With hundreds of new openings in 2022 and a cost of living crisis causing a depressing number of closures and pivots, you’d think things might slow down a bit in 2023. But Manchester continues to develop at a bewildering rate. As we hurtle head first into a new year, we’ve rounded up a list of places the people of Manchester are already looking forward to – and maybe a couple you haven’t spotted yet.
Read on for the new restaurants, bars, venues and more that are causing excitement for 2023.
Arts and culture
This gargantuan arts space from the team behind Manchester International Festival has been a very long time coming. Almost 10 years since the idea was first proposed, the now slightly renamed Factory International will finally fling open its doors in June this year. With a budget of now over £200m, there is an awful lot invested in this game-changing venue and the culture-loving people of Manchester should be very much invested in it too.
With an auditorium, concert venue and arts space inside, Factory International has already kicked off the year with a laser show celebrating birth. Its opening programme (tickets on sale already) includes an art installation from psychedelic, world-renowned Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama and a Matrix inspired dance extravaganza directed by Danny Boyle (possibly the most famous person from Radcliffe) in collaboration with composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE and choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE. The aforementioned pair are co-founders of the Olivier award-winning Boy Blue and contributed to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
As with the programme for the biennial Manchester International Festival, Mancunians can expect the unexpected with future artsy lineup announcements from Factory International.
An ever reliable place to take the kids or groups of students for a day out, Manchester Museum’s beautiful turreted venue has been closed for a couple of years as it undergoes a very welcome revamp – and someone wipes the dust off the dinosaur skeletons. Word is it’s being transformed into “a more inclusive, imaginative and caring museum” and that sounds just dandy to us. The museum has been sorely missed and we’re very excited to check out its glow up when it reopens in February 2023.
So what’s on the cards for the grand reopening? Gilded mummies from Egypt will be reanimated (not literally, yikes) as the museum’s Golden Mummies exhibition discusses how Egypt’s famous preservation of its dead was a way of celebrating the ancient civilisation’s belief in the afterlife. A new lease of life for an old treasure? Seems an appropriate way to revive things.
Food and drink
Opening a cocktail bar in a month when many people have sworn off the booze is a bold move but that’s not going to stop local entrepreneur Nick De Sousa. Not content with being one of the most well-served neighbourhoods for bars and restaurants, No. 97 on Chorlton’s Beech Road will welcome the imaginatively named “97” cocktail bar in January making it one of the first new openings of the year. Expect classic cocktails like Negronis and Manhattans crafted in an elegant 2023 style by mixologist Ellie Caddick who has been galavanting around Europe collecting inspiration to bring back home.
Bohemian Arts Club
Stockport’s drinking and dining scene has been blossoming lately and now a member of one of its most famous bands Blossoms is bringing Boho back in bar form. Along with his wife Katie, Tom Ogden will open Bohemian Arts Club on Lower Hillgate in “early 2023”. A massive renovation of the currently derelict building is underway as the space is transformed into an upstairs two storey cocktail bar with a hair salon on the ground floor. Tom and Katie have been living the rock n roll dream on tour all over the world, and have fallen in love with “hidden” speakeasies so much that they wanted to open their own. Perhaps this one is something of an Ode To NYC? We don’t have much more info on this one just yet but so far it ticks enough boxes to have piqued our interest. How long will this last? We hope it’s not a one hit wonder.
Tom Hanks has done some really rubbish films and arguing over which ones are duffers and which are cult classics is a fun afternoon pub activity. For some, his 80s horror fest The Burbs (which also stars Corey Feldman) is a cult classic so this namesake restaurant in Heaton Moor grabbed the attention of our team before we even knew much about it. The Burbs comes from the team behind dough pros I Knead Pizza who certainly know their way around a kitchen. You might recognised IKP from their Neapolitan pizza spot in Reddish or from popping up at places like Festa Italiana. We went for a first look at the newly opened gaff and the menu focuses mainly on pizza and pasta but there is also a tapas/small plates section currently showcasing Italian dishes that will change regularly to take in different cuisines and keep things interesting. Alongside places like Easy Fish and Cork of The North, here’s another solid reason to visit the ‘burb that is Heaton Moor.
