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The wonders of Unicorn, Manchester's amazing vegan coop supermarket

This is another post from when I was away Mofo-ing (yep, another one of those). During August, I went off to Manchester.

I like Manchester - I've got family and friends there, and it gives you scenery like this at the same distance from the city centre as a particularly aggressive sneeze can travel.

Thanks to reading Tea and Sympatico, I often wonder if Manchester is a better destination for vegans than London (Tea and Sympatico is better at finding cool vegan stuff than me!)

Case in point: Unicorn Grocery, a workers co-op and entirely, amazingly plant-based place. Thanks to a tip-off from my friend's mum that there was a vegan supermarket nearby, we decided to take a journey down to the suburb of Chorlton to check it out.

I was expecting something like your local health food shop - a few shelves heathily stocked with all the things needful to veg*ns. Unicorn is way better than that - it's huge. It is, as my friend's mum had said, a vegan supermarket - aisles and aisles of stuff, half of which was new to me. It's a swimming-pool sized place where you need never check the label to see if someone has slipped a dusting of whey into your food, and you never have to quest for the elusive vegan mark.

As if that wasn't enough to get me considering a move to Chorlton, there's also a deli counter - rows and rows of interesting salads, snacks, fun shizz, and baked goods. I availed myself of a samosa, a load of rum truffles, and a slice of nut and chocolate cake. It was a dense slab shot through with almonds, topped with grassy coloured pistachios, gravelling a mirror-sheened - and pleasantly bitter and grown-up - dark chocolate icing.

Along with the deli raid, I picked up a restrained number of other things - some biscuits, for example, a bottle of Spanish sparkling wine, and a jar of sun-dried tomato paste that cost £1 less than it would in London. And that's another reason to love Unicorn - as it's a co-op, the prices are all wallet-friendly.

Among the rows of organic veg, tinned goods, cleaning products and all the other things you'd expect in an omni supermarket, I was particularly taken with the chilled section - it's not often you come across entirely new vegan brands, but Unicorn had a couple including Hobbit, which had a range of readymade tofu, tempeh, and vegetable-based dips and other tofu products.

Here's some of the stuff I picked up:

Another new discovery not pictured here was Paul's tofu, which won my affection for two reasons  -  its price (low) and its water content (equally low). Thanks to its non-watery nature, you don't even have to press it before using it - who doesn't love labour saving tofu?

I used it make the brunch we had with my lovely Northern friends - tomato, mushrooms, beans, scramble, and um, chapatti. It's not traditional, but it works... Much like Unicorn.

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  1. I would go first of all because it's called Unicorn. And I would buy Hobbit products because they're called Hobbit!

  2. Thank you for the review and especially the picture of the outside! I've heard of Unicorn a few times, even from friends who've been there, but until I saw your picture of the building I pictured it as quite a small little place like a local health food shop - like you say - and had no idea it was so large! That's so great! :) Love the sound of labour-saving tofu too!

  3. I just love your posts like this. I feel like I'm there with you! It's such a different world over there, and I love it. One day we'll get ourselves back to England for a visit :)

  4. I wanted to go here when we were in Manchester earlier in the year, but it was a bit too far afield for us. Thanks for letting me live vicariously! I'll have to visit Manchester again with a car.

  5. I love Unicorn! Before I fly anywhere, I always pick up a picnic from the deli counter: samosas, bhaji, maybe a pasty. And flapjacks for breakfast! It's such a great shop, I really took it for granted in Manchester.

  6. Truly an amazing find! I would give anything to trade all of the Whole Foods near me for one Unicorn even remotely close by. :-)

  7. I love it! Perhaps your Unicorn Grocery is the long lost sibling of Rainbow Grocery out here in San Francisco. ;) Either way, it certainly sounds magical.

  8. I've been to Manchester a couple of times, always work related - never pleasure. Hope to visit it again one-day and discover all things vegetarian and vegan.

  9. Oooh Tofu Tzatziki?! Yum! I'm a big Unicorn Grocery fan too, I hope I an make it back to Manchester again soon!

  10. Aw, I miss Unicorn. I was lucky enough to live a few streets away for about 10 years. It has been amazing to see it go from strength to strength over the years and their product range including all the fresh stuff is so ace. We do make a trip over a few times a year and stock up. The Paul's range is great, I love their tempeh too.

  11. Unicorn sounds amazing!! I would be so curious to see what they offer!!


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