Manchester Pubs – Indie Pubs

Ian Jones, Food and Drink Editor

If there’s one thing Manchester does well, it’s pubs. And we’re talking pubs of all colours and stripes, from the classic old man pub brought up to date for the 21st century, to more modern-thinking public houses with a focus on ever-more weird and wonderful craft ales. You’ll find them everywhere, but as you’d expect the Northern Quarter makes a strong showing, with a few newer entries from Ancoats and the NOMA area of Manchester.

But what’s an indie pub? Rather than being a place where Oasis and The Stone Roses are blared out on repeat (though you’ll certainly find a hint of that in some, we’re not shy about our peerless music CV), it’s a pub that has an independent spirit. Nothing too fancy, you won’t find any social media influencers here posing for Instagram shots, though you might find a few dogs dozing under tables. It’s a style that borrows from the past – expect plenty of exposed brickwork and a nice range of beers and spirits – but has a very modern feel to it. Head upstairs or to the backroom and you’ll find anything from spoken word nights, to impromptu live gigs, all with a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere.

Basically, when people say “the spirit of Manchester” they mean somewhere friendly but always forward-thinking, and that’s what each of these pubs represent. Sure, Manchester has a reputation as one of the greatest clubbing cities in the world, but when it comes to pubs, we’re unbeatable.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Castle Hotel

    Castle Hotel pub in Manchester

    Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LE - Visit now

    A selection of the finest ales plus an elaborate Victorian interior makes The Castle Hotel the preferred choice of boozer for pretty much everyone in the Northern Quarter.

  • 2. The Briton’s Protection

    Ben Williams

    The Briton’s Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5LE - Visit now

    Manchester’s oldest drinking establishment, according to legend, and you’ll soon see why. It’s a friendly, welcoming space, full of cheery chatty regulars and a wealth of history.

  • 3. The Pilcrow

    The exterior of The Pilcrow
    The Pilcrow.

    The Pilcrow, The Pilcrow, Sadler’s Yard, Hanover Street, NOMA, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M60 0AB - Visit now

    Based in the fast-growing NOMA district, The Pilcrow combines that traditional pub feel with a modern look, making for one of the city’s truly forward-thinking pubs and well worth a lazy afternoon or three.

  • 4. The Kings Arms

    The King's Arms pub in Salford.
    David Dixon

    The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom street, Salford, Greater Manchester, M3 6AN - Visit now

    More Salford than Manchester, though you wouldn’t realise it, being just a minute or two from the all-important Manchester-Salford border. The Kings Arms is a cultural hub which offers both great real ale and hearty pub food. The main bar is cosy and comfortable with trusty original pub furnishings and you’ll find a strong roster of events, for all tastes.

  • 5. The Whiskey Jar

    The Whiskey Jar

    The Whiskey Jar, 14 Tariff St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 2FF - Visit now

    The Whiskey Jar is a bar on the edge of the Northern Quarter, and the perfect spot to enjoy a whiskey or two (or a pint) whilst lounging on a pleasingly worn Chesterfield.

  • 6. Gullivers

    Ben Williams

    Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LW - Visit now

    Gullivers is all things to all men and women. Suitable for music-lovers with a fresh mix of comedy, theatre and the odd burlesque thrown in for good measure. It’s also ideal for cosy chats or a bit of people-watching. Grab a pint and wedge yourself into one of the windowed booths across from the bar.

  • 7. Trof Northern Quarter

    Manchester Pubs

    Trof Northern Quarter, 8 Thomas St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1EU - Visit now

    One of the most modern pubs on this list, Trof NQ manages to keep that classic public house vibe alive and kicking, while appealing to a younger audience. It looks great, the drinks are plentiful, and it’s a superb place to spend an afternoon.

  • 8. The Eagle Inn

    The Eagle Inn pub in Salford
    Adam Bruderer

    The Eagle Inn, 18-19 Collier Street, Salford, M3 7DW - Visit now

    Another excellent pub in that bit of Salford that’s practically Manchester (but don’t let the locals hear you say this). Here’s where you’ll find the friendliest staff and regulars for miles around.

  • 9. Marble Arch Pub

    Ben Williams

    Marble Arch Pub, 73 Rochdale Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 4HY - Visit now

    The Marble Arch is one of the oldest pubs around, with plenty of eye-catching fixtures and fittings, complete with (probably made-up) wild and wonderful stories about them all.

  • 10. The Peer Hat

    the peer hat manchester
    The Peer Hat

    The Peer Hat, 14-16 Faraday Street, Manchester, M1 1BE - Visit now

    One of the best backstreet pubs in the Northern Quarter, often described as a hark back ‘to the way the Northern Quarter used to be’. Here you’ll find regular live events thanks to the basement music venue and club space.