Our Top Picks for a Stress-Free First Date

There’s a reason you’re on another first date. Trust me, I’m Manchester's Finest resident love guru. 

By Alex Watson | 24 May 2019

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Actually, not at all but I’ve still managed to pile together a pretty extensive list of much more creative and different places to try for your next first date, and with any luck it’ll be your last.

I’ve even taken the liberty to combine them into what type of date you want. I’ve basically done all the work for you, you’ve just got to show up with some good craic.

If you want: Sophisticated evening cocktails…

The Daisy
A Parisian-inspired cocktail bar that will make you look so bloody fancy for knowing about. It is the perfect location to take a first date that you need to really impress. There is usually an eclectic mix of music in the form of disco, soul, hip-hop and funk which beats steadily in the background creating a relaxed, calm environment. The cosy interiors and carefully curated cocktail list provides the perfect setting for an evening date which is intimate and effortlessly cool.

The Daisy, g18, 44 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LA


Science & Industry
This inconspicuous and not-so-secret bar above Cane & Grain specialises in a crazy selection of cocktails made from laboratory style mixology. The experimental style of cocktails provides an eccentric, quiet hideaway, perfect for a date. What’s more, there’s table service so you don’t even have to drag yourself away from the side of the one you fancy, if it’s going that well…

Science & Industry, 49 – 51 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter Manchester, M4 1NA


Blind Tyger
A hidden Prohibition-era drinking den with classic cocktails is the perfect speakeasy bar to show off to your date that you even know about. Tucked away under Sandinista, ask for the barman to see the ‘Blind Tyger’ and you will be taken down the low-key staircase into a cosy candle-lit snug that’s filled with trinkets and taxidermy. They’ve got twists on all the classic cocktails and even offer cocktail and spirit masterclasses if you want to really show off.

Blind Tyger, 2 Old Bank St, City Centre, Manchester M2 7PF


If you want: Somewhere chilled for food 

Mackie Mayor
The perfect weekend stop where you can stay all day if everything goes well. You can get a boozy brunch or a more sophisticated meal in the evening and it’s busy enough to have plenty of people watching opportunities to cover the awkward silences. On the other hand, the hustle and bustle of the venue creates the perfect background noise and ambience to get lost in your date’s eyes.

Mackie Mayor, 1 Eagle St, Manchester M4 5BU


Is there anything actually more chilled out than a kebab? I don’t think so. Gourmet kebab restaurant, BAB, offer proper kebabs with quirky ingredients and a selection of Mezze to share. The relaxed, bright space is laid-back and informal and there’s even an evening deal of a ‘bab and a pint’ for £12 Monday – Friday 4 -7 pm. Great for a chilled out and cool place to have a bite to eat which is kind on the old wallet too.

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BAB, 14 Little Lever St, Manchester M1 1HR


Tokyo Ramen
The Northern Quarter’s answer to a taste of Japan in an intimate and quaint dining experience is what you will find at Tokyo Ramen. The menu is small and concise but full of all the classic ramen dishes you would want, as well as plenty of sides and small dishes to order ‘for the table’… Yeah, we know they’re really just for you and not your date. The ramen is created in an open kitchen and designed to be eaten quickly and late at night, exactly like Japan. Wash it down with an authentic Asian beer. Tantanmen Ramen, as pictured, is fried chicken on a bed of Tantanmen ramen noodles, chicken broth and veggies and absolutely to die for.

Tokyo Ramen, 55 Church St, Manchester M4 1PD


The Counter House
The foolproof place for a brunch date, vibrant smoothies, health kick juices, a selection of small plates and bowls and plenty of breakfast cocktails. Put your right foot forward and impress with this stunning spot that is Ancoats through and through. The urban jungle and exposed brick provide the perfect backdrop for a light and breezy brunch date.

