The lockdown is (nearly) over and a bank holiday is on the horizon – this weekend is going to be huge.
However, though most of us can’t wait for that taste of fun and drunken normality, it is a sad reality that many of Manchester’s bars and restaurants will be chock-a-block this weekend, and that finding a table with or without a reservation might be a challenge.
As for a solution?
Well, it can only be Manchester’s famed hidden bars.
The city centre has an abundance of ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’ establishments that are a little harder to track down than the rest, and here are some of the best ones…
Perhaps one of Manchester’s most ‘unsecret’ secret bars, The Washhouse is famed for its unusual laundrette disguise. You can only enter the premises after ringing the telephone in the laundrette and literally climbing through the washing machine-front door hybrid. Once inside, though, you’ll be able to enjoy an elusive list of cocktails, wines and beers.
It’s table bookings only and you’ll need to track down their phone number to get it organised. Good luck!
19 Shudehill, Manchester M4 2AF
Tucked away down one of the Northern Quarter’s back alleys, The Fitzgerald will transport you back to the roaring 1920s with it’s subtle Great Gatsby theme and decor.
Live jazz and blues can be caught on weekends before the lively bar transforms with DJs playing soul, disco and funk until the early hours. The perfect bank holiday treat, if you ask me.
The Fitzgerald currently operates on a walk-ins only basis, so it’ll be first come first serve.
11 Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DB
Science & Industry
One of the OG secret bars in the city, the ‘eccentric and experimental hideaway’ Science & Industry can be found hidden behind a secret door in the popular Northern Quarter haunt, Cane & Grain.
Once you’ve managed to figure out the trick door, which is blended into the wooden wall, you will find yourself in a vintage and dimly-lit cocktail bar, where a whole array of original and classic drinks will be waited to your table.
Science & Industry accepts both walk-ins and bookings.
49, 51 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1NA
Behind Closed Doors
“Sex, rugs & funk ‘n’ soul.”
Subtly placed between a piercing shop and a t-shirt printers, this x-rated establishment could very easily be mistaken for something else entirely. The basement speakeasy features old fashioned decor with a sexy twist – raunchy artwork is dotted around the space, and the small 1970’s televisions play x-rated movies around the clock, so it might not somewhere to take mum and dad for a drink.
But, on a more fun note, each table features a fully functioning vintage rotary telephone that can be used to call up the bar for a cocktail.
BCD is accepting both walk-ins and bookings.
93 Oldham St, Manchester, M4 1LW
Speak in Code
This swish evening establishment might not consider itself as an official ‘secret’ bar, but it’s pretty difficult to locate. Tucked away on Jackson’s Row, this unique establishment brings you vegan eats, craft drinks and hip-hop music five nights of the week.
Speak in Code accepts both walk-ins and bookings.
7 Jackson’s Row, Manchester M2 5ND
One Eight Six
If you’re after both a haircut and a bev this weekend, then this in the venue for you.
A relatively new haunt to the hidden bar scene, One Eight Six is disguised behind an actual, fully-operational barbers shop. The bar doubles up as a music venue, with live acts regularly performing at the cabaret-style venue, which makes it great for dancing on the tables – something that’s actually encouraged by the staff.
One Eight Six is currently accepting bookings for the bank holiday, make sure not to miss out here.
186 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB
You’ll all be aware of Evelyn’s, one of the Northern Quarter’s most popular eateries, but are you aware of the cocktail bar tucked away beneath it?
The Daisy is located in the basement of the restaurant and serves as a part-co-working space by day, and a private bar by night. During the day, the café and workspace supplies members with coffee from Ozone Coffee Roasters and Rare Tea Company, but in the evening hours, the venue serves up an enticing range of cocktails, wines, beers and live music.
Though it might be worth noting that the venue operates on an exclusive membership basis, which comes with a fee of £100 per year. Prospective members are required to submit their applications to The Daisy’s private Instagram profile.
g18, 44 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LA
Nestled below the popular St. Anne’s Square establishment Sandinistas, Blind Tyger is Manchester’s version of the hidden Leeds haunt. The unique speakeasy-style cocktail bar serves up some of the finest tipples in the area, taking inspiration from the 1st Prohibition era of the 19th Century.
The venue itself features all manner of knick-knacks and trinkets to emulate the feel of old-school tavern culture, alongside flocked wallpaper, dark furniture and ornate glassware. As for what’s inside the glasses, expect some contemporary takes on classic cocktails from Juleps to Negronis.
