The Northern Quarter has long been an area of extreme cultural importance to Manchester. Emerging in the late 18th century as the powerhouse of the Industrial revolution, the area bustled with the mills, warehouses and merchants houses that fed the global cotton industry. Yet following the decline of ‘Cottonopolis’ in the mid 20th century, the once thriving area fell into decay; the industrial buildings left to rot in a forgotten corner of the city.
Thanks to Manchester’s burgeoning creative scene of the late 20th century however, The Northern Quarter returned to prominence as the beating heart of the city, and is now widely recognised as the City’s underground cultural hub. The striking industrial architecture that once powered the global cotton trade now houses an altogether different kind of industry; with some of the world’s best bands, DJs, artists and fashions found in the area’s various bars, gig venues, clubs, galleries and boutiques.
Here are just a small number of places we recommend in the NQ:
Located at the end of Oldham Street, Ning is Manchester’s finest Malaysian restaurant – and a firm favourite amongst the locals. With chic surroundings, friendly staff and incredible, authentic Malaysian cuisine, it’s a laid back, unpretentious restaurant that lets the food do the talking.
92 – 94 Oldham Street
0844 414 5484
The Northern Quarter Restaurant and Bar
With its simple, funky decor, classic, high quality menu and intimate ambience, the small but perfectly formed Northern Quarter Restaurant is a cool and understated place for a relaxed lunch or stylish evening meal. And with its floor to ceiling windows, it’s a great spot for people watching.
108 High Street, M4 1HQ
0161 832 7115
One of the newest additions to the Northern Quarter’s dining scene, Thomas Restaurant and Bar – which takes its name from Thomas Street on which it’s located – is a more upmarket eatery with a contemporary menu and a light and airy ambiance. And at around £20 for an average three-course meal, it’s not bad value either.
49-51 Thomas Street, M4 1NA
0161 839 7033
A favourite amongst the workers of the Northern Quarter’s many creative businesses, the Soup Kitchen is a cool, relaxed place to grab a bite to eat at lunchtime. The menu includes an ever changing selection of delicious home made soups, as well as daily specials and jacket potatoes if you’re feeling a bit hungrier. In the evenings the relaxed cafe vibes are transformed as the venue hosts regular gigs and intimate club nights.
31-33 Spear Street, M1 1DF
0161 236 5100
The Bay Horse
Located amongst the hustle and bustle of Thomas Street yet managing to maintain its relaxed, laid back charm, The Bay Horse is a traditional style pub with a quirky twist. With big sofas and comfy lounging chairs, it’s a great place for a casual drink or bite to eat.
33 – 37 Thomas Street, M4 1NA
0161 661 1041
Black Dog Ballroom
With its chic downtown NYC style, food served till 1am and 5am drinks licence on Saturdays, the speakeasy Black Dog Ballroom is one of the most popular late night hang outs in the Northern Quarter. You’ll find it under Affleck’s Palace, on the corner of Tib Street and Church Street.
Tib Street, M1 1JG
0161 923 4994
One of the original Northern Quarter bars with strong Hacienda ties, Dry Bar is something of a Manchester legend, and the place where Shaun Ryder infamously pulled a gun on Tony Wilson. In fact, the mirror behind the bar still bears the bullet hole. Today it’s a spacious, cool bar with a relaxed vibe and a laid back crowd.
28 Oldham Street, M1 1JN
0161 236 9840
The Castle Hotel
Something of a hidden gem, The Castle Hotel at the top of Oldham Street is a traditional pub in the best sense of the word, and home to a regular crowd of Northern Quarter musicians, creative types and prominent local figures. With a great juke box, a good selection of hand pulled ales and a newly refurbished back room, it’s an unpretentious pub that invokes the true spirit of the Northern Quarter. Just don’t tell too many people about it.
66 Oldham Street, M4 1LE
0161 237 9485
McDonald Manchester Hotel and Spa
Housed in a former BT building, this huge, distinctive hotel is located near Picadilly Station, and boasts luxurious 4 star accommodation in its 338 beautiful bedrooms. The hotel’s within easy walking distance of the Northern Quarter, so not far to stumble home after your night out.
London Road, M1 2PG, 0844 879 9088
Hatters Hostel, Hilton Chambers
Cheap, clean and ever-so-central, Hilton Chambers is smack bang in the middle of the Northern Quarter, conveniently located above one of the city’s best greasy spoon cafes for that all-important hangover fry-up. Great for groups, accommodation is provided in recently renovated en-suite dorms or private rooms, and beds are available from just £15.50 – so you can save your cash for your night out.
One of the newest additions to the Manchester accommodation scene, The Light is a chic, boutique apart-hotel with 15 floors of stylish, luxurious apartments of varying sizes. A great option for groups and couples alike, The Light is located in the heart of the Northern Quarter, a stone’s throw away from all of the shops, bars and clubs. Not that we’d recommend throwing stones from the balconies of course.
20 Church Street, M4 1PN, 0161 839 4848
Located beneath Oldham Street, Mint Lounge is a cool underground club with a funky atmosphere, two rooms of music and a trendy yet unpretentious crowd. It’s home to Manchester’s longest running club night, Funkademia, which takes over the club every Saturday night with its impressive roster of DJs.
46-50 Oldham Street, M4 1LE, 0161 228 1495
Matt and Phreds
Dark, atmospheric and serving the best pizzas in town, Matt & Phreds is the only dedicated live jazz club in the North. With live jazz six nights a week and cheap entry fees, it’s a unique experience for jazz lovers and novices alike.
64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1LW, 0161 831 7002
Small-ish, dark and dingy (in the best possible sense), Moho Live is a popular gig venue and nightclub, with regular live bands and a 4am licence on weekends for late night dancin’ and a drinkin’. It’s located by Affleck’s Palace on Tib Street.
Tib Street, M4 1SH, 0845 528 0441
With great gigs, great club nights playing everything from Indie to Northern Soul and a great crowd, this small, underground club and gig venue is a popular choice with those in the know – and clear enough from the beaten track to not have been discovered by the drunken masses.
26-28 High Street, M4 1QB, 0161 834 1392
The Frog and Bucket
As one of the best loved comedy clubs in the North, The Frog and Bucket prides itself on developing some of the best comic talents on the circuit. With live comedy every night of the week – including the club’s well known ‘Beat the Frog’ open mic night on a Monday – the Frog and Bucket provides the perfect antidote to a dreary Manchester night.
96-102 Oldham Street, 0161 236 9805