There's an app - but who can be bothered to download it?!
There’s a brand-new app on the scene and it’s called Neverspoons. It’s actually really bloody good – showing you the independent venues close to Wetherspoons in your area so you don’t have to spend money and line the pockets of Tim Martin – a man whose actions and comments during the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a stir throughout the land.
Well, you can always download the app but if I’m being completely honest – who wants to waste the space on their phone? Just check out this handy list, print it out and keep it in your wallet and/or side pocket of your suit jacket.
One of the city’s best old school boozers and a proper hidden gem on Back Piccadilly. Sure, it’s not the cleanest of streets in the city, but shining like a beacon of hope and ale is this legendary boozer. It’s cheap and everyone is proper friendly in there – and there’s music. You can’t say that about Wetherspoons now can you?
Mother Macs, 33 Back Piccadilly, Manchester M1 1HP
Just a couple of doors down from the Piccadilly Wetherspoons, descend the stairs of Bundobust and the whole restaurant opens up into a massive space that’s beautiful to look at – not something you’d expect from Piccadilly Gardens at all. They serve up Indian Street Food that’s perfect for sharing, and they also specialise in craft beers, ales and ciders – with regularly rotating selections on offer. Buy a cold pint and some Okra Fries just to get you started.
Bundobust, 61 Piccadilly, Manchester M1 2AG
It’s a bit of a struggle to find anything even halfway to being independent on Deansgate, so a short walk across St Ann’s Square is needed to find this great bar, one which always seems to be busy, and always seem to have a very impressive selection of beers on tap. You’ll find some really obscure little tipples in here and if you go downstairs – there’s even a hidden cocktail den with even more odd cocktail creations.
Sandinista, 2 Old Bank St, Manchester M2 7PF
The Black Lion
A bit of a walk down Blackfriars this one but once you get there – it’s unlikely that you’ll want to leave for a while. This is a quintessential Manchester old school boozer – although it’s actually across the Irwell so it’s a Salford boozer. Whatever – you’ll love it nonetheless.
The Black Lion Hotel, 65 Chapel St, Salford M3 5BZ
Round the back of The Waterhouse you’ll find a little row of great pubs – and first up is the City Arms, a pub that’s massively popular with the after-work crew. They’ve got an impressive selection of gins, as well as regular rotating cask and real ales on offer.
City Arms, 46-48 Kennedy St, Manchester M2 4BQ
The Vine Inn
Right next door to the City Arms is the Vine Inn, another great old school boozer and another favourite of the after-work crews from the many offices in the area. One of the Vine’s redeeming features is its downstairs basement bit – which has always reminded me of that French basement bar in Inglorious Basterds. Except without all the killings of course.
The Vine Inn, 42-44, Kennedy St, Manchester M2 4BQ
Hampton & Vouis
I understand that a lot of people don’t even go into Wetherspoons for the booze, instead many people pop in for a bit of brekkie, a cup of tea and a read of the newspaper. Well, screw all of that – instead, take a short walk from The Waterhouse and pop in Hampton & Vouis – a truly excellent little cafe that has top-notch brews and some great breakfast dishes.
Hampton & Vouis, 31 Princess St, Manchester M2 4EW
The Clink Cafe
Just about 34 seconds’ walk from the front door of The Paramount is this cafe, one which is staffed entirely by graduates of The Clink restaurant at HMP Styal, as well as clients of local homeless charities looking to receive their accredited NVQs. Basically, the staff are ex-prisoners who have turned their lives around and trained to become chefs and work in the restaurant industry.
The Clink Cafe, 3 Chepstow St, Manchester M1 5FW
The Temple of Convenience
A true Manchester institution, the Temple is an old public toilet that someone has converted into a bar and it’s bloody brilliant. It’s impossible not to end up chatting to other people in here – I mean, you’re pretty much sitting on their knee anyway so why not have a natter too? Their selection of beers is outstanding too – as is their jukebox.
