From restaurants right underground to eateries tucked down alleyways, Manchester’s complex network of streets and snickets boasts a variety of alternative places to eat.

And by alternative, that doesn’t just mean that the location is unusual – these places often serve exotic cuisine and are especially known for their quality vegetarian and vegan options.

This & That

Buried away down Soap Street in the Northern Quarter, this secretive curry café is often described by good grub lovers as one of Manchester’s ‘hidden gems’. Established in 1984, this is a family-run business serving up a signature combination of ‘Rice and Three’ (rice and a three different curries) with a changing daily menu, recognised for flavour and authenticity. The food is cooked from fresh using whole spices, and is excellent value at just over £5 for rice and three meat curries, and well under a fiver for rice and three vegetarian options. It’s refreshing to know that vegetarian choices are always available, with the cabbage curry particularly popular.  Check their website to see which curries are available on which day. Sides, including salad, naan and the much-loved mango lassi are also on offer.

3 Soap St, Manchester M4 1EW

Earth Café

An underground café located beneath the Manchester Buddhist Centre on Turner Street in the Northern Quarter. Canteen-style service here delivers a range of seasonal, fresh-cooked vegan dishes, as well as a salad bar, fresh juices and desserts. Earth Café really is a healthy hideaway, as there is a particular focus here on combining tasty, nutritious ingredients – with the menu changing daily in order to incorporate the best of locally-sourced produce. Popular options have included their homemade chilli and Caribbean curry, highlighting that this is cross-continental cuisine with something for everyone. It is worth mentioning too that this place is ideal for people who struggle to settle on one option, as here you can have a ‘pick’n’mix’ style plate! Choose two mains and two sides for well under £10, ideal for eating in their relaxing basement seating area which is finished with scenic water features.

16-20 Turner St, Manchester M4 1DZ


Bundobust serves up a winning combination of all-vegetarian Indian street food and craft beer beneath Piccadilly Gardens. It is easy to miss the entrance to this much-acclaimed eatery, located close to the junction with Newton Street, with stairs leading guests down into an atmospheric dining destination. This is casual yet creative eating, with the small plates served in simple containers, ideal for sharing – though perhaps you will want to keep it for yourself! After all, the food here is much-loved for combining flavour with fun: including okra fries, Vada Pav (in effect, a mashed potato burger) and Raghda Pethis, which brings together spicy mushy peas with potatoes – India meets the North of England. With most dishes around the £5 mark, this is also excellent value.

61 Piccadilly, Manchester M1 2AG

Eighth Day

It looks like a grocery shop from the surface on Oxford Road – but there is so much more to Eighth Day than meets the eye. Located opposite the Manchester Metropolitan University’s All Saints campus, this is a worker’s co-operative (one of the longest running in the area), which provides vegetarian and vegan groceries – as well as an innovative under-floor café. Here you can enjoy a range of meat-free food, with daily dahl, soup and salad station options, as well as changing specials; all made from fresh, ethically sourced produce. The canteen-style service means that it is ideal for a quick lunch – though the range of pasties and cakes at the upstairs counter is also tempting.

111 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7DU

The Manchester Vegan Café and Wellbeing Centre

Tucked away within the Three Minute Theatre on the Ground Floor of Afflecks (See HAUNT’s Gothic Guide to Afflecks here, this is a community business, complete with creative interiors and a generous vegan menu with most options under £5. Beginning with all-day breakfasts and through all the way to Buddha Bowls and burgers, there is plenty of choice with a number of comfort food favourites on the menu. Their vegan pizzas have been particularly popular, and of course, the changing selection of cakes; with take-out options available for those looking for a quick bite. Another sign of their attractive, alternative edge is their recent venture into Kombucha drinks and fermented food: with these processes becoming increasingly popular in the culinary world.

35-39 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JG


This place claims to be Manchester city centre’s only Ethiopian restaurant (the word ‘Habesha’ is a name sometimes given to the people who inhabit the area of the Horn of Africa) and is hidden up a spiral staircase in a Kebab shop (Istanbul) on Sackville Street in The Gay Village. It’s well worth the adventurous assent, as this upstairs eatery oozes authenticity, with warm wooden interiors, walls decorated with simple textiles and artefacts, and a bar serving Ethiopian beer. The eating experience really does feel unique here – thanks especially to the giant plates of bread. All food is served on this traditional sour flatbread which is called Injera, largely made from rice flour. Diners can pick from a small but flavourful menu which includes some meat options as well as vegetarian dishes which include the likes of Yetsom Beyaynetu: Spicy red lentils, yellow split peas, cabbage, carrots and spinach. Eating with your hands is encouraged here – so get stuck in.

29-31 Sackville St, Manchester M1 3LZ

By Emily Oldfield