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The Counter House, 35 Blossom St, Manchester M4 6AJ


If you want: Something a little different…

The Comedy Store
If you’re just a bit lazy like me, The Comedy Club is a great choice for a chilled evening with booze and a laugh 100% guaranteed. Perfect in case the chat goes a bit stale and you’re not on your A-game with jokes, you can just let other people do all the work. There are live shows Thursday – Sunday with Stand Up Thursdays starting from 8 pm. There is nothing like some laughter to lighten the mood and cure those first-date nerves.

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The Comedy Store, Deansgate Locks, Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5LH


Flight Club
The perfect late night bar with cocktails, beer and reinvented darts. This bar is proper, proper good. It’s got video game scoring so it’s way more competitive than any old dart board and even bottles of prosecco for £20 between 5-7pm. It’s the ideal way to see if your date is a sore loser or not – which thinking ahead, is pretty important information. 

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Flight Club, Ship Canal House, 98 King St, Manchester M2 4WU


A drinking den filled to the brim with arcade games including pinball, dance machines and much, much more. It’s the perfect place to let just a smidge of your competitive side so you don’t scare your date away. There are retro-themed cocktails and plenty of draft beers soundtracked to hip-hop music, it really is the perfect opportunity to fill yourself with 80s and 90s nostalgia and fun. 

NQ64, 2 Short St, Manchester M4 1PW


Twenty Twenty Two
I’m not going to lie to you, this is not a chilled out first date spot, this is a competitive, elbows out, don’t take any prisoners kind of bar. There’s plenty of beer, cocktails and even a pretty hefty happy hour between 4 pm and 7 pm on weekdays. The venue is open late and there is usually a pretty cool DJ on at the weekend if you decide to carry on into the early hours. Get your paddles, beer and get your game on. I promise you it will make learning all about Terrance (their first cat), what they do for a living and what GCSE’s they did a hell of a lot easier.

Twenty Twenty Two, 20 Dale St, Manchester M1 1EZ


If you want: Something seriously low-key…

Big Hands
This perfect chilled out bar has the added excellence of a rooftop beer garden. There’s plenty of beer to chose from at this Manchester institution and also some of those dead comfy but maybe a bit grimy sofas if you chose to be one of those PDA couples. It’s also in a really good location to carry on drinking into the early hours or for a casual drink after a gig at the Academy. 

Big Hands, 296 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9NS


The Bay Horse Tavern
More than just your standard pub The Bay Horse Tavern has dart boards, quiz nights, open mic nights and £5 double G&T’s on the weekend (after 10 pm). There’s also really good pub grub including the staples like pie and chips, gammon and egg and even a breakfast menu served until 4 pm.

Book Now

The Bay Horse Tavern, 35-37 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA


The Marble Arch
An award-winning tavern just on the outskirts of town that has a charming Victorian interior is the perfect setting for a chilled out chat over a pint or two. They’ve even got their own-brewed beers, good pub grub and if that wasn’t enough, cheese boards. I AM SOLD. It is the perfect no-messing around, old man sort of pub where you can enjoy a couple of pints in peace.

The Marble Arch, 73 Rochdale Road, M4 4HY


Crazy Pedro’s
Possibly the perfect place for a slice of pizza and a chilled drink. There are tonnes of cocktails to chose from, they’re not fancy but they’re really good. I recommend the Titty Twister. Ideal first date drink, right? A concoction of gin, blueberry, lemon and basil it is refreshingly liberating and I guarantee will go down well.

Crazy Pedro’s NQ Short St, Manchester M1 1JG
Crazy Pedro’s 55-57 Bridge St, M3 3BQ


A dreamy brunch spot, Grindsmith Bridge Street is full of marbled concrete, neon lights and plants. A bit like Instagram threw up, but in a nice way. It’s great for good coffee and a good chat. There’s a relaxed and comfortable eating area if you fancy some avo on toast or a big chunky sandwich. It really is a coffee experience and all about shopping local so will probably create a lot of conversation starters.

Grindsmith, 62 Bridge Street, M3 3BW