21 of Manchester's Hidden Gems

If a bear craps in the woods with nobody around, did it happen? If the pope cuts down a tree on his balcony, is he a Catholic? If you tell everyone about a hidden 'gem' is it still even hidden anymore? I dunno, let's see...

By Ben Brown | Last updated 5 January 2022

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Seoul Kimchi
This tiny (and I mean TINY) little Korean restaurant is a favourite of the infamous Guardian food critic Jay Raynor, and once you decide to go, you will see why. The only issue with this place is that it is in a pretty gross area- next to the MRI Hospital, a blood bank and some shitty student halls of residence. It is worth the trip though I promise you. Seoul Kimchi serves up proper authentic Korean dishes like Bibimbap and Bulgogi as well as freshly prepared sushi, yakitori and other Japanese and Pan-Asian favourites. Make sure you do not leave without a portion of their green-tea ice cream- or maybe do- and use it as an excuse for you to go back.

Seoul Kimchi, 275 Upper Brook St, Manchester M13 0HR
0161 273 5556


Wood & Company
Ever since the Yanks decided that booze was bad for you people have been hiding their bars. More recently there was a massive trend of bringing these ‘speakeasies’ back with places designing themselves as laundrettes, barbers and even abattoirs (I may have made that last one up). Never far from a fad, Manchester has had its fair share of speakeasies and now there is another one. Wood & Company has decided to hide behind a goods entrance – but once you’re in you’ll find yourself in a tile and wood decked bar offering a wide range of beers, wines and cocktails. Check it out, and try to make sure you get the right place; nobody wants to be walking around the back of a Greggs loading bay while trying to buy a gin and tonic.

Wood & Company, 39 S King St, Manchester M2 6DE


3 Minute Theatre
Affleck’s Palace has always been a hotbed of weird stuff mixed with moth-sodden vintage clothes, and with the introduction of the 3 Minute Theatre Company, things are not going to change very soon. Working closely with Manchester Shakespeare Co and Square Circle Community Theatre, the 3MT gang offer an absolutely mental programme of theatre, magic, improv and poetry which will satisfy even the most dedicated culture-vultures out there. Check out their Twitter for more details on what’s coming up, and good luck in finding them!

3 Minute Theatre, Afflecks Arcade, 35-39 Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JG


Science and Industry
It isn’t much of a secret anymore, but just in case you are blind to people going into that door in Cane & Grain that looks like a wall, or you have been living in some sort of cave- I am going to tell you again. Upstairs at Cane & Grain is a snazzy, speakeasy cocktail bar called Science & Industry which is just gorgeous. Dark, snuggly and chic is the interior, with a selection of stunning drinks made by their talented mixologists. These guys are popper masters at their art- and each drink you order is more delicious than the last.

Cane & Grain, 49 -51 Thomas Street, Manchester M4 1NA


17 Below
This fantastic 80’s themed cocktail bar features genuine (and free) arcade machines and a couple of brilliant pool tables. Not only are the cocktails fantastic, but the tunes are brilliant too. To say that it is hidden can be a bit of an understatement – Indiana Jones himself would probably have trouble finding the place – even with an annoying little Chinese lad to help him. Located almost 6 stories underground, 17 Below is accessed through the similarly hidden Dogs n Dough, on Bow Lane just off Cross Street.

17 Below, 17 Bow Ln, Manchester M2 4FW


The Ancoats Peeps
When you wander around Ancoats with your coffee, your Pollen bread and your French bulldog you ironically named Gustave, you might notice some brass eyepieces set into the walls on the outside of buildings. These peepholes allow you to look into spaces that have long since been forgotten. Thing is, there isn’t really any explanation for them. Nobody knows what they really are, how many there are or why they are there. You just have to sort of stumble upon them like Alice stumbled on the rabbit hole. The peeps do have something to say about the Industrial history of the area- but what that thing is, we really do not know.


