Perhaps you’ve been in your relationship for over 3 years now, and you’ve run out of things to say to each other. Most of the time you just grunt amongst yourselves, or talk about some mundane rubbish that happened at work – but these are not your only options. Head to a bar in Manchester where you can play some games instead of talking and prolong your relationship long enough until someone better comes along.
Hidden right below Dogs n Dough, 17 Below has managed to make a splash since opening with its 80’s themed decor and cocktails. They’ve also managed to squeeze a couple of American style pool tables down here, and more importantly – some full sized, proper arcade machines. They have classics such as Space Invaders, Pac Man, 1942, Double Dragon, Track & Field and Donkey Kong for you to smash into. They’re free too.
Underneath Dogs n Dough, 17 Bow Ln, Manchester M2 4FW
Upon entering Sci-Fi themed Fab Cafe, you’ll find it reminiscent of the games room you spent 3 days in while on holiday at Pontins in Rhyl in 1994. There’s a Starship Enterprise replica bridge, there’s a Dalek, and even a full-sized Predator all squeezed into this brilliantly cheap basement bar. On top of these oddities, there’s a great selection of arcade and pinball machines for you to piss around on – including Point Blank – the best shooting game ever made. Oh and they have a Mega Drive and N64 to play on too.
Fab Cafe, Gainsborough House, Portland St, Manchester M1 6DN
Black Dog Ballroom
Get yourself down to the Black Dog Ballroom in the NQ, or its sister venue on New Wakefield Street and you will find a ton of pool tables in which to show off your Paul Newman skills. You can also expect to find some fantastic cocktails, top food and plenty of messy nights to while away your pathetic existence.
Black Dog Ballroom NQ, Basement Affleck’s Palace, Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 11-13 New Wakefield St, Manchester M1 5NP
Bongo’s Bingo @ Albert Hall
I once took a girl on a date to Mecca Bingo and it was bloody brilliant. Not only were the drinks ridiculously cheap, but for around 6 quid you get around 30 games of bingo. The only negative was the assortment of filthy looks we received from everyone else, in fact it was so bad that I was too afraid to shout ‘LINE’ when I won and lost out to a woman who was probably called Gladys and lived in a Gingerbread House. You don’t need to worry about this at Bongo’s Bingo – it’s a mental night consisting of bingo, dance offs and rave rounds – topped up with plenty of booze and the chance to win some actual decent prizes. It’s on every Tuesday at Albert Hall and is only £4.
Albert Hall, 27 Peter St, City Centre, Manchester M2 5QR
The only time I’ve ever been into golf was in a short period in 2005 when I was addicted to Mario Golf on my Game Boy while on holiday in Tenerife. There are loads of middle-class blokes who really enjoy hitting a little round thing with a long metal thing so The Green opened to fill a gap that the city centre just can’t fill. They offer Indoor Golf, which they claim is as close to the real thing as you can get without having to walk around on grass wearing stupid clothes. I believe many people use it to improve their skills, and also to compete in tournaments with people all around the world. Sounds boring to me, but if you’re in to golf – this is the place to go.
The Green, Bridge House, 26 Ducie St, Manchester M1 2DQ
Dog Bowl & All Star Lanes
I could have separated these two and added an extra number to the title, but I couldn’t really be bothered typing the same thing twice but with a few minor differences. Basically if you want to go bowling in the city centre, you have the choice of two very similar venues, offering everything you need including cocktails and food and that much needed party atmosphere. In my opinion, All Star Lanes pips Dog Bowl to the post ever so slightly, but that’s only because it’s less of a walk from my girlfriend’s house.
Dog Bowl, Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WW
All Star Lanes, Great Northern, The Great Northern, 235 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EN
This lovely hidden bar and creative space in the Northern Quarter prides itself on being probably the best place in the city to enjoy some Ping Pong action. They have enough tables to keep Forrest Gump occupied and it’s free every Monday. They also have Tournaments on Tuesdays in which you can win a £100 bar tab. So if you’re any good – get down there and show them what you can do.
2022, 20 Dale St, Manchester M1 1EZ
Jules Verne is apparently the inspiration behind the decor of this bar located below Hatters Hostel in the Northern Quarter. As strange as that theme may be, it is home to a wide range of oddities in which you can pass the time. On top of their selection of craft beers, cocktails and food, they show the odd film in their dedicated cinema and have a few old consoles that you can play until your thumbs bleed. They also run weekly Cards Against Humanity competitions on Wednesdays – which is a lot of fun isn’t it?
Hold Fast, 50 Newton St, Manchester M1 2EA
Some more golf here in Manchester but this is a lot less serious – more Blackpool Pleasure Beach than St Andrews. Imagine if Mr Trebus from Life of Grime decided to put a few holes around his house and handed you a putter and you’re pretty close to Junkyard Golf. All you need to add is some cocktails, decent tunes and some slightly inebriated couples on a first date desperately trying to impress each other.
Junkyard Golf, Great Northern, 3 Piccadilly, Manchester M1 3BN
If you fancy yourself as an intelligent problem solver, who would just laugh at that Jigsaw fella off Saw and then proceed to chop your own leg off in seconds, then Breakout is the place for you. Get yourself locked up in a room with some mates, and try to escape – it’s as simple as that – although it definitely isn’t that simple. You also don’t need to actually chop your own leg off either – there’s no way I would recommend it if you did.
Breakout Town Hall: 14a Brazennose Street, Manchester, M2 6LW
Breakout High Street: 36 High Street, Manchester. M4 1QB
The Stokers Arms
While on two separate Didsbury Dozens, we’ve stopped off in the Stokers Arms and had a couple of games to help us sober up a little before hitting The Station on the corner. We had a belting game of Charades once, where our mate Peanut embarrassed himself by not knowing what a film was, and had a very competitive game of Mario Kart on their N64 – which I probably won despite hardly being able to see or speak. They also serve some pretty tasty pub grub including a huge Fish and Chips; with what looks like Moby Dick resting on top of a ton of potatoes.
The Stokers Arms, 655-657 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 6RA
If you’re interested in board and card games and are looking to make some new mates – then head on over to The Wharf on a Monday night and join Tabletop Manchester for some board game banter. I suggest you head on down to their Facebook page first, introduce yourself and let them know your favourite colour, then you can meet them and play to your hearts content. Don’t expect Monopoly or Buckaroo though – this is a hard-core group for proper board games. Be sure to have a couple of beers at The Wharf too – would be a shame not to whilst there.
The Wharf, 6 Slate Wharf, Manchester M15 4ST
This perennial student favourite may just have the cheapest drinks in Manchester and is a fantastic place to have a few, grab some food and get messy before heading to Fifth Ave. Not only do they have a massive outdoor courtyard – perfect now we’re into Spring – but they also have pool tables and FIFA on a big screen. If you can manage to pull yourself away from the cheap booze and burgers, then there’s plenty for you to do. They also show a ton of live sports here too if you’re into that kind of thing.
Courtyard, 2 Chester St, Manchester M1 5SH