While there absolutely is a time and a place for a tasting menu or a Michelin star meal, you just can't beat a proper sarnie. Right? A lot of the time, we want places that understand the importance of value for money as much as a good playlist. Places where, sometimes, quantity matters just as much as quality. Where the vibes are chill and the portions large. Yes, these are the places that make a city tick. Knowing where to grab breakfast on-the-go or lunch on a budget is a crucial thing indeed, and the good news is that Manchester is full of cheap places to eat.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule about what ‘cheap’ means specifically here, as this round-up is filled with everything from speedy snacks to indulgent lunches and hit-the-spot dinners. But if you can grab Thali for under a tenner or a slice of pizza for less than three quid (spoiler alert: you can) then you bet we’ve included them in this guide. The real tell? If you’re able to look at your bank account after a meal at one of these budget restaurants without wincing, we think we’ve done our job.
Eating out in Manchester can be as inexpensive as you need it to be, and there’s no shortage of choice either. Froom oozy grilled cheese sandwiches to fragrant bowls of pho, Manchunians are pretty set with budget places to eat in the city.
Whatever your reason for needing a slap-up meal that doesn’t break the bank, whether it’s making the last few days to pay day or you’re just feeling uninspired by what’s in the fridge, have a little scroll through these best places to eat on a budget in Manchester. Top of the range food doesn’t have to come with a price tag to match.
Why: If you’re looking for a fun, crowd-pleasing and seriously tasty meal on a budget in Manchester, then Bundobust should be top of your list. The menu is totally vegetarian and vegan and the queues out the doors are testament to how good this place really is. It serves street food-style dishes under the umbrellas ‘Beer snacks’ or ‘Munch’, with small plates ranging between £3-7.
Where: 61 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2AG
Book now: Bundobust
Banh Mi Co Ba
Why: There’s nothing fancy about this Vietnamese lunch destination, and that’s exactly why we love it. Grab a plate of summer rolls for the modest price of £3.50 or one of its banh mi baguettes for £6. It does tofu equivalents of all its meat-based dishes, too, making it a great spot for vegetarians.
Where: 87 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6EG
Why: There are two Tampopo sites in central Manchester, a laid-back restaurant offering fresh street food-style plates inspired by East Asian cuisine. Go for the lunchtime deal: from Monday to Friday you can order a selection of its most popular dishes for just £6, such as Nasi Goreng and Singapore Noodles.
Where: 16 Albert Square, Manchester M2 5PF; Corn Exchange, Exchange Sq, Manchester M4 3TR
Book now: Albert Square or Corn Exchange
Why: As the name suggests, Sugar Junction does a mean selection of handmade cakes and treats which you can enjoy with one of its many tea blends or ground coffees. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you walk inside, with china tea sets and war posters on the walls adding to the café’s vintage feel. We love this place for its affordable brunch menu, nearly all of which are under £10. Check out the veggie club ciabatta for £7.50.
Where: 60 Tib Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LG
Book now: Sugar Junction
Why: Fun-loving staff, a huge beer garden, an outdoor cocktail bar and screens to watch live sports are all part of the reason locals keep coming back to The Courtyard in Manchester - as are the prices. Expect burgers, loaded fries, tacos and wings for around £7 to keep you warm while you enjoy drinks with pals outside. You can also grab an espresso martini for £5.50, double gins for £5 or 10 jagers for a tenner. Sore heads the next day may occur.
Where: 2 Chester Street, Manchester, M1 5SH
Why: Big, beautiful bowls of pho are the thing to get at Vnam, which arrive adorned with a garden of fresh garnishes. Slurp on a bowl of noodles for about a tenner at this much-loved spot.
Where: 140 Oldham Rd, Manchester, M4 6BG
Why: Tapas and wine on a budget? Such a thing is in fact possible at Porta, a tapas bar next to Salford Central station. The tapas plates start at £2.50 while most dishes sit between the £5-6 mark, including the likes of patatas bravas, tenderstem broccoli with romesco sauce and almonds and zamorano cheese with quince. Grab a glass of wine for as little as £3 to pair with the meal.
Where: 216 Chapel Street, Salford, Manchester, M3 6BY
Milk and Honey
Why: This community café is run by a talented team of volunteers, from baristas to bakers, who help prvide a space for people to come together and eat, chat, do yoga... a lot goes on at this humble spot. The menu is 100% plant-based and includes the likes of overnight oats, tofu scramble and its signature garden breakfast. Most brunch plates will set you back about four quid while the most expensive item on the list is a totally reasonable £6.
Where: St Peters House, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9GH
Why: This urban chic bar is known for its New York-style pizza with the option to choose between 14-inch or 22-inch sizes, depending on your appetite. The lunchtime meal deal on weekdays is great value - any 22” slice of pizza and a drink for £6.
Where: 39-41 Edge St, Manchester, M4 1HW
Book now: Common
Why: As its first restaurant outside of London, Shoryu decided to show the people of Manchester that there is more to ramen than Wagamama lets on. Located in the centre just a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly, it's handily located for next next time you're catching a train into the city. On the menu you’ll find, tonkotsu – a pork broth ramen topped with char siu bbq pork or a chicken katsu curry ramen which merges together two of the most popular Japanese dishes in the UK. Ramen's £12-15 and since they are super filling, you won't need to order anything else, unless you want to of course.
