Markets, Cal-Mex, and 'a haven of dark greens and polished wood'
The Altrincham story goes something like this - ailing town reinvents itself as foodie hotspot and suddenly the Sunday supplements are falling all over themselves to get a piece of the Alty action. Well, not quite. Altrincham has always been one of the most desirable places to live in Greater Manchester and even if back then its high street didn't match up to the house prices, it did hold Greater Manchester's only Michelin star from 1997 up until 2009 in the form of the delightfully zany Juniper, so it's always had a foodie pedigree.
It's true that the reopening of the Market House (the market itself never closed) as a food court par excellence did give Altrincham a huge shot in the arm and is now the model copied, but never bettered, elsewhere.
Nowadays, the main action is centred around the market, but there are other niches to look out for. Friendly Goose Green has gone from slightly staid to definitely up-for-it, and Kings Court has reinvented itself as a kind of miniature-village Ancoats. And while eating and drinking are the main leisure pursuits here, refined interiors courtesy of Idaho or a boutique cinema experience at the Everyman break things up a little. And of course, you can't come to Alty without going ice-skating. Can you?
Read on for a run-down of the essential eating and drinking spots in Altrincham.
Setting a precedent for trendified markets up and down the country, Altrincham Market is still the original and best. Many have hailed the revamping of the market as the touch paper that lit Altrincham’s whole foodie scene ablaze, thanks to the foresight of Nick and Jenny Thomson. Stalls have spilt out from the original listed building and now occupy the New Market Square as well (check out Federal's adorable coffee truck). Stallholders occasionally change things up so it's worth looking out for new things, but stalwarts we love include Great North Pie Company, Little Window, Lovingly Artisan for great bread, Reserve for wines and many more.
Slightly tucked away from the main drag up in King's Court, this independent craft beer bottle store and taproom joined forces with sister store Batch Deli by knocking down the walls between them - and we mean that quite literally - to form an awesome food retail combo. If you add in King's Court's other residents - Gin Can, Cheshire Tap, I Call Myself Sanchez and Libero - then you have the eating and drinking equivalent of a stadium-busting supergroup.
The original cool little bar in Alty has been serving up fruity (and strong) numbers since 1997 - Trappist, wheat, fruit, ale, dark, blonde, golden, lambic, gluten-free - you name it, they've got it. Since then, they've expanded into serving snacks, platters, waffles and small plates to soak up some of those higher ABVs.
Heaton Moor's finest has made it all the way to Altrincham. Initially starting off online, the provisions store opened up a bricks-and-mortar store with a range of organic fruit and vegetables, sandwiches, cheese and a good selection of wines. But what really pulls in the crowds are the baked goods such as the legendary bagels from State Fayre and treats from Patel’s Pies, which have developed a fanbase all of their own.
Another breakfast/brunch/coffee hotspot we just couldn't miss. Lots of healthy and healthy-ish options but we can't resist the sound of the "sort-of chip barm" - two potato rostis and a fried egg squashed between wedges of sourdough. The daily specials are always worth a look too.
California Coffee & Wine is a ray of SoCal sunshine. The Cal-Mex flavours served up are fresher and sharper than typical Tex-Mex offerings and everything feels clean and wholesome – if you give the sausage and bacon mega stack a swerve (don't though).
The food doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s there to be enjoyed. Expect dishes like San Fran salmon, all scrambled eggs and wilted spinach with some spectacular smoked fish from the Manchester Smokehouse or ranch beans with tortilla, smashed avocado, Cali salsa and plenty of zing from fresh chillies and spring onions. And who doesn't love a breakfast burrito?
Bustling authentic family-run Mexican spot on Regent's Road that you might just miss if you don't have your wits about you. The birria tacos are firm favourites with devoted customers and they stock Mexican soft drinks and beers - we'll take a burrito and a Desperados please.
Another knock-out brunch spot, with everything from shakshuka to shmear, and the coffee here is brilliant too. The prime location opposite the market means it is nearly always busy but there is a small but perfectly formed courtyard garden to duck into. There's also a good selection of cakes, pastries, brownies and cookies, perfect for an afternoon break.
We can't resist a good family connection and when we heard Gran T's Coffee House is named after owner Chris's Gran Taylor, we felt the warm and fuzzies. A gentle hug of a place with a good range of loose leaf teas and cakes, we love the fact you are encouraged to while away the afternoon with a board game or book. A bit like Sunday afternoon at your Nan's.
“Flames and flora” are promised at this South American-inspired grilled meat joint. Jardim brings you the tradition and heritage of churrasco, the grill cookery popular in Brazilian, Uruguayan and Argentinian cuisine, along with Brazil’s rodizio-style all-you-can-eat style of restaurant service.
Local produce is a big deal and it’s all about the cuts of meat: picañha (a Brazilian speciality that’s full of flavour), rump and sirloin at lunch, then, alongside these on the dinner service, there’s fillet, fraldinha (a flank steak that’s cut against its intricate marbling for extra texture) and ribeye. Not top of a vegan wishlist then.
