Summer has finally arrived and with temperatures set to soar in Manchester, people will be flocking outside to beer gardens.
With a heatwave on the horizon, the city’s streets will likely be packed with revellers sipping on cocktails and drinking pints out in the fresh air.
We all know the pain of walking pub-to-pub trying to find a seat on a sunny and/or warm Manchester day, so we’re rounding up the best beer gardens in the city to get a seat.
Some of them are massive, some of them are overlooked, but either way, you might actually stand a chance at getting a seat in one of these – if you’re quick enough, that is.
Thomas Street, Edge Street and Stevenson Square
This was one of the few positives to come out of the pandemic – removing vehicles from a back-to-back stretch of the Northern Quarter.
It means that the bars along Thomas Street, Stevenson Square and Edge Street can now fill the roads with tables and chairs in one giant beer garden.
You’ll find the likes of Common, Flok, Terrace, Smithfield Social, the Bay Horse Tavern and Wolf At The Door all being given the al fresco treatment.
Wine and charcuterie bar The Mews sites on the often-forgot Deansgate Mews walkway, wedged between the tail end of Deansgate and the Great Northern Warehouse.
Its large, secluded outdoor area is the perfect place to try when everywhere seems full – as this hidden gem delivers in spades on food, drink, and sunshine too.
Up here you’ll also find the likes of Siam Smiles cafe, Whistlepunks, Another Hand and Lion’s Den.
Crazy Pedros, Bridge Street
Drenched in sun for the best part of the day, the beer garden at Crazy Pedro’s also happens to be huge – having benefited from a pavement extension thanks to Covid.
You can drink margaritas and enjoy slices of pizza all day here whilst soaking up the rays, but we do recommend trying for a table early – it does tend to get pretty packed come the late afternoon / evening.
Two beer garden institutions both stand in the canal-side setting of Castlefield.
Both The Wharf and Dukes 92 are stuffed to the brim with pub-goers in spring and summer, thanks to their massive terraces – with the terrace at Atlas Bar also a good consideration, being somewhat hidden at the back of the bar, it’s often overlooked by sun seekers.
It always helps that Castlefield is one of the prettiest spots in the city centre, too.
Escape to Freight Island
This hospitality giant was initially purpose-built with social distancing in mind (wasn’t 2020 a wild ride?!), leading to a seriously roomy outdoor space.
While the bulk of the action has now shifted indoors to the Ticket Hall, Freight Island’s colourful outdoor space is back in its element – now open seven days a week.
You’ll find street food traders like One Star Doner Bar, Madre tacos, Batard, Voodoo Ray’s pizza, Burgerism and Mi & Pho all trading here, on this formerly-forgotten patch near Manchester Piccadilly.
The Oast House
Beer gardens seem to be everywhere in Manchester these days, which is of course a good thing, but we still have a soft spot for the original outdoor watering hole.
Cast your mind back a few years and The Oast House (and its grassy Spinningfields counterpart The Lawn Club) was one of the few venues that really focused on an open-air offering.
It’s still the same today – masses of tables in the heart of Spinningfields, with live entertainment and a belting Aperol Spritz too.
Hatch’s little village of shipping containers, each one home to an independent business (from food and drink to retail), is a true all-weather venue.
Part of it is sheltered by the Mancunian Way that soars overhead, other parts are heated by patio heaters, and parts are left in optimum position for soaking up some sunshine.
The rooftop terrace that overlooks the whole space is our personal favourite.
This ‘secret garden’ bar opened right in the heart of the Northern Quarter last year.
Tucked behind those big mint-green wooden boards on Dale Street is a cluster of picnic tables and wooden huts festooned with fairy lights and plants.
It might not be the tropics, but they’ve got the cocktails to trick your tastebuds into thinking it is – we’re talking frozen strawberry daiquiris and frozen pina coladas. Oh, and there’s beer too.
The Corn Exchange
Another corner of the city where bars and restaurants spill outside alongside one another is the Corn Exchange.
Its residents – including Salvi’s, Banyan and Cosy Club – almost all have their own terraces, but it’s the ones on the Exchange Square side who get the most sunshine.
You might have to queue a little while, but with so much seating, you’ll be sipping a drink in the sun before you know it.
