A buzzy hive of new bars, statement restaurants and unstoppable energy, editor Sophie Ritchie shares how to spend a foodie 48 hours in the UK’s most dynamic city
A northern city packed with stories, style and soirees, Manchester’s reputation as the UK’s most vibrant city has been earned for good reason.
The birthplace of the Industrial Revolution (as well as the Gallagher brothers, Emmeline Pankhurst and even Karl Pilkington) Manchester has seen many a movement, be it musical or political. It remains just as sprightly today, thanks to significant investment in its cultural infrastructure.
A buzzing colony of new bars, statement restaurants and unstoppable energy, editor Sophie Ritchie shares how to spend a foodie weekend in this modish melting pot of a city.
Where to stay: Staybridge Suites Manchester
Perfect for a home from home feel, you’ll love a luxe getaway at the newly opened Staybridge Suites on Oxford Road. An all-suite hotel found close to Manchester’s thriving core, take a swift lift trip up to the 16th floor reception for a property that treats its guests to both independence and up-to-date interiors.
The 1 bedroom suites consist of contemporary living rooms, kitchenettes, spacious bedrooms and bathrooms – each kitted out with handy appliances, cool artwork and cozy furniture.
Whether you’re dining in or eating out, these sizeable abodes offer the best of the both worlds – especially if you’re staying for longer. Studios are also available for those seeking a more petite arrangement.
With masculine greys and neural colour schemes, nothing’s too garish within these walls. It’s the impressive views that command attention here, with sprawling skylines reaching across Manchester’s rooftops and beyond.
The hotel’s communal kitchen area is the hub of Staybridge Suites, with comfortable seating and a number of inviting spaces.
Head here for a simple but satisfying buffet breakfast, as well as 24/7 complimentary hot drinks, juices and light snacks. From 6 – 7pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, there’s even a complimentary happy hour for a little Manchurian mingling.
If you’d rather breakfast like a king (or queen), venture downstairs to The Laureate restaurant at the connecting Crowne Plaza hotel.
Aptly named in reference to its close proximity to Manchester’s university, guests can devour a brimming selection of buffet sections or order a la carte for poised plates of poached eggs and avocado toast.* staybridge.com
*Please note, breakfast at The Laureate is not included in Staybridge Suite hotel bookings.
Where to dine
1 Best for going gourmet: Kala
Recently hailed by the likes of Jay Rayner himself for serving “a plateful which both makes sense, and is achingly pretty,” Kala on King Street is chef/restauranter Gary Usher’s latest hit.
Head here for a menu filled with seasonal starlets – whether it be tender octopus with sunflower seeds or a naughty crème brûlée. We especially recommend the incredible barbecued monkfish for a meaty bite paired with macadamia nuts and a flash of mango. kalabistro.co.uk
2 Best for sharing plates: The Refuge
Come as you are – and hungry. If you like dining in statement surrounds, book a table at The Refuge.
The menu draws inspiration from its owners’ global DJing trips, with a range of small and large plates. Plant-based bites are as popular as the carnivorous sections – we love the Curried sweet potato, spinach, toasted almonds and the Chargrilled cauliflower. refugemcr.co.uk
3 Best for informal bites: Mackie Mayor
Manchester’s version of London’s Market halls, Mackie Mayor offers a trendy myriad of flavours, fusions and above all else, food.
Housed in a 1858 Grade II listed market building on the edge of the hip Northern Quarter, vendors range from plump bao to tacos. Offering informal feasting with communal seating, cross the threshold and gaze across everything from chilled out dates to friends grabbing lunch. mackiemayor.co.uk
4 Best for pre-dinner tipples: Albert Schloss
Drinks with a garnish of debauchery – you’ll love the lighthearted ambience of Albert Schloss. Pay a visit to Manchester’s first Tankovna, a bier palace offering 10 heritage brews, as well as enormous alpine cocktails, wine and a tempting ‘push for Prosecco’ button on every table.
With live music from Alberts Haus Band, resident DJ’s and a free downstairs photo booth to capture the moment, this might just be our favourite way of getting Schlossed. albertsschloss.co.uk.
What to do
1 Wander with a Discover Manchester Walking Tour
These boots were made for walking. Lots of walking. Explore the sights with an insightful edge thanks to a Discover Manchester Walking Tour. Rain or shine, embark upon a group trek around the centre to learn more about Manchester’s most famous landmarks, residents and the fascinating history behind them. From £10pp, click here for more.
2 Have a nose around the Northern Quarter
The city’s hippest district,the Northern Quarter is a bubble of unique character and charm. Injected with ongoing development, these creative streets are lined with incredible street art and a plethora of fashion boutiques, brunch joints, bars and record shops.
3 Explore all things urban at Hatch
Creativity at its coolest, you can’t leave Manchester without seeking out Hatch. A mismatched village comprised of repurposed shipping containers, its vibrant community-focused feel is addictive. Explore your way around a number of food, drink and retail vendors – there’s even a 1999 double-decker bus converted into a fabulous Vietnamese kitchen. hatchmcr.com.
Direct trains run from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly every 20 minutes, with an average journey times of around 2 hours, 10 minutes. To find out more and plan your adventure, head to visitmanchester.com.
Words by Sophie Ritchie