Between having zero money for a holiday (cheers, January), endless airport queues and changing flight prices that, quite frankly, we just can’t keep up with, we’ve been turning to our home city for that sense of vacation. And while we don’t (exactly) have a beach, we do have a number of transportive bars and restaurants that go the whole hog on décor – taking inspiration from literally all corners of the globe. Whether it’s a trip to Marrakech you’re after or a romantic evening on the Amalfi coast, here’s our guide to the most exotic Manchester bars and restaurants that’ll make you feel like you’re abroad.
1. San Carlo
Creating a truly beautiful outdoor terrace especially for summer, San Carlo has drawn inspiration from the Amalfi Coast for their new open-air experience, providing the perfect setting for summer date nights. Lying undercover a huge marquee to protect us from the elements (and help us with that much-needed escapism!), the terrace has been completely decked out with gorgeous florals and ornamental pots, as well as crisp, white Mediterranean touches throughout to complement the authentic Italian menu. San Carlo, Manchester Airport Marriott Hotel, Hale Road, Hale Barns, Hale, WA15 8XW.
2. 202 Kitchen
202 Kitchen’s Manchester venue transports guests on a trip to an 80’s Miami with their brand new look, immersing guests in the waterside bar‘s bright summery corals, luxury finishes and GTA-inspired artwork. Lounge on the day beds with a cocktail surrounded by palm trees, enjoy trapbox-style grub on the riverside terrace (very continental!) or take in the late-night vibes and drinks every eve of the week. 202 Kitchen, 6-8 Left Bank, M3 3AN.
3. Revolución de Cuba
Well-known for its fun, Latin approach and Cuban vibes, Revolución de Cuba is the perfect spot to dance the night away like you’re on holiday, with tons of Cuban-themed parties taking place over the summer. If that wasn’t all, each and every cocktail is as summery as the next, with plenty of tapas to chow down on if you’re feeling a little peckish. Welcome to Cuba, Manchester! No passport required… Revolución de Cuba, 11 Peter St, M2 5QR.
4. Bar San Juan
One of Manchester’s finest tapas restaurants, Bar San Juan goes all out with the Spanish vibes, boasting traditional, quaint décor that’ll have you feeling like you’ve stumbled upon a cosy taberna. Situated outside of the city in Chorlton, guests will stumble on a traditional dark golden oak look that’s synonymous with Spain, with authentic dishes, beers, wines and more up for grabs for the real, transportive experience. Bar San Juan, 56 Beech Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, M21 9EG.
5. The Blues Kitchen
Fancy a night out in New Orleans? The Blues Kitchen brings Southern vibes to the city, with stunning decor reminiscent of lively jazz bars in the late 1920s. Blues, soul and jazz are regularly performed by some of the UK’s finest talent, and the menu is packed with so much BBQ goodness, that it’s like a trip to the Deep South in itself. The buzzy bar offers such a fantastic atmosphere, that you’ll almost forget you’re still at home in Manchester. The Blues Kitchen, 13 Quay St, M3 3HN.
An underground escape found just behind King Street, Habas takes Mancs on a journey down a staircase to the Middle East, with some serious attention to detail within their décor. Expect an eclectic mix of beautiful, mismatched pieces, as well as Persian rugs, tons of stunning knick-knacks and the gorgeous smell of homely, Middle Eastern-inspired food in the air. Located within a former wine cellar, the restaurant is sure to provide a little escapism this summer. Habas, 43A Brown St, M2 2JJ.
7. The Ivy Asia
Probably one of the most decadent and exotic bars and restaurants in Manchester, The Ivy Asia really runs with its theme – serving Oriental vibes at every turn. Every single item in the restaurant understands the assignment, from the luxurious satin upholstery to the elegant Koi fish chopstick holders and even the hand-spun crockery. The food doesn’t disappoint either, with plenty of sushi, stuffed wontons, robata-grilled meats, and raw fish. Sorry, Japan, we’re staying home this summer. The Ivy, The Pavilion, Byrom St, M3 3HG.
Fancy stepping into a street market in Bangkok? Bringing the flavours of Thailand to our rainy city, Thaikhun is as eclectic as they come – providing those famous rustic night market vibes alongside dishes such as warming green curries, meaty stir-fries, hearty soups, and street food-style small plates. Thaikhun, 3 Hardman St, M3 3HF.
9. Pull Up Bar
An authentic Caribbean restaurant found just outside of Manchester’s bustling Northern Quarter, Pull Up Bar Cafe serves some of the city’s best jerk chicken thanks to its authentic approach to the cuisine. But of course, the goodness doesn’t stop there – boasting a sunshine-inducing menu of authentic dishes such as curry goat, saltfish, fried hake and so much more. Inside, the decor offers colours in every corner, bringing happy island vibes to an otherwise grey, concrete jungle. Pull Up Bar Cafe, 14-16 Swan St, M4 5JN.
Found on Princess Street in the city centre, Rozafa is a lovely family-run spot, boasting bright blue and white Greek vibes that may well trick you into thinking you’ve accidentally teleported to the island itself. Offering traditional Greek and Cypriot cuisine, the restaurant is the perfect place to visit this summer for that real ‘on holiday’ feeling. Rozafa, 63 Princess St, M2 4EQ.
11. The Liars Club
Grab a lei – it’s time to party tiki style! Located underneath Crazy Pedro’s, The Liar’s Club is a Hawaiin paradise, with thatched walls, tropical colours and DIY touches such as wooden stools, barrels as tables and bamboo finishes. A tiki bar that can withstand the Manchester storms, guests can escape underground to this fun bar, with flaming cocktails, fruity flavours and great music. The Liar’s Club, 19A Back Bridge St, M3 2PB.
12. Rudy’s Peter Street
While indoors, Rudy’s follows a stripped-back ethos that puts the focus on the pizza, outdoors, guests can expect a gorgeous terrace at the front of their Peter Street venue, finished off with a striped, Mediterranean-style canopy, cosy bench-style seating, and, of course, candles for that romantic touch. It’s particularly lovely in the evening, and despite its Mancunian surroundings, feels just like a trip somewhere much warmer in Europe. Rudy’s, Petersfield House, Peter St, M2 5QJ.