50+ places for a good lunch or dinner under a tenner - organised by university campus
Oh to be a student again. The unbridled pursuit of knowledge, the endless pursuit of booze and an inevitable future of being pursued by debt. Only joking (or are we?), being a student is so much more.
One of the most crucial parts of being a student is saving the little money you have and making it go further. There are many ways to do this. Adding frozen peas to everything you cook at home, investing in a robust Tupperware collection and sharing cooking duties among flatmates are good shouts but the temptation to eat out is unavoidable.
With this in mind it’s worth knowing where is good value to and cheap to eat. This brings us to the exhaustive list below. For the contrarians, we get it. Go live your lives in ‘spoons and Greggs if you want to, but you’ll do yourself a mischief living life like that. Variety is the spice of life and we’ve brought the variety to your doorstep thanks to an extensive list of sub-£10 eating spots, taking into account the city’s three universities campuses and associated accommodation clusters.
Here’s our pick of over 50 of the best places to eat for under a tenner broken down into the nearest universities, campuses and general student zones.
Cheap food near Salford Uni
Porta 216 Chapel St, Salford M3 6BY
It might surprise students and non-students alike that no single tapas on the menu costs more than £10 with most around the £3-5 mark.
Old Pint Pot Adelphi St, Salford M3 6EN
Cheap and cheerful pub grub here but worth noting they’re hot on their allergen information as well as vegan and vegetarian options. Pub classics include hand-battered cod and chips (£9.95) and vegan lentil and butternut lasagne (£8.45).
Open Kitchen Cafe & Bar People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Manchester M3 3ER
Another great breakfast and lunch spot for those walking into town. A range of healthy, ethical and quality options. Guaranteed a quality sourdough sandwich for around a fiver but known to do a mean chicken schnitzel and potato salad too.
Taste IT 69 Blackfriars Rd, Salford M3 7DB
They do pizza too but the star of the show is £3.50 gelato made with the best possible ingredients and crafted with love using traditional techniques. We envy anyone that lives close by.
Wah Ji Wah 37 King St W, Manchester M3 2PW
A good lunch option if you’re walking into town from uni. Express lunch street food classics like onion bhaji and keema pav range from £3.95-5.95.
Cheap food near MediaCity campus
Chapati Cafe Unit 4, The Garage, Blue, Salford M50 2TG
Serving home-style curries on a traditional thali tray. Three veggie curries with rice or chapatis with house salad and fresh chutneys will set you back £6.45.
Dockyard DockHouse, Media City, Salford M50 2EQ
Solid feed destination. Snacks, mains, sandwiches and wraps, and salads all for under a tenner with only the burgers going over. A portion of skin-on fries or hash brown bites (£2.50) always a welcome drinking companion.
Grindsmith 5-6 The Garage, MediaCityUK, Salford M50 2BS
Always solid for coffee and bagel, sandwich or barm deals. Can usually pick up a coffee and breakfast item for a fiver with lunch bagels and sandwiches £6 at most. Good variety of fillings too.
Oaka Supercity 2 King William St, Salford M50 3BG
Asian fusion in takeaway form but there’s seats to eat in. A panini deal (£5) is good for lunch whilst the rice and noodle deal (£9) includes a rice or noodle dish, dim sum and a drink. Everything else from a trio of gyoza or a katsu-style chicken curry comes in £3-6.80.
Seven Bro7hers Media City, Orange Building, Salford M50 2HE
As well as noticeably better beer than a lot of the Carlsberg swill you’ll come across over the next few years, everything from burgers to kebab flatbreads and small plates comes in sub ten pounds. A lot of effort gone into their vegan bits too.
Vertigo Unit 2, Bridge House, Salford M50 2BH
Worth noting for cheap breakfast and lunch deals. The breakfast bagel (£4.50 take out), soup and sandwiches of the day (£3.75 / £4 take out) and soup and sandwich combo (£5 take out) for lunch are substantial and healthy. It’s usually an extra quid to eat in.
Cheap food near the University of Manchester
Archies 115 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7DU
You’re in the birthplace of Archie’s so make the most of it with burgers, fries, wraps and the rest of it for under a tenner. Curly fries (£2), chicken tenders (£4.99) and Archie’s tots (£3.49) all come in sub fiver.
