Featuring the city's very best traditional "old man" pubs...
Some people call them “old man” pubs, some call them “proper” boozers, others just call them their local.
Manchester is home to an abundance of pubs that have weathered the test of time, pubs where walking in is like taking a trip back to the 70s, where every day you’ll find an abundance of ‘characters’ and where a pint costs you less than £6.
We LOVE these traditional boozers here at Finest, they’re full of character and give an insight into the real Manchester. So we’ve devised a crawl for you, taking in the city’s best (and our absolute favourites).
Please note: Drink responsibly during this – nobody wants to be lying in a ditch after the fourth pub.
The Marble Arch
Where better to start your traditional pub crawl than in this absolute beauty of a boozer?! You could probably sit here and just stare at this pub with your pint, what with it’s tiled floor and ornate gothic interior. The beer is excellent too – straight from the Marble brewery down the road – plus – some absolutely fantastic food too. A class act and the perfect place to get the ball rolling on your day.
The Marble Arch, 73 Rochdale Rd, Manchester M4 4HY
The Angel Pub (Hardcore)
The first of our ‘hardcore’ pubs is The Angel at the bottom of Rochdale Road. If you really think that you can visit 19 pubs in one day, then include our hardcore options in here too. The Angel is a cracking boozer, with a great outdoor bit for when it’s sunny and some excellent real ale and craft cider options. The room upstairs is bookable too – if you want to come here for your birthday and/or wedding.
The Angel Pub, 6 Angel St, Manchester M4 4BQ
The Smithfield Tavern (Hardcore)
Another hardcore pub, and you could probably include the neighbouring Rose & Monkey in here too. A couple of great boozers which have had a fair bit of renovation over the years, most recently to the signs outside – which look gorgeous. There’s an excellent beer garden out back here, and the beer is from local brewery Blackjack.
The Smithfield Tavern, 37 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JZ
The Crown & Kettle
One of the city’s oldest pubs, no amount of trendy Instagram accounts and new, minimalist signage can drag this Ancoats institution away from its regulars. Everyone talks about THAT ceiling inside, but there’s also a faultless selection of beers and ales, pies and loads of little nooks and crannies to set yourself up in. If it’s cold outside – sit by the fire and warm yourself up.
The Crown & Kettle, 2 Oldham Rd, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5FE
Sometimes forgotten, never beaten, The Wheatsheaf is a quintessential Northern Quarter boozer, one that’s seen astronomical changes all around it, but miraculously – stayed relatively the same. Locals who have lived in the area for decades will tend to head up here – so don’t go flashing your new D&G trousers or talk about spending £20 on a cocktail in New York. They’ll just laugh at you.
The Wheatsheaf, 30 Oak St, Manchester M4 5JE
When most people think of city centre ‘proper boozers’ – they think of The Millstone. It’s a pub that refuses to allow the normal rules of society (and sometimes physics) apply, a place where you’ll hear someone belting out Whitney Houston on the karaoke (terribly) at 11am on a Tuesday morning. It’s one of the best pubs in the entire city, if only for the sheer entertainment value of going in here. A must visit any day.
The Millstone, 67 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1LQ
0161 839 0213
Hare & Hounds (Hardcore)
If you can spare the time, head on over to The Hare & Hounds on Shudehill, a favourite of ours here in the Finest office, and an all-round fantastic traditional boozer. Weekends see ‘Free & Easy’ on a Saturday, with the old fellas getting up on the mic and crooning, alongside free sausage rolls, while the odd Sunday sees them bring out the karaoke machine. They do house doubles here too.
Hare & Hounds, 46 Shudehill, Manchester M4 4AA
0161 832 4737
Much like the littlest pet shop, or that old guy’s house in Up, The Unicorn has a whole host of tall, futuristic buildings erected around it, but it stands proud on the corner as one of the NQ’s best old school boozers. This place is massively popular and gets very busy, especially during the week when you’ll hear all sorts of noises and commotion as you walk past. I’m sure I heard a lion’s roar once when I was passing by.
The Unicorn, 26 Church St, Manchester M4 1PN
0161 834 8854
A back street boozer that’s SO back street that most people are too scared to bother going in there for fear of running into a rowdy gang on Back Piccadilly. Don’t worry though, you’ll be fine – and the reward is very nice indeed. There’s a bit of a gruesome history to Mother Macs (which you can read about on the wall) but it’s also an outstandingly comfortable and friendly traditional boozer, where you’ll always find someone to chat to.