Featured image: Escape to Freight Island
Romantic restaurants in Manchester that are perfect for Valentine’s Day 2023
With Valentine’s Day in Manchester fast approaching, the city’s restaurants and bars are gearing up to welcome couples wanting to celebrate the day.
With so many great restaurants in Manchester, if you’re looking to take your other half out to eat you are quite literally spoilt for choice.
For those lost in a sea of menus and wondering where to book, we thought we’d help make things a little bit easier by recommending some of our favourite romantic restaurants and a few other popular date night spots to help get you started.
Keep reading to discover our top picks for where to take your date in Manchester this Valentine’s Day.
Not many London brands successfully make the move up to Manchester, but one that has done it with aplomb is high-end steakhouse Hawksmoor.
It’s pricey but worth it, with a stunning wood-paneled cocktail bar (and bar menu) available next to the restaurant to help you get your date off to a flying start.
As a steakhouse, it’s not particularly great for vegetarians or vegans – although there are some nice fish dishes to be found on the menu. The meat here is chargrilled in the josper, whilst sides typically come laden with rich cheese, nutmeg and cream.
The aforementioned cocktail list is excellent, as is the wine list. One of the owner’s mums is actually a wine critic for The Guardian and her at-home cooking style, taking simple dishes and executing them very well, was one of the inspirations for the Hawksmoor menu today.
One of the best restaurants in Manchester by a long shot, it is run by a married couple – with Polish-born Kasia Hitchcock positioned out front and her chef-partner Franco Concli working away making dumplings in the back.
Spatzle (pictured above) is the house specialty, said to mirror sparrows in flight – hence the restaurant’s name. It’s best eaten with a simple sauce of butter and sage, but there are numerous sauce options – plus countless European dumplings, a fine sake selection and an organic wine list.
The hushed, sleek interiors, meanwhile, will have you convinced you’re somewhere in New York – not on the back streets of the Green Quarter – as well as fostering a sense of intimacy between you and your dining partner.
A visit to The Oystercatcher requires a trip out to Chorlton, but it’s well worth it to taste some of the best fish on offer in the city – often chargrilled in the josper oven for added flavour.
Getting a good seafood menu together is challenging in a city as landlocked as Manchester, and the lists change weekly at the restaurant in reflection of this.
Oysters dressed with shallot mignonette tend to be a mainstay, whilst a sample menu lists the likes of black sea bream, scallops, monkfish, seabass, sea trout, mussels and crab.
Sides are ordered separately, with choices like fennel gratin, chargrilled broccoli, hispi cabbage, triple cooked chips and more.
The Perfect Match
A charming little 26-cover bistro in the south Manchester neighbourhood of Sale, it’s not just the name that makes this spot a perfect choice for a romantic date.
Serving up some critically acclaimed British and European food with a beautiful hand-picked selection of wines, find rich and comforting dishes like lamb ragu gnocchi, baked bone marrow with truffle, and 32-day dry-aged red Hereford beef on its regularly-changing a la carte menu.
As for pudding? Tuck into the likes of popcorn and white chocolate posset with salted caramel, or enjoy a peanut butter pie with candied peanuts and a warming glass of Pedro Ximinez.
10 Tib Lane
With sultry low lighting, quality cocktails, £1 oysters and plenty of tucked-away seating spread over three floors, 10 Tib Lane could’ve been made for date night.
Serving a tantalising small plates menu alongside some beautiful low-intervention wines, its Cumbrae oysters with mignonette are a must-order to get your night going.
Followed up with the likes of steak tartare, lamb sweetbreads, duck in port sauce, bone marrow and pommes anna, and charred hispi cabbage in shallot sauce, foodies should be in absolute heaven.
Another award-winning, Michelin-recommended eatery, this time from the team behind the Levenshulme (and now also Ancoats) bakeries, Trove.
Open Tuesday to Saturday, with its concrete floors and relatively sparse settings, it’s the food here more than the decor that makes Erst so romantic.
A love of fermentation and pickling has clearly passed from one sibling’s kitchen into another. Plates here are ordered to share, with a list of 10 to choose from.
Each designed simply to showcase the natural flavours of the produce, order as many as you can muster then tuck in with a good bottle of natural wine on the side.