Brewdog Outpost Manchester Business School, Oxford Road Manchester M13 9GH
The original craft beer bros. Wings Wednesday is an all-you-can-eat wings extravaganza just sneaking over the tenner mark at £11, plus plenty of veggie/vegan options on the menu which are offered as a two-for-one on a Monday.
Eighth Day 111 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7DU
Eighth Day is a vegan and vegetarian supermarket that's been here since waaaay before veganism bust out of its hemp pants and became actually cool. It's not cheap to do a weekly shop but worth a visit for bulk buying nuts and seeds and seeking out teas and vegan cheese you won't find anywhere else. The vegetarian cafe downstairs does soup and a sarnie from £4.50, salads from £4.25 and all manner of cakes and bakes.
EatGoody 1 Hillcourt Street, Manchester M1 7HU
Slightly confusing menu but worth persisting to be able to load up for lunch. Salad bar-style, assemble a box with carby base, salad and topping based on Korean and Japanese flavours. A regular box will set you back £6.45 but if you pick that day's special it can be as low as £4.95.
The Footage Grosvenor St, Manchester M1 7DZ
Brunch served all day will be music to the ears of the snoozers. A big breakfast for £5.75 should soak up any lingering booze and shame. Everything else tallies up below a tenner be it lunch or burgers for dinner.
Gemini Cafe 308 Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9NG
Classic greasy spoon – a hangover-busting sausage, egg and chips is less than a fiver.
Kro Bar 325 Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PG
With mains hovering around £7 Danish pub Kro is not the cheapest on the list but its one of the handiest as its slap bang in the middle of UoM. Look out for the two-for-one student deals, a different one each day of the week – burgers, mac and cheese, double dogs and for Sundays, all-you-can-eat waffles. NUS cards get a further 10% off.
Lily's Student's Union, Steve Biko Building, Oxford Road M13 9PR
Legendary veggie Indian food. Choose from delicious samosa's, masala chips, curry of the day with rice and a mouthwatering selection of pies.
Milk & Honey St Peter s House, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9GH
Run by the St Peter’s chaplaincy in the heart of the UoM campus, this is a wellness cafe with a difference. Veg soup for £3.75 from the plant-based menu, plus yoga and pilates classes mean you can nourish body and soul.
Mowgli Unit 1, University Green, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9GP
Indian street food. A bit spendy if you want to go all out but a very reliable option for vegan and gluten-free food. A simple temple dahl is £4.50.
Old Abbey Taphouse Manchester Science Park, Hulme, Manchester, M15 6SY
Independent pub always up to something interesting – be it dinners for the community or hosting its own radio station. Decent choice of pizzas and an 80% vegan menu, the house burger (meat or vegan) is £7.
Popolino Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7DU
Often falsely pluralised like Tescos and Asdas, Popolino(s) is a low brow cult classic most often frequented by gig-goers on the way back from The Academy venues down the road. If you want fancy Neapolitan, look away now. Ten-inch pizzas start at £3.50 here and you simply can't argue with that. If you've not drunkenly bought one of their T-shirts to wear in bed, have you even been a student in Manchester?
Seoul Kimchi 275 Upper Brook Street, Manchester M13 0HR
Legendary Korean hiding out behind the hospitals. Not as cheap as it used to be (a bibimbap rice bowl is £8.90) but you can get 15% if you order it as takeout on the website using the code "toho". A post-essay treat perhaps.
The Turing Tap 421-423 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9WG
Emphasis on cheap and cheerful (think 'spoons for students). Lunch deal including burger side and soft from £6.95. Burger and a drink all day every day for a tenner. Nice use of Jackfruit in the vegan burgers.
Cheap food near Manchester Metropolitan University
Banh Mi Co Ba 87 Oxford St, Manchester M1 6EG
Nothing on the menu at this teeny Vietnamese caff is more than a tenner. The cheapest options are bao and summer rolls at £5 and £3.80 respectively.
Brickhouse Social 11-13 New Wakefield St, Manchester M1 5NP
Their rustic classic pizza with tomato sauce and Fior di Latte mozzarella is £8 and vegans can switch for Violife.
Bundobust Brewery St James's Bldg, Bundobust Brewery, 61-69 Oxford St, Manchester M1 6EQ
One for beer lovers but the food is incredible. These Gujarati vegetarian small dishes start at £3.50. The classic okra fries are £4.50 and vada pav (spiced potato burger) is £6. Grab some mates and split the cost of a feast.
