Once a shining beacon of Manchester's nightlife, Deansgate has seemingly lost most of its glitz and glamour over the years.
The influx of a load of rubbish chains, closures and terrible traffic have blighted the famous street, but there’s still the odd gem here just waiting to be discovered.
So pull up your bootstraps, get the bus into town and get ready for a Day Out that includes lots of booze, some fantastic food and a bit of history along the way.
So we’re going to start off right at the ‘bottom’ of Deansgate, which I’m classifying as the bit at the Cathedral end….
There’s no better place to start around here than the fantastic Hanging Ditch – a wine shop that also doubles up as a little wine bar and serves up pretty much any grape-based beverage you can think of, from a range of countries that Phileas Fogg would be envious of. Any self-respecting wine ‘expert’ should know and love this place, so sit down and start your day out with a nice, classy glass of red – and perhaps some nibbles to get you going.
Hanging Ditch, Britannic Buildings,, 42-44 Victoria St, Manchester M3 1ST
From here you have two choices. You can walk straight past Greggs, ignore Slug and Lettuce and bin off the Wetherspoons, or you can nip into each one for a Steak Bake, a pint of Fosters and a pitcher of Woo Woo. Your choice.
Roxy Ball Room
Just after the expansive Moon Under The Water you’ll find a little red door that leads into the Roxy Ball Room. Note that this is a ‘Ball Room’ and not a ‘Ballroom’, so you’re much more likely to get a ping pong ball in the face than a sexy leg round your neck, and the only Tango you’re going to be getting involved in will have a shit load of vodka in it. This place contains loads of table tennis tables, pool tables, beer pong… pretty much everything you need if you’re looking to act like a big bloody kid.
Roxy Ball Room, 1ST 76-78, Deansgate, Manchester M3 2FN
Just a couple of doors down from the Roxy is The Botanist, who manage to stand out from the usual chain crowd with their brilliant selection of booze, most noticeably their excellent beers and rather impressive cocktail menu. You’ll be pretty much spoilt for choice when it comes to the wet stuff, and if I’m being honest with you – their food isn’t bad either. You don’t want to get too full up at this point though so just grab a bottle of Delirium, sit on the terrace and watch the unique world of Deansgate pass you by.
The Botanist, 78 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2FW
Cross the road now. Be careful though. Look both ways and continue to look both ways as you cross. Also, never hesitate – that’s how accidents happen.
One of my most favourite places in the city, Lunya is a bar, deli, restaurant and they’ll probably even cut your keys for you or give your socks a darn if you ask them nicely. It’s the city’s best place for proper real, authentic Spanish food and drink – with a menu that’s bigger than 1997’s Argos catalogue and with more gin than Queen Victoria’s bed pan. Have a look around their deli, grab yourself some cured meats or maybe even some Fried Egg crisps and sit in the bar and enjoy a proper Spanish Gin & Tonic. Lovely stuff.
Lunya Catalonian Deli, Restaurant & Bar, Barton Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester M3 2BB
There’s a bit of a dry spell here now so you’re going to have to hold your horses a bit. There’s a couple of things to do along the way though – you can nip into Waterstones and have a little read of 50 Shades, go round Kendals before it shuts down, or even nip into that music shop – Forsyth’s – and play a bit of Stairway to Heaven on a guitar.
A proper old boozer that’s been here for fucking ages, the Sawyers Arms was once deemed ‘The Best Pub in Europe’ by one of my mates, and although it’s definitely not – it’s still a great place for a tilt. If you’re doing this on a Saturday then it’s likely that the pub will be full of a load of footy geezers, but any other time it’s a great place for a few fizzy bevvies and a catch up. It’s not going to blow your socks off, but pubs shouldn’t really. They know what to do and they do it well.
The Sawyer’s Arms, 138 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2RP
0161 834 2133
At this point you’re going to need a rest from the booze and food and so I’m going to inject a bit of culture straight into your sozzled little brain box. Prepare yourself for some knowledge…
John Rylands Library
Looking like a building out of the next Ghostbusters film, the John Rylands Library sticks out like a sore thumb next to the ultra-modern Spinningfields developments on one side and the shitty pub on the other. To just walk past this stunning building though is not doing it (and yourself) any favours. Inside you’ll find even more spectacular architecture – this place looks more like a church than a library – as well as some of the oldest and rarest books you’ll ever lay eyes on including the 1984 issue of The Beano where Knasher actually kills a man and a 1964 Bunty Annual which recommends genocide as a remedy for spots.