Home to some of the best pasta in Greater Manchester, you do have to schlep all the way out to Denton for it – but if incredible Italian food is part of your partner’s love language then trust us, it’ll be worth it.
By day, Ornella’s is very much a tiny deli cafe with room for just 12 diners at once. By night, the combination of the small space, low lighting and mouthwatering dishes make it a pasta lover’s paradise.
Dish-wise, think plump lobster ravioli, butter-drenched crispy sage and hazelnut spinach ricotta ravioli, and carbonara bucatini liberally doused in pepper and egg yolk, with crisp flecks of guanciale on top – all freshly made on-site by hand that day.
Opened by the team behind the Michelin-recommended Corvena in Chester just before Christmas, it boasts a stunning wine list (the name nods to the importance of weather in creating incredible wines) as well as some reportedly ‘genius’ dishes on its menu.
Serving a mixture of small and large plates, it also has one of the best panoramic views of the city skyline – looking down across Manchester from its perch on Blackfriars.
It feels like this Spinningfields rooftop restaurant needs no introduction at this point, but we’re going to do it anyway.
A glamourous restaurant and bar with a huge, heated outdoor terrace, it sits right at the top of the No.1 Spinningfields building overlooking the swanky glass towers of the business district from its position on high.
Long favoured for date night thanks to its breathtaking views of the skyline, its menu is not to be sniffed at either with a selection of delicious modern British dishes on offer.
Part of Gary Usher’s Elite Bistros group, this charming neighbourhood eatery in Didsbury Village is a wonderful spot for a romantic date.
The custard tart here is legendary, with an unctuous wobble that defies you to dare leave without ordering a slice.
Known for taking bistro classics and executing them to an exceptionally high standard, at Hispi you can expect a relaxed dining experience erring on the casual side.
Another laid-back eatery with a casual setting, Evelyn’s offers a mixed menu of small plates that can be ordered to share or larger ones to enjoy alone.
A popular cafe by day, at night it comes alive in a whole new way – lit up romantically with plants trailing down from hangers above your head.
Evelyn’s also boasts a ‘secret’ bar below, The Daisy, where you can sneak off with your date afterward to enjoy a few cocktails (or wines) in a romantic setting.
El Gato Negro
This AA Rosette and Michelin-recommended restaurant on King Street is a fail-safe date option in our (humble) opinion.
Serving up a mix of tapas dishes split into sections like fish and shellfish, meat, charcuterie, vegetables and para picar, tuck into the likes of Catalan bread, Padron peppers, salt cod croquettas and Morcilla scotch eggs.
Alongside a great wine and cocktail list, El Gato is also known for its sherry and vermouth selection – and both make a great complement to this style of dining.
For an ultra-romantic twist, if you love the idea of having a bit of theatre whilst you eat you can opt to sit at the chef’s table which faces directly into the kitchen.
If you ask us, romance doesn’t have to be all white tablecloths and rose petals – sometimes it’s more fun to get stuck in and share a curry with your loved one.
Since it opened in Manchester with queues out the door, Dishoom has remained one of the city’s most popular curry houses whilst maintaining an elusive, sultry feel – thanks, in part, to its setting within the city’s stunning former Masonic Hall.
Nestle up in one of its many beautiful corners on Valentine’s Day, with walk-ins always welcome.
A pub in Manchester is going above and beyond for its locals, giving back to its community by serving up pay-as-you-feel roast dinners every month.
Specifically designed to be a safe space for the community, The Old Abbey Taphouse in Hulme brings together chefs in its community to cook up delicious meals from scratch on the last Sunday of the month.
Neighbours are invited to come, eat and pay only what they can afford in return (be that a little or a lot), with giant Sunday roasts served from 7pm until the kitchen runs out.
Past community feasts have included a choice of honey mustard silverside beef top joint, chicken supreme, cauliflower cheese pie, or homemade vegan sausage roll.
Trimmings, meanwhile, span the likes of beef dripping potatoes, tenderstem broccoli, honey roast rainbow carrots, boiled cabbage, giant fluffy Yorkshire puddings, and apricot and walnut stuffing.
All of Old Abbey Taphouse’s meals are made from scratch with love by community catering company Heart & Soul, which is comprised of chefs in the local community all wanting to give something back.
Its community cooking first began at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic with what was called ‘Taphouse TV dinners’.