spare ribs, beef, fish and duck I have ever come across. Trust me, this place is amazing. They do lunchtime offers as well. There is basically no excuse not to visit this place. I would not be surprised if in 5 years time this restaurant has moved to a larger premises, on a weekend both downstairs and upstairs are pretty full. It is a little bit expensive, but that's to be expected from a posh restaurant for evening meals - so think of spending possibly £15-£20+ on a meal out with drinks, but I promise you it is well worth it.


3. V Revolution, Northern Quarter, City Centre

V Revolution has become one of the most famous vegan cafes in the country, and not without merit. If since turning vegan you miss fast food and other junk foods, this is the place for you. Brilliant vegan double bacon cheeseburgers. Wonderful vegan ice cream milkshake floats. A range of vegan sweets and chocolates and cheeses that will blow you away. Their current location is on Oldham Street (my favourite street in Manchester, home to the shop Vinyl Exchange (second hand record shop), Afflecks Palace, Rockers as well as the venues Night & Day, Gullivers and Castle Hotel and much more) and after roughly 3 or 4 years there, in early 2016 they are planning to move about a 5 minute walk away, closer to the city centre but still in the Northern Quarter. The new location will have much larger kitchen facilities and so they will be able to offer an expanded menu and will be able to serve food even quicker. I'm most looking forward to the addition of chips, something they have sorely missed from their current menu. I believe they will also have a larger seating area, which is great because on a Saturday afternoon V Rev can be pretty busy.


2. Teatime Collective, Hulme

Located in Hulme, Teatime Collective is an entirely vegan cafe. Since my last top 10 vegan places in Manchester Teatime have given up offering cow's milk so are now 1000% vegan, which is amazing news! In a way, this is quite similar to V Revolution in the fact that it mostly serves vegan junk food, but there are some notable differences. The menu is larger and changes more frequently. Most things are made from scratch, including their own vegan ice cream parlour, cakes, pies and much more! They also cater outside events such as festivals, and on occasions will stay open late into the evening for private bookings, for example during Christmas time they do a special Christmas menu and if you've got a minimum of 8 people you can book out the cafe for the evening. You can also order specialised cake from them for your friend's birthday.


1. Unicorn Grocery Workers' Cooperative, Chorlton

If you know me, you'll know how highly I value Unicorn Grocery in Chorlton. This is my favourite food shop that I've ever visited. Unicorn is one of the largest workers' coops in the country, which is one of my favourite things about this place. Every permanent member of staff owns the business, receives the same hourly wage, is a director of the business and has an equal say in how the business runs. The shop is an entirely vegan supermarket, with all their products sourced as ethically as they can. The shop is perfect for buying vegan wholefoods to cook with at home. It has pretty much most things you could want for your average weekly shop, and at affordable prices too. In the last 2 years, they have expanded their second floor (which just had offices and staff rooms) a lot and built a brand new kitchen in there. As well as a deli, Unicorn stocks a large range of vegetables, fruits, wholefoods, bread, condiments, groceries, household products, alcohol, juices and more. Situated about a 5 minute walk from Chorlton tram stop, which is about a 20 minute tram journey into Manchester City Centre.