A Joy Division inspired bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter? We’re just surprised it hasn’t happened sooner tbh. Expect indie music, booze and black and white decor. A good one to take your girlfriend when she’s lost control again. Furthering our ever more confident prediction that shokupan is going to be the new sourdough, the menu will be based around Japanese sandos – which make use of that characteristic fluffy milk-loaf.
Fenix is a high end Greek restaurant from the people behind Tattu. There will be filo. There will be feta. There will (probably) be photogenic interiors. There will certainly be a dramatic spiral staircase.
One of the fanciest menus on our list, Fold Bistro is due to open in Marple Bridge at the end of January. Cordon Bleu trained, Masterchef semi-finalist Ryan Stafford is overseeing proceedings as Exec Chef. His CV includes working for Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver as well as cooking as a private chef for celebrities, royals and political figures. Head chef on the pans will be Craig Sherrington who has appeared on the Great British Menu and done time as sous chef at Champignon Sauvage amongst other top restaurants. Menu teases look very interesting indeed with dishes like Wagyu tartare with IPA pickles, aged Cheshire cheese and ember oil, nori tacos with fire roasted mackerel coal rice and horseradish, and their own 18 hour “cellar focaccia”. There will also be a bottle shop on site selling classic, organic and natural wines.
Gail’s is such an institution in London that when we heard it was opening in Manchester, we didn’t know what to dough with ourselves. Gail’s then opened not quite in Manchester, but a short train journey away in posh Wilmslow – still very much worth a visit at weekends. Yael (aka Gail) Mejia’s bread journey started in the 90s when she created wholesale bakery The Bread Factory to bake bread for local restaurants before setting up her very own Gail’s bakery open to the public in 2005. It’s maintained cult status since then for its seasonally changing range of loaves, biscuits and other baked goods. With further locations in the North West to be announced, we’re hoping that King Street site is still on the cards too.
Great North Pie
The north is famous for its pies, and there are a lot of contenders for the greatest, but Great North pie deserves to have the word ‘great’ in its name. From humble beginnings as a pop up pie stall at artisan markets to permanent spots at market halls like Alta while moonlighting elsewhere (we had one of their pies at bluest last year), Great North finally plans to open its new pie hole in Kampus this year.
House of Fu
I pity the fu that hasn’t been to Leeds and tried these noodles. House of Fu only opened in Leeds in mid-2021 but Ben Iley’s ode to broth became a cult classic almost instantly, which is quite appropriate because: noodles. With existing strong game from Tokyo Ramen, CBRB and Lucky Ramen at Mule, recent n00bs like Shogun ramen in Chorlton, not to mention another new opening from New Wave Ramen. Never mind the year of the rabbit, we predict 2023 is going to be the year of the ramen.
Las Bombas held an impromptu opening party on NYE and is now partially open in soft launch style with all tables already fully booked for January but space at the bar available to pop in for drinks. It’s that popular already. This new venue has brought some Latin American flavour to the Salford suburb of Irlam, serving up empanadas, ceviche and tacos and more inspired by owner James’ travels around South America and Mexico.
Gordon Ramsay’s “Asian eating house” Lucky Cat is set to open in the long-neglected Jamie’s Italian site this year. With a big name like Ramsay behind it, this new opening is already getting plenty of attention and should be popular with shoppers looking for a posh tea. Its Mayfair brand has come in for some stick so this is unlikely to be a hit with everyone but it’s certainly good to see that beautiful building being utilised after all this time gathering dust.
Liverpool’s taco titans Madre have been going strong with a well-received pop up at Escape To Freight Island for a good while now but it’s their forthcoming standalone restaurant that is getting us all hot (sauce) under the collar. So far the opening has been delayed along with several other Kampus spots due to building issues but we’re hoping this year we will finally see this one open.
