Best Places To Eat In Manchester

If you’re familiar with eating out and experimenting then you’ll know that the price of food doesn’t always dictate it’s quality nor does it guarantee good taste. We know how easy it is to stick to ordering from that one place that you know is a safe bet, especially as a broke student, you don’t want to take a risk and pay for something that turns out to be disappointing. 

If this sounds like you, we’ve got you covered! We’ve done the hard work of trialling and reviewing food and compiled a list of the best food spots in Manchester: from cheap takeaways to fancier restaurants where you can treat yourself (without breaking the bank). 

We’ve included a variety of cuisines too (Japanese, Italian and Caribbean – just to name a few) so you can trust that there will definitely be something to suit your palate! And of course, it goes without saying that ALL these places are halal, and many have vegetarian/vegan menu options too!

Curry Mile/Oxford Road

Go Falafel – Falafel & Juice Bar (Vegan)

The perfect place to grab a warm and healthy falafel wrap for lunch whilst on campus. You can customise your wrap with sauces and other options such as hummus, pickles, salad, and seasoned potatoes. 

Note: their ‘healthy juices’ are a bit of a misleading name because they’re just smoothies i.e blended fruit, they don’t actually juice anything! Also, be aware that there’s no space to eat in.

Our recommendation is the standard medium falafel wrap – £3.50

Keep an eye out for their freshers student BARGAIN of £1 wraps around September/October!

Today Fresh Shawarama

By far one of the most popular takeaways on the curry mile. Like the name says – fresh, beautifully spiced shawarma at a competitively cheap price is their main selling point and we admit it’s hard to beat these prices and quality (shawarma + naan from £2.50). In particular, we have to give a special mention to our personal favourite: shawarma in their fresh samoon bread. This tasty choice has earned itself quite the reputation – once you’ve tasted it no other shawarma will make the cut (ask for the number 1 meal option). They also do some addictive pizzas and fatayer from just £2.00! The bottom line is that this is the best shout for a tasty meal at the cheapest price. 

The one downside to Today restaurant is that it can get quite hectic during peak hours and the chaotic queuing system means you might be in for a long wait. 

Afghans Cuisine

If you’re starving and in need of mighty portion sizes then look no further.

The service here is fast and your food is usually accompanied by dips and salad. The staff are friendly and helpful and there’s plenty of room to eat-in with nicer seating upstairs.

We recommend their kobeda wrap (£3.85) or their mixed kebab (£6.75). Pay an extra £1 to get it on Qabili rice – trust us, it’s worth it!

Pizza Co

Reasonable prices, decently spaced seating on both floors, and a very smiley owner – Pizza co is where to go for a solid pizza with a vast range of topping options. The sheer range of their menu and selection choices is the trump card here.

Located just a few steps down Oxford Road from campus, this is the place to go if you’re craving a bite of pizza in between lectures!

Al Jazeera

Famous for one dish and one dish only: Qabili Pilau – succulent carrot and sultana rice mixed with gorgeous tender lamb. We declare with full, unwavering confidence that this is the best place for rice in Manchester, bar none. It is no exaggeration to say they’ve got the basics down to a fine art. 

New York Krispy

Fried chicken is an unsurpassable takeaway item that always hits the spot. Get a taste of the timeless crispy breading and tender, succulent chicken which New York Krispy does best by simply getting some wings (£2.20) or their Megabox Meal (£6.99) if you want to go all in with a burger, chicken strip, wings, fries and a drink.

Toro’s Steakhouse

Alright, we might’ve lied when we said you wouldn’t break the bank in any of these places because the first thing you’ll see on the menu in Toro’s SteakHouse is £££. But for a steak?  We can’t really argue on the price. 

With hearty portions of tender, sizzling steak, and a respectable selection of sides (the mash is a different level of creamy) Toro’s is worth every penny spent.

Manchester City Centre

Tampopo (vegan menu options included)

Hands down the champion franchise for southeast Asian food (beats Wagamama by a mile). If you want your east Asian food authentic and done justice then rest assured you’re in safe hands with Tampopo. Our favourites are the katsu curry (£11.25) and pad thai (£11.95). They also do 20% student discount on weekdays so make sure to bring your student card too! We recommend the branch in Exchange Quay for the warm lantern lighting, pleasant atmosphere, and great interior decor.

Vapiano (vegan menu options included)

The home of fresh handmade pasta, pizza, and Mediterranean salads – distinctly italiano. At Vapiano, flexibility is their unofficial forte so it’s quite easy to ask for specific menu changes and even speak to the chef. If you’re craving Italian, think Vapiano.