Bunny Jackson's 1 Jack Rosenthal St, Manchester M15 4RA
Welcome to the wing emporium, kiddo. Wings start at 20p for plain classics (that’s not a typo) rising to a still difficult to comprehend 50p hotter than the sun wings. Fries and dippers don’t retail above a fiver. With great power comes no responsibility.
The Courtyard 2 Chester St, Manchester M1 5SH
It’s not going to win any Michelin awards any time soon but meat or vegan patty burgers start at £6.50 and include chips. Two tacos and chips is £5.50. Fish finger butty is a fiver. Also has a massive, you guessed it, courtyard for lively outdoor boozing.
Chimaek Unit 8, The Quadrangle, Hulme St, Manchester M1 5GL
Boxes of beer-cushioning Korean chicken start from £5.90 for four 8.50 for six - choose wings, drumsticks, thighs or fillet with various rubs and sauces increasing the price slightly.
Casa Mexica The Quadrangle, Chester St, Manchester M1 5QS
Colourful, casual little burrito joint which also does Mexican beers. Vegan burritos are £6.90 with meat and veggie options at £7.50.
Font 7-9 New Wakefield St, Manchester M1 5NP
The main reason to visit font is for its dayglo cocktails - jelly sweets in boozy liquid form that start at a staggering £3 a pop. But there is also a whole menu of loaded fries all at £5 a portion or £8.50 for a sharing size. The house burger is £8 too.
Foundation Coffee House 11 Portland St, Manchester M1 3HU
Everything on the menu here is under a tenner and it's a gorgeous place to sit and do a spot of studying/people watching. Brunch dishes like chai-spiced crumpet French toast or Turkish shakshuka are our top tips.
Gorilla 54-56 Whitworth St, Manchester M1 5WW
You will have to fork out a bit more for dinner but all full english breakfasts start at 9.5 and will fill you up so much you might not need lunch - our favourite eggs benny is £9
Hatch 103 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7ED
Hatch is a shipping container village of shops, bars, cafes and food pop ups so prices vary but T’arricri will do you a massive arancini ball stuffed with meat or veg and mozzarella from £5.90 (with a side order of Sicilian sunshine from the loveliest staff in all of Hatch). Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguettes) start at £7.50 from Hanoi 75 and MorMor will do you a healthy falafel salad with Kurdish naan for £7.50 - beer doesn’t come cheap here though so be prepared to pay at least a fiver a pint.
Joshua Brooks 106 Princess St, Manchester M1 6NG
This recently refurbed clubnight mecca's food comes from a pop up kitchen called Cubanitos. You'll find cubans, reubens and veganos for £8.50. A bowl of dirty fries is £6.50.
One+ 42 Charles Street, Manchester, M1 7DB
This Chinese restaurant is all things to all people with conveyor belt hot pot, BBQ, seafood, rice and noodles. The latter two form the basis of the bargain meal deal at £8 for lunch and just £8.50 for dinner - you can add soup for a quid. One Home minimart across the road is from the same owners and does a stonking soup with a choice of fun floaty bits like meatballs and tofu for £4.50.
Oodles 6A Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 5QA
Three sizes of noodle or rice box, £7.50-9 and a pound less at lunchtime. Choose from a base, a saucy meat and dry meat. Sides available from £2.
Society 100 Barbirolli Square, Manchester M2 3BD
A fairly new addition to the area, you visit Society for its enormous craft beer selection curated by Hebden Bridge's Vocation Brewery but there are six fast food traders inside too. Our pick of the bunch is Yoki's Korean fried chicken, £8.99 for a small portion with rice or chips. Dokes pizza is also excellent, a margherita will set you back £8.50.
Yes 38 Charles St, Manchester M1 7DB
Pepperoni Playboy has a pizza pop up at this achingly hip music venue and bar. Slices of pizza start at just £1.40 every day from 12-6 and vegan doners from the brilliantly named Doner Summer start from £6. There is always a pint for £2.95 and the brand for this bargain beer changes regularly.
Cheap food in and around Fallowfield
Let's face it there are plenty of cheap takeaways catering to students all along Wilmslow Road down as far as Withington, so we have picked out a few highlights where the food is decent and you can explore beyond the cheesy chips option (though god knows they have their place).
