The Northern Quarter has to be one of the coolest districts (if not the coolest) Manchester has to offer. From its historic buildings with New York-style fire escapes to its many, many murals which are updated on a regular basis – the place has a lot to offer anyone who visits. Walk around any corner and you’re sure to find at least one welcoming door with glistening chrome taps behind it that pour out the good stuff. And to make things easier for you while out exploring, we’ve rounded up the coolest bars the Northern Quarter has to offer, just for you.
Follow the yellow brick road (or doors…) into Flok, and you’ll be greeted with casual décor, comfy leather booths and nik naks that you only notice upon close observation. It’s a great spot for a relaxed, post-work drink, with a number of rotating beers on tap, wines, bottles, craft beers and much more. In the summer, you’ll see barrel-style tables outside with extra seating so you can soak up the sun, with a lively atmosphere full of people catching up with one another. Flok, 5 Stevenson Square, M1 1DN.
2. The Pen and Pencil
The Pen and Pencil makes for a great early evening drinking spot, serving up cocktails, beer, champagne and even food. The bar is a wonderful spot for getting in the mood as you start your night out in the NQ, with regular DJ nights playing the best funk, soul, disco, house – you name it. Pop by earlier in the day for a boozy brunch, or kick off your night out with a boogie next time there’s a DJ playing. The Pen and Pencil, Fourways House, 57 Hilton St, M1 2EJ.
3. El Capo
Tequila, great music and delicious Mexican grub. That’s the most precise way to describe El Capo. It’s also possibly one of the best bars in the Northern Quarter for margaritas. Step inside the door that’s surrounded by the mysterious black exterior with its obscure red neon cross, and enter a little piece of Mexico. Inside, you’ll spy eclectic Mexican-themed décor, including a quirky tiled bar and religious crosses all along the wall in a low-lit setting. By week, stop by for tasty tacos and other foodie delights, and come Friday night, try out the tequila selection while dancing the night away to a live DJ. El Capo, 12 Tariff St, M1 2FF.
A popular choice for Manc residents all year round, Terrace NQ features – you guessed it – a terrace on top where you can soak up some sunshine while knocking back a pint or two. It’s dog friendly, great for petting other people’s dogs, and is fairly spacious too – although, it does get pretty busy, so guaranteeing a seat can be quite difficult on a hot day. Inside, the huge space features the cool and typical décor of Northern Quarter bars, with exposed walls and a stripped back look – providing a casual environment for grabbing a pizza, catching up with friends and even heading to dance to one of their resident DJs in the early hours of the morning. Terrace NQ, 43 Thomas St, M4 1NA.
5. Crazy Pedro’s
Tucked away down a little alley, Crazy Pedro’s is a really fun post-work and weekend spot, where you can neck back a few pints and play a bit of beer pong. The music’s loud, the atmosphere is bustling and the pizza is sold by the slice or in full – the perfect accompaniment to a frozen cocktail or an ice-cold beer. The pizza toppings are absolutely wild, and with so many options it might be tough to make a decision. Experience their famous Mac Daddy pizza (which is inspired by that burger) or even a chippy tea pizza topped with sausage, chips, mushy peas and curry sauce. Crazy Pedro’s, Short St, M4 1AA.
6. Behind Closed Doors
One of Manchester’s finest hidden bars, Behind Closed Doors can be found behind an inconspicuous doorway on Oldham Street which leads you down a tiled staircase, lit up with neon XXX signs. Downstairs, enter a world of cocktails and vintage erotica, with working vintage telephones at the tables where you can request a fresh gin, and low lighting setting the tone for the venue. The hidden speakeasy offers an array of speciality spirits as well as a number of tasty cocktails. Behind Closed Doors, 93 Oldham St, M4 1LW.
A bar with a difference, NQ64 is a cool retro gaming arcade nestled down the same back alley as Crazy Pedro’s. There are tons of games inside that’ll take you right back to your childhood, including Crazy Taxi, Mortal Kombat and the much newer Guitar Hero. Enjoy cocktails inspired by famous games (Princess Peach would be our top pick!) and generally just have a blast from the past with your mates. It’s a really cool place to socialise and an even better place to take people who are visiting the city. NQ64, 9 Short St, M4 1AA.
One of the Northern Quarter’s trendier bars, Cottonopolis is well known for its Asian-inspired menus and contemporary, yet stripped-back decor that gives it a luxe vibe. Enjoy gorgeous Japanese-inspired menus full of dishes such as sushi, bao buns, dumplings and more, or pop in for a refreshing drink – with an incredible cocktail menu to choose from. There’s even a cocktail served in a porcelain cat for a real social media moment. Cottonopolis, 16 Newton St, M1 2AE.