Up-market Fallowfield or poor-man's Didsbury, Withington Village has a bad reputation as a bit of an inbetweeny no-mans land.
Situated in the South along the Wilmslow road magic bus route (great connections), Withington is a Mecca of all things laid back. The high street remains un-gentrified unlike her neighbour West Didsbury and has an unpretentious and unassuming air about it. You will find all sorts here, from proper locals to arty bohemians and they all seem to get along just fine.
She has been my home for a little over four years now and I think it is about time Withy is taken seriously.
Fuel has to be the top of my list at any time of day. The food is completely vegetarian, but don’t let that put you carnivores off; it is unbelievably good. I recommend the halloumi ‘fish’ and chips: beer battered halloumi served with chips and homemade tartare sauce… it really is as great as it sounds.
Other than the fantastic grub, the booze is cheap and unassuming with a great selection of bottled and draft beer. The cosy interior is colourful, quirky and kitsch with bright walls and mismatched furniture. And what’s more is their extensive range of events from a (really challenging) pub quiz, open mic nights, Karaoke and an upstairs venue that is available for hire. If you ever can’t find me, I’m probably at Fuel.
Fuel Cafe Bar, 448 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 3BW
The Famous Charity Shops
It is safe to say that Withington can boast one of the best collections of charity shops on her high-street. Starting from the south, where Wilmslow Road splits on to Palatine and walking up towards the Library you will first find Barnabus. This one has to be the cheapest. I once picked up a Jager jumper for £2.50. Next is Cancer Research on the opposite side of the road, which has your standard clothing and then an entire section at the back dedicated to vintage finds and retro bits and bobs. Think paisley shirts, tweed skirts and all the ‘ironically’ hideous clobber we love to wear.
Continuing up the street, make a stop at Oxfam and riffle through the records, books and tapes, you know, just for the sake of nostalgia. If you still haven’t got your fill of second-hand goods, make your way over to Copson Street which has even more. These charity shops are a bit like your Grandma’s attic- strange but full of treasure you never knew you needed.
If you are after cocktails in Withington, there is really only one place to go. Solomon’s it’s a cosy, unpretentious bar with cracking drinks and fun atmosphere. The brunch is always a winner if you can get over the initial gag reflex that comes from walking by the establishment in which you were intoxicated the night before. Expect all the classics like eggs benedict, bacon barms, and smashed avo on toast.
One of the other things I love about Solomons is the basement which hosts Trapdoor comedy nights which occur every second Tuesday of the month. The lineups are always pretty great and often can boast some fantastically funny acts and compares. Oh, and FYI there is also a Happy Hour 4-7 that runs EVERY DAY. Sign me up.
Solomons, 447-, 449 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 4AN
Old Moat Park
Weather permitting, of course, this little park is hidden tucked behind the high street is a great spot to chill out with some friends. I am fully aware that it is December as I sit here and write, so perhaps keep this one on the back burner until summer hits us with three consecutive days of sunshine before heading over for a visit. Bring a blanket and a few cold ones and bask in the sunshine, it really is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. You might even get to play with a dog or two…so i’m sold.
Old Moat Park, 33 Mauldeth Rd W, Manchester M20 3EQ
Hands down my favourite restaurant in Manchester. It is close to home and man is it delicious. Authentic Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, this place is an absolute hidden gem. The menu is extensive, but I recommend you order from the mezze menu. Dishes not to miss are the Tabbouleh, potato kibbeh (minced lamb, wrapped in mash potato and deep fried… yep I know right?), Babaganoush, and cheese borek. I always order too much when I’m there, but I somehow manage to eat it all, it is really too good to go to waste. The service is impeccable, and what’s more, it is BYOB so you will always be pleasantly surprised with your bill. Just don’t go telling everyone, it will spoil the secret.
Pasha, 513 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 4BA
The Red Lion
Within stumbling distance of Pascha, the conveniently placed Red Lion is a legendary South Manchester boozer. No frills, just a popper pub with proper carpet, proper drinks and an extensive menu of McCoy’s crisps you never knew existed (Thai sweet chicken I’m talking about you.) In the warmer months, the outdoor area is a winner. Set out around a bowling green, which, you aren’t allowed to play on, the neatly cut green lawn is a pleasant thing to look over on a summers day over a few pints.
The Red Lion,530-532 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 4BT
Once a fantastic venue to watch Indie Bands back in the day, Indigo is now a hidden gem in the nightlife scene. Tucked away between a Middle Eastern restaurant and a One Stop, it would be pretty easy to miss this tiny venue. Go down the stairs into what feels like a Fallowfield basement party, and have a little dance. I can guarantee if you are on a night out in Withington, you will probably end up at Indigo towards the end of the night.
Indigo, 455 Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 4AN