That’s right, it’s time to eat, drink and be merry – and this time around we’ve got two years of celebrating to make up for. That’s right, this year Christmas food and drink in Manchester and the North is going to be big. Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first – while vaccines have helped the nation a lot in terms of reducing the harm from covid, it’s still out there and numbers are high.
If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, put that at the top of your list, not your one for Santa, your to-do list for tomorrow. Some people can’t have it or are still vulnerable, so do be safe. Wear a mask when you feel it’s necessary and always obey the rules of the restaurant, bar or market where you visit.
Of course, as one of our valued readers, we’re pretty sure you know this already, so let’s proceed with the fun. This year, some of the North’s greatest bars and restaurants are pushing the boat out – and rightly so. We simply won’t stand for any grinch-like behaviour this year. Christmas 2021 is all about having the most possible fun with our friends and family a person can possibly have. And if that means hearing Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder every single waking hour of the day, so be it.
If you’re looking to keep it traditional (but with a flourish) we heartily recommend The Embankment Kitchen, specifically the roast turkey main dish, but of course, we can’t eat turkey every night so branch out a little with the Christmas offerings from Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay, or head over to Hatch to sample the varied festive menus from their street food vendors. And if you want a fun-packed night out, A Clubhouse Christmas at Spinningfields Square is a must-visit.
But most of all, think back to last year when Christmas food and drink basically meant ordering a takeaway or grabbing a beer from the fridge. And as good as they can be, nothing compares to sitting in a well-run restaurant or bar and letting them take charge of the cooking, the serving and the washing up.
Here are our picks
Embankment Kitchen Restaurant & Bar, 16 Chapel St, Salford, M3 7NH - Visit now
The Embankment Kitchen is one of the jewels in Salford’s crown, and their festive menu is looking to be one of the standout options for the upcoming season. Whether you’re looking for a group meal, a romantic date or even a solo outing, the level of skill and expertise, both front and back of house, means that when January rolls around, this time, you’ll have very fond memories of the Christmas just gone.
Manchester Union Brewery, 96D North Western Street, Manchester, M12 6JL - Visit now
Manchester Union Brewery and Alphabet Brewing Co have partnered to create a series of alternative Christmas markets, running each Saturday from 12 to 6pm in the run-up to Christmas (27 November, 4 December, 11 December, and 18 December). Based at the breweries’ home on North Western Street, the markets will feature different indie traders each week, giving visitors the opportunity to buy the perfect gifts and treats this Christmas. Both breweries will also open up the tap rooms for daytime drinkers, offering fresh lagers and beers brewed just meters away along with mulled ciders and Christmas snacks.
These alternative markets will boast a huge variety of food, drink and assortments all based at the breweries’ home on North Western Street. From worldwide foods, clothing, make up, and ceramics, the new markets will showcase the best of creative culture from the city. Some traders include Wallace and Son’s catering, family-run vendors providing street food with a fine dining twist; Rise Mcr, the renowned sourdough pizza pop up; and Bee Happy, a vegan-based home fragrance company.
Eat The City - Scranchester Tours, Until 31 December 2023, from £50 - Book now
Satisfy your hunger for knowledge as well as lunch with Scranchester’s food tours of the city centre. You may discover a new favourite hidden gem or learn a bit more about the cultural or historical significance of the food you eat all the time.
The Spirit of Manchester Distillery, 15 Watson St, Manchester, M3 4LP - Visit now
A must-visit for gin lovers and the yet-to-be-converted, The Spirit of Manchester Distillery is the perfect place for a boozy Christmas activity with family or friends, with a range of tours, tastings and make-your-own-gin sessions available.
Dakota Bar & Grill Manchester, 29 Ducie St, Manchester, M1 2JL - Visit now
Christmas is about excess, and Dakota do it beautifully, in terms of eye-poppingly good cocktails and hearty, heavy, hot food. If you’re looking for a special festive night out in one of the city’s smartest looking venues, the Dakota Bar & Grill can’t be recommended enough.
Ramona and The Firehouse, 40 Swan St, Manchester, M4 5JG - Visit now
As Manchester gears up for the festive season, Ramona is partnering with its neighbour venue The Firehouse to provide something special for the people of Manchester. A kaleidoscope of fairy lights greets visitors at their new winter village with their signature firepits to keep you and your friends warm and set the mood for the season.
Salvi’s Mozzarella Bar, 22b, The Corn Exchange, Corporation St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 3TR - Visit now
Salvi’s and Deansgate Square have come together to host an Italian Christmas market, running from 27th Nov – 22nd Dec (the family-run restaurant group launches its own food hub at the luxury development in the new year). Salvi’s will be serving up the very best in authentic Italian food and drink from a two-tipi hub, four festive huts and a cosy fire-pit with complimentary blankets, along with DJs, live music, live entertainment, Christmas gifts, hampers, panettone and tiramisu making workshops, kids events, and bars by Italian beverage heavyweights Campari and Peroni.
Hatch, Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7ED - Visit now
For the first proper winter celebrations in a long time, every stall at Hatch has pulled out all the stops to make up for last year. Not to mention what Hatch itself has to offer in the coming weeks. On the centre stage will be live music for the entire season, performing everything from a brass band rendition of classic carols to throwback hours of 80s tunes, with plenty more special events being lined up.
Nam Manchester, Unit 2, 33 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6AJ - Visit now
Nam’s Sunday roast might upset the traditionalists, but it’s exactly what food should be about in 2021: a glorious celebration of cultures, bringing the best out of each and creating something truly special. Not to mention wiping out the hangover from the night before. For one of the most original and forward-thinking Sunday roasts in the city, head to Nam, stat.
LEAF on Bold Street, 65-67 Bold Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 4EZ - Visit now
LEAF on Liverpool’s Bold Street is getting fully into the Christmas spirit with a whole host of festive-themed events over the next few weeks. This includes a three-course Christmas menu, cook-at-home boxes and a wealth of in-person events at this great venue.
Piccolino Caffe Grande, 8 Clarence St, Manchester, M2 4DW - Visit now
Mull over the festive menu at Piccolino to decide your primi, secondi and dolci – a departure from what many would consider “traditional” for a festive menu. Though you won’t be finding pigs in blankets, the prosciutto di parma may prove to be an even better option. These sheets of cured meat, rich burrata and ricotta all drizzled in honey are sure to hit the spot.
Turtle Bay Northern Quarter, 46-50 Oldham St, Manchester, M4 1LE - Visit now
There are some festive specials on the menu at Turtle Bay, with a seasonal twist on their famous jerk chicken: it now has the new festive chilli berry sauce, where the fire-grilled jerk chicken is paired with seasonal berries. For plant-based eaters, there’s the Festive Jerk Organic Tofu – creamy tofu and pineapple glazed with the festive berry sauce for a warming, island-inspired take on vegan Christmas lunch. Drinkswise, new for Christmas 2021 are the brand new MashUp Rum Drums. This is a heady mix of Appleton dark rum, Wray and Nephew, cinnamon, orange, amaretto, tropical falernum, grapefruit, fresh pineapple, apple and lime and it serves eight – perfect for fun-filled Christmas get-togethers.
Habas Bar & Restaurant, 43A Brown St, Manchester, M2 2JJ - Visit now
Habas has launched a winter-warming Sunday roast menu, with cauliflower steaks for vegan and vegetarian diners and thick strips of lamb for all you meat-eaters. While not specifically festive-themed, it ticks all the boxes for the season: hearty, filling and delicious.