A secret gem in Phoenix Park where they hold events over the summer; you can go and wander round the the grounds, the sunken garden, the walled garden, eat in the stunning boathouse restarant (12:30-5pm) overlooking the fish pond. They have outdoor concerts there too, and a farmers market. A one stop shop for a dry Sunday.
See www.farmleigh.ie/ for more details and opening times.
If you want to find out what's going on in 'alternative' Manchester - go to the Basement. A space for people to meet, eat and take action on a range of social causes. There's also a shop stocking a range of ethical and vegetarian wares.
24 Lever Street, Manchester
The best mexican food in all of London. The restaurant has been here since 1982, so it must have something going for it!
I can recommend the chimichangas, especially washed down with a bottle (or two) of Dos Equis!
5 Langley Street, 2 minutes walk from Covent Garden tube
Re-vamped greasy spoon located just off Oldham Street. The food is really good and (especially the soup) reasonably priced, not sure it will stay as cheap forever. Choice is pretty simplistic - one main and one vegetarian main per day, with soup and paninis to choose from, but it's decent fare. Just re-opened and there is a bit of a buzz about the place, with the old regulars sitting side by side with the new lot (and getting hacked off that it's now a no smoking gaff). Can't miss it now either as that Doodlebug crowd have covered the windows in graffiti. I think they were asked to, mind.....
21 Hilton Street
Tel: 0161 228 1484
Vegetarian cafe with limited but delicious homecooked choice of lasagne, salads, chili. Large portions, small prices and a relaxing atmosphere. No alcohol. Largely undiscovered but it's been around for years.
On the side road between Mountpleasant and Renshaw Street.
Kabana is a simple curry house very clean situated near the Northern Quarter. It is only open Monday-Friday from 12pm till 5pm but serves some amazing cheap food mainly for nearby workers and it's always full of Asian people which is the best sign of good authentic food. The Channa Dhall was wonderful, you get free jugs of water and you can't spend more than £6 a head. I believe their tandoori chicken and shish kebab are very tasty as there were many people eating these (can't comment because I'm vegetarian!) - also their chapatis are huge and made freshly all the time, yoghurt suce wonderful - this is a great bargain and superb value, the staff are friendly. I've tried a few places around this area of Manchester but for me its the best because they just focus on the food which is what counts.
Back Turner Street, Manchester M4 1FP
Once you have explored the varied architecture, trendy shopping and vibrant cafe culture of the city centre and want a more laid back, yet very chic urban experience, take the number 111 or 46 bus from the city centre and get off by the Metropolitan pub on Lapwing Lane or Burton road (about 3.5 miles south of the city centre). This is the heart of West Didbsury. It is full of chic little boutiques, retaurants, bars, curious little shops, art shops, furniture shops, a couple of small supermarkets and so on. Everything you need concentrated into a small area, full of really nice people.
The age range here is much lower than the national average, having said that there are plenty of more "mature" people coming here for the excellent restaurants.
Best place to start is with a laid back coffee or glass of wine (perhaps light lunch) at the Assembly. Sit outside on the veranda if you can. It's great for people watching. If you are there in the evening, perhaps try the Lime Tree next door(also has a veranda) which is one of the most sought after restaurants in the city and then I recommed trying the One Lounge bar on the corner of Lapwing lane and Burton road or M20 cocktail bar not far from there down Burton Road. Also the magnificent Metropolitan Pub/Restaurant (opposite). It's one of the most famous pubs in Manchester.
From West Didsbury you can either walk or drive about a mile to Didsbury village. Or take the 23 bus. Didsbury main high street which is also known as Didsbury village (though villagey it is not!) is the more traditional but still very fashionable part of the area. It's much larger than West Didsbury with even more restaurants and shops than West Didsbury, but perhaps more of a traditional family environment with slightly older crowds than West Didsbury. There is still a younger crowd in the evenings and weekends, especially on sunny days, with pretty much all the bars and restaurants having outside seating. I would recommend eating at Felicini Italian restaurant. It's one of the best known in the city. You probably need to book ahead though (as you do for the Lime Tree in West Didsbury).
look up post code M20 2WS on multimap.
This restaurant has been on the scene for a very long time. From a humble beginning, it has now become an upmarket restaurant. We feel their food is the nearest one finds to the middle-class homes of India and Pakistan.
Their Masala Fish is historic and a variety of lamb and chicken dishes, bunah/dry or with vegetables like lady's fingers or karela/bitter gourd are memorable. Their clientele used to be mainly Europeans but now Asian families are frequently seen dinning there. That's the ultimate test of a good curry restaurant outside the subcontinent.
Great Horton Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 3HS
Tel: 01274 571861
Modern Italian Pizzeria - great food, with lots of twists on the usual pizzas, including one based on a full English breakfast. Main one is just off Albert Square but a second has opened recently in Chorlton.
Croma Manchester 0161 237 9799
1-3 Clarence Street, Manchester, M2 4DE
Croma Chorlton 0161 881 1117
500 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 9AP
Saya is a simple Thai cafe that serves superb food. During several prolonged stays in Seattle, I think I tried everything on the menu - never found a dish I didn't like but the best by a country mile is Gai Yang. This is the tastiest barbequed Thai chicken ever. If you're in the neighbourhood, drop in - guarantee you won't be disappointed. I don't think I ever spent more than $7!