Jerk Shak (vegan menu options included)

Not many people know that this place is halal so it’s about time we shared the secret. Fried chicken, jerk chicken, mutton curry, oxtail, as well as peas and rice are Caribbean classics that you’ll find are made at an elite level here at Jerk Shak, all served rustically on enamel plates and with big boy portions. It’s hard to miss with its bright Caribbean themed colour scheme and shack-like exterior right next to Market Street tram stop! 

Habesha (vegan menu options included)

This little gem is one of the best-kept secrets on the food scene in Manchester. Hidden away on busy Sackville street, it may be hard to notice at first but get past the fact it’s above a takeaway and you’re in for food so authentic you’ll feel transported to Ethiopia itself. With its homely atmosphere yet professional service, Habesha has a loyal crowd of customers and overwhelming popularity that makes it packed on weekend evenings. 

Although the menu is small, they’ve certainly perfected the dishes on offer. All food is served alongside a traditional, freshly-made sour flatbread called injera. We recommend the Yebeg Wot (fragrant, tender lamb cubes slow-cooked with onions, garlic, and ginger) but the meat-free dishes on offer taste just as good if not better. The Yetsom Beyaynetu is a mouthwatering, lentil-based stew that packs a punch and will leave you seeing vegan food in a new light!

That’s it for our top picks of places to eat in Manchester,  now it’s over to you to get some mates together and head out to try these food spots for yourself! 

Bon appetit!

Living At Home During University

Starting university can be a daunting experience. For many it’s their first time living away from home, taking care of their own finances, and being completely independent.

But what about if you decide to live at home? 

You may have made this decision for various reasons: financially it might make sense, living close to uni makes commuting a realistic option, or perhaps you don’t feel ready to move out just yet.

Whatever the reason, living at home raises its own questions and concerns among freshers so we’ll be giving you 10 tips today to address the most common ones!

Commuting

The commute is often an aspect of living at home that people dread. Synonymous with images of crowded buses, delayed trains, and early morning starts it can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to change that:

Disclaimer: since most students commute via some form of public transport these tips are aimed at them.

  1. Use the morning commute as a time to study

Having a tablet, laptop or even your phone makes studying on your commute only a few clicks away and cuts out the faff of having to haul around heavy books and messy pages of notes. 

If you’re one of the many who like to pre-read slides for their lectures, the commute is the perfect time to do that! If you’re a medic you could review some anatomy with your Anki flashcards or read up on the week’s case and answer a few quick questions from the agenda.

Or if studying on the train sounds like a nightmare, how about listening to that Mufti Menk lecture you’ve been meaning to, or some peaceful Quran to start your day off with an Iman boost? 

  1. Use the commute back as a chance to rest

A common challenge for commuting students is feeling too tired to study by the time you get home. Combat this by considering the commute back home as an opportunity to rest in itself rather than a means to an end. As long as you don’t miss your stop, why not have a quick power nap or just take the time to sit back and relax? If you find that this still doesn’t help – maybe because your journey involves a long walk, then recognise this early on and be realistic. Don’t expect yourself to get straight to work when you come home, make it a priority to set aside some time to rest and get your energy back first.

Reminder: Be sure to say your adhkar while commuting to stay safe especially when travelling home alone at night! 

  1. Get to know fellow commuters

Manchester is a big university and an even bigger city, which means there’s almost always someone commuting by the same route as you! Don’t be afraid to ask people how they’re getting home, what bus they’re taking, or which way they’re headed. Often even people living in accommodation such as Fallowfield or Victoria take public transport or have a bit of a walk to get down Oxford road so it’s really easy to find people to share your journey with, even if it’s just for part of the way.

Having a commuting buddy will make the journey less tedious and can help you avoid FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to commute

Commuting comes hand-in-hand with delays and cancellations. So, make it a habit to always give yourself room for the unexpected in your morning journey. 

The “uni experience”

A common concern we hear is: ‘Will I miss out on the uni experience by commuting?’

It’s time to bust this long-standing myth. The truth is it’s completely up to you! Living at home is almost never the obstacle it seems to be when it comes to making close friends, going out for a meal, and attending the events and socials that you want to. 

  1. Get to know your course mates

Getting to know people on your course is always a good place to start. They may be the first people you meet at uni, so be open to chatting and spending extra time with them! Grabbing lunch, going to the library together on a study date, or even heading to a nearby park (if the Manchester weather lets you) is an easy way to become familiar with some new faces. This is also a great opportunity to incorporate socialising into your day since staying late for society events might not be an option for some commuters.

