The Northern Quarter in Manchester has been compared to Shoreditch in London. It is an area on the Northern area of the City Centre and is ever expanding. The Northern Quarter is a trendy neighborhood, with vibrant street art, bohemian bars and independent record shops. It’s home to buzzy restaurants and some of the city’s liveliest music venues, which host up-and-coming indie bands and established acts. Cultural attractions include the artists’ studios at Manchester Craft and Design Centre, and rotating exhibits at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. Mr Fitz and myself love an afternoon in Manchester, as we are mature and have free time during the week we tend to visit in the afternoon or early evening. We love Pubs with atmosphere and a great vibe and especially those with quirkiness and history.
Here are my top 10 pubs in Manchester’s Northern Quarter:
- The Marble Arch – this bar is on the very edge of the area on Rochdale Road, one of the main roads leading into the north side of the City. The pub is over 130 years old. The impressive frontage is not in fact Marble but Shap granite. Inside there is an array of mosaic tiles. It is a real ale stronghold and was voted City Life Pub of the year in 2018. It once brewed its own Marble beer on the premises but this has now been moved off site. It is not a cheap option and beware of it’s famous sloping floor. As you enter and walk in the direction of the bar or toilets it makes you swerve a little and feel as if your previous drink was stronger than you thought
- The Micro Bar This is a true hidden gem, inside the food hall of the Arndale shopping centre. It is tiny with a small seating area, other seats are shared with customers from the various food stalls. I know I’m not selling this am I? But the owner and bar man is a great bloke – there are around 6-7 beers on draught, with a rotating guest beer. There is also a great selection of craft beers from around the world. Another great selling point is that there are usually quirky characters sat around the bar for conversation, it’s easy to get involved and subjects discussed are wide ranging. A proper thinkers bar.
- Abel Heywood This is a pub and boutique Hotel. It is named after a Victorian Mayor and reformist of the city. It has a vintage look – 19th-century boozer (faux, nicotine-stained Anaglypta ceiling, Victoriana, leather booths, expanses of dark wood), although it was only recently created from an old shop in December 2014.
- Pen and Pencil – The official description of this venue is
An added touch of New York glamour has arrived in Manchester with the The Pen & Pencil bar and eatery on the corner of Hilton and Tariff Street.Taking its name and inspiration from the infamous mid-20th Century bar on East 45th Street in New York, which was popular with newspaper journalists and ad men – the original ‘Mad Men’, The Pen & Pencil offers the perfect place for the NQ’s creative locals to chill, think, meet and enjoy great food and drink.
It has a rustic loft feel about it but it’s best feature is the music – we have been in early on a Friday evening – around 5pm and there is a DJ who plays retro disco music of the 80’s . I’m sure this set could change at times, but it has a great vibe that really sets you up for the night and even the whole weekend.
- Seven Brothers As its name suggests this is a bar from the Brewing Company seven brothers run and owned by yes you guessed it 7 brothers! The Seven Bro7hers Brewery is a brewery born in Manchester through seven brothers’ love of craft beer, and their Dad’s commitment to home brewing. Since launching in 2014, the brewery have experienced fantastic growth with their product now stocked nationally, as well as being a firm favourite in their home city of Manchester. They have several locations but the one in Bloom Street Ancoats is in the Northern Quarter area. It is a no frills venue and interior but serves great beer, staff are friendly and knowledgeable and the music is great.
- Crown and Kettle is a grade II listed historic building and is one of the great comeback stories. In 1989 the Grade II listed hostelry on the corner of Oldham Road and Great Ancoats Street was abandoned after an arson attack, its stunning interior seemingly doomed never to be seen by the public again. It remained boarded up for 16 years until it was restored and reopened in 2005. The Crown & Kettle dates back to the 19th Century although there are records of other pubs on the site as far back as 1734. The interior is surprisingly ornate, especially the ceiling and it is speculated that the building was intended to be a law court. The former Daily Express printing building was 2 doors away. This intricate and beautiful listed building has kept all its original features and has opened as a traditional real ale pub serving great drink and good food. A real gem.
- The Castle – Located on Oldham Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, The Castle Hotel is a prestigious, lively and popular bar with a long history dating all the way back to 1776. This pub is a bit like Jekyll and Hyde. During the day time it is a quiet pub with an older clientele. When you walk in it looks a very tiny bar, however it’s a bit like a tardis as it extends backwards into several more rooms. It’s really dark and atmospheric. At night though it comes alive as a top Manchester music venue. This rare combination of heritage, location and ethos sees The Castle boast a packed calendar of live music, spoken word, comedy, theatre, film screenings, exhibitions and much more on almost every night of the week.
- Edinburgh Castle This is only a few strides away from Seven Brothers. The 200-year-old public house on the corner of Blossom Street and Henry Street has long stood empty but has been saved and restored. It was reopened very recently in 2019 and outside it would not look amiss on the set of a Peaky Blinders episode. Inside it has the same look. It is very dark and can become very crowded. There is also a dining room and restaurant. It has a fantastic selection of whiskeys. I love an Old Fashioned cocktail – in here I enjoyed a Bonfire Old Fashioned – full of smokey richness – the best Old Fashioned I have ever had. It is really well worth a visit. Prices are expensive so probably only pop in for one.
- Lower Turks Head – this is sited on Shudehill close to Manchester Arndale, and Victoria Station. This is another restored old pub. It gets very busy and does have screen to show Sport and football. It has some fabulous architectural feature inside, lots of dark wood and plush furnishings. Service is good and friendly. There was an old book shop next door and this has been knocked through and a wine bar created called Scuttlers – the name of teenage Manchester gangs from the past. There is a great selection of beers and wines from the 2 venues.
- The Corner Boy No review is complete without an Irish Bar. This one is on the corner of Oldham Street and Hilton Street not far from The Castle. It is a relaxed friendly bar serving, beer, whisky, cocktails, coffee, Guinness and casual eats. It has an old drying rack hanging from the ceiling reminiscent of my grandma’s home. It has good music and a friendly welcome. The Guinness is well served. I love the closed off room I call The Snug.
Well that’s it then. A round up of 10 best pubs in Manchester Northern Quarter. If you enjoyed reading this please take a look at some of my other reviews of Manchester venues including, Hawksmoor Restaurant and The Ivy
Thanks for dropping by today I really appreciate it.