Blind Tyger is currently accepting both walk-ins and bookings.
2 Old Bank St, Manchester M2 7PF
The forgotten Japanese Garden hidden in the hills of a popular Lancashire walking spot
If you fancy a stroll this weekend…
There’s a beautiful and tranquil Japanese Lake hidden in one of Lancashire’s top walking spots.
If you’ve ever ventured up Rivington Pike you’ll know just how busy that place gets, especially if the sun makes an appearance!
Tucked away around halfway up the path to the peak is one of Britain’s best lost gardens (according to Countryfile in 2014).
The Japanese Lake is part of the Rivington Terraced Gardens built by the founder of the former Lever Brothers company – now known as Unilever – Lord Leverhulme, inspired by one of his trips to Japan.
Constructed between 1905 and 1925, The Terraced Gardens were originally filled with Japanese tea houses, lanterns, and exotic plants, and had two gorgeous waterfalls.
In the unexpected tranquil oasis, only the lake and stone bases of the tea houses remain, but it is still a gorgeous stop on a walk!
The Gardens are part of 45 acres of hillside between Rivington Pike and Rivington Hall Barn, which has a number of interesting features.
You’ll find the Pigeon Tower – once home to Lady Leverhulme’s sewing and music room on the top floor. The second and third floor housed dovecotes.
You’ll also find Lever Bridge at the northern end of Rivington Terraced Gardens, crossing Roynton Lane – the main pathway through the gardens.
The bridge is based on one Lever saw on a trip to Nigeria. It’s known as the Seven Arch Bridge with one large arch crossed by six smaller ones.
The Rivington Terraced Gardens remained open during the pandemic, with staff asking the public to take their litter home, including dog waste bags, or to use the bins provided in all the car parks.
There are three main entrances to the gardens; Belmont Road, another at the former Bolton Lodge and the third at the north-west corner of the gardens with a path leading across the meadow from Rivington Hall.
The main way to the gardens is via Roynton Lane, which runs through the middle of the site.
The garden is split into two distinct areas, the eastern area is more formal with lawns and lakes and contains vegetation from ornamental planting, including species such as Berbeis.
The other side is slightly more steep with trees such as Chestnut and Beech. Between the two areas is a terrace bath with irregularly-shaped flags.
The best tapas restaurants Manchester has to offer
Who you taking to try some of these, then?
Petite Spanish dishes – or Tapas, to the rest of you – have boomed in popularity these last few years, and it isn’t difficult to see why.
Long gone are the days of painstakingly ordering one dish (or maybe two at a push) from a tantalisingly good menu – with tapas, you can load up on pretty much everything the menu has to offer, and you won’t get judged for it at all.
So, here’s a list of Manchester’s most highly regarded tapas joints – you’re welcome.
Bar San Juan
To start the proceedings, we have Bar San Juan, a fantastic Chorlton gem that serves up arguably the best tapas dishes in the whole country.
The owners recently forked out to have an extension added, so there’s plenty of space to sit and enjoy some authentically Spanish tapas – oh, and they have a cracking wine list, too.
Bar San Juan, 56 Beech Rd, Manchester M21 9EG
Located smack in the middle of town, this King Street icon has some seriously good tapas on offer, alongside some more unheard of Mediterranean dishes – the lamb skewers and scallops and chorizo dishes are undeniable stand-outs.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EQ
El Gato Negro
Every Manc will recognise this award-winning King Street haunt – owner Simon Shaw has spent years perfecting the menu at El Gato, which serves a delicious variety of meat, cheese, fish and vegetarian dishes.
The restaurant has won an abundance of awards over the years and, once you’ve sampled their menu, it isn’t difficult to see why.
El Gato Negro, 52 King St, Manchester M2 4LY
Abeja Tapas Bar
Abjea actually stands for ‘bee’ in Spanish – a subtle representation of the connection the owners of Abeja Tapas Bar wanted to create with the people of Manchester.
The Oxford Road gem is a space where people can enjoy art exhibitions and cultural activities while also indulging in a food sharing experience from Andalucía cuisine.
Abeja Tapas Bar, Hatch, Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7ED
Porta Tapas Bar
We’re well and truly spoilt for choice with two Porta Tapas Bars to choose from – one in Altrincham and one in Salford.
The restaurants take heavy inspiration from small independent bars in Madrid and Barcelona, with their menus bursting with delicious fresh meats and fish.