  1. Check out societies 

Come freshers week, everyone will be in a similar position and likely feeling a bit nervous. Approaching people out in public can be very daunting, so by attending society events meeting new people becomes a bit easier.

You may find it difficult to stay late for evening events so make the most of freshers when there will be more events running during the day. Some societies may be holding events online this year, which is perfect for commuters! And as a last port of call if there’s not much on and you’re bored or not sure where to find people, definitely head over to McDougall’s prayer hall at any time! This is the hub for Muslims on campus and you’ll meet plenty of welcoming brothers/sisters to chill and spend time with.

Side note: when it comes to societies, a special mention has to be given to ISoc; for Muslim students on campus, it opens the doors to a community from which you can benefit spiritually (insha’Allah) as well as a place to socialise and meet new people. Make sure to check our events out!

  1. Utilise social media

Facebook makes it really easy to connect with fellow freshers. There’s plenty of group chats out there. The fresher’s ones are a good place to start, however, we’d recommend checking out some society group chats too. That way, you can meet people with shared interests, which is more likely to lead to friendship. 

You can also message the @manchesterisoc insta page to be added to the ISoc Freshers 2020 (Sisters/Brothers) Whatsapp group chats too!

By joining these group chats, you can get to know people and can perhaps arrange some meet-ups, all before you even step foot on campus. 

How do I balance it all?

  1. The importance of seeking knowledge

Realise that seeking knowledge is a fardh. This applies to any kind of knowledge; be it worldly, academic, or Islamic. Most importantly, strive to seek Islam amongst your books. Even the animals and fish will seek forgiveness for this individual who studies. The significance of this is that the one who seeks knowledge learns about the rights of the Creator, the creation, and the world he resides in. He isn’t thrown by whatever he encounters but has self-assurance.

 Make the intention to study at least, you have to start somewhere.

  1. Work smarter not harder 

The key to being a successful student while commuting is learning to work efficiently. Everybody is different so there is no one way to go about this but experiment with different methods and routines to figure out what works best for you. For example, do you prefer to go home straight away and get all your work done in the comfort of your room? Or do you work more efficiently going to the library after class and being in that study environment? 

Consider your energy levels and what time of day you work best during. You’ll do yourself a huge favour figuring out early on in your degree how to get your work done in a few hours instead of it taking the whole day. 

Learn to prioritise important or urgent tasks over others – write a checklist or make a mental note of what you plan to get done before you set out to do it.

Above all, be flexible. Some days you’ll be on top of everything and others you’ll feel like you’re swamped. That’s fine! As students, we all have our good days and bad days, and this is part of the learning experience.

  1. Make time for life outside of university

Sometimes it might seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want. To help fix this, we recommend setting time aside for your hobbies and interests, just as you set time aside for study. 

Allocate a specific portion of your time for life outside of studying. Dedicate this time to working on yourself spiritually, getting a workout in, or spending time with your family.

Final Words

You’ve heard it before but we’ll say it again – university is what you make of it. These short few years are an opportunity to do so much more than earn just a diploma. Besides excelling academically, it’s an opportunity to move closer to Allah in these defining years, develop ourselves, and of course make life-long memories. We pray Allah makes this a journey of barakah for you and that our advice goes some way in helping you achieve what you set out to do. 

We start this journey, and end this piece with the best of words:
bismillah.

A Muslim’s Guide to Living on Campus

From our own experience, we know moving away from home for the first time to an unfamiliar city can be intimidating, especially as a Muslim student, so we’ve put together some of our top tips and advice to help you overcome any challenges and ease this transition!

It’s Okay to Feel Homesick

We understand moving to a new city can leave you feeling lonely at times but you’ll quickly find your place in Manchester and build a support network to help you get through it. The University of Manchester is the largest single-site university in the UK with students from a diverse range of backgrounds so have no doubt that you will eventually find your people! We recommend keeping yourself as busy as you can outside and around others in the first few weeks to minimise the amount of time you spend alone in your room. Freshers makes this super easy because there’s plenty of events being hosted daily! And as a last port of call when bored or not sure where to find people, definitely head over to McDougall’s prayer hall and you’ll meet plenty of welcoming muslims to chill and spend time or even go out with. Decorate and personalise your room by adding fairy/led lights, plants, posters and a throw for a homely touch so that any time you do spend there is a lot more comfortable. Especially with the covid situation, you might be spending more time in your room than you’d like. Make sure to call home frequently and make an effort to visit regularly on weekends to ease homesickness too. 

