If you’re anything like us, one ray of sunshine and suddenly it’s couscous and salad bits all the way. Give us all the grilled food, smash some feta into basically everything and whack a corn on the cob onto a stick, because all we want to do is eat light, preferably outside. This is especially strong when it comes to lunch, when we want to refuel with quick, easy and healthy bits that somehow work together to form a meal, and that’s where our guide comes in. Here’s our run-down of places in Manchester to grab a healthy lunch now we’re verging on springtime.
Although Indo-Chinese street food titan Bundobust has some truly indulgent options on the menu, many of the casual, often takeaway friendly choices just so happen to be nutritious and delicious – in fact, the beloved Manchester spot is a hidden gem when it comes to grabbing a healthy lunch. Palette cleansers and sides such as their ‘Smacked Khakri‘, pickled cucumber with chilli, garlic and black salt, and spiced nuts offer flavour packed options without the hassle of deep frying or even cooking at all, meaning they retain their nutrition. Mains include Mung Chatpata, Sweetcorn Chevdo and Raghda Pethis, all of which are grain and vegetable based, and an array of dhals and curries packed full of goodness that are so good for your insides. Bundobust, St James Building, 61-69 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6EQ | 61 Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2AG.
Bringing the amazing taste of Mexico to Manchester’s Oxford Road, Tortilla caters for all tastes, diets and moods. Of course, some dishes are packed with good stuff like masses of cheese and mayo, but there’s plenty of lighter options to choose from. Think salad bowls that are ‘small on carbs, BIG on flavour’, a whole range of tacos filled with anything and everything, and naked burritos with a focus on protein – you can even build your own! It’s one of the most convenient healthy lunch spots in Manchester. Tortilla, 50 Oxford St, Manchester, M1 5EJ.
3. What The Pitta
You can’t stop us from stuffing a massive amount of food into a pitta bread, and What The Pitta provides the most delicious, fully vegan pittas going. OK, granted, they do stuff their pittas full of chips like the Greeks would want, but you seem to get all the best bits of a kebab without the greasy, guilty feeling after. Plus, salad ingredients fill out the meal around the vegan chicken, Doner meat or falafel, which makes us feel as though it’s uber healthy. Enjoy with mates in the relaxed, diner-style Northern Quarter restaurant, or take away street food-style just as easily. What The Pitta, 42 Back Turner St, Manchester, M4 1FR.
4. Oké Poké
Oké Poké is one for the more adventurous Mancs, however Hawaiian food shouldn’t be inaccessible, and we thank them for their service to the Northern Quarter. As the name would suggest, their main offering is Poké bowls, often compared to a deconstructed sushi bowl, with hints of Asian flavours, creating a unique, healthy and soulful alternative to an everyday salad. They also offer the wide variety of fillings in a Pokérito, a burrito style wrap, making it essentially a massive sushi roll, as well as their choice of juices, smoothies, protein shakes and tea infusions to keep the goodness going. Oké Poké, 59 Church St, Manchester, M4 1PD.
5. Wolf at the Door
This Northern Quarter haunt might not be the first place you think of when pondering where to go for lunch, but it’s actually a great shout. Famous for their £1 bao buns, Wolf at the Door offers many similar bargains on pretty healthy options including their Thai Green Tostadas and Firecracker Tofu Bao Buns – complete with kimchi which is renowned for its gut-loving properties as a fermented food. There’s so many bargains to be had, many of which are perfect for a lighter lunch. Wolf at the Door, 30-32 Thomas St, Manchester, M4 1ER.
6. The Allotment Vegan Eatery
As the name suggests, The Allotment Vegan Eatery is super into vegan clean eating. With small plates of broccoli and chicory and miso maple mushrooms, to mains of sundried tomato risotto and lentil jalfrezi, The Allotment is well-versed in providing dishes packed with goodness. The way they do it, though, makes you forget how uber clean the food is, with beautiful artisan surroundings and immense presentation, meaning you feel welcome whatever your affinity with healthy or vegan eating. They even do a Sunday roast! The Allotment Vegan Eatery, 1-3 Cathedral Gates, Manchester, M3 1SW.
7. The Counter House
Trendy, industrial style restaurant The Counter House doesn’t exactly scream “HEALTH”, but it’s a quiet contender. The daytime menu boasts amazing sounding brunches, but our attention is drawn to their large plates, packed with protein-rich grilled meats, avocado, spinach, eggs, potatoes and salads. The way the menu is put together makes it super simple to work out what’s vegan, veggie or gluten free, and none of the options are actually branded as ‘green’ or ‘healthy’, which feels more like it’s your choice because the food seems so good together. Don’t underestimate the power of the psychology of menus! The Counter House, 35 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6AJ.
This one may be cheating because there’s so many great places at GRUB Manchester to grab a healthy lunch, but we think it’s worth shouting them out. Whether it’s Wong Dumplings, Jeyda’s Turkish Kitchen or Seitan’s Kebab, there’s something for everyone at GRUB – and it’s always growing. It’s also important for us to visit these independent Manchester businesses to keep the local economy thriving, and making sure they make it further onto our high streets like predecessors such as Wholesome Junkies and Rudy’s Pizza. GRUB, 50 Red Bank, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, M4 4HF.
9. The Green Lab
The Green Lab advocates for a green way of life, with a juicery, eatery and fitness suite at their Manchester store. The menu offers amazing twists on indulgent favourites such as bagels, pancakes and even full English breakfasts, with the option to build your own nutrition bowl from a selection of colourful, delicious ingredients. Veggie and vegan options are of course available with the vast majority of the menu, as well as protein shakes, wellness shots and a whole litany of smoothies. The Green Lab, 32-34 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 1FY.
Representing Vietnamese cuisine, Pho has such a huge variety of naturally healthy options on their menus. Of course, they serve pho – Vietnamese noodle soup – with all sorts of ingredients packed in to add flavour and protein, including Hanoi style flash fried steak and green beans, pak choi, fresh lime and Thai basil. That’s not all, because Pho also offers Vietnamese salads with papaya and mango options, as well as curries, rice bowls and vermicelli noodles, so you’re completely covered even if you’re just nipping in for lunch. Pho, The Corn Exchange, 37 Hanging Ditch, Manchester, M4 3TR.