Great pubs, café culture and plenty of veggie options
There’s a great feeling of community in Withington. Affordable pubs sit alongside vegetarian and vegan institutions, as students sip pints next to old-school regulars. A few steps away, creative gallery cafés stand watch as city centre restaurant groups branch out with open-fire eateries in former banks. On top of that, there are records, zines and books to buy as staff plan gigs and film screenings.
Around the corner, you can get South Indian dosa and Japanese sushi, wholesome vegan and a cheap fry-up, all within a stone’s throw of each other. Solid Levantine options sit over the road from refurbished pubs with massive summer-enhancing beer gardens whilst Fuel café continues to feed and water the local community as it has for years.
The walls meanwhile tell stories of love, loss, heroes and goodwill, whilst Withington Public Hall shows what a night out on the weekend could look like outside of the city limits. Just don’t be fooled by Metrolink stops, you’re better off getting off at Burton Road and walking. When you get there, here are a few stop-offs worth considering.
Read on for our guide to eating and drinking in Withington.
Part of that ever so slightly further out enclave of eating and drinking spots that also includes The Red Lion on Wilmslow Road, Aladdin is a small, neighbourhood Levantine restaurant. Specialising in shawarma, kebabs and meze options, it’s been there since 1988 and remains BYOB to this day. There are plenty of hot and cold vegetarian options, be they sanbousak (pastry rolled with mixed veg and deep fried) or lentil or mixed vegetable soups. Shaworma and kebabs are also worth hunting out in shish, kafteh and taouq forms.
529 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 4BA
It’s questionable whether such a unique, creative and intriguing space could exist in the city centre. The café bar, which sits awkwardly on the corner of Wilmslow Road and Davenport Avenue in the site of a former estate agent (take that, capitalism) has a distinct counter-cultural air to it. It’s no surprise to hear tales of Mark E Smith drinking partners frequenting it. It’s got that sort of air to it. Aesthetic but not doing it for the 'gram. Cool but not forced. Open Wednesday to Sunday, until 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday, Café Blah hosts regular creative events, screenings and gigs. It's also just a good place to drink beer and coffee. Pop into Alphaville upstairs whilst you’re there.
418 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 3BW
Proper. A traditional greasy spoon fry-up, a mound of toast and carton of juice for £5.50 (at the time of writing). If you’re in the area and you want filling up, The Coffee House Café is the place to be. Plenty of hot and cold butty options made to order. Lunchtime specials like minted lamb chops, mixed vegetables and mashed potato for a fiver with a free tea or coffee too. Not to be scoffed at during a time of inflation. Grab a seat outside and watch the world go by.
Copson St, Withington, Manchester M20 3HE
Traditional South Indian cuisine in modest surroundings, Dosa Xpress is another place in Withington feeding people for less. Named after the vegetable or meat-filled crepe made from rice and lentils, it also serves a host of regional dishes including chaat, soups, curries and rice dishes. Great for a low-cost lunch, all dosas are served with a selection of chutneys and sambar. It’s funny, the staff get a bit of flack on Google reviews but take that with a pinch of salt, we found them perfectly friendly on our last visit. Dosa Xpress does a great mango lassi and if you’re in the market for childhood nostalgia it also stocks Punky Penguin vanilla ice creams.
19 Copson St, Withington, Manchester M20 3HE
An oldie but a goodie. FUEL has been there for time. Feeding locals the vegetarian good stuff whilst also managing to put on an eclectic selection of spoken word and music gigs upstairs, through thick and thin. Tea, coffee, milkshakes and alcoholic drinks are available as well as hearty vegetarian fodder from full vegetarian breakfasts to salads and vegetarian mezze sharing plates. There’s usually a majestic-looking vegan cake on the bar too. Open until 1am nightly, 2am on a Friday and Saturday.
