Arguably the most diverse and vibrant place to live in Greater Manchester, here's why...
An area of Greater Manchester that has been described as ‘up-and-coming’ for some time now, Levenshulme is an artsy, multicultural, community-focused former township equidistant between Stockport and Manchester city centre. In the past decade, the region has become home to an ever more edgy array of independent bars and cafes sidling up next to its myriad chicken shops and bookies. The juxtaposition of painfully modern and proudly unpretentious is all part of the charm.
In 2013, Levy Market launched and has arguably been the glue that has brought the whole community together, becoming more and more popular and lively over the years. If you’re looking for truly community-driven events, a world of flavours and that all-important craft ale or natural wine to lubricate proceedings, look no further than Levy.
One of the oldest Persian restaurants in Manchester and named after a mountain range in northern Iran, Alborz is a real find. Locals rave about its diverse and exciting menu packed with Middle Eastern jewels like pomegranate, pistachios and saffron. While there’s a substantial selection of vegetarian dishes, it’s the meaty stews and grills that are the biggest draw.
Deezee is a traditional Persian slow-cooked stew with baby potatoes, lamb, tomatoes, pulses, onions and mild spices in a rich tomato sauce, Fesenjoon is tender chicken in a pomegranate sauce with ground walnuts and if you can’t make your mind up there’s a special grill for two. Typical side dishes include yoghurt and shallot dip, saffron rice and tattoon bread (like a huge, thin and crispy naan). To finish there’s saffron ice cream, rosewater doughnuts or faloodeh – a traditional Persian dessert made with noodles, rosewater and lime juice. To drink, you could try doogh, a yoghurt drink with mint and salt or BYOB.
820 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3AW
Launched in 2015, Fred’s Ale House is a CAMRA award-winning, beer lovers’ haven with numerous extra benefits. There are six real ales as well as a wide range of craft beers, lagers and on Thirsty Thursdays it’s £2.50 a pint on selected cask ales and ciders.
The bar has a busy events calendar with regular spoken word and poetry nights from Verbose, live football and even ukulele jam nights but there’s more… There’s an exhibition space in the basement hosting work from local artists and upstairs there’s a music venue and a pop-up restaurant from Cibus – widely heralded as some of the best pizza in Manchester don’t you know? – who also do daily Italian specials the likes of swordfish skewers, cuttlefish in its own ink or wild mushroom and truffle lasagne and roasts (with veggie and vegan options) on Sundays.
843 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3PW
Inspire is an inclusive, relaxed gem of a community cafe in a former church serving breakfasts and light lunches – think tomato, red pepper & Wensleydale soup or smoked pork and butternut goulash - as well as tea, coffee and cake during the day and occasional pop-ups from local street food traders (with local beers) in the evening. But it is also a multi-purpose community hub with a, well, inspiring calendar of events.
Events are fantastically eclectic as everybody is welcome to use the space, so there might be free ESOL classes from Heart and Parcel, theatre from the Levenshulme players, kundalini yoga, dancercise for OAPs, a drop in advice service for the homeless, a free repair cafe, children’s taikwondo or a regular pay-as-you-feel community dinner made by volunteers, with live music from local artists – world whistling champions have been known to perform, yes really.
747 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3AR
From Caroline Dubois – sommelier at Where The Light Gets In since its inception – and Isobel Jenkins of the critically acclaimed Seasons Eatings supper clubs comes this natural wine bar on an unassuming street in Levenshulme. The wine, of course, is the star and it’s all curated by Dubois from her vast experience with natural, low intervention and biodynamic producers.
For now, the food offering comes in the form of cakes and light, seasonally changing lunch dishes as well as regular supper clubs from locals like Lorcan Kan (WTLGI) or visitors like Sunday Suppers. The focus is on sustainable and ethical practices with an aim to be zero waste and single-use-plastic-free. There is also a wine shop where you can pick up interesting bottles to take home.
825 Stockport Road, Manchester M19 3PN
Kitsch and colourful Lebanese restaurant and baklava bakery Jandol (reviewed here) is well-loved by locals. The glass counter is piled high with jars of pastel coloured sugared almonds, date sweets and rainbow-swirled lolly pops while within are trays upon trays of sugar-dusted Turkish delight and, of course, their famous crisp and honeyed baklava in so many shapes and sizes that the choice can be bewildering.
The restaurant is often packed with happy diners tucking into Middle Eastern staples like baba ganoush, hummus, shawarma, falafel or grilled halloumi all served with salads, freshly made flatbreads or neon house pickles. The white plastic chairs are juxtaposed with chandeliers, golden ornaments and copious amounts of dried and artificial flowers make for a uniquely eccentric dining experience.
861 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3PW
No round-up of Levenshulme’s social spaces could exclude The Klondyke aka The Levenshulme Bowling and Social club. This century-old social club was originally a bowling alley and, oddly, the name comes from the news of the influx of gold-rush migrators from America to northern Canada’s Klondike region. In 2019 The Committee Room reopened as a speakeasy-style bar.
As is the norm in social clubs there are snooker and pool tables and darts boards to while away an afternoon but it isn’t stuck in the past. There is a community allotment on-site to encourage locals to get involved in growing fresh fruit and veg. The venue hosts regular live music events and art exhibitions and its function room can be booked for hatchings, matchings and despatchings with in-house catering. It’s the Klondyke club that people look to for seasonal firework displays and there are numerous things to get involved in like Irish dancing classes, supper clubs and Samba drumming groups. They also do a decent Sunday roast and can deliver it to your door.
1 Burnage Range, Manchester M19 2HQ
Another Levy institution, Levenshulme Bakery, on the corner of Belvoir Avenue and Stockport Road, has been knocking up, wallet-friendly but super fresh Turkish bread, kebabs and other light lunches for the local community for years. A popular speciality is lahmajun, a crispy Levantine flatbread often topped with minced meat, vegetables and herbs to make the street food favourite ‘Turkish pizza.'