Where: 1 Piccadilly Gardens, M1 1RG
Book online: Shoryu Ramen
This & That
Why: This restaurant is nestled in a back ally off Soap Street, and at first glance it may not be the first place you’d think to find somewhere good to eat. However if you do decide to venture down to This & That you’ll be met with a range of curries that change daily, all paired with rice and priced at £6 or under. On the menu you can choose from a selection of lamb curries, daal or chicken as well as interchangeable dishes that vary daily.
Where: 3 Soap Street, M4 1EW
Book now: This & That
The Mess Café
Why: Not only will you be able to get a slap up meal at The Mess Café, but you’ll be contributing to a better society too. The café is a registered charity dedicated to helping people who have previously been homeless, in prison or rehab rebuild their lives by giving them stable jobs that will help them gain vital work experience. On the menu you can expect the likes of homemade steak and red wine pie, burgers and burritos all for under a tenner.
Where: Harpers Road, M22 4RG
I Am Pho
Why: Decorated just as a café would be in Vietnam, this Pho restaurant serves up the hot comforting noodle soup in the most authentic way using homemade noodles and special broths, all for the bargain price of £7. Although Pho is in the name, there is also a range of other Vietnamese dishes including banh mi baguettes with a choice of fillings for £3 and com bo kho beef stew.
Where: 44 George Street, M1 4HF
Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza
Why: Using traditional Neapolitan pizza making methods, Rudy’s pizza is among some of the most authentic you’ll find in the city. Blasted in a hot stone pizza oven for 60 seconds, you won’t get a hard crispy pizza; instead you’ll have a chewy delicious pizza that is best eaten with your hands. Toppings wise it keeps things simple. Using the best ingredients, you’ll find the likes of traditional margherita, and tarantina with anchovies, capers and olives all under £10.
Where: 9 Cotton Street, M4 5BF
Book now: Rudy’s
Why: If you fancy partying the night away and then re-fuelling with some pizza or fried chicken you’ll want to pay YES Manchester a visit. This bar and food terrace has two options in the form of Pepperoni Playboy Pizza and Fire Bird Hope fried chicken. On the pizza menu you’ll find playfully named slices like Pepperoni Playboy, Psycho Kaler and Gary from Admin (margherita) all priced around the £3 mark. If you opt for burgers expect chicken with koji mayo or a vegan seitan burger, and skin-on fries. The best part? After chowing down you can get straight back to partying.
Where: 38 Charles Street, M1 7DB
Northern Soul Grilled Cheese
Why: Claiming to be the UK’s first grilled cheese restaurant, if you are the kind of person who can’t bear to eat anything without cheese on it Northern Soul Grilled Cheese is a must visit. You’ll be met with bright yellow décor, and hipster servers ready to cook up cheesy delights from the menu. Opt for the likes of the classic grilled cheese with red onion chutney, mac attack – mac n cheese in a sandwich – and poutine fries with cheese curds and gravy. With everything being priced under £6 you really must visit for the bargain alone.
Where: 11 Church Street, M4 1PN
Book now: Northern Soul Grilled Cheese
Cane & Grain
Why: Paying homage to the 80s skate scene, Cane & Grain is covered in retro skate posters and industrial interiors. The menu is filled with carb and cheese filled treats such as the truffle cheese fries, baby back ribs and a shrimp po boy with chipotle mayo. If you just fancy popping in for a drink, the quirkily named cocktails Shaun of the Dead and Radioactive man are worth a try. Amost everything is under £10 too.
Where: 49 -51 Thomas Street, M4 1NA
Book now: Cane & Grain
Why: As far as burger joints go, you’ll struggle to find a city that doesn’t have a least a dozen to choose from. Almost Famous has all the qualities you’d expect from a casual burger restaurant. Exposed brick? Check. Quirky art? Check. Ironic burger names? Check. But all these qualities are what make a burger chain so successful so why fix what ain’t broke, right? On the menu you’ll find the River Phoenix double cheeseburger, Triple Nom cheeseburger with pulled pork and bbq sauce and the Pizza Sucks burger with every filling you could possibly imagine all priced under £12.
Where: 100-102 High St, M4 1HP
Book now: Almost Famous
Why: Serving up traditional Indian thalis, you don’t have to pick just one curry to enjoy at Chapati Café. Instead you can pick three all presented in traditional metal trays similar to the ones used in India at lunch times. The menu changes slightly everyday but you can order the likes of chicken karahi, tarka dhal and lamb with paprika and garam masala. All for under £10 you can’t get much better on the price front.
Where: 496B Wilbraham Road, M21 9AS
Why: This Japanese restaurant specialises in all things noodles, with a range of different types to choose from. From ramen to wok fried or soup, you’re spoilt for choice on the noodle front. On the menu you’ll find teriyaki chicken ramen, laksa chicken soup and vegetable pad thai, and, you guessed it, everything is under £10 here too.
Where: 149-153 Oxford Rd, M1 7EE
Not in Manchester any time soon? Have a look at our list of cheap eats in London instead