Pubs are an integral part of British culture, and nowhere does them better than Manchester.
We’ve got tiny ones, giant ones, shiny ones and ancient ones.
There are some that serve seriously fancy gastropub food and others that serve a whole menu of crisps.
Whatever your brief is for the perfect pub, Manchester will have somewhere that fits the bill.
We’ve rounded up some of the quirkiest boozers that offer something a little… unexpected.
It is always, always that trip to the toilets that makes you realise you’ve tipped over into inebriated – staring at yourself in the mirrors above the sinks thinking ‘Oh, yup, too many pints’.
Here in Manchester, it can also be a trip to the toilet that gets you sozzled in the first place.
The Temple – or Temple of Convenience to give it its full name – is a tiny subterranean drinking den that in the Victorian era, was actually a public toilet.
It’s so narrow you can almost reach wall-to-wall if you stand with your arms outstretched.
But down here you’ll also find a great selection of bottled beers, a jukebox, and bags of charm.
100 Great Bridgewater Street, M1 5JW
The Marble Arch
Come, venture slightly beyond your comfort zone of the city centre and Ancoats – for just beyond you’ll find one of Manchester’s very best pubs.
The Marble Arch building has been here since 1888, and to this day is one of the most impressive historic pubs in the UK.
Its tiled walls, ornate ceilings and mosaic floors, not to mention its roaring fire and its beautiful wooden bar, are just part of the charm.
One of the strangest experiences when visiting The Marble Arch is the way the bar seems to draw you in to it.
It’s all thanks to its gently sloping floor – some say it’s this way to make rolling barrels easier, others say it’s for cleaning, but out favourite theory is that it’s to encourage inebriated customers to totter back to the bar for another round.
73 Rochdale Road, M4 4HY
The Seven Oaks
By day, The Seven Oaks is a fairly normal pub – a lot of beer, a lot of sports, a lot of regulars.
But by night, it becomes the stuff of hospitality legend.
This is the pub for people who work in pubs, a place where the hospitality staff normally pouring drinks for everyone else can come and have their own after work – even if they happen to finish work at 4am.
Built for the people who work ‘the wrong 9-to-5’, if you’ve got proof of working in the hospitality industry, this Chinatown pub is the place to come for late night, or early morning, pints.
5 Nicholas Street, M1 4HL
Peveril of the Peak
You cannot miss the Peveril of the Peak.
Not only is it clad all over in ceramic tiles in vibrant shades of chartreuse and mint green, but it also stands alone at the fork in a road.
Manchester’s only detached pub has been here since the early 19th century, with a jumble of cosy rooms arranged around a central bar.
Inside, there are all the best sorts of pub trimmings, like a jukebox and a dart board.
It’s also had the same landlady for 51 years – Nancy Swanick, 90, is pretty legendary in her own right.
127 Great Bridgewater Street, M1 5JQ
In stark contrast to the Peveril of the Peak, The Circus Tavern is very much a pub you can miss.
This tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it drinking den is home to the smallest bar in Europe.
Don’t expect a massive selection of beers here – there simply isn’t room.
It’s the weeniest pub in Manchester and also one of its oldest, dating back to 1840 (though the building was here even earlier).
Back in the day, it used to be a regular haunt of circus performers (hence the name), and Manchester United players, including George Best.
86 Portland Street, M1 4GX
The Old Wellington Inn
When you’re nursing your drink in the Old Wellington, you’re surrounded by masses of history.
The city centre pub is the oldest building of its kind in Manchester, dating all the way back to 1552.
Back in those days, the walls, floors and ceilings were all wonky, and the ceiling beams were so low that punters had to duck when they were walking around.
The pub might be ancient, but strangely, it hasn’t always been here on Exchange Square.
The medieval building actually used to be about 70 metres down the road, and had to be moved bit by bit and piece by piece after the IRA bomb in 1996.
Over the course of two years, both the Old Wellington and Sinclair’s Oyster bar were completely rebuilt in their new home here, where they still stand as two of Manchester’s most amazing pubs – and pull some of the city’s cheapest pints.
4 Cathedral Gates, M3 1SW
Back Piccadilly in the city centre isn’t exactly a wholesome location as things stand – there’s a lot of graffiti, rows of bins, the occasional rat.
But if you travel back in time to 1976, things get significantly more bleak. We’re talking mass murder bleak.
A previous landlord of the Mother Mac’s pub turned and killed his wife, then his three children, then the pub’s cleaner, before setting the building ablaze and killing himself.
Its days may be blissfully less gory now, but the newspaper clippings from the time are still framed on the walls.
33 Back Piccadilly, M1 1HP
If you’re a fan of a ghost story, this is the pub for you.
