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Eat like a local in the North West

Posted on March 27, 2018 by Paula

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Wherever you travel, knowing you are getting the most authentic experience is one of the best feelings you can have. The sensation of managing to uncover a hidden gem, kept out of the public eye, is one of the greatest joys of discovering a new place. It allows you to truly connect with where you are and experience the area as a local would.

There is no greater mission than finding the top undercover eateries of an area. The ones the locals swear by but that live slightly off the beaten track. The places with the authentic dishes, story-teller servers and captivating atmospheres.

The North West of England is a life force all of its own, and is the ideal destination for a last minute city break. From the cultural hubs that are Manchester and Liverpool to the history of places like Blackpool, every inch of the North West has a story to tell you, you just need to know the best place to hear it.

Manchester

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Manchester is a diverse city that is known as the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Its rich and sometimes challenging history means the locals are proud people who will open their city up to anyone. The city centre is jam packed with eclectic bars, eateries and stores whereas the surrounding area is filled with beautiful northern green spaces and quaint English towns.

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We spoke to blogger and recipe developer Pamela Higgins, creator of Manchester-based food site Spamella B, a blog she created out of her passion for making healthier versions of her favourite sweet treats. Pamela recommended some of her favourite spots in the city: “There are so many to choose from, it's a tough choice! There are a few I'd suggest: Federal Cafe in the Northern Quarter, a tiny spot with a heavy New Zealand-focus, serving the best (and most Instagrammable!) breakfast and brunch offerings you could imagine.

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“Then there's recently opened 1761 & Lily's Bar, a quirky restaurant just off Albert Square celebrating all things British with a menu based on local ingredients. Finally, for a chilled-out coffee spot with plenty of natural light and a good spot to people-watch, Pioneer near Shudehill tram stop is a great choice.”

Elsa Eats is a Manchester-based food blogger who was happy to talk proudly about the food scene in Manchester: “The best thing about Manchester is that there is such a varied array of eateries to suit all budgets. Spinningfields and Deansgate mostly host your fine dining restaurants and the Northern Quarter has more independent establishments. I personally love markets and Manchester has a small market in Piccadilly Gardens every Thursday - Saturday. There is also the Makers' Market in Spinningfields and Northern Quarter, each run once a month and don't forget Mackie Mayors and GRUB which house independent traders.”

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Elsa was happy to share some of her tip offs for her favourite foodie spots in the city: “My favourite place for actual food has got to be Nibble Cafe in the Northern Quarter, located next door to Pop Boutique. The food there is delicious and not fussy at all. The breakfasts are good, the salads refreshingly different and varied each time I go, and they do amazing cakes. They also cater to many dietary requirements. You can take your food to go too!

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“I also need to shout about Ginger's Comfort Emporium in Afflecks Palace. They do unique flavours of ice cream such as plum, gin and juniper and marmalade on toast. Don't worry, though! They also have the best chocolate ice cream and salted caramel and peanut butter ice cream and sorbet. There are always a few vegan friendly flavours!”

We also spoke to Sophie Elisabeth, creator of Sophie’s Scran a blog created to harness Sophie’s love of food and to give her a much-needed creative outlet. She recommended her favourite lesser-known spot: “At the moment, my favourite relatively-unknown spot to eat in Manchester has got to be Brasserie Abode. Brasserie Abode (although on the main street heading from Piccadilly station into town) is pretty underrated. Their lamb chops, steaks and triple-cooked chips are divine, and their peppercorn sauce is the best I’ve ever tasted.

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“They also make an amazingly great value Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Don’t forget to start with their French onion soup (oozing with melted cheese) and finish with their homemade sherry trifle, if you’ve got room!”

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She also recommended some of her favourite spots to pick up some of the best Asian food in Manchester: “ On the less ‘traditional’ side, I love Asian food, noodle soups in particular. In the city, I head to Shoryu for a spicy bowl of their piri piri tonkotsu ramen. But a little further out of town, in Northenden, is hidden gem Mi and Pho. It’s a small, family-run Vietnamese restaurant serving up traditional foods with some of our most-loved classics like salt and pepper chicken. Or if I’m out shopping in the Arndale centre or Northern Quarter, I love to head into the Arndale Market and grab some food-on-the-go from Viet Shack or Fusion Lab. Crispy pork belly, ‘quack’ fries (spicy fries loaded with crispy shredded duck) or their aubergine and tofu rice bowls are all delicious! But, if Asian food isn’t your thing, grabbing a gourmet cheese toastie from Northern Soul just around the corner is definitely not to be missed, either!”

