The Northern Quarter is still one of Manchester city centre’s best assets, although the neighbourhood has changed dramatically since it first established itself as a bohemian enclave known for grass roots arts and culture. Now well beyond being on the map, nevertheless the district still surprises you with almost every turn of the corner, a maze of backstreets and narrow roads filled with unique shops, bars and restaurants, cast in the aesthetics of faded Victoriana. It’s in this labyrinthine area we find NQ64, tucked down an alley off iconic Tib Street.
The blink-and-you-could-miss-it vibe disappears the moment you step through the door, mind. Once inside, customers find a retro-toned gaming arcade that emphasises the sensory. Think psychedelic, neon coloured, mural-covered walls and ceilings reflecting the electric glow of the games themselves, which are here in abundance. Classic coin-op action in all its glory (tokens are bought with your drinks), you’ll find legendary beat ‘em ups, high octane action, and breakneck racing, among other genres, with console titles also available for those who prefer.
Since expanding NQ64 offers a counterpoint to the intensity of downstairs, with an upper floor providing a more relaxed experience and heated terrace. A venue to get lost in, thankfully there are enough drinks to make sure you won’t go thirsty. Alongside beers, straight up spirits, and sodas, you also get to choose from a gaming-themed cocktail menu, with creations like Paperboi (“a blueberry pancake whisky sour”) and Kong Island Ice Tea setting the tone perfectly. The same can be said for the beats, with DJs packing USB sticks of classic and timeless hip hop. Oh, and if you get hungry there’s a deal with another of the city’s institutions, Crazy Pedro’s, who will deliver pizza from their oven to your table. NQ64 also offers booth, private area and whole-of-venue bookings for occasions and parties, too, with food and drinks available.