Mama Roux’s has already established itself as a Midlands party destination, complete with a playlist of strict party classics. The nightclub will move in next door to Roxy Ballroom on Deansgate this year with cracking happy hour deals, a HUGE cocktail menu, and local street eats. The disco den will also host a regular programme of events, DJs, cabaret, musicians and more for a full five nights of mischief.
Masa Bakery – Prestwich
While we await its Prestwich bakery opening, Macclesfield’s Masa has been doing a couple of pop ups outside the former Polish Shop that will be its new home in the North Manchester town. A pop up event on 30 December saw them sell out of bread in under 30 minutes which illustrates the demand there is. Roof problems are behind the delays for the permanent site and we hope they get sorted soon but in the meantime look out for more pop ups.
Leven hotel in Manchester’s Gay Village was one of the more exciting hotel openings of recent times – and is a great spot for a quiet cocktail away from the pandemonium around those parts on a weekend. Nestling in underneath Leven, ambitious restaurant Maya will open the doors to its two-storey dining spot in 2023. There’s some impressive London pedigree in the hospitality team behind Maya, including Isabel Mayfair, Petersham Nurseries and Soho House (which is also on this list). Head chef Gabe Lea has worked with the likes of Aidan Byrne, Simon Rimmer and Lisa Allen and also had a brief dalliance with fried chicken when he opened Dirty Bird in Urmston. We reckon he’ll be plucking menu ideas from the posher end of his CV at Maya but you never know. He is joined in the kitchen by local Masterchef the Professionals and Bake Off The Professionals contestant Exose Grant who was most recently at BLVD and has also worked at James Martin.
We’ve heard on the grapevine that those massive New York pizza peddlers at Nell’s are looking to open two new venues in 2023. When and where are still a bit hush hush but we’ll give you the full slice by slice account when we have it.
New Wave Ramen
When hyped London brand New Wave Ramen announced it would join the ranks at Mackie Mayor, the ramen devotees of Manchester sat up and paid attention. For good reason, this lot do ramen really, really well. So it is very exciting news that they have applied for a license application for a Japanese restaurant on Tib Lane.
North Brewing Co.
Circle Square is shaping up to be quite the location as it continues to select top quality operators to join its, erm, circle. Moving in alongside the likes of Tsujiri, Tahi, Canvas, Federal is new kid North Brewing Co., a Leeds based brewery that owner says he has intended to bring to Manchester for years. Better late than never. North is open now with an impressive 24 draught lines, including 18 lines keg beer and one cask – and there are several AF and low alcohol beers on at the moment for Dry January. It’s not just beer though, North has brought another Leeds star along for the ride. Little Bao Boy will help you soak up the hops with inventively stuffed, handmade bao that the Leeds lot go loopy for. Think beer battered cauli with sriracha, braised beef with star anise and Shoaxing wine, there’s even a vegan prawn one.
North Westward Ho!
A proper pub from a hip Manchester brewery, North Westward Ho! comes from the Pomona Island Brew Co team. Its home will be the old Chaophraya space above Sam’s Chop House on Chapels Walk. An interesting juxtaposition between old and new, and why not pop in for a pint at both?
Ambitious pop-up Higher Ground’s engine started (at Kampus), stalled, started up again (at Ducie Street Warehouse) and stalled again over the lockdown years before a last lap as a brilliant cook at home box service with THAT madras pasty. It was frustrating because chef Joe Otway and team (Daniel Craig Martin and Richard Cossins) were doing something exceptional. The upside is, we got Flawd out of it, and you’d be hard to pushed to find someone who’s not a fan of that New Islington wine bar with its elevated nibbles. But it looks like Otway has outgrown its tiny kitchen again as plans are afoot for the rebirth of Higher Ground in “proper restaurant” form. It’s due to open in Faulkner House on Faulkner Street in Feb 2023.
