If you ignore the New Look, TopShop and Next looming in the distance, The Arndale Food Market is like going around the world on your lunch break.
There is Greek on one corner, Indian on the next, Thai and a little bit of Mexican towards the back, just to name a few. If you ever have a serious case of world food-lust but can’t afford the plane ticket – look no further than the market.
Sure, It doesn’t look like much, but it really is a treasure trove of foodie delights just waiting to be discovered (and Instagrammed immediately). Below are my favourite vendors and those dishes I can’t get enough of.
Pulled Lamb Burrito from Panchos Burrito
Hands down the best Mexican food in Manchester and if you disagree with me I am fully prepared to get in a scrap with you. I think the problem with Burritos is that they are often tasteless- I do not want everything to melt into one big flavour because I get bored. Panchos, however, is quite the opposite. With every bite, you can taste all the layers of their delectable contents, and you will not want the experience to end. You can choose from a load of different fillings, but my favourite has to be the Pulled Lamb, but just be warned that it is pretty spicy and is not for the faint of heart!
Bao Buns from The Fusion Lab
It seems that Bao Buns are the talk of the town at the moment and are very ‘en vogue’. We can’t turn a street corner without bumping into some fluffy Bao – so it is safe to say that we’re getting pretty hard to please. I love the Bao from The Fusion Lab, and they make the perfect lunchtime treat. They have all the classics like Shoryu pork, KFC (Korean fried chicken which is SO ‘effing CRISPY) as well as more experimental choices like Halloumi- which are incredible! They have great options for veggies/vegans too, and the cakes are worth a visit in their own right.
Greek Mezze from Zorbas
This one surely can’t be too terrible for you- in fact, it is probably the healthiest option on this list. Zorba’s does fantastic Greek food – think epic Halloumi Pita’s, Chicken Gyros and delicious stews over rice. I love their Mezze box though as it is full of tasty little bits that keep you guessing throughout. There is minimal lettuce (but it still counts as a salad, right?) as well as olives, stuffed vine leaves, hummus, olives, butterbeans, chillies, pickles and a whacking dose of tzatziki. They always give you a lovely warm pita too, and at a fiver – it is hard to say no.
Calamari Burger from La Bandera at the Market
We love a little bit of La Bandera, so you can believe our excitement when we heard they were opening a Street Food venue in the Arndale Market last year. Since it began, it has been going from strength to strength and providing the people of Manchester with top-notch tapas seven days a week. They have some Spanish classics like Paella, churros, tortilla and some cracking specials that change often. The big plates are delicious, and I would have to point you in the direction of the Calamari burger served with home-made Aioli on a black as night squid-ink bun. I cannot get enough, and all that is missing is a chilled bottle of Estrella and a little Spanish sunshine.
Quack Fries from Viet Shack
I would happily eat Viet Shack three meals a day, seven days a week if I had the low-key superpower of never getting fat. This street food vendor focuses on authentic Vietnamese food like Bhan Mi, summer rolls, crispy duck and other dishes which are a bit more of a fusion like KFC, and Saigon inspired burgers. The dish that everyone is talking about though is the Quack Fries – and man are they naughty. Chips, and they aren’t just any chips, they are probably some of the crispiest and well seasoned in Manchester- with crispy shredded duck, home-made sriracha jam, mayo, chillies and spring onion. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The ‘77 from Mac Daddies
There is nothing more comforting than a steaming bowl of stringy Mac & Cheese when you are feeling down. We love Mac Daddies, and we love them even more now they have found a forever home at the Arndale Market. You can’t go wrong with a classic, and I should point out they have tonnes of Vegan options too, but the best Mac on the menu is definitely the ’77. This bad boy consists of their signature four cheese macaroni, with cayenne pepper onions, fired chorizo topped with rocket and red chilli. Hells. Yeah.
The Arndale Food Market, Market St, Manchester M4 3AQ