Best of Manchester Centre

Greater Manchester is home to over 2.5 million people, with 440,000 alone in the city itself. With that many people its not surprising that a great many pubs are required. And by the law of averages at least some of these pubs must be decent. Comparable in size to both Leeds and Sheffield, Manchester has a similar number of decent watering holes as its Yorkshire companions.

Linked from Good Pub Guide website
One of the most well known is of course the Marble Arch, original home of the Marble brewery an done of three brewery owned pubs in the city.

Nearby to the Marble Arch is the Angel, a backstreet boozer whose backstreet has no been turned into a main road and it stands alone and proud as a beacon of decent cask ales. I didn't get there on this visit but it impressed when I was last in Manchester.

Alongside these more traditional venues are an up and coming range of bars serving an interesting range of both cask and keg beers:

Port Street Beer House will need no introduction from me as its been the subject of numerous other blogs in recent months. Its open Tuesday-Sunday from 4pm (don't make the mistake I did and turn up on a Monday evening!)*

Sister to the PSBH is the Common, a larger venue open all day and serving food. Not quite the same range of beers on draught but still has an impressive selection of bottled beers from the UK and further afield.

The Knott in Deansgate impressed me in August with its good range of local beers and veggie options on the menu and didn't let me down again on a second visit yielding Hardknott and Marble on cask. It was quiz evening when we arrived and had we had more time would have participated. There were certainly some challenging questions!

I mentioned the Odd trio in my last post on Chorlton. Odd is on Oxford Road and Odder in the Northern quarter and both are similarly eclectic in appearance. Odd had some good value simple cocktails which went down well after a belly-busting Chinese New Year Feast.

A bar I was recommended to visit and near to Odd (though I didn't realise until later) is the Font. This is a place I shall need to visit on a future trip.

Shopping need never be boring again as the Arndale centre has its own pub, the aptly named Microbar. Serving Boggart Hole Clough beers and other local guests and a good selection of bottled beers plus cheese platters from the neighbouring "Queen of Brie" cheese stall. There's a good review on Robert's blog.

Hidden on a side street, its easy enough to walk past
Perhaps one of the highlights for me (and on my list of places to visit after reading another blog) is the Soup Kitchen on Spear Street. Its fairly utilitarian inside with trestle tables and benches but reminds of all the best indpendent music clubs, like Brighton's Cowley complete with its own resident music and zine distro. The venue also puts on gigs in the cellar bar and was due to host a cheese and beer pairing evening on the Wednesday (we left Manchester on Tuesday). It was pleasing to see power sockets for customer use and free WIFI.

View to the food counter
The food menu is simple yet hearty, with soups and sandwiches featuring heavily. They also do home made baked beans which featured in my veggie breakfast with thick tortilla and veggie black pudding. I must get back some time to try the veggie scotch egg!
Shiny keg lineup
Part cafe, part bar, there a selection of continental lagers and a couple of local ales on hand pull. There are also some bottles if nothing on draught takes your fancy. This is certainly a change of pace from the bustle of the busy shopping streets.

If you're planning to visit Manchester you could do with staying a few nights to get a chance to get to all the decent watering holes. If you know of somewhere else I should have visited then please let me know!

*Thankfully it was the monthly "meet the brewer" evening and I was kindly allowed to sneak in for a few quick thirds before the venue filled up with those who had payed for tickets.


  1. Glad you liked the Soup Kitchen. I think it's too often overlooked and deserves more attention.

  2. The New Oxford is an essential in my book although, strictly speaking, it's in Salford. In the Northern Quarter, the Crown & Kettle is favourite of mine and I have a soft spot for Bar Fringe too. I also like 57 Thomas Street - Marble's "other" place, and very different in character to the Marble Arch.

  3. I also like Bar Fringe, even though, on my visit, it featured the world's rudest barmaid. It has to be a good bar, when I leave with a smile on my face, even having been accused of toting a small weapon.

  4. @Tyson It was your blog that alerted me to it in the first place, would love to get there for a gig at some point.

    @Chriso We passed 57 Thomas Street but it wasn't really a pub going trip, so we did well getting round everything we did! I'll keep the others in mind for a future trip though :)

  5. I rather enjoyed Manchester when I was there years ago. I was not drinking at the time though so I will have to make the trip again. I wonder if my old work friend still lives there....

  6. Its handy when you know people in places, speaking of that I reckon I need to come down South sometime soon... ;)

  7. Beer festival season. Feb, March and April!!!! No better excuse.

  8. is that an invite then? Will have to be March..what's on then and when?