As if the whole of Manchester’s hospitality ideas bureau has been hypnotised by a Derren Brown style character, a slew of new openings are saying they are Izakaya inspired at the moment. Not everyone flinging the name around as inspo is quite getting the gist but when done right, this is a trend to get behind. These late night Japanese drinking dens are all over Japan and usually they’re the kind of place you’d pull up a high stool at a bench and eat something not-too-fancy (think fried chicken, sashimi or dumplings) while enjoying a few drinks over a lengthy stay. The press pack for Public, coming soon to Stevenson Square, calls it “modern Izakaya” with “live fire cooking” spread over two floors and incorporating brunch and DJs into the mix. One to watch. Opening in spring 2023.
A clandestine cocktail bar on Canal Street? Where do we sign up? Actually this one’s not quite on Canal Street but in the Kampus development alongside an impressive bunch of other food and drink spots like The Beeswing, Yum Cha and Nell’s Pizza – unfortunately there have been lots of setbacks but building work has now approved and Red Light should be open in May.
Sao Paulo Project
Caroline Martins is quite the woman. Determined to go to London’s Cordon Bleu cookery school, she packed in her lucrative science job and applied for Masterchef Brazil. When she didn’t win the cookery school scholarship prize, she thought, fuck it, paid for it herself and went anyway. She wanted Michelin Star experience so she packed up and went to Italy to work in a Michelin star restaurant. Then she decided she wanted to open in Manchester, a city she’d never been to before. She moved up here, did a bit of networking, worked as a private chef for Brazilian football players and started living her dream. Her Sao Paulo pop up at Blossom Street Social gained her a strong following and critical acclaim.
In 2022, she launched as one of the three key kitchens at one of our fave new openings of the year, Exhibition. Now, Martins plans to open her own standalone restaurant as well. She’s currently finalising premises details and might do another pop up in the interim, but she says she is on track to open her own place this year – and what Caroline wants, she tends to get. Expect inventive, psychedelic tasting menus using Brazilian ingredients you don’t see anywhere else.
The Stock Market Grill
It was a bit of a shocker when Tom Kerridge up and left the Stock Exchange hotel taking his Bull & Bear with him just before Crimbo. A phone recorded message from ole G-Nevs brought us the news and a roll of the dice later it was announced that the Schofield brothers whose third city centre cocktail bar Sterling opened in 2022 in the same hotel, would be taking on the restaurant as their latest ambitious project. With Joshua Reed-Cooper heading up the kitchen. Josh was one of the two chefs behind the very promising but short lived Tine and has also worked at Wilderness, Mana, WTLGI and The French (!). This is one to watch.
Temperance Street Brewery & Tap
Joining the gang of breweries and brewery taps and dark kitchens that snake up from Piccadilly station to Ardwick comes Temperance Street Brewery and Tap. This one in the former Beer Nouveau site launched on NYE and is now open to the public at weekends. It describes itself as, “a community-focused brewery… where people can drink beer and cider that has been brewed or made on-site, as well as other beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.” With their own kegs and casks as well as guest cans from brewers as diverse as Evil Twin NYC and Thornbridge in Buxton, there are plenty of hoppy adventures to be had here.
Vnam has been a cult classic for a just over a decade up on Oldham road, claiming to have been the first ever Vietnamese restaurant in Manchester. Hard to believe now, there are bloody loads of them. But Vnam retains its OG status and we are thrilled it’s moving that bit nearer to our office – cos, quite frankly, it’s easier for us to waddle over to after work and waddle home from again afterwards. Vnam is moving into the Northern Quarter spot vacated by the similarly named V Rev this January or early Feb. Coincidence? Well, yeah that’s just a coincidence.
Opening underneath Soho House and coming from the same entrepreneurial firebrand Nick Jones, Mollie’s is an award winning hotel brand that is loosely based on a classic roadside motel. Complete with an eponymous diner, expect all-American vibes with neon lights, hot dogs and damn good bottomless coffee. It’s also fairly pocket-friendly so Mr Jones is swooping into Manchester with something appealing for all budgets in one massive building then. Clever.