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Blackpool

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Blackpool is famous for its lights, lively nightlife and the iconic Blackpool tower. This seaside resort has been a popular holiday destination among northern families for a long time, and it is one of the most famous getaway destinations in the UK. This old-school seaside town has no food more famous than its rock, the traditional seaside treat, but there are many other treats in store when you go to eat out in Blackpool.

We spoke to Jane, creator of Visit Flyde Coast, a blog dedicated to celebrating everything on the Flyde Coast, which was set up shortly after Jane moved there and fell in love with the area. She spoke to us about eating out in Blackpool and the surrounding area: “In Blackpool you’ll find all the names that you recognise, like Nandos, Pizza Express and Harry Ramsden, along with independents that all have a unique twist. There’s Shaw’s Art Cafe which regularly displays exhibitions by local artists. The Galleon Bar which is known for musicians and West Coast Rock where you can get the tastiest, freshly cooked burger.

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“Head out of Blackpool to the smaller nearby towns of Lytham St Annes, Poulton and Cleveleys and there are too many restaurants to choose from! Each offers a little something different, all offer excellent quality food, service and a first class all round experience. There really is an excellent standard in these parts, for example the chef at the Briardene Hotel in Cleveleys is Michelin trained and there’s always a long waiting list for tables at their Curbside Brasserie restaurant. Unlike most seasonal seaside towns, the Blackpool area never really closes. It’s a bit quieter than normal in January but generally speaking things continue throughout the whole year.”

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Jane also suggested her favourite local spot: “I’d have to say Seniors Fish and Chips. You can’t come to the coast and not have authentic seaside fish and chips! Although Seniors cater primarily for local people, their six stores are all well-known stop-off destinations for tourists and coach trips, especially during the Illuminations. It’s a family run business which prides itself on value and service – and yes, this portion of fish and chips really is £4.95!”

Liverpool

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Liverpool is most famous for being the home of The Beatles, but this Merseyside city has a lot more going for it than that. Aside from London, Liverpool has the largest number of Grade II listed buildings in the UK, and the rich architecture can be found all around the city. This cosmopolitan city is known for having an abundance of places to go out, so it’s probably for the best we have spoken to some locals to get the inside scoop on the best of the best.

We spoke to Ruth, creator of Ruth Writes, a Liverpool-based lifestyle, beauty and food blog, who shared her top tips for eating out in Liverpool: “I think the best approach to take to the Liverpool food and drink scene is to diversify your tastes. The different parts of the city work at different times. Lark Lane is a haven of independent restaurants with a cool atmosphere, so try heading along with friends on a Friday evening for food and drinks. Castle Street is perfect if you're looking for a restaurant with a difference to celebrate a special occasion. And, the BalticMarket in Cains Brewery is dog-friendly and makes a great Sunday trip out.”

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Ruth also recommended one of her favourite new spots in the city: “ Rumi by Bukara on Mount Pleasant is a recent find that I can't wait to go back to! The menu is diverse, super fresh food and a myriad of flavours in every dish. What more could you want from a contemporary Indian restaurant? Oh, and the price is fantastic too!”

Everything’s Peachy is a blog created by Adele Halsall in order to share her hunt for vegan-friendly places in Liverpool and the surrounding area, along with providing solutions to help people overcome their obstacles when becoming vegan. She shared some of her favourite spots in the city to pick up a great vegan meal: “Chango's on Dale St - this place has been open a few months now but is still fairly new. It does THE most delicious burritos, and the veggie options are great. They're generous with the fillings and you don't have to pay extra for things like guacamole.

Etsu- This is a little family-run restaurant on the Strand. It's surprising how so many people don't know it's there, but the people who do know about it will always go back! They do absolutely delicious Japanese and Asian food, and the service is great. It’s a fave of mine and my friends.

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P&D Italian Deli - So this place probably is well known (based on Tarleton St); however, what a lot of people don't know is that it's the only place in the city centre you'll find vegan Italian ice cream!! So, it's worth a visit for that alone!”

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Now you have the inside scoop you can eat like a local in the North West. If one of these tasty recommendations has taken your fancy, look at our last minute city breaks and experience it for yourself.

Image Credit: Spamella B, Elsa Eats, Sophie’s Scran, Visit Flyde, Ruth Writes, Everything’s Peachy.

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