Here we go - Castlefield with all its railways and canals and weeds and cobbles. Although it’s probably not the sexiest of areas in the city centre, there’s still plenty to do to fill a day out, especially if it’s sunny and warm, or you’ve got a dog or you wear a big jacket.
If you were me, (which I’m sure you’re happy you’re not) I’d start my day off around Deansgate train station. You know the one, it’s opposite Deansgate Locks, so on an evening it gives you a great vantage point in which to watch loads of fights. Walking towards Castlefield from here, you’re immediately greeted by a weird massive bike and two cracking bars…
Once home to one of the biggest and best outdoor beer gardens known to man, the terrace at Atlas is still impressive, but they seem to have forgone any outdoor pursuits and decided to focus entirely on selling gin. And sell it they do. They stock around 300 different types of it, a selection so mind-bogglingly big that even Audrey Roberts would struggle to make a dint, even straight after Alf’s funeral. They’ve got Black Gin, Honeybee Gin, American Gin, Bacon Gin, Bathtub Gin, Ford Focus Gin, Spiced Chocolate Orange Gin and even a very nice Smoked & Salted Gin. Get down and give them a try.
Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
Knott Bar has been around for ages and with good reason – they’ve got a bloody fantastic selection of beers and ales, the likes of which would bring a tear to Phil Mitchell’s eye. They stock an impressive selection of Belgian beers, which is pretty much all I’m interested in nowadays, so ensure you grab yourself a nice seat in their cosy surroundings, and sip your bottle of 8.5% lager while watching the world go by outside. Perfect.
The Knott, 374 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
From here it’s just a short walk down into Castlefield Basin and its collection of bars and pubs…
The second that huge ball of gas and fire in the sky peeks it’s little sun-glassed face from behind the Manchester clouds, a huge mass of muscles, tattoos and eyebrows descend upon Dukes 92 and it’s outdoor terrace. Featuring a BBQ, more bubbles than Michael Jackson’s front room, and plenty of Ibiza-style funky house – Dukes is the perfect place to spend a hot-to-warm Spring day down Castlefield, discussing how you got munted in DC10 last year and can’t wait to do it again this year. Whatever you talk about, you will have access to some great cocktails and some fantastic food too.
Dukes 92, 18 – 25 Castle St, Manchester M3 4LZ
It’s an odd one Barca. Located slap bang in the centre of Catalan Square, it’s clear to see why it got its name, but seemingly that’s where any association with Spain ends. The venue has been a little all over the place over the last 5 years or so, with it opening and closing more frequently than my wallet on a night out in the NQ. It’s actually open-open now, and the outside terrace is a big-big selling point. It’s always pretty busy, the views of Castlefield are excellent and you can’t fail to have an enjoyable time while supping down some cider in the sun.
Barca, 8-9 Catalan Square, Manchester M3 4RU
Every single week I must endure my friend Jonny posting either an Insta story or a heavily filtered image of him sat in The Wharf with his lovely wife and their little pug, Boris. In fact, he’s in there so much I’m beginning to wonder whether he’s got shares in the place, or at least some treasure buried under the terrace that he’s too frightened to leave for too long. I can’t really blame him though – The Wharf is an excellent pub, serving up loads of proper British grub and wet ales. The outside beer garden is perfect for when the sun shines, and the inside is so vast that not even a gang of cackling crones on a works do will distract you from your conversation.
The Wharf, 6 Slate Wharf, Manchester M15 4ST
As you may have noticed by now, Castlefield features rather a lot of water – a by-product of Manchester’s industrial past when those idiots thought that canal boats were the future of transport. If you don’t feel like going for a dip and getting tetanus off an old shopping trolley, you can still get on the water in the form of the many canal boats knocking around. There’s quite a few on offer, taking you to Liverpool, or the Trafford Centre or just on a quick run around the block while you drink red wine and coke. Here’s a list of what’s going on if you’re interested.
By now you’ve checked out all the boozers in the Castlefield Basin, now it’s time to head on up to Liverpool Road, which is still technically Castlefield (check Google Maps if you don’t believe me) and see what they’ve got down there.
On the way you’re going to walk past the famous Roman Fort, a structure that those old-school Italians knocked up around 79AD, probably to defend the city from some sort of Barbarians that liked to wear human bones in their noses and ate cats. For anyone who is a fan of history, it’s a rather interesting little side-quest on your day out, and is also rather good for a little picnic, a frolic or just to show off some of your knowledge to a loved one and/or friends.
Right so you’ve got to Liverpool Road and it’s highly likely that you’re directly opposite the Museum of Science and Industry, considering it takes up about 60% of one side of the bloody road.
Museum of Science & Industry
Manchester has some of the best history in terms of science, what with the Industrial Revolution starting on our doorstep, John Dalton paving the way for Rutherford and the smashing of them pesky atoms, and of course – Alan Turing. All this and more is celebrated within the 5 buildings that make up MOSI; including the world’s first inter-city railway. As well as their standard exhibits, they currently have one called Robots, which is all about, well.. robots. There are some proper cool ones in there, including a Terminator, but also some really bloody freaky ones with odd little human faces and too many hands.
Museum of Science & Industry, Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4FP
As much of a Manchester institution as Morrissey wearing a city shirt with a bee on his quiff, Cask is a cracking little boozer on Liverpool Road which prides itself on its phenomenal selection of ales and beers (and ciders). It’s one of those places where if you ever said a bad word about it anywhere, you’d be mobbed by a gang of Mancs, much like if you slag off the jukebox at Corbieres. There’s not much bad to say about Cask though, and you’ll find it pretty easy to waste away a few hours getting tanked up, chatting and laughing within it’s lovely walls.
Cask, 29 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4NQ
Unless you’ve already scoffed a Scotch Egg in The Wharf or 6 bags of crisps in Cask, you’re probably feeling a little bit peckish. Luckily for you, there’s a couple of places on Liverpool Road that are decent enough to spend a few bob in.
DG x Per Tutti
Recently re-opened as a pop-up venture from Italian legends Don Giovanni, Per Tutti is offering a diverse menu of all your Italian favourites, as well as plenty of things that you might not have heard of but should probably give a try. They have a proper wood-burning pizza oven in here so their pizzas are excellent, as is their pasta – a fact that I discovered recently when I did a review of the place. For fear of repeating myself, just read it here and see what you think.
DG X Per Tutti, 3-11 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4NW
Starting at the bottom, down near the YMCA gym is Sapporo Teppanyaki, a place that has seemingly been around serving decent Japanese grub since Seven Samurai was in the cinema. With most seats and tables centred around a big hot plate thing, the chefs cook your food, show off, piss about with fire and flick bits of potato into your mouth. This helps ensure that eating at Sapporo Teppanyaki is a lot like going to the theatre, but with the added benefit of being able to eat a big meal and get sloshed on sake. It’s been ages since I’ve eaten here to be fair, but I remember their Okonomiyaki to be fantastic – so I recommend that.
Sapporo Teppanyaki, 91-93 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4JN
Ask anyone in Manchester where the best Curry Shop is in town and the discussion will most likely end up in some form of fisticuffs. Is it Zouk? Is Bundobust officially classed as a Curry House? Is it acceptable to order a Korma? At some point in the discussion, Akbar’s will most likely make an appearance, as this huge Indian emporium of spice has been around for a while now and is still always packed to the rafters most nights. Their naan breads are about the size of a double duvet and would enrage Gordon Ramsey no-end, but their food is excellent, service impeccable and if you stupidly try and beat someone at a chilli eating contest, they’ll sort you out with some free yoghurt to stop your head exploding when you fail.
Akbar’s, 73-83 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4NQ