John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH
Now you’ve had a bit of culture it’s time to get back on it and there’s no better place within a 50m radius of the John Rylands Library than Australasia. Descend the stairs and you’ll find yourself in a subterranean oasis of relaxed Balearic beats, chilled out vibes, stunning Pan-Asian food and some equally brilliant cocktails. You can’t help but be impressed by this place, and if you’re feeling particular fruity – get yourself on the terrace at Sunset round the back and get some glasses of fizz down you. You won’t regret it.
Australasia, The Avenue, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3AP
A firm Finest favourite, Hawksmoor is one of those places that has managed to distinguish itself from the usual lot that typically come up from London and try to penetrate our distinctly Northern hearts. They’ve actually done it – well done guys. It helps that their food is absolutely fucking brilliant, as is their service, the atmosphere – the whole package really, and even if you’re not eating and just wanting a few drinks – you’re in for a treat. Their cocktail menu is very impressive, as is their wine list. They also do some wicked Oysters on their bar menu which are perfect alongside a bit of vodders or some fizz.
Hawksmoor, 184-186 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB
Tapeo & Wine
An excellent example of authentic Spanish food and drink done right, Tapeo & Wine is personally one of my favourite places in the city, and somewhere that always manages to impress you (even a little bit) every time you go. I could talk for hours just about their jamon, but I don’t think you really care to hear the intricacies of how much I enjoy banging multiple plates of ham while smashing down pint after pint of Estrella. Know this, the food is fantastic, the wines are excellent and everyone is friendlier than a dog in a butcher’s shop.
Tapeo & Wine, 209 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3NW
An absolute brand-new newbie on the Deansgate scene, Manahatta is a huge behemoth of a place, with two floors of booze, music, food and dancing, it’s a great place to lose a few hours on any day of the week. They’ve got a great Happy Hour every day between 4pm and 7pm so if you’re lucky enough to be here between those times right now, you can get £5 cocktails and bottles of Prosecco for £20. Yes, please. I’ve yet to eat here yet, but I’ve heard it’s great. Especially the brunch.
Manahatta, 188 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3NE
Carry on down Deansgate now, walk past the Church of Scientology and pop into Grindsmith if you want a coffee, which I’m pretty sure you won’t at this point. There’s also the new Chinawhite just near here too but seeing as you’re not Paul Danan and it’s not 2003 – give it a miss.
Another slice of tapas gold, Evuna is home to exactly what you’d expect from our Spanish brothers and sisters, or herman-o and herman-a if you’re linguistically inclined. They’re specialists in wine here so you’re not going to go thirsty, and their tapas dishes will keep you nice and full of energy for all of the drunken drivel you’re going to chat. I’m always a fan of tucking into a big plate of Padron Peppers and sinking a few wines in here – it’s a winner.
Evuna, 277-279 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4EW
One of the best places in the city to get a much needed slice of the Mediterranean in the heart of the Manchester rain and gloom. Their lovely little tunnel terrace thing is very nice and romantic, and one of the best places in the city to tuck into some hummus, halloumi and all that other stuff that tastes like your holidays. The bar at the front is also excellent, with a proper lively atmosphere and a great choice of drinks. Go for Sangria I say. Always.
Dimitris, Campfield Arcade, Deansgate, Manchester M3 4FN
Another proper boozer, The Deansgate has an additional beer garden on its roof which elevates it from excellent to fucking mint pretty quickly. Slap bang in the shadow of Beetham Tower, don’t go expecting breath-taking views of the city, instead you’ll experience a cosy rooftop garden complete with loads of foliage and enough banter to satisfy even the most boisterous gang of lads. They usually have a great choice of craft ales in here too – should that be your bag.
The Deansgate Tavern, 321 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ
Right, well done – you’re at the end of Deansgate. If you’re still standing and not looking to relinquish the day, then you’re in for a treat. Right in front of you are two cracking bars…
A beer and ale haven, The Knott’s menu of bottles and draughts is always packed full of some quite frankly brilliant offerings. I personally love to tuck into a few of their strong as fuck Belgian numbers, but there’s something for everybody here. This place is a cracking establishment for a few bevvies, and has pretty much become a Manchester institution – famed for its atmosphere, tunes and fizzy drinks. You can’t go wrong.
The Knott, 374 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY
0161 839 9229
If you’re a fan of gin then Atlas is a no-brainer. They stock around 300 bottles of the stuff, from normal bog standard Gordons, right up to a pink gin that’s passed through the urinary tract of a unicorn and then bottled by a virgin from Vanuatu. The staff are so knowledgeable about Mother’s Ruin in here that they’ve all stopped being invited to parties because they just won’t shut the fuck up about it. So they just sit at home, bathtubs full of vodka and botanicals, eating Pot Noodles and reading the Wikipedia entry for ‘Franciscus Sylvius’.
Atlas, 376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY