Welcome to Manchester all of you new students. You're in for a wild ride...
Moving to a new city can be daunting but let me tell you – we’re here for you. Us Mancunians are a friendly lot and we’re also a lot who like to go out and have a proper good time.
This list is by no means exhaustive – but they’re a good place to start in your first few weeks and months in the city – and if you want more – just follow Manchester’s Finest for the latest and greatest happenings around the city.
There are two ‘Pedro’s’ in Manchester, one on Bridge Street just off Deansgate and the other one in the heart of the Northern Quarter in a basement underneath Afflecks. Both are outstanding – serving up some cracking cocktails (think frozen margaritas and mezcal) and the city’s best NY style pizza.
Short St, Manchester M4 1AA
55-57 Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BQ
The Liars Club
Hidden in a basement just off Bridge Street, this is probably the last place you’d expect to find the city’s best tiki bar – but, well, here it is. They’re set to re-open their doors at the end of September with a brand-new cocktail menu (expect them to use plenty of their 300+ strong rums) and some cracking nights that go on until 4am – even during the week.
The Liars Club, 19A Back Bridge St, Manchester M3 2PB
Once called 5th Avenue, or just 5th, this place is one of the clubs that put Manchester on the ‘indie’ map back in the early noughties and still continues to be one of the messiest nights of your life. Drinks are super cheap, tunes are loud and everyone just seems to want to get off with you. Perfect.
Fifth Nightclub, 121 Princess St, Manchester M1 7AG
Behind Closed Doors
A small door with a bit of pink neon is the only sign that Behind Closed Doors exists, but once you’ve been – you’ll never forget it. The biggest selling points of BCD are the cocktails, the late nights and the outstanding music – pretty much the best soul, funk and disco you’re likely to hear in the city.
Behind Closed Doors, 93 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LW
0161 834 8148
There’s a saying about Manchester that some bloke said and it revolves around the fact that we’re a city of people who think that a table is for dancing on. Well, the person who said that had probably just come back from a mucky night in MOJO. It’s pretty much anything goes in here – as long as you’re not battering anyone – and you’re always guaranteed a top night with great music and a friendly crowd.
MOJO, 59A Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BQ
A bonafide Manchester institution, no time spent in Manchester is complete without a visit to Black Dog. Basically, one of the city’s best late-night venues – this place is open until 5am on a weekend, serving up some great cocktails, and generally being fucking great.
Black Dog, 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
Twenty Twenty Two
An excellent Northern Quarter basement bar, Twenty Twenty Two benefits from around 10 ping pong tables in the back room, making it the perfect place to spend time with your mates while having a few bevvies. It’s another late one too, and the weekends are usually packed. During the week though they’ve got some great offers and stay open ’til late.
Twenty Twenty Two, The Basement, Little Lever St, Manchester M1 1EZ
This place probably has the best events and booking calendar in the whole city, with some band, singer, DJ or performer on every single night of the week. Well, once they’re allowed to start again after COVID that is. The basement downstairs has played host to hundreds of legends over the years and will continue to do so for years to come. During the day their food is also excellent.
Soup Kitchen, 31-33 Spear St, Manchester M1 1DF
A basement bar that’s packed to the rafters with old school arcade machines. All you need to do is head on over to the bar, buy yourself a drink and some tokens and you’ll have hours of fun, bashing away at some buttons while listening to some classic hip-hop. Oh, and they have FREE consoles to play in here too – 4 player GoldenEye anyone?
NQ64, 9 Short St, Manchester M4 1AA
One of the NQ’s longest running clubs and home to officially the longest running club night – Funkademia. Every Saturday (well, when they’re allowed) will see the best in soul and funk with a great crowd right through until the early hours. Mint Lounge is also home to many one-off club nights including the excellent Hit & Run plus many, many more.
Mint Lounge, 46-50 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
You’ve probably seen the interior of Sammy’s on your Instagram somewhere, no matter where you’ve lived before. This hidden gem on Swan Street looks fantastic, but is also a great place to sink some cheap cocktails and meet some new people. It’s conveniently located directly opposite Band on the Wall too so is perfect for pre-gig bevvies.
Sammy’s Cocktail Bar, 26 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JQ
This huge, stunning building will be home to a long list of pretty special events once COVID fucks off and we can start enjoying them once again. If you ever want to go to Bongo’s Bingo – it’ll be in here, as will an impressive line-up of gigs and other oddities. I once watched Mexican Wrestling in here and it was as good as it sounds.
