Eating and drinking at Manchester airport spans a huge arc, ranging from fruit smoothies to pork pies via Greggs, healthy kebabs, and high-end Italian.
The airport is in the final phase of a £1.3 billion reconstruction programme begun in 2015 and Terminal 2’s expansion has allowed it to showcase local food and beverage favourites in a departure lounge doubled in size. That’s good news, but first, let’s have a look at what else is on offer.
The last stage of redevelopment, due to be completed in 2025, will see Terminal 1 shut 63 years after it opened. With the closure in the offing, Terminal 1’s food selection is not going to attract new investors and there is definitely an air of grab-and-go about it, with Burger King, Pret, and Starbucks making up a third of the selection. That go-to guilt fest Greggs is also there – just make sure no one sees you coming out.
That said, there are some options for something more stylish. Café Balzar takes a French theme in the widest sense and although the vibe seems distinctly un-Parisian, there are some interesting items including tagines and other dishes from France’s North African and Middle Eastern connections.
If it’s a carb fest you want, head to The Grain Loft, where pub classics like steak and ale pie sit alongside a burger menu, with chips part of many dishes. There’s a sub-menu from Fanny’s Kebabs, a London venture now established in seven UK airports. Fanny’s offers fire-cooked lamb, chicken, or falafel options – all with Persian chips – that are a cut above the usual post-pub doner.
The revamped Terminal 2 is unsurprisingly the best place for eating and drinking, with 14 outlets. The reliable Pret, Wagamama and M&S Simply Food are among the big brand names, but you can do better by heading for the local enterprises amongst them.
One of these is from local brewer Joseph Holt, who has opened The Bridgewater Exchange, the UK’s first airside microbrewery, boasting 36 keg beers. There is also a good menu of pub favourites to line the stomach, including mac & Lancashire cheese, Whitby scampi & chips, and bangers & mash.
In a similar vein is the Amber Alehouse, run by Salford’s Seven Bro7hers brewery, which pairs local craft beers with a soundtrack showcasing Manchester’s finest music talent.
Both pubs open at silly o’clock, but perhaps a more sensible breakfast option would be Pot Kettle Black, a Manchester/Antipodean venture that prides itself on a coffee and brunch concept. More virtuous still would be VIT, with zero-sugar juices, wraps, and salads.
There’s no need to be that wholesome all the time, so perhaps peruse the menu at Archie’s, a Manchester brand specialising in burgers, shakes, and waffles – just the thing if a trip to the microbreweries gives you the munchies.
For lunch or dinner, the renowned San Carlo chain of Italian eateries has a branch here, serving all the pasta and pizza favourites plus its “cicchetti” small plates concept, giving a high-end twist to the new terminal.
Manchester airport does not boast any caviar and champagne bars like Heathrow, although pre-Covid, the PremiAir private terminal provided exclusive dining options for travellers able to justify the expense. This remains closed with no reopening date but meanwhile, be honest, you really fancy a Greggs or a pork pie, don’t you?
Terminal 3 offers eight choices, one less than Terminal 1, with three of them being coffee shops and a KFC. Fear not, however, because there are alternatives. Northern England loves a pork pie and they are in abundance at Pork & Pickle’s British deli fare, along with local cakes and pork sausages. Meanwhile, Kiosco’s corrugated steel kiosks offer another grab-and-go option that’s more international. If you have time for a full meal, local fare in liquid form is found at The Lion and Antelope together with pub grub.