256 256 Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield M14 6LB
Student classic. Catering for just about everyone with extensive menu, beer garden and sport on the telly. Look out for meat-free Monday (50% off veggie food) and Taco Tuesday (20% off tacos).
Al Masry 193 Wilmslow Road, Manchester, M14 5PQ
An Egyptian street food adventure “inspired by the roadside of Cairo”. Pick up a portion of tahini-flavoured beans with bread (£2.99) as a filling snack or tuck into a vegan-friendly aubergine sandwich.
Cedar Bakery Unit 2, Walmer Street East, Rusholme, M14 5SS
You could go for one of the Arabic breakfasts (between £5 and £6) or Shawarma meal deal (£6.99 including fries and drink) at this authentic Lebanese bakery but make sure you stay for the sweet treats such as chocolate mousse cake.
Don Tacos 61-63 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme M14 5TB
Our reviewer called the birria tacos here “a surefire hangover dissolver”. While a veggie burrito might set you back £8.99 it will fill you up all day.
Falafel 26 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme M14 5TQ
Not to be confused with Go Falalel (also a solid choice), Falafel has been tending to the late-night kebab needs of students for nearly 20 years as it is open until midnight in the week and 1am at the weekend. A chicken shawarma box will set you back £5.50.
Fuel 448 Wilmslow Road, M20 3BW
A friendly little cafe bar/venue serving fresh, hearty vegetarian food. Home to live music, poetry nights and board games, so despite the name it's not just a place to fuel up. Mains are £6-7 and the soup of the day comes in at under £4.
Herbivorous 445 Wilmslow Road Manchester M20 4AN
The Hatch outpost of Herbivorous is a favourite with anyone looking for vegan comfort food so it's good news that the team will be opening a whole restaurant this September, serving plant-based burgers (£8), wings (£6) and more.
Haus 2A Landcross Road, Fallowfield M14 6NA
Infamous for deals such as £5 for pizza on a Monday night or two pizzas and a bottle of wine for £20 on a Tuesdays means the beginning of the week is sorted.
Ice Shack 160-164 Wellington Road, M20 3FU
Claims to be the North’s "first all-vegan dessert parlour”. As well as roughly 40 flavours of vegan ice-cream/sorbet there are cakes, cookies and waffles available for around £2.60 a slice.
Sanskruti 95 Mauldeth Road, M14 6SR
Serving vegan and vegetarian cuisine which takes in Gujurati thalis, South Indian dosas, Mumbai chaat and the rich curries of Punjab. Try Thali Tuesdays or the current offer of 50% off food Tuesday-Fridays 1-5pm (booking required).
Withington Public Hall Institute 2 Burton Road, Withington M20 3ED
Serving pizza (£6 for a margarita, up to £9 for more toppings) from Basilico most days, beer by the Lock Inn and plant-based food from Grain and Green on Sunday. Also sporadic vintage fairs, beer festivals, film screenings and mental health events. Pizza is 20% off with an NUS card until the end of this month.
Cheap food near the Hulme campus
Buzzrocks 166 Stretford Road, Manchester M15 5TL
Try a soul soup from £3.50 or a jerk chicken special with rice and peas (£7) at this Caribbean takeaway.
Emoji 28 Higher Cambridge Street, Manchester M15 6AA
Very happy, very yellow. They do technically have food for under a tenner, such as the dumplings for £9. But you want to go on a day when you can splash out on the BBQ from £18.99
Kim's Kitchen 49 Old Birley Street, Manchester M15 5RF
Welcoming atmosphere at this sit-in cafe opposite the garden centre. Serving curries, burgers, salads, mac n' cheese, you name it really. Salads and burgers are all £7.50. It's closed on a Tuesday so they often discount dishes on Mondays to use up everything and prevent food waste - you might just get a bargain.
Spiral Garden Cafe Warwick Street, Hulme, Manchester
Pay-as-you-feel community cafe based in the NIAMOS radical arts centre.
If you're new to Confidentials, we're your go-to for all the latest food and drink news in Manchester, the greatest and most exciting city in the UK.
Here is a selection of recent articles you might find useful as a new student and don't forget to check out our monthly deals article which gives you a day by day rundown of where to get the bargains in Manchester.
Of course, there's always our trusty app - free to download and with up to 60% off at some of the region's best restaurants.
Don't miss out
Get the latest food & drink news and exclusive offers by email.