Whether you’re a restaurant lover or simply a casual diner, it’s likely that you’ve heard of the Michelin Guide. This annual food bible doles out awards to what they consider to be the UK’s finest restaurants, and has international outposts around the globe too. However, despite Manchester’s ever-expanding food scene, the guide has historically overlooked the city. So, what is the deal with Michelin and Manchester?
The Michelin Guide was created by French tyre company Michelin, and continues to be published by them to this day. The first edition of the guide was published in 1900, but then it was simply a publication to encourage more people to drive which featured useful information for motorists, such as maps and listings for nearby hotels. Later on, restaurant reviews were added and the first edition of the Michelin Guide as we know it was published in 1926, which saw the initial introduction of the star system (at this time, just one star could be awarded).
As of now there are more than 200 Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK, but readers may be shocked to learn that just one of those restaurants can be found in Manchester, despite it being one of the largest cities in the country. The sole Manchester restaurant bearing a star is fine-dining establishment Mana, which achieved the historic feat just one year after opening. When Mana received the accolade in October of 2019, it became the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Manchester since 1977.
In more recent years the Michelin Guide has introduced other awards - the Bib Gourmand, awarded to restaurants that display great value cooking, and the Michelin Green Star for those that go above and beyond when it comes to sustainability and lowering waste. Greater Manchester has a handful of each of these awards too - El Gato Negro and The Sparrows hold Bib Gourmands, and Stockport's Where The Light Gets In holds a Green Star.
Scroll down for a bit more info on these restaurants, as well as a handful of others that are also listed in the Michelin Guide - who knows, they could be the next lucky recipients of a Michelin star.
Michelin star restaurants Manchester
Manchester might have just one Michelin star restaurant on the books at the moment, but it's a good'un. Mana in Ancoats is one of the most impressive fine dining restaurants in the country, serving up meticulous, hyper-seasonal plates in a bright, airy dining room.
What: Mana is a fine-dining restaurant headed up by chef Simon Martin, formerly of two Michelin-starred Noma in Copenhagen. The restaurant’s sole offering is its 12-17 course tasting menu, which is a hyper-seasonal affair that evolves depending on which produce is available at the time. Expect expert, precision cookery such as Devon smoked eel marinated in blueberry vinegar, and crisp fried reindeer moss topped with cep powder and thyme salt. One look at the prices will tell you that dining at Mana is definitely in special occasion territory.
Where: 42 Blossom Street, M4 6BF
Book now: Mana
Manchester restaurants with a Bib Gourmand
So, what is a Bib Gourmand? The accolade is a level below a Michelin Star and indicates a restaurant that serves 'quality food at a value price'. Not to be knocked as Michelin’s less-valued award, the Michelin Guide isn’t all about fine dining and duly recognises restaurants that offer truly great food at a price bracket for everyone.
El Gato Negro, Central Retail District
What: Occupying three floors of an elegant converted townhouse, the bar and restaurant serves tapas dishes that combine modern and traditional Spanish flavours and techniques. It’s privy to multiple awards, including a Bib Gourmand, and features dishes such as salt cod croquetas with piquillo pepper purée and aioli, meatballs in tomato fritarda sauce and spiced aubergine with onion confit, fritarda sauce and lavosh bread.
Where: 52 King Street, M2 4LY
Book now: El Gato Negro
The Sparrows, Green Quarter
What: Pasta has prolificated all across the country, but The Sparrows takes a fresh approach, focusing on pasta-like dishes from all over Europe, not just Italy but also Central and Eastern Europe too. European dumplings like pelmeni and pierogi form the heart and soul of this carb-tastic love affair, and there's plenty more to try, including spatzle, fondue, smoked sausage, salumi platters and plenty of pickles.
Where: 16 Red Bank, Cheetham Hill, M4 4HF
Book now: The Sparrows
Manchester restaurants included in the Michelin Guide
There might only be one Michelin starred restaurant in Manchester, but the foodie city is home to many restaurants that feature in the Michelin Guide which is an achievement in itself. Take a look at some of our favourites.
What: Erst is a natural wine bar and restaurant serving a seasonal, sharing-style small plate menu. Simple, pared-back interiors complement a concise menu, but don’t be fooled. The dishes here are high quality stuff: think venison carpaccio with fermented celeriac, hazelnut and rocket, grilled flatbread and confit onions and bay pannacotta with prunes and PX. Sip on a selection of carefully selected natural wines from small producers alongside.