Porta Tapas Bar, 50 Greenwood St, Altrincham WA14 1RZ
216 Chapel St, Salford, M3 6BY
Described as a little taste of Barcelona in Didsbury, Nueve Tapas can be found – quite unexpectedly – nestled between a tanning salon and a butchers.
Their menu boasts an impressive selection of tapas, as it does with wine and that all-important sangria. They’re also offering a brunch menu, a must-have for those hungover weekends.
Nueve Tapas Bar, 9 Barlow Moor Rd, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6TN
The best places to treat your dad in Manchester this Father’s Day
Father’s Day? Completed it
Father’s Day is on the horizon, and to say that the nation’s dads are in dire need of some serious pampering would be an understatement.
It’s been one hell of a year, so all those dads and father figures out there definitely deserve the best – but if you’ve left your plans to the very last minute (guilty), worry no more, because I have devised a list of some fantastic Father’s Day ideas to do here in the city.
Let’s start with an obvious one. If your dad loves a good steak and a glass of posh vino (because whose dad doesn’t?), treating him to dinner at one of Manchester’s most popular steakhouses would be a great way to show your appreciation.
The restaurant has also put together an array of Father’s day boxes and gifts so, if you’re unable to leave the house this year, you can enjoy the elusive Hawksmoor experience from the comfort of your own home. They are offering three different gift boxes – a traditional Sunday Roast, a family Feasting Box and a Fillet.
For bookings, prices and more information on their Father’s Day gift box, check out their website.
184, 186 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WB
0161 836 6980
The Oxford Road staple is pulling out all the stops for Father’s Day this year – not only are they dishing up banging Sunday roasts, they’re also hosting EATMCR’s street food takeover, which will see a whole array of pop-ups and local breweries.
Clampdown Records and Deadstock General Store will also be hosting pop-ups, where you can grab yourself some last minute Father’s Day gifts. There will also be music from the finest local DJs to keep the celebrations going throughout the day.
Visit their website for more information and bookings.
Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA
0161 233 5151
TeamSport Go Karting
Fancy thrashing your old man on the race track?
TeamSport are open and taking bookings for all those wanting to celebrate Father’s Day with a bit of good dose of old-fashioned racing rivalry.
At TeamSport Manchester, you’ll get the opportunity to race around a state-of-the-art indoor track on electric karts, and even take part in an award ceremony at the end of each race which will, of course, provide some great bragging opportunities.
TeamSport are taking bookings only for Father’s Day – visit their website for more information.
AO Arena, Victoria Station, Hunts Bank, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M3 1AR
Dusk Til Pawn
Perfect for all those dad-rock lovers out there, this Northern Quarter icon will act as a great venue for some celebratory cocktails with dad.
With a fantastic jukebox selection and an even more impressive cocktail list, you and your dad can spend some quality time drinking, dancing and putting the world to rights.
Pay their website a visit for more information.
Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN
0161 236 5355
Let’s face it, all dads love a good game of darts, so what better way to demonstrate how good of a job they did raising you by showing off your skills on the board?
This venue is taking bookings only, and gives each group their own private space to drink, laugh, and land plenty of 180s. Pre-ordered drinks will be ready and waiting upon arrival, and food can be served throughout the booking. Members of staff can be summoned at the touch of a button, too.
Visit their website here to book your own booth.
Ship Canal House, 98 King Street, Manchester, M2 4WU
0161 537 7250
For footie-mad dads (most of them, then), Hotel Football is offering an exclusive package with former Manchester United defender, Wes Brown.
The package includes class of 92-themed toiletries & complimentary retro treats in the mini bar, a Q&A withWes Brown himself in the Stadium Suite, screening of the Portugal v Germany in Heaven, a two course dinner in Café Football with screening of Spain v Poland game and afternoon tea on either the Saturday or the Sunday. Overnight accommodation is also included.
To make a booking or enquire for more information, visit their website and drop an email to email@example.com.
Old Trafford, 99 Sir Matt Busby Way, Manchester M16 0SZ
0161 751 0430
The Lowry Hotel
The Lowry Hotel have launched their Father’s Day @ HOME, a unique afternoon tea perfect for all those dads out there.
The afternoon tea includes the likes of miniature prime beef burgers, BBQ pulled pork, glazed stilton, chicken and bacon pies, three cheese and pancetta scones accompanied by smoky bacon jam and chive sour cream – and two bottles of Morretti to wash it all down.
Click here to make your own booking.
50 Dearmans Pl, Salford, M3 5LH
0161 827 4000