Without being biased (which I so often am when it comes to my favourite city), MCR is one of the most buzzing and vibrant cities in the UK, with so much to do. Many sights are out in the open and are well sought out spots for tourists, while others remain as hidden gems unknown to most except the locals. As a foodie (and bankrupt student), I take much pleasure in dining out or going for drinks, several times a week in between work and study, to spend time and share memories with my pals.
Here’s my top ten picks from the last term of gems to wine, dine, and have a mighty fine time in Manchester City Centre:
I first enjoyed the treasures of this little hidden gemstone for my friend’s birthday, just a few weeks back. The bar, with gorgeous neon decor and interior (including a sign which I will be stealing, “Don’t grow up, it’s a trap”), was a bustling but chill atmsophere, perfect for first dates or after work drinks. The menu was packed with every burger you could think of, with wacky sides, such as hamburger spring rolls and pizza fries. And the portions are not for the faint hearted (and I, am not faint hearted, bring it on)…
My go-to Saturday afternoon haven, Teacup Kitchen is a coffee shop with a difference. Quirky and cute, but alternatively modern, the business brews an endless list of teas and coffees, alongside breakfasts, lunches and my favourite part – Cake!! I recommend to go earlier in the day to this one, as cakes often run out throughout the day (or if you end up with the last slice, it’s sometimes a little bit dry but all still delectable).
Turtle Bay, Oxford Road & Northern Quarter
Dangerously close to where I live, Turtle Bay is the ultimate home for spicy Jamaican grub and some cheap and cheerful cocktails. Along with the vibesy interior (can you tell I pick the same aesthetically pleasing places?!), the food has the most incredible rubs and marinades, with plenty of jerk to go around. And the drinks? I visit a Turtle Bay wherever I go in the country purely because of their incredible cocktails, which are 2 for 1 before 7.30pm and after 10pm EVERY DAY. Yes, every day. Even on a weekend. How great is that?
Bills has been a saviour to me for many hangover days and dissertation breaks over the last term. Quirky and vintage vibes provide the recipe for a perfect cosy brunch inside away from Manchester’s rainy days. My personal fave dish is their fluffy fruit pancakes served alongside a skinny latte. However, Bills also do dinners, with a slightly healthier take on your standard pub grub. The one downfall? No veggie sausages. Please put some veggie sausage on your menu, Bills!! 🙁 Apart from that, 10/10 from me.
Federal Cafe & Bar, Northern Quarter
This Australian, independently owned find is hidden away on the outskirts of Northern Quarter, opposite the Arndale Centre. They serve the most incredible brunches, snacks and freshly brewed coffees all day long, with portion sizes being very generous for the hungry appetite. All cooked fresh right in front of you, your mouth will water before your dish even reaches the table. Federal are now serving cocktails later in the day too, which is definitely on my to try list in the next few weeks! The cafe is kinda on the small side however, meaning you may have to queue in peak times of the day. Don’t worry, it’s totally worth the wait.
One word to describe The Alchemist? Magic. This incredible bar is full of potions and cauldrons, in the form of drinks. The decor is incredible and very Harry Potter-esque (again, very me…). For the classier night (well, what does classy mean after a few drinks anyway?), this is the perfect celebration venue to do to, with a small, but mouthwatering menu to blow you off your broomsticks. What? What do you mean that was a terrible pun….
Crazy Pedros, Northern Quarter
Pizza, cocktails and party! Crazy Pedros is a small bar inside a video game. With American red cups, pinball machines and pizza by the slice, what more could you want to start your Friyay right? Pizzas are stonebaked on site but are not loaded with your standard boring toppings, but instead, crazy creations to live up to Pedro’s name. Why not finish your day exploring Northern Quarter with a bite to eat down here?
Albert Schloss, Deansgate
aka. my spiritual home. I’m not sure how I didn’t even know about this place before my third year of uni, but I’ve definitely made up for it over the last couple of months. Dance on the tables, party to your hearts content and enjoy the live bands, alongside the magical themed entertainment on offer several days and nights a week. Cocktails and drinks, although a bit pricey, are definitely worth the treat, with numerous German biers and spirits for all. There is also a free photobooth downstairs, which is hilarious and so much fun. Alberts also serve food, which I am yet to try, but has got a 10/10 from many people I know. This is a must do place to visit in Manchester! (n.b. sadly, the push for prosecco buttons do not work. No free prosecco? What you playing at AS?)
Just yesterday, I experienced my first tapas in Manchester, and it is safe to say, it did not disappoint. As soon as I opened the door, I was immediately taken back to my time when I got tapas in the wonderful city of Barcelona. The smells, the vibes, the food. It was wonderful, alongside wonderful company. Tapas is great, as you can get numerous dishes to try between a large group, so you can pack in many flavours and get those tastebuds whirling. The drinks and dessert are just as wonderful too (CHURROS!!)
If you have any suggestions of where to visit in Manchester, or similar places to visit in other cities, hola at me @emmmmagreen !
Hope this inspired your taste tingles, Emma xo
Emma is a pre-registration Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.