Mother Macs, 33 Back Piccadilly, Manchester M1 1HP
020 8089 8579
The Circus Tavern
Officially, or rather allegedly, this is the Smallest Bar in Europe, which doesn’t mean that it’s the smallest pub in Europe – it just means that they’ve got a very small bit of wood with beer pumps on it. It’s a very small pub too though, and you’ll find yourself getting easily acquainted with people in here while you sup your pint, probably because you’ll be sat on their knee.
The Circus Tavern, 86 Portland St, Manchester M1 4GX
07838 891 721
The Seven Oaks
One of the city’s most legendary traditional boozers, Seven Oaks is right in the heart of Chinatown and is so well-known because, and this should be read like I’m whispering to you, they stay open until about 8am in the morning. At least they used to anyway – as a place where those in the hospitality industry could go to have a drink when their shift had finished. I’m not sure if they still do it, but if you find yourself there at 5am – make sure you have a payslip handy – or you’re not getting in.
The Seven Oaks, 5 Nicholas St, Manchester M1 4HL
The Vine Inn & City Inn (Hardcore)
A couple of cracking pubs right behind the Town Hall, The Vine and City Inn are both excellent options for the discerning pub lover, each one has it’s charms and each one has its fans. They get busy after work (or at least they did pre-pandemic) with grafters from the offices nearby. Most of them end up with their suits ruined, tie around the head like Rambo and in a ditch.
Kennedy St, Manchester M2 4BQ
Peveril of the Peak
Easily one of the city’s most famous boozers, ‘The Pev’ is not only iconic – with it’s green tiled exterior – it’s also apparently really fucking haunted too! It’s a fantastic boozer which gets, understandably very busy – but they’ve recently taken to plonking some picnic benches outside, which doubles the capacity if you don’t mind getting cold and/or piss wet through.
Peveril Of The Peak, 127 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JQ
0161 236 6364
The Briton’s Protection
Just a short walk from Peveril of the Peak is Briton’s Protection, a rather impressive boozer that claims to stock over 300 different whiskeys and whiskies. By this point you probably won’t be able to count anything, or see very much, but rest assured, they’re there. Once again they have a great beer garden out back, and even a roaring fireplace where you can sit with a Scotch and a dog and some slippers and relax like your grandad used to.
The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5LE
0161 236 5895
The White Lion (Hardcore)
Sitting pretty on Liverpool Road, just a bit further up from the Science & Industry Museum is The White Lion, a pub that boasts a truly huge beer garden out the side, right next to the city’s old Roman ruins. They do a cracking Guinness in here (so I’m told) and their Strongbow is colder than an Eskimo’s Choc Ice. An excellent boozer all round.
The White Lion, 43 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4NQ
0161 832 7373
One of Manchester’s best Irish pubs, Mulligans is tucked away just off Deansgate and it’s fucking brilliant. There’s usually some form of live music in here, so you can have a dance if you like, and the Guinness in here is probably the best in the entire city. As you’d expect. You get some pretty mad characters in here too, so bring your A* chat with you.
Mulligans, 12 Southgate, Manchester M3 2RB
Sinclair’s Oyster Bar
Take a stroll down Deansgate now and you’ll end up at Exchange Square, home to three cracking old school boozers – Sinclair’s is probably the most famous. There’s a few things you should know about this pub before you go. 1) It’s a Samuel Smith pub so the booze is super cheap. 2) You can’t use your phone in here. 3) You can’t swear in here and 4) In spite of all those last two rules, it’s actually a lot of fun.
Sinclairs Oyster Bar, 2 Cathedral Gates, Manchester M3 1SW
0161 834 0430
The Black Friar
Last stop on this colossal tour is the newly re-opened Black Friar down in Salford. An old Boddington’s boozer, located around 100m away from the old brewery, this place has been completely gutted, repaired and renovated and looks bloody gorgeous now. It’s still a cracking place for a Boddies, and if you fancy some food to soak up all of your booze – this is the place to be.
The Black Friar, 41-43 Blackfriars Rd, Salford M3 7DB