It’s time for the August edition of the Food and Drink Guide to Manchester and the North and things have changed since our last one, which came out in the thick of lockdown with all restaurants and bars closed for anything but takeaway and delivery, and simply closed, full stop, in many cases.
Now, lockdown has eased and we can take tentative steps out into the world, blinking like baby birds who’ve been sat on the couch bored out of their mind for the past dozen or so weeks. And yes, things are different. Social distancing is in place across the city, and many venues are employing additional ways to keep people safe, such as temperature checks and hand sanitiser upon entry. Of course, it’s not completely safe to head outside but it won’t be for months, possibly years, so we need to adjust to this new way of life.
And if you’re worried that restaurants and bars aren’t going to be playing by the rules then put that idea away. The very existence of the industry depends upon people feeling confident and safe, and we’re pleased to report every single establishment we’ve been in since the 4th July has done a sterling job in this respect.
Enough pondering, let’s get to the good stuff. And we’ve been busy over the past few weeks. We’ve explored high-end restaurants attached to high-end hotels, friendly Salford pubs, cheerful Northern Quarter bars, garden bars in church ruins and much more. Here’s our guide to the very best of what Manchester and the North have to offer when it comes to food and drink.
Still not feeling up for heading into city centres and certainly not willing to travel abroad? That’s ok, we all move at different paces, and we’ve set up a guide of the best staycation ideas in the North of England based around hotels. Scroll down and you’ll find that too.
Here are our picks
The Corner Boy, 21 Hilton St, Manchester, M1 1JJ - Visit now
The Corner Boy settles into that sweet spot between bar and pub, not too shiny and polished but certainly not spit and sawdust either. As ever, it’s the people who work there who make it, and when even the doorman makes you feel welcome and valued, it’s the sign of a well-run bar that more than deserves your boozey pounds. A gem, no two ways about it.
Dakota Bar & Grill Manchester, 29 Ducie St, Manchester, M1 2JL - Visit now
The people behind Dakota haven’t wasted their months in the lockdown wilderness. The new terrace alone has transformed it into a must-visit destination, while the menu is high-end without being fusty and accessible without being dumbed-down. If you’re looking for a special post-quarantine evening out, the Dakota Bar & Grill can’t be recommended enough.
Bombed Out Church Garden Bar, Leece St, Liverpool, L1 2TR - Visit now
The beautiful Bombed Out Church has opened up its grounds to accommodate a new drinking area known as the Garden Bar. Fully seated, with huge umbrellas that cover the whole table (great for sudden downpours), it’s a stunning location to sit in and enjoy a drink.
The North-West is particularly blessed when it comes to staycation holiday; whether you want a trip away in beautiful scenery, with rolling green hills and huge expanses of crystal clear water, a vibrant city break, or the opportunity to visit some of the most significant locations Britain has to offer.
NQ64, 9 Short St, Manchester, M4 1AA - Visit now
NQ64 is the perfect place for every right-minded soul who likes video games, drinks and catching up with friends. Expect plenty of retro arcade games and a token-based system, plus great drinks and friendly staff. Relive those glory days of cigarette-smoke-smelling dingy arcades in seaside towns, but brought bang up to date.
If you’re looking for an outside drink this summer (and autumn too) then these pubs come both with a top-quality beer garden and highly recommended.
It’s ok to not want to do even a little bit of cooking, don’t feel guilty about it. The best answer to quarantine woes is to order in a great meal, or even pop out to pick one up – physically-distanced of course. And it doesn’t have to be cheap and nasty, some of Manchester’s best restaurants have switched to delivery. Whether this is a permanent move, we don’t know, but take advantage while you can.
Fresh local produce is always on the menu of the Local Leeds food tour. Visit six pubs and restaurants serving up some of Yorkshire’s finest cuisine.
Eat your way through some of the best street food Leeds has to offer, with insights into the people and stories behind each bite. Try something new with the Leeds Street Food tour.
Eat the Archive is a new project from Manchester Jewish Museum, combining cultural history through talking, making and eating.
A Good Market at Sadlers Yard features seasonal food, sustainable products, free workshops, engaging talks, live music and great local beers.
The much-loved Manchester Food and Drink Festival is back with a host of exciting events. This will be the city’s first COVID-safe major outdoor event.
A new format for the much-loved Manchester Food and Drink Awards in 2020, following an extraordinary year for the hospitality industry.
Join Global Kitchen for a live cook-along with chef Linton Magume, and experience dishes from around the world as part of this year’s Journeys Festival International.