Albert Hall, City Centre, 27 Peter St, Manchester M2 5QR
Satan’s has been going for donkey’s years and once you’re in there it’s easy to see why. A venue lacking any sort of pretention whatsoever, people go in here for the super-cheap drinks, the great music, the mosh pits and the fact that it’s really, really easy to get off with someone in here. Tuesday nights and Friday nights are the best.
Satans Hollow, 101 Princess St, Manchester M1 6DD
0161 236 0666
42nd Street / The Venue
A night out in 42s (or its sister The Venue) is usually messy, dirty, cheap and soundtracked to all of those indie anthems that you remember from being a kid. Dancing to Oasis in one of these places, sweat dripping off your head, £1 vodka mixer in your hand is one of the greatest experiences one can encounter in Manchester. You’ll also likely end up getting off with someone in these places too – they’re great for that kinda stuff.
A bunch of shipping containers tucked under the concrete monstrosity that is the Mancunian Way, Hatch has been a fantastic addition to the city since it opened a few years back. There are retail units including vintage shops and even a fella who’ll clean your sneaks, bars, street food and restaurants – all under one roof. It’s hard to pick my favourite bits of Hatch – so just go and choose your own.
Hatch, 103 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7ED
Some people say that ten pin bowling is for kids but what do they know?! Nothing – that’s what. Especially when you’re in this place on Whitworth Street – where you can go bowling with your mates while also drinking loads of cocktails and eating some pretty impressive food. They’ve yet to re-open after COVID but once they do – you should definitely take advantage of their student friendly offers.
Dog Bowl, Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WW
A dive bar that serves chicken wings for 10p. What more do you want? Well, if that’s not enough then there’s the regular live music (when they’re allowed to do it again), the great cocktails, the top tunes, the late night finishes every night, the excellent Happy Hour, NFL on the big screen, the Hot Wings Challenge, the attractive staff, the FREE pool… That enough for you?
Bunny Jacksons, 1 Jack Rosenthal St, Manchester M15 4RA
A recent and very welcome addition to the city, YES has certainly impressed in the short time it’s been here – mainly due to their mightily impressive music and events line-up, as well as a space that wouldn’t look out of place in the middle of Manhattan. There’s street food on the ground floor, a club in the basement, The Pink Room music venue on the first floor and a great rooftop terrace at the top. Oh, and pints are CHEAP.
YES, 38 Charles St, Manchester M1 7DB
This is that boring looking metal box next to the Manchester University Students Union, and once they’re allowed to host gigs again, it will become your new favourite place in the city. Pretty much every night of the student year will feature a gig in one of the venue’s 4 spaces – and you’ll definitely see someone who’ll be on Top of the Pops in a couple of years. If it still existed.
Manchester Academy, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PR
A firm student favourite, the Courtyard is cheap, cheerful and is pretty much the perfect student boozer in Manchester. There’s stiff competition from The Footage just up the road, but the Courtyard beats it by having a massive terrace out back, most of which is heated. You could easily waste valuable lecture and revision hours in here – I know I did. I passed though so don’t you worry too much about it either.
Courtyard, 2 Chester St, Manchester M1 5SH
The perfect pre-gig venue, Big Hands is also legendary in the city due to its excellent choice of foreign beers, its jukebox and the rather impressive rooftop terrace up top. It’s also a lot bigger than it looks from the outside, with a real arse on it that extends rather far back. It’s equally perfect for a quiet smooch on the big leather sofas, or a rowdy bit of banter with a group of your mates.
Big Hands, 296 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9NS
0161 272 7309
As unassuming as a restaurant could ever be, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve ended up at the wrong place when you turn up to Azuma. Once you walk in – things don’t change much, considering it looks an awful lot like an old canteen in here. Once you sit down though, chat to the staff and order your food – you’re in for a monumental treat and one of the best meals you can have in Manchester. It’s All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ – which you cook yourself at your table on the little hotplate. It’s cheap too.
Azuma, 73 Cavendish St, Manchester M15 6BN
The White Hotel
I’m not entirely sure that The White Hotel will ever be a ‘thing’ again – not after COVID – but we can sit and hope and once everything has blown over – we can start going again if they re-open. Called by many “the greatest club in the world” The White Hotel has a reputation that certainly precedes it and pretty much always lives up to. Fingers crossed for an open date soon.