The Shakespeare on Fountain Street – directly across the road from Primark – has had plenty of paranormal activity, if we believe the reports of its customers (who, admittedly, are likely to have been worse for wear).
Punters have reported seeing a flaming ghost at the top of the stairs, believed to be the spirit of a young girl who accidentally set herself alight while lighting candles at the inn.
It’s also said to be haunted by a former chef who hung himself here – you can apparently still see the rope marks on one of the ceiling beams.
Spooky past aside, The Shakespeare is a good-value pub with a menu of typical pub fare.
16 Fountain Street, M2 2AA
Famed for its Jack Daniel’s collection, the Briton’s Protection draws in whiskey fans from across the globe.
Every year the owners travel to Tennessee to make bespoke casks – and they’ve even created a Jack Daniel’s-themed room in a snug behind the bar.
Home to some exceedingly rare bottles, including one with an unaired Sinatra concert recording hidden in a tie clip, collectors pay thousands for bottles from the Manchester casks.
That’s not all, though. The pub’s history dates back to the Peterloo massacre, attested to by a mural in its hallway.
Not entirely historically accurate, look closely and you’ll spot some of the rebels bear a striking resemblance to famous Manchester footballers.
Apparently, the previous owner was a bit of a fan.
Feautre image – Adam Pester / TripAdvisor
Food & Drink
The new restaurants and bars opening in Manchester this month | April 2023
Spring has arrived, and with it, Manchester has ushered in a whole host of new restaurant and bar openings in April.
From a new pasta concept over on Peter Street from the brains behind Gooey to whole loaves of sourdough filled with Full English fry ups in Ancoats, plus a stunning new contemporary Chinese restaurant on the edge of the Gay Village, there are so many new places popping up in the city centre to try this month.
Further afield, Hatch on Oxford Road welcomes three new traders whilst in Chorlton the family behind Barlow Moor Road’s Progress Convenience expand to open their first cafe, and over in Didsbury Village the former Botanist site reopens as new gastro pub The Wishing Well.
Keep reading to discover the best new restaurants and bars opening in Manchester this April.
Bread and Bowl at Ancoats General Store
This week Ancoats General Store has welcomed a new kitchen takeover from Bread and Bowl – home of one of Manchester’s naughtiest fry-ups.
Filled with fry-up favourites like high-grade local sausages, crispy streaky bacon, beans, cheese, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and hash browns, they are seriously impressive.
Alongside Charlotte’s famous Full English bread bowls, you’ll also find a brand new sandwich menu featuring breakfast burritos and all-day butties like the brilliantly-named ‘Meat Sweats’.
Onda at Exhibition
From the team behind Gooey and Michelin-trained chef Sam Astley-Dean (formerly of Rise pizza), new pasta concept Onda arrives inside Exhibition – taking over the space left empty by Great British Menu chef Caroline Martin’s recent departure.
Serving up a core menu of pasta small plates from £6 alongside starters of arancini, mixed vegetable fritti, and proper crunchy garlic bread with parsley butter, you’ll also find some giant family-style sharers on the menu here – not least, a huge plate of lumache alla vodka.
Onda’s arrival heralds an overturn to the dining concept at Exhibition, with new ‘approachable’ revised menus also on offer from neighbouring kitchens Baratxuri and Osma. Food is served until 9pm.
Read more:The team behind Gooey has launched a new pasta concept on Peter Street
Rio Mex at Hatch
Having previously wowed Mancs with her fine-dining Sao Paulo Project menus at Blossom Street Social, not to mention starring in the north west heat of the BBC show Great British Menu, Martins is now also dabbling – eloquently, might we add – in the world of street food.
Inspired by her passion for the food of her home country of Brazil, combined with the time she spent living in Texas, Rio Mex sees one of Manchester’s most exciting chefs reflecting two of her favourite cuisines.
Must-try taco fillings include baja fish with biquinho pepper mayo and lime sour cream, ground pork al pastor with pineapple salsa, a five-hour chilli con carne with beef and black beans, and a melt-in-the-mouth barbacoa with cheddar sauce and house pickles.
Home Contemporary Chinese
Newly opened on the edge of Manchester’s Gay Village, Home Contemporary Chinese takes over the old Jasmine Lebanses restaurant space and is serving up exactly what its name suggests.
The menu is large, with a strong focus on Cantonese dishes. Think roasted meats, plenty of dim sum (all freshly-made on site), plus heaps of congee, soups and hot pot, and some interesting twists such as a ‘volcano omlette’.
On the bar, meanwhile, you’ll find a strong wine list featuring several Chinese bottles alongside crowd pleasing favourites, plus a mix of softs and other beverages.
