Saturday, 8 August 2015

Cheap eats in Manchester

If there's one thing to know about me it's that I'm really tight.
Really, really tight.
I hate spending money unnecessarily. I resent even 50p that I could have avoided spending.
I absolutely love a bargain and I'm always looking to save money where I can.

So when I was asked by Travelodge to get involved in their cheap eats challenge I couldn't reply to the email fast enough. It was perfect for me! I love saving money, but I love to eat out. And I also love any opportunity to talk about how much I love Manchester!

The idea is to help people visiting Manchester enjoy great food without breaking the bank, so the challenge was to eat both lunch and dinner in Manchester for £50.

But me being me, I wanted to go one step further. Eating well in Manchester is actually very reasonable so eating two meals for £50 wasn't really a challenge at all. What would be a challenge, however, would be feeding two people two meals for £50.

So obviously, I decided to make it harder for myself and bring Phil along too.

Now just for the record, this is not at all a typical day of eating for Phil and I! We very rarely eat out and I don't think we've even eaten out twice in one day in Manchester! On the weekends in particular we have a bit of a running joke that we usually have a good breakfast after parkrun (or after my Sunday long run) and usually forget to eat until dinnertime. But we were determined to take one for the team for this challenge...

Lunch
Now there are absolutely loads of places in Manchester where you can get a great, cheap lunch. There are some really lovely cafes such as North Tea Power and Teacup, and also plenty of places to get a slice of pizza, such as Slice or Crazy Pedros. Plus there are some really great places for vegetarian food (Earth Cafe in particular is great. It's like a wonderful vegetarian cafeteria where you choose a selection from whatever is one the menu that day. And there's also 8th Day Cafe, where I've never eaten, but I love their health food shop upstairs where I buy my veggie specialities).

But if there's one thing Manchester does well, it's street food. So we hit up the Arndale Market.
If you're in Manchester, there's a good chance you've come for the shopping, and the majority of the shops are in the Arndale, making the Arndale market perfect for a stop off. It's also ideal if you're not sure what you want, as there is a huge variety of stalls selling everything from Vietnamese food to pizza to burritos.





We decided to go for burrito bowls from Panchos. I've wanted to go to Panchos for absolutely ages but I very rarely eat lunch out in Manchester because it makes no sense to pay for food when I live around the corner (see point 1 - I'm tight), so I was pretty excited. We both got burrito bowls (mine, veggie chilli. Phil's, lamb) with a can of drink each. The total was £13.50.
As you can see, they were absolutely utterly huge! Delicious though. I absolutely love a good burrito bowl and it was one of the best. Needless to say, I didn't manage it all!

Dinner
So after spending only £13.50 on lunch, that left us with £36.50 for dinner. Now that's quite a lot of money for Manchester, where most mid-range restaurants are about £10 for a main course. So the challenge really was picking where to go.
I decided we should choose somewhere we had been before so we could guarantee it was going to be good, but we needed to be sure we could get a good meal for our remaining money.
In the end, we chose Splendid Kitchen. Splendid Kitchen is kind of Manchester personified. It's cool, it's American-style and of course, it serves burgers. You can't come to Manchester without having a burger. It's also one of those wonderful places that you wouldn't find unless you knew it was there, hiding down a side street by the town hall.

The menu is a typical Manchester joint. Elaborate burgers, crazy fries and at least one dish that involves both meat and maple syrup.
We had to get burgers. I was excited to see a veggie burger on the menu that wasn't just a block of halloumi (I love halloumi as much as the next veggie but it's always disappointing to go somewhere that has a huge selection of meat burgers and find the veggie burger is just a hunk of cheese). Phil went for the cow and chicken burger. We also couldn't resist getting some crazy fries. In retrospect, one portion of fries would have been more than enough between two of us, but when we were ordering we were too excited to care, so we got a portion of eggs benedict fries (minus the bacon) and pizza fries for Phil.

OH MY GOD SO GOOD. Easily one of my top 5 veggie burgers in Manchester. Phil also said his burger was up there with one of his best burgers in Manchester. However, our eyes were much bigger than our stomachs! We definitely didn't need two portions of fries...

So, £13.50 on lunch, and for dinner, two burgers, two portions of fancy fries and two soft drinks...
£33! We came in £3.50 under budget, so we left that as a tip to the wonderful staff at Splendid Kitchen!

Edit: If you do fancy Splendid Kitchen it is worth noting their iPhone app where they have a LOT of offers regularly. They have an offer on at the moment for 25% off food when you book (throughout August) which we didn't use because we thought it was cheating, but it's definitely worth knowing if you're in the area!

This challenge was so much fun, and proves that you don't need a lot of money for a great weekend of food in Manchester! Travelodge has asked bloggers from other cities to get involved so I'm really excited to see where I should be eating in the other places on the list.

Thanks for asking us to get involved, Travelodge!

Now for a lie down...

PS. Some of our other favourite places to eat in Manchester as Home Sweet Home, Sandinista, Superstore, El Capo and if you're a meat lover, (or in my case, love a meat lover) Red's True BBQ (their veggie option is surprisingly good).

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