The White Hotel, Dickinson St, Salford M3 7LW
The Kings Arms
If you’ve ever watched the TV show Fresh Meat, perhaps you watched it in preparation for uni in Manchester, then you’ll have already seen the Kings Arms – it’s that pokey little pub that the main characters always go to. Fresh Meat isn’t much of a fair representation of what to expect at the Kings Arms though, as it’s an outstanding boozer, coupled with a theatre upstairs that hosts an eclectic range of performances, comedy and other random stuff that will make you wonder what the fuck is going on.
The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom St, Salford M3 6AN
Just across the road from Salford Central train station is Caribbean Flavas – one of Manchester’s greatest Carribbean restaurants – if not THE best. Their Jerk Chicken is talked about far and wide, so if you’re looking for a bit of scran between lectures, or more likely – on the way home after a few pints in town – this is the place to go.
Caribbean Flavas, 187 Chapel St, Salford M3 5EQ
0161 425 2022
Old Pint Pot
A pub that’s died and been resurrected more times than Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, the Old Pint Pot will probably spend the next year or so being brilliant and then it’ll close down for a few months and then someone else will move in, paint it and it’ll be brilliant again and so on and so on. It’s a great boozer no matter who owns it and also doubles up as a club and gig venue (sometimes).
Old Pint Pot Salford, Adelphi St, Salford M3 6EN
Southside Tequila Joint
Newly opened on Withington High Street, Southside serves up some amazing tacos and also has probably the best selection of tequila you’ll find anywhere – except perhaps in some mad hacienda in the middle of the desert in Mexico. Southside is fantastic – it’s open ’til late each night and there’s always a top crowd in here. The basement bar downstairs is always a great shout too.
Southside Tequila Joint, 447-449 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 4AN
By the time you read this NEST may no longer exist. It could very well be called something else. I mean, this place has changed hands and names SO many times over the years that it’s a wonder that it’s just not been bought by some big company and put out of its misery. But before lockdown it was still going strong, with a fantastic reputation for gigs and club nights that turn out to be some of the best in the city. If it opens again – this will be one of Fallowfield’s most visited venues.
Wilderness Record Store
Just off Withington High Street is Wilderness, a record store, cafe, live music menu and everything else in-between. You’ll find all manner of records in here, from new releases to rare one-off vinyl that only around 3 people in the world even know exists. When the COVID stuff goes away they’ll resume their packed calendar of live music events too – so keep an eye on all that.
Wilderness Record Store, 9 Egerton Cres, Withington, Manchester M20 4PN
The Curry Mile
I think it’s fair to say that the Curry Mile isn’t what it once was. Most of the curry shops have been replaced by shisha bars, and favourites from yesteryear have let themselves go a little bit. There are still some gems dotted along the length of the road though including Mughli, Falafel, Moonlight, Walnut, Rusholme Chippy and Camel. Head to one of these and you’ll be sorted.
Taking a walk (or bus if you’re lazy) to Levenshulme is well worth the lost calories for TROVE alone – a cafe, bakery, neighbourhood eatery which has drawn crowds to the area for years now. Their brunch is outstanding, and at weekends you can probably expect to have to queue – so head on down on a weekday and enjoy their baked delights and out of this world brekkie dishes.
T R O V E, 1032-1034, Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3WX
There are two reasons to go to Pasha. One is the food – which is Lebanese and is outstanding. The mezze, kebabs, shawarmas – everything on the menu is absolutely top notch – which explains why it’s ALWAYS bloody busy. The other reason? It’s BYOB. There – sorted.
Pasha Restaurant, 513 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 4BA
A proper Fallowfield institution and as such – student one too – Fuzion has managed to weather the changing Fallowfield scene over the years, still bashing out some of the best hangover destroying noodles and Salt & Pepper dishes you’ll find. No time at University in Manchester should go without at least one visit to this place, and once you’ve been once – you’ll go A LOT more. Trust me.
Fuzion Noodle Bar, 264 Wilmslow Rd, Fallowfield, Manchester M14 6JR
256 Wilmslow Road
A huge church that was converted into a boozer around the mid-90’s, 256 benefits from a great location, a massive beer garden and a frequently busy events calendar, including club nights, live gigs, vintage clothes sales, pub quizzes and a ton more things. You should expect a messy night in here – and with it being in Fallows – you won’t need to get the bus home. Perfect.