Starting life as a fun pop-up and still kicking six years later, Libero is a football-themed craft ale bar that stylistically channels an early 90s Bernard Sumner in Wayfarers watching Gazzetta Football Italia on a Saturday morning, if you know what we mean. Serving the good stuff from Pomona, Deya, North Brew co and more, Libero also works the kegs at Alty FC, making sure non-league footy fans never go thirsty. Golazzo!
Another Belgian-inspired bar, Mort Subite is difficult to find but perhaps even more difficult to leave, especially if you sample some of the stronger specialist beers. Their range, of course, includes classic Trappist beers and fruity Lambics as well as some eye-watering numbers that are only served in a shot glass. There are sours and IPAs from outside of Belgium too. Mort Subite means "sudden death" and the decor is suitably gothic.
Owner Hayley established this coeliac-friendly deli after her husband was diagnosed as coeliac and she found herself developing enviable skills in wheat-free baking. All her cakes, pies and quiches are baked in-house, with the aim of proving that wheat-free doesn’t mean taste-free.
There are a few seats for eating in and the shop offers nationwide delivery on some items. There’s also a good range of deli staples and useful pantry additions for the coeliac, ranging from artisan burger buns to risotto kits for cooking at home.
A collection of independents opposite New Market Square and next to the Everyman, where you will find Tatton Perk Coffee, Melt, Choza, Biscuit Tin and Sugar Buns. Look out for events such as second-hand markets, karaoke booths and winter tipis. The gleaming Food Unagi truck is parked just next door dispensing sushi, noodles, gyoza and a changing roster of hot dishes.
Just round the corner from Off The Wheaten Track, Oxford Road Cafe used to be a bit more of a traditional greasy spoon back in the day, and while - like the rest of the town - it has smartened up its act you can still feel the authentic cafe coming through. Smashed avos and poached eggs abound, but if you are looking for a classic full English you're in the right spot - it's one of Alty's best. They are brilliant with kids too so it's a great family choice.
A haven of dark greens and polished wood opposite the market house, Porta was brought to Altrincham by the team behind Joseph Benjamin in Chester. Despite being a little jaded about tapas and small plates, Confidentials writers adored the sparkling Spanish flavours on offer and weren't too resistant to sampling the Spanish wines and sherries either.
Typical dishes include deep-fried goat's cheese, dripping in local honey with slivers of fresh orange, sticky ox cheek, perfectly paired with pickled walnuts and lightly toasted fennel seeds or a long-standing favourite, broccoli paired with romesco sauce, elevating the veg standby into something magical. Walk-ins only.
Vintage cocktail bar and self-proclaimed makers of Altrincham’s best Old Fashioned, Riddles Bar focuses on high-quality ingredients blended by expert mixologists. There’s even a vegan-friendly bacon-flavoured cocktail called "You’re Bacon Me Happy", inspired by the American classic breakfast combo of bacon with maple syrup. If that sounds a bit way out there, the classics are on point too.
This coffee-in-a-caravan concept launched over lockdown and expanded to a more permanent home last year. The business also includes a record label and shop, so music is a big part of the experience. It also serves craft beer and a curated cocktail and wine menu, in addition to its artisan coffee and vinyl record offering.
Another Altrincham success story, the Puglian-inspired Sugo Pasta Kitchen opened back in 2015. The simple and uncompromisingly authentic Southern Italian dishes soon won them fans, as good ole word-of-mouth momentum brought diners piling in from across the region (and more than a couple of copycats too). The next venture is to open an outpost in up-and-coming foodie neighbourhood Sale.
The Ciccio translates as "three chubby friends" (a self-effacing reference to owner Francesco Scafuri and a pair of his portly pals from back in Campania), and who can blame them? There is pizza, of course, but the Italian-style roast chicken is the must-try. Get a Goosnargh chuck cooked with lemon, olives and pine nuts for the blend of Lancashire and Sicily you never knew you needed.
A new concept from the team behind Tre Ciccio, Wild Goose took the spot occupied by Franks to bring Goose Green a collection of retro classics such as prawn cocktail, tuna Niçoise salad, roast rump of Herdwick lamb and peas a la Francaise and of course, deeply nostalgic desserts such as Black Forest gateau and crème brûlée
Chinese classics viewed through a contemporary British lens in a sharp, modern environment with a palette inspired by Hong Kong street markets against a backdrop of exposed brickwork and not a starched tablecloth in sight.
For food think sticky belly pork bao with pickled vegetables, soft yet crispy pot stickers with red vinegar and ginger dipping sauce, or crispy king prawns with sriracha mayo. There’s also an entirely vegan section on the menu too. Top tip - look out for the dum sum brunch menu as an alternative take on the Sunday morning feast.
With a menu of Syrian and Lebanese dishes, there is plenty for the adventurous to get stuck into at Yara, from familiar favourites such as baba ghanoush, moussaka and lamb chops to keshkeh, a dip made from homemade cream cheese blended with wheat and herbs. Try lahembajeen - a minced lamb, pastry and pomegranate number and follow up (if you can) with walnut honey cake. Unlike a fair few Middle Eastern restaurants, Yara serves alcohol, with Lebanese wine prominent on the menu.
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