Eat & Sweet
If you are into your Caribbean grub then Eat & Sweet is going to be your Mecca. Now I bet you have walked past this place countless times. It sits in the Northern Quarter on the opposite side of the street to Northern Soul in the corner of a large building which can be described best as ‘busy’. It is teeny weeny, but they grub is phenomenal so it is well worth a visit to the cramped interior. You’ll find all that classics like patties, goat curry, ackee and saltfish and of course, everyone’s favourite… jerk chicken. All portions are generous, to say the least, and I assure you, they will not let you leave hungry. Just keep your eyes peeled when you are in the area- it really is too easy to miss.

Eat & Sweet, 27-, 29 Church St, Manchester M4 1PE


The Eagle Inn
Not to be confused with Eagle Bar in the village, the Eagle Inn on Collier Street, is a proper boozer with a great atmosphere, friendly smiles and a ton of booze. Owned by the same folk who run Gulliver’s and the Castle on Oldham Street, the Eagle has a wide range of live music on their books too. It’s proper in the middle of nowhere this one but once you’ve found it and you’re in – there’s not many reasons to leave.

The Eagle Inn, 19 Collier St, Greengate, Salford M3 7DW


The Temple
Walking down Oxford Road it’s easy to miss The Temple amongst all of the supermarkets and chain restaurants. It’s there though, right opposite the 23rd Tesco Express to open in Manchester this year, and it’s a brilliant little boozer with an atmosphere unmatched anywhere else in the city. Located in a tiny public toilet, The Temple forces you to actually converse with other human beings while enjoying the brilliant jukebox and massive range of beers they have. It’s an excellent place to booze away these cold winter nights and quite frankly, a Manchester institution.

The Temple, 100 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JW


The White Hotel
Just near Strangeways, someone has gone all Champagne Steam Rooms and opened up a club in an old warehouse unit in a dirty little industrial estate. Luckily for us though, it’s brilliant – offering a wide range of club nights that your mam and dad would tut loudly at as they walked past with the dog at 6am. There’s a massive calendar of nights coming up – most of which I don’t understand a word of – but if you’re cool, wear bright baseball caps and like the sound of robots having frantic sex – then you’ll know what the vibe is. Check out Skiddle for listings.

The White Hotel, Unit 3 Dickinson Street Salford M3 7LW


Twenty Twenty Two
I was once lucky enough to be invited to a fantastic wedding here at Twenty Twenty Two which typically encapsulated everything I love about Manchester and everything that this unique venue has to offer. It’s an underground den of ping pong, music, beers and creativity – all packaged up within some seriously cool white tiles, industrial pillars and brilliant wall art. There’s ping pong tournaments, Prosecco Wednesdays and fully fledged club nights at the weekends for you to get involved in, oh and you can hire it out for special events and weddings. Just like @manchesterbeeco did.

Twenty Twenty Two, 20 Dale St, Manchester M1 1EZ


British Film Institute Mediatheque
I’m a big movie guy and doesn’t everyone know it. Honestly, try me. I’ve seen everything at least twice. If you are into your movies but have some catching up to do, you can head over to the central library and watch anything you could possibly dream of in a cool little pod. You can watch some pretty rare stuff too like obscure sitcoms from the 1970s and loads of early camera footage of old-timey people pottering about. Such fun.

Manchester Central Library, St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD


Red Bank Co
Living in the Green Quarter can feel like a very isolated experience at times. Sure there are a shit-load of flats there, but as you’re walking under that dodgy bridge in the pitch black, surrounded by dark running water and rats, you certainly do not feel like you’re 2 minutes’ walk from one of the biggest cities in the country. So like a shining oasis of hope, Red Bank Co has set up shop in one of the railway arches offering a cosy space crammed with a cafe, bar and studio as well as a great selection of craft beers, cocktails and wonderful grub.

Red Bank Co, 22 Red Bank, Manchester M4 4HF


Space Invaders
An incognito French urban artist who works by night on a global-wide project putting mosaic space invaders on the sides of buildings. The project began in the 1990’s in his local area and then expanded across France, into Europe and eventually China and the US. The mosaic style is representative of the 8-bit graphics of the arcade games of the 1970’s and 80’s, and in his artworks, each tile represents one pixel. There are a total of 3581 Space Invaders out there spread over 74 cities, and Manchester is home to 47 of these bad boys. Have you ever seen one? Probably. But did you know they were special? Probably not. There are definitely a couple knocking around the Northern Quarter if you look hard enough.