The Temple, 100 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JW
Peveril of the Peak
Another city institution, the Peveril of the Peak has been a Manchester favourite for many, many years and it’s only about a minute away from The Paramount. This boozer is certainly striking from the outside, what with its green tiles, but once you’re in you’ll be in familiar territory with a cracking set of characters and all the booze and pub snacks you could ever desire.
Peveril Of The Peak, 127 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JQ
As you’d expect from the Printworks, there ain’t much in the way of independence knocking around so a short walk to the edges of the NQ is required. First up is Trof, which is 11 years old this year and has now become a staple of any visit to the Northern Quarter. The booze is excellent, the food wonderful and there’s always a great, friendly buzz about the place. Faultless.
Trof, 8 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU
Federal Cafe Bar
Sticking with the idea of Wetherspoons as a ‘cafe’ type place – there’s no better cafe in Manchester than Federal – and they usually have the queues outside to show it. It’s well worth the wait though because their food is sublime, just make sure you tuck into one of their Pastel de Nata – even if you’re not hungry. They do also sell booze too – so you don’t need to miss out if you fancy a beer with your eggs.
Federal Cafe Bar, 9 Nicholas Croft, Manchester M4 1EY
Directly opposite The Sedge Lynn in Chorlton, The Beagle has become a highly popular destination venue in Chorlton in recent years, with their mix of cocktails, craft beers and huge food menu all coming together to create the perfect boozer in which to spend a few hours on a weekend. Their conservatory at the front is great for these wet Manchester days too.
The Beagle, 456-458 Barlow Moor Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 0BQ
My personal favourite cocktail bar in the whole of Manchester – Henry C’s is probably my most favourite in the whole world so far – but I can’t really say that because I’ve not visited every cocktail bar in the world. Sitting down in here and you know that you’re getting the best of anything that’s thrown at you, be it their cocktails, food or just a nice little chat.
Henry C, 107 Manchester Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9GA
There’s not much else around Wilmslow Park nowadays, except a Lidl, Poundland and a Wetherspoons. Well, there’s the Curry Mile but pretty much all of the boozers that were around here have pretty much all disappeared over the last decade or so. It’s a bit of a walk but Big Hands is a great bar – somewhere that’s been a staple for anyone heading to the Academy for a gig for years. Their selection of beers is excellent, they’ve got a rooftop terrace and the sofas at the back are great for smooching.
Big Hands, 296 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9NS
This place has been through a lot of hands and re-vamps over the years since I finished university – but it’s still a top place for some beers in Fallowfield. There aren’t too many places left in the town to go out-out but this is one of ’em and they’re literally a couple of metres away from the Wetherspoons.
A little bit of a walk/bus ride from the Wetherspoons but this new venue in Withington is well worth the trip. They’ve taken over the old Solomons site and re-imagined it as a Tequila and Taco joint and it’s truly excellent.
Southside Tequila Joint, 447-449 Wilmslow Rd, Withington, Manchester M20 4AN
256 Wilmslow Road
When I was at University this was the Queen of Hearts and we would go in here around 3 times a week and drink too many Blue WKD and try and get off with as many girls as possible. I doubt much has changed in the 16 years since then (fuck I’m old) and 256 is still a great place for a top time. The beer garden out the side is ace too.
256, 256 Wilmslow Rd, Fallowfield, Manchester M14 6LB
A Robinsons pub so you know that you’re keeping your money in the area, the Bakers Vaults is pretty famed for its great food and impressive jukebox – and it’s Robinsons booze too (of course). I’ve been assured by our Stockport correspondent that this is one of the best boozers in Stockport – and I’m in no position to argue.
Bakers Vaults, Market Pl, Stockport SK1 1ES
Another old school boozer in the centre of Stockport, the Angel Inn looks absolutely fantastic from the outside and step in and you’ll be in pub heaven. I should also mention the Bulls Head too – just a short walk away and another Robinsons beauty. Quite why anyone would bother with a Wetherspoons when there are so many good pubs around is beyond me.
Angel Inn, 19-20, Market Pl, Stockport SK1 1UN