Our latest foray into the world of grill and burger restaurants led us to SoLIta in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The name of the restaurant, complete with capital L and I, is a reference to its location “south of Little Italy”. I think of it as sounding a bit like “so little” as we arrived on a Sunday afternoon to a tiny, packed (but cheerful) room on the ground floor. Fortunately, the layout is deceiving as there are more tables on the floors above. I did notice that there are additional spaces downstairs as well as across the street, so they are well equipped to handle the flow of customers at peak times.
The queue was already forming out the door and whilst there is very little space to wait inside the restaurant, the hostess handled the flow of people extremely well. After a short wait, we were given a table on the narrow first floor. Compared to the ambience of the ground floor, with its funky décor and comics on the walls, it was a little disappointing. However, once we settled in and glanced at the impressive menu, we soon forgot about the ambience.
We started off with some drinks and nibbles. My husband had the refreshing Paulaner Munich Helles Lager, served in a beautiful glass. My starter was the deep fried mac ‘n’ cheese. I had no idea what to expect but this dish turned out to be 3 balls of mac ‘n ‘cheese coated in breadcrumbs with some ketchup on the side. Not the most lovely dish to look at, but it’s not supposed to be… these were little balls of cheesy pasta goodness!
My husband had the intriguingly named Lucky 7, described as 7 layers of guacamole, refried beans, sour cream, salsa, cheese, lettuce and olives, served with blue corn tortilla chips. We were expecting something more substantial, based on the description, but what arrived what a bit of those ingredients stuffed in a small jar. Nice presentation but a letdown overall in terms of size and flavour.
My son is a chicken wings fanatic and he likes them spicy. He wasn’t disappointed. The buffalo wings were as described… authentic, sour and indeed hot. They were very spicy, even for my son who has a high tolerance for fiery heat. In fact, once he finished all the wings, he ate the remaining sauce with his fingers (this is the perfect place for that!).
As previously stated, the menu is impressive. It was very tempting to choose one of the meats from the Inka Grill, but as it was lunchtime, we decided on burgers. My son and I both had the Bacon Double Cheese, a patty with 2 ounces of melted cheese, crispy bacon, ketchup in a toasted brioche bun. It was topped off with bacon candy on a toothpick. Nice touch! I never had bacon candy before. I saved it for the end… something deliciously sweet to round off my meal.
My husband had the Gaucho burger, which included chorizo, rib eye steak, Monterey Jack cheese and chimichurri sauce… a tasty combination of flavours.
The Gaucho is real meat lover’s delight, offering a hamburger patty and a steak to boot!
All mains come with skinny fries but we were given the option to upgrade to cheesy curly fries with bacon pieces. My son and I had these and they were delicious. I expected a poutine type dish but this was spiced curly fries with, I believe, the same cheesy sauce as the mac ‘n’ cheese. My husband also had onion rings and the batter was tasty and perfectly fried. Sometimes onion rings are deep fried too long and the onion inside disintegrates, definitely not the case here.
We enjoyed our lunch and a return visit to SoLIta is a must. Next time, I’ll skip the nibbles and save my appetite for the famous Big Manc (two 6-oz minced chuck steak patties, trifecta brioche, iceberg, home pickles, Monterey Jack cheese and Big Manc sauce). One of the advantages of being seated on the first floor, was having a view of the servers going by with tantalising platters of burgers, piled high and looking ever so decadent!
We were pleased to see that they are opening a new location in Didsbury, a suburb just outside the City Centre, that will have more spread out seating and won’t seem “so little”. That merits a return trip to Manchester!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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