Manchester’s bar and restaurant scene has been transformed over the last five years, with so many great establishments to eat and drink at now open that choosing can be a genuinely tricky problem. Which is why we’ve compiled a guide - or itinerary if you will - to spending a day exploring the city’s culinary delights, focusing particularly on the city centre and central retail district. Every meal is catered to - including early evening drinks and after dinner cocktails (if you’ll excuse us referring to those as a ‘meal’) - and with several options for each, there are lots of different permutations that you could choose. Cheers! 

Breakfast & Brunch

Our first pick for breakfast and brunch has proved so popular that it expanded to a second site in Manchester in 2019: Federal Cafe Bar first opened opposite Manchester Arndale, but can now be found on Deansgate too. This is down to Federal’s delicious, Antipodean-inspired menu, which includes plates laden with avocado, eggs and halloumi. Everything is freshly made, the coffee is excellent and there’s a list of brunch cocktails should you be that way inclined. A nearby alternative is The Remedy Kitchen, a breakfast and brunch spot with a singularly healthy ethos. Situated in the Royal Exchange Arcade, the menu here includes the usual breakfast and brunch suspects - except that everything is gluten, wheat, dairy and refined sugar free. Finally there’s Moose Coffee, which dishes out American and Canadian-influenced breakfast and brunch options such as potato hash, pancake stacks and waffles. There’s often a queue, but with a quick turnover and seating outside for sunnier days, it’s worth the wait. 

Alberts Chop House


Salvi’s Cucina on John Dalton Street, with its smoky open kitchen, friendly waitstaff and extensive menu, is a perfect spot for lunch. The dishes delivered by the Italian kitchen are firmly rooted in Naples, with a map of the city printed on the paper table mats - Neapolitan specialities can be found in amongst the starters, pizzas, pastas and mains that Salvi’s serves. Go for an authentic - and extremely tasty - experience. Not far from Salvi’s is Hawksmoor Manchester on Deansgate, an elegant British steakhouse and cocktail bar that uses the very freshest ingredients and cuts of meat in its menus. The food is exceptional, and the decor a beautiful reflection of the former Victorian courthouse in which the restaurant is situated. Similarly classic is Albert Square Chop House, also housed in a historic building; Thomas Worthington’s iconic Memorial Hall, built in 1866. Here the emphasis is on great British food, with a seasonally changing menu, Sunday lunches and options for children. 

Afternoon tea

Tucked away just off St Ann’s Square, Annies is a cosy spot for a traditional, Prosecco or champagne afternoon tea, complete with the usual complement of sandwiches, scones and cakes. The luxurious King Street Townhouse hotel also offers afternoon tea - both traditional, and a gentleman’s afternoon tea that includes cheese, crackers and chutney as part of the sweet treats selection. The savoury selection here is perhaps more diverse than elsewhere, with wraps and bagels included as alternatives to sandwiches - and the cakes still look exquisite. The range of options at The Midland Hotel is even more extensive, with vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and children’s afternoon teas on offer alongside the traditional and Royal (including a glass of champagne) spreads. Afternoon tea is a proper custom here, with the elegant Tea Room overlooking St Peter’s Square. 

Early evening drinks

Salut Wines is a bar that stands out; winner of two Decanter awards, its Enomatic wine machines allow a range of bottles that wouldn’t usually be feasible to keep open to stay fresh, and be sampled by customers in three different volumes - from a taster to a full glass. There’s a simple pre-paid card system, tasting notes and helpful staff on hand, as well as over 400 carefully selected wines to take away. Hangingditch wine merchants next to Manchester Cathedral is another excellent choice, with unusual and special wines by the glass and bottle, to drink in or take away. Hangingditch also has a sun trap terrace out front, and serves small plates and nibbles to hungry punters. If wine isn’t so much your thing, however, BrewDog next to the Albert Hall has a top selection of beers, as well as a tasty food menu, wide windows, games and outdoor seating.

Sam's Chop House


If you’re after a classic British menu in a traditional setting, you can’t do much better than Sam’s Chop House and Mr Thomas’s Chop House. Both serve the best of British cuisine in historic buildings that were, respectively, once frequented by L.S. Lowry (Sam’s Chop House - there’s a bronze statue of him at the end of the bar), and now over 100 years old (Mr Thomas’s Chop House is Grade II listed, making it one of the oldest bars in the city). Alternatively, Manchester is the perfect place to enjoy cuisines from around the world. Relative newcomer Dishoom, which opened in 2018, transports delicious dishes from the Irani cafes of former Bombay (Mumbai, India) into what was once a Freemasons Hall on Bridge Street, replete with gorgeous stained glass windows and atmospheric decoration inside. Fazenda channels the rodizio dining experience of Brazil, pairing gourmet sides with beautifully barbequed meats. Finally, Tast presents Catalonian home cooking elevated by multi Michelin-starred chef Paco Pérez, including ‘Tastets’ that translate tapas to modern fine dining standards. 

Alberts Schloss


Opening out onto St Peter’s Square, The Anthologist’s cocktail list includes ‘Adventurous Spirits’, classics and sharers for between two to four people, making it the perfect spot to enjoy anything from a single, complex drink to an ‘Enchanted Tea’ that will see you through the night. If you’re looking for entertainment alongside your cocktails, head further down Peter Street to Alberts Schloss, a Bavarian bier palace and cook haus that has ‘push for Prosecco’ buttons, allows dancing on its benches and has entertainment seven nights a week. Alternatively, if a bit of healthy competition is more your thing then All Star Lanes at the Great Northern Warehouse offers both bowling and karaoke alongside a bar serving cocktails and a dedicated whiskey room.