We’ll admit it, we were a bit disappointed to find out that this isn’t going to be a Magic Faraway Tree style themed hotel fashioned into the shape of a massive oak tree with the treehouses of our dreams on every branch. But there are other reasons to get excited about Treehouse Hotel. For one, the food in the ground floor restaurant is going to be incredible. Why? Because Manchester’s dairy queen Mary Ellen McTague is behind it, and, well everything she does is ace isn’t it? Additionally, the Unabombers Luke and Justin who are also behind the success story that is Volta will be bringing their music and nightlife expertise to the bar on the roof along with more cooking royalty in the form of Sam Grainger – best known for Liverpool’s brilliant Belzan and the excellent Carnival at Freight Island. The hotel itself is an eco-focused, sustainably built, forward thinking space that we’re sure will be a pleasure to rest your bones at.
House of Gods
Rumours are also aswirl that Edinburgh’s House of Gods is opening a hotel here in Manchester. Mike and Ross Baxter, co-founders of House of Gods, told The Caterer back in 2021: “We’re very excited to be expanding the brand. The Edinburgh hotel has been incredibly well received and we feel both Glasgow and Manchester are the perfect locations for the two new hotels.” If you’re not familiar with the brand, think all-out opulence: golden bathtubs, ridiculous four poster beds, velvet drapes the colour of Merlot. Basically imagine the set of a kinky costume drama and you’re there. We hope this will get underway this year because Manchester is gagging for a hotel like this.
Big venues and social spaces
If you’ve not heard about this Brobdingnagian music arena that’s currently being built near the Etihad, where the hell have you been? Co-Op Live is set to be not only the biggest, most expensive arena in the UK but it’s also going to be the most climate-friendly. With loads of clever features including a roof that captures rainwater to use to flush the toilets and a whole lot of solar panels.
Unlike other arenas, it’s been acoustically designed to be perfect for experiencing live music but it’s not just a music venue either. There will be clubbing and afterparty spaces as well as food and drink vendors, not just in pop-up form but full sized restaurants. Due to its size and stature, we expect Co-Op Live to bring more visitors to Manchester as they choose it over places like Wembley to catch their favourite artists on tour and hopefully stay over and spend money in other places in the Manchester economy while they’re at it. They are also very much set on being ‘for Manchester’ – the aim is to have two thirds of their staff from Manchester and the build has been created using steel from Bolton and a facade made in Salford amongst other local procurement. We’ve seen some virtual tours and had a chat to director Tim Liewecke (who famously bought the O2 in London for a quid) and this one is going to be just massive for Manchester. Did we mention Harry Styles is an investor?
Setting out its stall as a “creative neighbourhood”, Diecast is going to reinvent the former Presbar Diecasting Foundry on Store Street as a beer hall, brewery, night market, bakery and offices with an expansive green space outside to boot. The building that dates back to 1870 is around 200,000 square foot in size and the plan is to fill it with local traders, workers and creatives. The bods behind some of Manchester’s most well loved venues (Schloss, Deaf Institute, Ramona, Firehouse etc.) are involved so we know we can expect quality and a healthy sprinking of Mancunian chutzpah.
Saving probably the most hyped new opening on our list til last, Soho House is the members club for people that don’t really do members clubs. With ‘houses’ all over the world, Soho House has an impeccable reputation for creating spaces that people are queuing up to be members of – and we can assure you, they make a spectacular cocktail. The Manchester one looks set to pull out all the stops – it’s going to have a rooftop pool FFS. It’s also going to have an Italian restaurant called Cecconi’s, a music venue and workspaces as well as plenty of other fun features for its members and their top tier friends – you’re allowed to bring three with you when you visit, it’s going to be like MySpace all over again.
Keep an eye on Manchester’s Finest for all the rest of the new openings as they happen in 2023.