8455 212th St. Kent, WA 98031
Fantastic deli full of wonderful treats to tempt you. Buy bread in Harvey Nicks or Selfridges in Manchester and you can be sure it came from here: but not at quite the same price! The staff are friendly and the shop is bursting at the seams with gorgous nosh.
Take the 86 bus from town and get off by Unicorn food co-op in Chorlton next stop after the baths.
The best no frills curry cafe in the city centre. Rice, 3 vegetable curies and naan for under £4. The food is always freshly cooked and delicious. Follow it with a drink at the Odd Bar or Bay Horse further along the street.
Thomas Street, city centre
If you want a two-hour-long, food/beer-sozzled route to see a Manchester City game, as well as a chance to feed some geese, this is my dream route to my seat in the East Stand lower tier from Piccadilly Square: from Piccadilly, with your back to 1960s megalith, Piccadilly Plaza, you head up Tib Street to the YADGAR curry house. If you're veggie, you can get rice and three curries for £3.00 - same price as a pint in some of the Northern Quarter bars. £3.90 and you get lamb or chicken toppings too. Best tarka dhal in Manchester.
After that, you could go further up Tib Street and drink in Centro and then have another pint in the Copper Kettle, a pub whose restoration ran out of money - look at the ceiling on one side of the pub, and then the other. One side was restored, the other remains as it was when the building was almost derelict. However, if you choose to hit Great Ancoats Street at this stage, all there is from there is street and no canal. Instead, after Yadgar, I suggest you go back towards Piccadilly and locate the Mother Mac pub, on a side street off Oldham Street. This, I imagine, will remain like something out of Victorian times even long into another era in which Manchester aspires to make its eastern central section resemble a damper, rainier New York.
From Mother Mac's, you could stock up on samosas at Marhaba, one of the other remaining low-price curry houses in the city centre, or maybe buy some bread and head towards the canal - there's an entrance on to the towpath on Ducie Street, which is the road bearing left as you reach the ramp leading towards Piccadilly Station. Once on the canal, the geese are very 'people-friendly' - in other words, mind your fingers.
Continuing up the canal, you'll reach steps at Great Ancoats Street. Following crowds towards the ground, my final stop is the Bank Of England pub. It's not just a no-frills pub - it's a no-stitching-at-all pub. The toilets are signposted by a male and female pointing figure silhouette shapes, but the male silhouette says 'women' on it and the female one 'male' - everyone turns the wrong direction the first time, like one of those psychological tests where they write 'blue' on a red-coloured board. Once you've survived this delightful obstacle course, remember, you've still got a football match to watch, and the return leg into town afterwards to negotiate. As is often said of Manchester City, it's the 90 minutes in the middle that ruins the experience.
Between Manchester Piccadilly and Sportcity.
Amazing views, incredible food and great hospitality - we ate at the villa 5 of the 7 nights we stayed, loved the antipasta and David's deserts were fabulous. In fact my partner is a vegetarian and the menu was better than most restaurants. Had the most relaxing holiday, in fact we were chilled out within half an hour of arriving. This region of the Marche is still relatively undiscovered and long may it stay that way. Prices for eating out are unbelievable - 3 course meals around 35 euro and great local wines as well.
Villa Sibillini's bed and breakfast rates are just 85 euro a night and the breakfasts are a delight, fresh fruits and many home-made jams.
Couldn't praise it enough, Pam and David have just the right touch - friendly and welcoming, it was like staying with friends. Will certainly be back.
Contrada Collalto 10, San Ginesio, Macerata 62026, Le Marche, Italy
nearest station - Tolentino
This must be the best seafood restaurant in France - a bold claim I know - but try it. For your first visit, try the salad with foie gras to start with. The 'must' dish to try for your main course is Zarzuela. A rich Basque stew of lobster, crab, shellfish and fish in a creamy soup, served in a copper pan. Worth ordering just for the smell alone. A dish to add to the 10 meals to eat before you die.
The customers are all Old France and the atmosphere is very Basque. The only downside is the table reservation process is a bit hit & miss. For peace of mind, ask your hotel to book for you.
For your second visit, the plateau de fruits de mer is stunning. But try the Zarzuela first!
Socoa harbour - plenty of parking opposite. The 2 other restaurants adjacent to Pantxua aren't in the same league. Don't be tempted.
37 Avenue Commdt Passicot 64500
Tel: 33/5 59n 47 13 73
A genuine local secret. A dodgy-looking curry place on the edge of the trendy bars in the Northern Quarter, Hunter's curries a frankly astonishing range of animals: quail, venison, grouse, all advertised on fluorescent card signs. It's cheap with enormous portions and makes a change from the sometimes indistinguishable curry houses in Rusholme. All the better for being so out of place next to Socio Rehab and Odd. Bizarre.
94 High St, Manchester
Don't let the exterior put you off - the authentic taste of southern Italy awaits within. Highly recommended: the incredibly generous antipasto misto followed by an amazingly pneumatic calzone contadina. Excellent 'just like in Italy' coffee too - especially if accompanied by a grappa. Great ambiance, Italian mood music, friendly staff, excellent value. Be warned though - come here hungry and prepare to eat for England.
21 Friar Street, Worcester (01905 612211)
Great food, sandwiches with top meats and a deli counter with all things veggie and spicy. The large carvery style cooking makes the meat sandwiches amazingly tasty. Try it out.
Deansgate corner with John Dalton Street.
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