Not exactly a new opening but certainly a new look, Archie’s has just reopened after revamping its Oxford Road restaurant to include an all-pink subway carriage.
The beloved burger and shake bar has just unveiled a ‘subway station’ in the basement as part of the Oxford Road site’s £1m transformation.
Diners can now tuck into their smashed burgers, wings and tater tots from their own train booth.
Progress Caribbean, Chorlton
Chorlton’s Afro Caribbean and European convenience store Progress has just opened its own takeaway shop and cafe, building on the success of its popular in-house hot food offering.
Locals are already raving about the dishes, which include plates of oxtail, fried chicken and curried chicken from £5.50 and patties from £2.
Crumbled at Hatch
Crumbled has opened at Hatch underneath the Mancunian Way selling pots of apple and rhubarb crumble with unlimited custard.
Opened by Manchester-born fashion model Chloe Peers, the stall offers two different types of crumbles with some eye-popping toppings including edible glitter, rose petals, Biscoff crumb and huge scoops of ice cream.
Customers can also opt to pay an additional £1 to enjoy unlimited custard refills, something that is well worth it when you find yourself halfway down the pot.
Suki Sukiat Great Northern Warehouse
A new pan-Asian eatery and bar has opened inside the Great Northern Warehouse from the same family behind Manchester restaurant Namaste Nepal serving up bao, dumplings and steaming bowls of ramen noodles alongside fun cocktails and a selection of craft beer.
Called Suki Suki, it is split over three floors: housed within an exposed brick archway and delicately decked with Herringbone booth seating, high bar stools, ambient lighting and rattan finishings.
The Wishing Well
Taking over the former Botanist site in Didsbury village, brand new gastro pub The Wishing Well is bringing traditional British classics to the neighbourhood.
Think big plates of fish and chips, ham, egg and chips, and a steak pie with proper mash, plus traditional roasts every Sunday in cosy settings with big wooden tables and industrial fittings.
Manchester brewery Squawk has opened a new bar in the Northern Quarter this week, taking over the former Beatnikz taproom site.
Called Pelican, it is the first bricks-and-mortar site for the indie brewery favourite which first launched in Manchester ten years ago.
Now, fans of Squawk’s locally-brewed beers will be able to head down to Dale Street for a taste of its famous fruity IPAs, light lagers and punchy sours.
Phukt at Hatch
Phukt completes the lineup of new food traders at Hatch this March, promising a ‘feast from the East’ with its tandoori gyros and biryani burritos, chaats, salads, dirty burgers and more.
Must-tries at Pakistani and Indian fusion spot Phukt include the butter chicken burger (served with its own pot of incredible ‘secret’ sauce) and loaded masala fries.
Featured image – The Manc Eats
Food & Drink
The Makers Market is coming back to Cutting Room Square every month as of this Sunday
The North West’s hugely popular Makers Market is returning to Ancoat’s Cutting Room Square as of this weekend, marking the start of a monthly community staple.
While Makers Markets have been popping up around the region for years now — Stockport, Cheadle, Salford and Media City; Knutsford, Northern Quarter, Didsbury, Congleton and countless other locations — it’s only ever been at Cutting Room Square just the once as part of a trial run back in November 2022.
However, after going down an absolute treat and just as popular as all the others around Greater Manchester and beyond, the organisers have decided to bring it back on a permanent basis from this weekend onwards. Ancoats just got even better.
Now, as of Sunday, 2 April, city centre residents and those travelling into town will be able to enjoy a regular community market packed with local traders from all over every month. Wonderful stuff.
If for some reason you’ve never come across a Makers Market before, the concept is pretty simple: local businesses and indie traders of all different kinds gather in public spaces like Cutting Room Square, setting up pop-up stalls to sell their wares, whatever they may be.
Whether it’d be homemade food and bakery items, handcrafted prints and textiles, or homeware, second-hand records, flowers and everything in between, there is literally always something for everyone.
More importantly, though, these monthly markets aren’t just another place to shop locally and responsibly, but they genuinely provide a wonderful sense of community, quickly cementing themselves as a regular staple for everyone to look forward to and socialise at.
Typically taking place on the second Sunday of every month and with Cutting Room Square and Ancoats already a popular district for locals and tourists alike, we’re sure the atmosphere is going to be great.
You’ve also got the successful Ancoats Pop Up events scattered throughout the rest of the 2023 calendar too — happy days.
We look forward to a year filled with plenty more markets all around Greater Manchester!
You can check out the full list of traders that will be appearing at this weekend’s Makers Market at Cutting Room Square HERE.