The Christmas Markets are great. It's fab to get your festive fix and a glugg of mulled wine. But pretty quickly the novelty can wear off. You end up frozen and scurrying around like a crowd of sheep. By this point you're probably sick of being barged into and falling over a surprise pram.
It is at this point you can take your merry little self just two minutes out of the market hustle and bustle and head into a cosy place, where you can kick back and relax, have your food brought to you and not be pushed over. Sounds idyllic, right?
Albert Square & King Street
On your third or fourth visit to the markets, you've probably had enough German sausage to last you a lifetime. If this is the case it's time to go Spanish. Quite literally a 10 second walk from King Street Markets is La Bandera - home to the best tapas in town. There's all the classic dishes, huge charcuterie boards and plenty of squid ink paella on the go too. What's particularly good about taking a break from the Markets and heading to La Bandera is the stress free ordering. In the markets you're trapped into what you can eat, here, no no no. You pick all sorts, go all out get 10 tapas dishes for yourself, have a nibble on everything. And most importantly, sit back, relax and let the team transport you to a sunny beach in Spain sipping on your white wine.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EQ
Wright's Fish & Chips
Albert's Square is by far the busiest spot and the culprit for most unexpected shoves a from strangers. But it's easy to escape once you find the edges and breathe fresh air. When you do find your way out, head straight to Wright's Fish and Chip Shop. What I can't promise here though is that there won't be a queue. It's regularly argued that this is the best fish and chip shop on this side of the city centre. It doesn't matter what day it is, there will be a lunch time rush here. But at least you know it's gonna be good and within a few minutes you'll be slurping gravy off some chips.
Wright's Fish & Chip Shop, 86 Cross St, Manchester M2 4LA
A stone's throw away from Albert's Square is Bock Biere. Here you'll find a massive range of Belgian beers and plenty of sharing platters. It's the perfect place when the whole group has had enough of the markets and waiting for a soggy sausage. Get here and get the cheese fondue. I promise you won't regret and it'll warm you up right to the very core.
Bock Biere, 10 Tib Lane, Manchester M2 4JB
Get away from the riff raff and treat yourself - safe in the arms of the experts in meat. They've recently launched and impressive new cocktail menu and you sure as hell know you'll get a bloody good burger here too. You could even go all out and get the T-Bone steak to share depending on how fancy you're feeling. Go on treat yourself, it's Christmas after all.
Hawksmoor, 184-186 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB
Speak in Code
Just off Deansgate, Speak in Code is one of the city's infamous speakeasies. Already hidden away, you know you're going to escape the horrifically busy crowds in here. Soundtracked by a merging of genres you didn't know you needed, jazz-hop music you're absolutely guaranteed a good Saturday night and an even better cocktail. Also this place is entirely vegan, which you might struggle to find an abundance of on the Markets.
Speak in Code, 7 Jackson's Row, Manchester M2 5ND
Exchange Square & Cathedral Gardens
The most perfect thing about leaving the markets and heading up to the Second Floor Bar and Brasserie is you can sit in the window and watch the herds of people manoeuvring through the markets right below you. You can laugh too if you feel inclined to do so. Treat yourself to 3-courses of festive treats including mince pies and crackers. Go on.
Harvey Nichols, 21 New Cathedral St, Manchester M1 1AD
Sinclairs Oyster Bar
An obvious option to go to just outside of Selfridges is Sinclairs Oyster Bar. I've never not seen this place busy. But that's just testament to what you can get your hands on in this pub. It's a proper pub with proper pub grub. I imagine they'll even be plenty of people even sat outside throughout the deepest darkest depths of winter, because us Northerners just don't quick. Get a pint and get your coats on.
Sinclairs Oyster Bar, 2 Cathedral Gates, Manchester M3 1SW
Just on the edges of Cathedral Gardens, enough to avoid the crowds but a hop skip and a jump away from Victoria Train station meaning you can swiftly get home in a flash. There'll be no elbows out pushing through crowds to get to your train on time if you bob here instead. There is of course an impressive Christmas menu up for grabs here including a local Turkey Roulade or even Local Grass-Fed Beef Steak. You absolutely must get Christmas Pudding though. Can't get that at the markets can ya!
Mamucium, 6 Todd St, Manchester M3 1WU
The newest addition to the Christmas Markets 2019 is Piccadilly Gardens. And although they are a fantastic spot for a gin or a S'more, it can all get just a bit too festive for some folk. Listen I get it. I hear ya. What you need if this is the case is Bundobust. It's quite literally on the edge of the markets and will take you a matter of seconds to find. It's fully to bursting of bright walls and vibrant Indian food. There's plenty of spice and a heck of a lot of craft beer to chug down. Oh - it's all veggie too! Not a single German sausage in sight.
Bundobust, 61 Piccadilly, Manchester M1 2AG
A complete hidden gem is this old school B&B Pub. You might even bump into the super famous Piccadilly Rats in here. The band I mean. Loads of cold booze on tap, plenty of snacks and a quiet pint confirmed. Get yourself nestled into a little booth, a pint in one hand, pack of crisps in the other and watch the gigantic TV that's on the wall. You'll forget all about the Christmas Markets.
Mother Macs, 33 Back Piccadilly, Manchester M1 1HP
Open every single day with an incredible Happy Hour available from 5pm-10pm. Definitely still celebrating Christmas but in the most alternative way. There's sushi and cocktails - completely unconventional so you might just forget it's even December. Tuck in to sushi rolls, chicken wings and bao buns all while taking advantage of 2-4-1 cocktails, £10 bottles of wine and £15 bottles of Prosecco. What a TREAT.
Dive NQ, 12 Tib St, Manchester M4 1SH
Everybody's favourite place every night of the week is Crazy Pedro's. What is guaranteed here is a complete lack of Christmas everywhere. I mean there may just be a Christmas special pizza but you can't have everything can you!? To help you completely avoid it, I recommend getting absolutely trollied. It's very easy to do in Ped's. Good luck.
Crazy Pedro's, Short Street, M11JG