When in a big city like Manchester, you're going to need a little bit of prior knowledge if you want to have a dining experience to meet your expectations. There is an international selection of cuisines, from British pub staples to the Pakistani/Indian leanings of the “curry mile,” making it a stellar city for those seeking a bit of variety without having to break the bank.
The most obvious place to start if you're looking for a range of foods that are also largely inexpensive is around the university area. Oxford Road has a number of pizza and kebab eateries that are good for a quick bite during the day and also to satisfy the AM cravings that arise from a fun night at the area's live music venues. There are also a handful of decent cafes in the neighborhood. Then again, nearby Wilmslow Road in Fallowfield also caters to students with staples like the excellent Greek of Kosmos and the Portuguese dishes at Nando's. If you do plan on being south of city center, then the most interesting neighborhood to explore for cuisine is the “curry mile” in Rusholm. A selection of largely Indian eateries, you'll find curry in all its delightful applications, with institutions like Caspian and Punjab leading the way.
The Northern Quarter is another area known for an inexpensive range of food, although a little more searching may be in order. There are a few great restaurants (Simple Bar and Grill) and little cafes here (the cool vibes of Oklahoma and Cafe Rouge in the Printworks), but budget eaters should head to nearby Chinatown for a good meal, for there are a number of buffets that will undoubtedly satisfy. Then again, there is better quality Asian food at a place like Chaophraya in the city center if this is more your priority.
For a better idea of what else is in store for you in Manchester, take a look at our cuisine listings or get the opinions of our embark community.