Where: 9 Murray Street, M4 6HS
Book now: Erst
Where The Light Gets In, Stockport
What: Once the top floor of an old Victorian coffee warehouse, this loft space is now home to one of the UK's most intriguing, thoughtful restaurants. Sam Buckley's seasonality and sustainability-focused restaurant serves a varied and oft-changing set menu that, made almost entirely from locally sourced and home grown allotment produce. The stories of those producers are carefully told through beautiful, minimal plates that are just as delicious as they are impressive.
Where: 7 Rostron Brow, SK1 1JY
Book now: Where The Light Gets In
Adam Reid at The French, Deansgate
What: One of Manchester's most prestigious addresses - particularly when it comes to food - The French is currently under the watchful eye of local lad Adam Reid, who brings a foundation of Lancastrian comfort food to his fine dining magnum opus at The Midland Hotel. The restaurant itself is grand and opulent, and Reid's menus show off the best of north westerly ingredients and dishes, featuring elevated versions of British comforts like fish pie and tipsy cake.
Where: The Midland Hotel, 16 Peter Street, M60 2DS
Book now: Adam Reid at The French
Higher Ground, City Centre
What: This easy-going bistro and bar welcomes all with open arms, but the food that comes out of the kitchen is of exceptional quality, marking Higher Ground out as a huge hit when it reopened in early 2023. Expect seasonal British brasserie-style cooking, supported by a low-intervention wine list.
Where: Faulkner House, New York Street, M1 4DY
Book now: Higher Ground
What: Blending British cooking sensibilities with a dash of Scandi minimalism, OSMA is a tough restaurant to pigeon-hole but when the results are this good, who cares? The slick, classy dining room with its angular communal table is a big selling point, as are the Instagrammable small plates.
Where: 132 Bury New Road, M25 0AA
Book now: OSMA
63 Degrees, Northern Quarter
What: Why 63 degrees? Apparently, it's the perfect temperature to brew coffee while also being the key to many of its slow and low-cook dishes on the menu. Designed to bring a taste of Paris to Manchester, diners can indulge in French favourites such as chicken ‘63 degrees’ with truffle paste, duckling fillet with blackberry reduction and whole lobster with tarragon.
Where: 20 Church Street, M4 1PN
Book now: 63 Degrees
The history of Michelin stars on Manchester’s restaurant scene
Mana may be the only restaurant in Manchester to currently boast a Michelin star, but it isn’t the first restaurant in the city to ever receive the accolade. In 1974, The French (now Adam Reid at The French) became the first (and only) Manchester city centre restaurant to be awarded a star, which it retained until 1977.
In 1998, Greater Manchester restaurant Juniper, based in Altrincham, was awarded one Michelin star, which it kept for 11 years until the departure of chef Paul Kitching. Manchester has never been home to a two- or three-star Michelin restaurant, but these are harder to come by – there are currently just eight three Michelin-starred restaurants in the whole of the UK.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does it mean to be in the Michelin Guide?
Michelin stars are a rating system used by the Michelin Guide to determine the quality of a restaurant. According to the guide’s current specifications, one Michelin star signifies 'a very good restaurant', two represents 'excellent cooking that is worth a detour' and three stars means 'exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey'.
Can you be awarded four Michelin stars?
There is often confusion surrounding just how many Michelin stars it is possible for a restaurant to receive. However, the highest accolade that Michelin currently awards is three stars.
Do you apply for a Michelin star?
No, there is no way for a restaurant to guarantee that it will be awarded a Michelin star. Michelin’s team of inspectors are entirely anonymous and pay for their meal in full, without the chef or waiting staff knowing that they are dining at the restaurant.
Can you lose a Michelin star?
Receiving a Michelin star is often the highlight of a chef’s career, but the guide also has the power to take them away. Throughout the years, several restaurants have lost stars following the departure of chefs or a change in standards.
Whether they have recognition from Michelin or not, there’s no denying that Manchester’s restaurant scene is a force to be reckoned with. Don’t believe us? Check out our guide to the best restaurants in Manchester.