Check Up On Your Family

Expanding on the last point, we just want to reiterate the importance of checking up on your family to not only ease homesickness but to fulfil the obligation Allah has enjoined upon you. Silat ur-Rahm (maintaining family ties) is compulsory in Islam, particularly to your parents whose favours to you are innumerable. You may not live in the same city anymore but you should still uphold your duty to maintain contact with them by calling regularly and showing compassion.

“And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”

[17:24]

Join Societies

We highly recommend joining a couple of societies during freshers as this is perhaps one of the easiest ways to make friends and meet like minded people at university. From faith societies like ISoc to cultural, sports, recreation and volunteering societies there’s something for everyone. Joining these societies will allow you to pursue hobbies outside of your course, and maybe even push you out of your comfort zone at times. ISoc offers a vast array of socials and events from Friday linkups to weekly classes, sunrise snowdon hikes and weekend retreats so do get involved! You can also join societies related to your course, this will help you meet more people on your course and pursue a niche area of your degree which could come in handy after graduating.

Befriend Your Flatmates

You might not be sharing your room with them but more often than not, you’ll be bumping into them in your communal kitchen. It’s not realistic to expect everyone to be best buds with each other but being on friendly terms with your flatmates will make those daily kitchen encounters a lot less awkward and living in halls much more enjoyable!

Plan Your Meals Ahead

It’s time to put those blissful days of coming home to a freshly cooked dinner by your parents behind you. Unless you’re someone who genuinely looks forward to cooking dinner after a long day at uni, meal planning is your best bet. Take some time out of your weekend to do some grocery shopping and schedule an hour or two each Sunday to batch cook meals for the next week. Youtube is the go-to place for simple, affordable and tasty meal plans geared towards students! Even if your cooking skills aren’t the finest, making a pasta mix takes little effort and it’s so easy to switch up the dishes with basics like cheese, tomato, sweetcorn, tuna or chicken. Whether you want to prep lunch or dinner for the week, grab yourself a few reusable, air-tight containers (to avoid saucy leakages in your bag) from Tesco or Poundland and put them in the fridge with your meals for the next few days. Lidl is best for cheap staples like pasta and rice but for spices and halal meat, Worldwide is the place to go.

Budgeting, Budgeting, Budgeting!

With the curry mile being within a walking distance, the temptation to go on a daily food crawl is real. However, this is not economical for the average student and expenses from eating out snowball rapidly. You don’t want to find yourself making that dreaded call to mama and baba in the middle of the semester to tell them you’ve run out of money, and speaking from experience, that hour-long lecture over the phone is not worth it! Give yourself a weekly budget and do not exceed it. Limit yourself to eating out at a restaurant once or twice a week. Hold yourself accountable by tracking your expenditure via a spreadsheet.

Find a Good Work-Life Balance

Your body has been entrusted to you by Allah (SWT) so it’s imperative you take care of it. Sleep early, wake up early and front load your work to maximise your productivity so you can have your evenings off to destress and focus on other things.  Avoid leaving your assignments to the last minute, we’re warning you now that an all-nighter in Ali G (Alan Gilbert learning commons) is never worth it, so don’t put your mind and body through that!

Cherish Your Time at University

At university, you’re blessed with an unprecedented amount of free time, make use of this to better yourself beyond academia. Also pursue a hobby, take up a sport, learn a language, explore the city, and just say yes to different opportunities, new experiences and everything in between. And perhaps most importantly, seek knowledge about your deen and develop yourself spiritually. The Prophet ﷺ advised us to:

“Take benefit of five before five: 

Your youth before your old age, 

your health before your sickness, 

your wealth before your poverty, 

your free time before you are preoccupied, 

and your life before your death”

Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim

Your years at university will fly by, so make sure to completely immerse yourself and you’ll never regret looking back!

Welcome Back!

From the eager freshers to the returning students, we warmly welcome you this September of 2020 to the University, ISoc, and most importantly, to our newly renovated blog.

We never thought the day would come. But here we are, announcing that the Blog is back! Bigger, better and bolder than ever. 

After our haunting 2 year absence we’ve gotten ourselves back up and running. In our break we’ve gathered up a team of writers and developed a new management strategy behind the scenes, which means you can expect regular weekly articles as well as campaigns for important causes across the year. The blog is for you students so if there’s anything you’d like to see or be addressed do tell us! And like always, any articles – whether it’s sharing a perspective, personal stories, educational pieces, or something about your degree – you’re more than welcome to send it in to be published! 

Be prepared for everything from Islamic pearls of wisdom to mouth-watering recipes and all that’s in between – coming your way from September 2020!

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