You can find many curry houses in Manchester.

You can find many curry houses in Manchester.

Curry heaven is still attainable in Manchester

Restaurant News

You will find incredible restaurants dotted all over Greater Manchester.

There are around 700 restaurants in Manchester, with a further 800 in the surrounding Greater Manchester area, so were you to visit one a day, it would take you around five years to eat in each one.

Whether it’s fine dining or street food, you’ll have little difficulty finding your favourite cuisine from the ‘four corners’ of the world. However, rather surprisingly, the first new Michelin star to be awarded to a restaurant in Manchester in over 40 years went to the Mana (Nordic influence, with seafood) restaurant in the Ancoats area in 2019.

However, one of the positive problems with Manchester is that you will always be able to find a reasonable ‘curry house’, with several hundred of the 1500+ restaurants offering south Asian cuisine. Wilmslow Road in Rusholme, home of the famous ‘Curry Mile’ to the immediate south of the city centre, was once recognised as having the largest concentration of curry houses in Europe. While it still boasts some 100 restaurants covering every Middle Eastern and Asian style of cuisine you could ever wish for, time has not been too kind. Pure over-commercialism combined with the modern business death knell that is heavy traffic, underutilised cycle lanes and difficult parking, has taken its toll.

Traffic and parking aside, mention has to be made of the original, and some say still the best on the ‘Curry Mile’, the Sanam Sweet House and Restaurant. It has been offering Indian and Pakistani sweet and savoury cuisine since 1963, and it is still under family ownership. They have a famously large – and be warned, it is big – mithai (confectionery) counter featuring an incredible selection of barfis (dense milk-based sweets), cham chams (traditional Bengali sweet), jalebis (the famous spiral sweet), Ras Mali (the classic Indian cheese disc dessert with thickened milk), rasgulla (spongy cheese balls), phirni (the slow-cooked Indian rice sweet pudding), and much, much more. On the food front, Sanam offers A La Carte all day long, with a Sunday special from 10am to 3pm. Their signature and homestyle dishes are really very good, and their Karahi dishes are delicious, with plenty of vegetarian options available. Pricing is very keen, with most mains around the £10 mark. However, service can be a little ‘haphazard’, but by and large, the quality of the food seems to cancel that out.

Sanam on Curry Mile, Manchester.
Edward Moss
Sanam on Curry Mile, Manchester.

Elsewhere in the city centre, Wah Ji Wah, located on King Street West just off the city centre, with its Lobster Pepper Fry (fresh lobster tail in shell cooked in pepper masala sauce with fresh curry leaves) and Halibut Patrani (in coconut, sesame seed, mint, coriander and enveloped in banana leaf) are two of its signature dishes – an Indian restaurant of real quality. Many of the dishes have a delightful Wah Ji Wah twist but I do get the impression that if it could divest itself of the Anglicised Chicken Tikka Masala-style dishes, the restaurant would be happy to do so. However, when curry dishes that do not have their origins related to the Indian subcontinent are cooked well, there will always be the demand.

Other very notable names where you will be served a superb meal include Arnero’s in Sackville Street, Asha’s on Peter St, and Zouk Tea Bar and Grill, on Chester Street, all three in the city centre. There is Sangam in Didsbury, Namaste Nepal in West Didsbury, and Hungamaa of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, all in South Manchester. Tito’s Asian Grill in Prestwich Village, north of the city centre, is worthy of a mention for tasty and well-flavoured food.

However, heading out further into the suburbs of north Manchester will provide some excellent curry options, with several of the best Indian restaurants located there: the Lime Tree at Heaton Park near Prestwich is notably different from many other Indian-style restaurants, in as much as if you want very authentic food, and by that I mean food that would actually be served in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, you only have to ask for the chef to ‘staff style’ it. This will be a typically drier style curry, with a flavour and taste that will knock you for six, unless you specify how you want it, and the chef will be only too glad to oblige. Anarkali Chicken (or Lamb) is typical of the drier-style, Bangladeshi curry, and while it is served quite spicy by default, you only have to tell the chef to tone it down for you, and they will; flavoursome doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Lime Tree at Heaton Park near Prestwich.
Courtesy of Mike Pope.
Lime Tree at Heaton Park near Prestwich.

Armaan’s in Radcliffe, midway between the city centre and Bolton, has a sauce chef who almost defies belief. He is the culinary equivalent of Tom Cruise taking a leading role in a TV soap opera. Food is tasty with a capital ‘T’, with everything in each dish identifiable and very capable of giving even the most critical of TV cooking programme judges a run for their money.

It does, though, come at a price, although that price is definitely more service-related than financial. When the restaurant is very busy, although the staff are very friendly, be prepared to age gracefully, and even consider bringing an overnight bag with you. But the food is worth any wait.

Forgotten treasures

Saving the best until last, and moving nearer to Bolton (the largest town in Europe that is not a city), and to an area that time seems to have forgotten, Farnworth. Despite its legacy for having a very efficient tram service from the town centre to the city centre in Manchester in the first half of the 20th Century, like many small towns, it suffers from “big-brother town and out of town shopping centre syndrome” as well as the great attraction that is nearby Manchester.

On the northern reaches of Market Street in the town, you will find the Royal Balti House, which despite its appearance and location, has won more awards than you can fit on this page. Aside from being the Restaurant of the Year North West Region English Curry Awards 2022 Winner, it consistently either wins or is in the final for so many other awards. And it is no wonder; small and compact it might be (you will need to book at peak times), but food and service are second to none. The sauce for the restaurant’s signature ‘Bolti’ dishes is out on its own, and they can also ‘staff style’ any dish you want. Their sweet, sour and fruity dishes are quite distinctive and unique, with Jalfrezi and Karahi dishes being just how they should be. And if you just want a traditional curry dish with either meat, poultry, seafood/fish or vegetarian, you will be able to tell with your eyes closed whether it is a Samber, Dupiaza, Madras, Vindaloo or other style, something that you’d struggle to do at many curry restaurants. The Royal is up with the best in tempering the sauce correctly, as opposed to just throwing in curry powder to appease the customer.

Royal Balti House.
Edward Moss
Royal Balti House.


  • If you like a very spicy curry and you ever ask for it to be spiced up further, it’s hot curry powder that makes your lips sore and the preservatives (often sorbitol, the same as in sugar-free sweets) used in those powders that cause that dreaded digestion effect. A hot sauce traditionally made with a pestle and mortar will not cause the same effects.
  • Eat small pieces of banana if you find a curry is proving a little too hot – drinking water just opens your taste bud receptors and makes a spicy curry seem even spicier.
  • Never have a chilli pepper trial: this can be very dangerous. If someone challenges you, for example, to try a piece of Carolina Reaper or 7 Pot Douglah, just don’t. It can be more lethal than playing Russian Roulette with a full chamber. 

Edward Moss

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