Pretty much a Manchester institution, with what many would consider to be the best jukebox in the city. Always rammed with blokes with long sideburns, parka jackets and a pair of pristine gazelles, you’ll be hard pressed not to find a more clichéd image of what it means to be a Manc on a Saturday afternoon. Located in a manky alleyway just off St. Anne’s Square – if you don’t know where it is just ask the first bloke you see walking like Liam Gallagher after 6 lines and he’ll tell you.

Corbieres, 2 Half Moon Street, Deansgate, Manchester, M2 7PS


The Hidden Gem Church
This church is probably the most peaceful place in the whole of Manchester city centre- and I bet you didn’t even know it existed. Situated near the town hall on Brasennose Street, you will find St. Marys Church which is colloquially called ‘The Hidden Gem’. Granted, a little more off the beaten track compared to St Ann’s or all the other churches in Manchester that I am entirely unfamiliar with, but if you want somewhere to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city quietly contemplate life for ten minutes, this is certainly the spot.


Behind Closed Doors
Manchester’s very own speakeasy which is so hidden in the centre of the Northern Quarter that even I didn’t know about its existence until about two months ago.  Situated at the far end of Oldham Street, this is a late night cocktail bar where you can have a little boogie to some funk and soul. The thing I love about BCD the most is that it smutty- by which I mean that there are homages to porn and sex everywhere. Porn plays on the TV screens, the unisex bathrooms are plastered with vintage pin-up pictures, and the drinks are sex-themed too with names like ‘Stop If I Scream’ and ‘The Chamber of Sins. Entry is given by a rather conspicuous door with a buzzer, but I must admit- it is pretty hard to miss the pink neon light when the sun goes down.

Behind Closed Doors, 93 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LW


The Portico Library
This beautiful subscription library lies on Mosley Street, close to the art gallery and above that weird pub called ‘The Bank’ that no one seems to go into. Built between 1802 and 1806, this is a beautiful space, which is designed in the Greek revival style. The library was originally intended to be a place for local businessmen to meet up and chat about…business. What a fun party that must have been. Nowadays, it is the home to thousands of books- mostly 19th century English literature which is open six days a week. The best part about the Portico Library is the stunning interior, however, tied with the wonderful section of exhibitions on art, literature and beyond.

The Portico Library, 57 Mosley St, Manchester M2 3HY


This tiny little charming restaurant located near the Manchester Arena manages to serve quite possibly the best sushi in the city, as well as provide a true Japanese experience. Part of this experience is down to the fact that the place is so small – seating only around 15 people – making it reminiscent of the tiny noodle places you encounter in Tokyo; a place struggling to fit 38 million people into an area the size of the Midlands. With a daily-changing menu of stunning dishes, Umezushi has gained a reputation as one of the best places to eat in the city and once there – you’ll understand why.

Umezushi, 4 Mirabel St, Manchester M3 1PJ


The clue is in the name with this club, situated in M3 Salford at Down Tex Mill, taxi drivers find it difficult to get to. Once you’re there, you won’t want to go home. Hidden always likes to have little surprises for gig-goers (see: Denis Sulta surprise set during August Bank Holiday last year). Its two floors of good music, mismatched furniture and a brilliant courtyard for outdoor festivals in summer make it well worth a visit or six.

Hidden, 16-18 Mary St, Manchester M3 1NH


Café Marhaba
Ok, so it doesn’t look like much (you might be sensing a theme here), but trust me on this one.  No frills, just good food, the family-run restaurant and takeaway does not hide behind aesthetics. Home cooked curries are on the menu alongside clay oven naan bread and other traditional Indian grub. Oh, and it is cheap. Like £5 for three curries and rice cheap. It sure makes a nice change from the epilepsy-inducing ostentation of the curry mile and fantastic food to boot.

Café Marhaba, 36 Back Piccadilly, Manchester M1 1HP