Another speciality is Lebanese fatayar which are folded, open-topped pies with a variety of meat or vegetarian fillings. Locals also rave about the freshly made shawarma kebabs, falafel sandwiches and wide range of authentic, sticky Turkish sweets. Get there early to get the bread fresh from the morning’s bake.
842 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3AW
Bustling community running every weekend from March to December with a pop-up lunchtime food market at Manchester Uni on Tuesdays during term-time. The market was established in 2013 with the aim of supporting the Levenshulme community by providing employment and helping to breathe new life into the high street.
Shortlisted for Best Shop/Market in the BBC Food Awards 2019, locals rave about the market which brings together some really exciting producers with its lovely community atmosphere and ethos. With a different bunch of traders every week, you can taste flavours from Korean to Kenyan and snack on everything from samosas to sushi. As well as the wealth of foodie delights on offer, there are all kinds of wares from local independent traders and makers - think pottery, perfume, candles, clothes and more.
Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3AB
Nordie Bar is a dog-friendly neighbourhood bar with a focus on coffee, craft beer and cocktails. Cocktails might include an Umeshu Sour with plum sake and saffron spiced Escubac or a Negroni Fumo with Lapsang Souchong added to the usual Campari/gin mix. Wine covers both conventional and natural bases and there are eight rotating beer lines.
There’s also a minimal but carefully created food offering with shareable nibbles like freshly made dips, labneh and flatbread alongside open sarnies and salads and daily specials like a seasonal savoury tart made with allotment spoils and served with pickles and greens. Cakes, muffins and freshly made bread feature too. Other than just popping in and going with the flow, your best bet is to keep an eye on social media channels for what’s on that day.
1044 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3WX
Overdraught MCR opened its doors in October 2019 with a name that’s a cheeky nod to the previous incarnation of the venue as a TSB bank. It’s owned by pint pundit Martha Winder, who also runs the popular First Draught in Prestwich. With over 30 rotating beers and ciders on tap, there’s plenty for craft ale lovers to get stuck into with everything from Brooklyn lager to Beavertown’s blood orange IPA.
Cans might include Tiny Rebel’s quirky Stay Puft marshmallow stout or Jam Doughnut IPA. During the day there’s ice cream, coffee and cake on offer and in Levy’s typical community-spirited style, the bar has teamed up with nearby American-style takeaway ‘The Meating Room’ so that you can have a burger delivered to the bar to accompany your pint. A programme of events includes a popular fortnightly quiz night.
855 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3PW
Ask a local for directions in Levy and there’s a high chance they will use the Nawaab as a reference point. This Pakistani restaurant is housed in a vast, three-storey venue that hosts a continuous stream of ostentatious weddings upstairs and has an immense public dining room downstairs which is often packed to the rafters. Apparently, this well-lubricated machine can comfortably feed more than a thousand people in one evening.
The food is served buffet-style at a set price – less than £20 a head. It’s a bit like eating on a fancy cruise ship with rows of metal cloches filled with steaming hot lamb karahi, chicken jalfrezi and chana masala. There are appetisers too - think chicken wings, samosas, pakoras, masala fish and poppadoms - as well as a fresh salad and chutney bar. For dessert, there are Teletubby-coloured ice creams or temple-achingly sweet cakes and halwa. The bar is alcohol-free but suitably extensive and there is also a takeaway menu.
1008 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3WN
Another CAMRA award-winning boozer on Stockport Road to add to Levenshulme’s enviable drinking scene. Station Hop is a gorgeous, colourful little bar stocked full of interesting cask and keg ales, cans and more. Sip on a stroopwaffel porter from Blackjack, a CBRB/Northern Monk collab yuzu IPA or maybe a rhubarb and oolong saison from By The River Brew Co.
Regularly hosted events include a pub quiz, a monthly cheese club and pop up street food kitchens from the likes of Pastrami Now, Mama Z, Wholesome Junkies, Nyama Choma and Vegan Ray. There’s also a bottle shop if you want to take some goodies home with you. Oh and it’s very dog-friendly too.
815 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3BS
Open since summer 2018, The Talleyrand (a former name for the area of East Levenshulme which was originally given in honour of French diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord) is an arty and eccentric little bar with a packed programme of live music, DJs, poetry, comedy, theatre film and art exhibitions held in the back room.
Whether it’s wonky indie, folk or soul that gets your feet tapping, there’s probably something for you on the calendar and the art and arts on display are equally as diverse and exciting. The bar area itself is understated with exposed floorboards and mismatched wooden furniture. The bar boasts a wide range of beers and ales, from Camden to Tiny Rebel, as well as spirits, wines and softs.
1030 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3WX
Trove Cafe in Levenshulme has been going strong since 2011 (reviewed here) and its younger sibling in Ancoats followed in 2018 (reviewed here). The main draw is their fantastic bread, which forms the basis for their breakfast menu. Alongside the usual benedicts and belly busters, you can find some less familiar fare like a Korean rice bowl with kimchi, tofu and kale or a North African inspired plate with Merguez sausage, pickled turnip, labneh (yoghurt cheese) and zhoug – a hot chilli sauce.
The Levenshulme caff has always centred around one large table to encourage making friends with others in the community over brunch or breakfast. A list of daily specials is inscribed on a roll of brown paper with a dish, salad, soup and jam of the day to be enjoyed with a glass of wine or local beer if you like. Their bakery counter groans with characterful homemade sourdough, sweet and savoury pastries, tarts and cakes, to eat in or take away. There are other lovely things you can take home too, like their famous jams and preserves, granola, bags and locally made crafty goodies.
1032 Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3WX