448 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Greater, Manchester M20 3BW
“Modern vegan comfort food that’s good for you and better for the planet” is the tagline at Herbivorous. Inspired by the American vegan food explosion (the owners travelled from coast to coast in preparation for the restaurant) and honed touring festivals across the UK, with five-plus years of menu development under their belt. Homemade seitan features in fried chicken burgers and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches alongside vegan versions of creole crab fritters, loaded mac and cheese and sweet and sour chicken balls. The menu also packs plenty of gluten-free options and an early bird menu on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
445 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 4AN
The new kid on the block. Taking over the former Natwest bank, Libertine (the latest venture from the folks behind The Edinburgh Castle and Cottonopolis) brings an open fire cooking restaurant and café and bar vibes to a prominent spot on Wilmslow Road. With a rig out that channels Parisian chic and lush interiors, the dishes are equally aesthetically pleasing. Choose from ashed asparagus, chargrilled mackerel and wood-fired pizza. There’s also Saturday brunch and a Sunday roast, not to mention DJs, a well-kitted-out bar and coffee if you just want to sit and admire the scenery.
437 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 4AN
Solid Joseph Holt pub with friendly staff, a good little sun trap beer garden and pint prices that might make you reconsider your postcode if you live in the city centre. The Orion is good for watching the football with inside and outside screens with full Sky Sports coverage. It also puts on a pub quiz and entertainment nights. Withington at its finest really, with students and locals supping pints side by side. Solid Trailblazer stout and a kettle on the bar last time we were in. A statement of intent.
8 Burton Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 3ED
Another unassuming, hidden gem of a restaurant on Copson Street. Kyotoya is a small, family-run, 26-seat Japanese restaurant that has been quietly dishing out sushi, sashimi, fried noodles and noodle soups for years. Dishes are made to order so expect a little wait when you go in but the attention to detail, presentation and value for money makes any wait worthwhile. Sushi platters are prepared within sight of diners in the small kitchen, which also dishes out bento boxes ideal for treat day lunches and moreish gyoza.
28 Copson St, Withington, Manchester M20 3HB
Hands down one of the best beer gardens in Withington. Basically, a school playing field’s worth of sun-kissed grass and benches (on a good day), making it dog, child and everyone friendly. There’s more seating out front too so you’re guaranteed a spot in the sun. The award-winning J.W. Lees Brewery line-up of beers awaits, as does hearty pub food including the likes of beer-battered fish and chips, Great British pies with a choice of chips, mash and peas as well as flatbreads and burgers. Of course, there’s a roast on a Sunday. Booking is always advised but a few tables are kept free for walk-ins.
Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester M20 4BT
Cheap and cheerful £1 tacos and dive bar vibes with a specialist emphasis on tequila and mezcal. Southside is a cousin of city centre low-cost eating institutions Bunny Jackson’s, Wolf At The Door and Crazy Pedro’s, with similar aesthetics and party bar credentials. Expect monthly taco specials as well as a daily "happy hour" which stretches from 9 - 11pm and includes buy one get one free on Mexican bottled beers, cocktails and tequila. There’s also outside seating and a downstairs area that’s available to book.
447-449 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 4AN
Another stalwart of Withington’s fine café culture, mending sore heads and catering to early bird breakfast needs from 8am daily (9am on a Sunday). A recent facelift has seen the ground floor seating plan optimised with some seating out front too for observing Wilmslow Road’s daily traffic procession. The name should give you a clue as to what’s in store. Your choice of breakfast staples in various bread formats, be it breakfast barms, ciabatta melts, New York bagel melts, all-day fry ups and grilled cheese sandwiches. There’s also been a move to burgers too with classic beef as well as falafel ones.
446 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 3BW
Another solid pub (Hydes above the door) in Withington with good value cask beers, a wide selection of lagers and live sport ranging from football to speedway. Proper stools. Proper pub tables. Proper banquette seating and a respectable mention in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide. Dog friendly, outside there’s a beer patio and courtyard. Known for its buzz, there’s regular live entertainment too.
438 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 3BW
Get yourself over to Withy Public Hall for craft beers, wines by the glass and bottle, fresh pizza and plenty of community events. Regular Dead Comics Society comedy nights have seen the likes of Lloyd Griffiths and Ian Stone perform whilst recent gigs include the Alphaville presented LoneLady and Spectres. Drink and Draw events are also popular so book in quick. Burton Road Brewing host regular beer events and from Alberto and co at Basilico are on hand to fill you up with artisan pizza.
2 Burton Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 3ED
Don't miss out
Get the latest food & drink news and exclusive offers by email.