It's safe to say, I've made this city my home. I've got my go-to places no matter the purpose, so here are some of my faves and hopefully will open your eyes to somewhere new...
For Brunch...It's my favourite meal of the day. And luckily Manchester favours the lazy because you can get a bloody good breakfast up until 5pm. For service, Neighbourhood is second to none and there's Instagram opportunities a plenty. When I'm feeling extra lazy and can't make it across town to 'Spinny' as I've been nicknaming it since 2017, it'll always be a toss up between Trof and Ezra and Gil. I recommend the Full English at both eateries and I found out a few months ago, you can take away at Ezra. Life as I know it has changed.
For Lunch...There's set menus EVERYWHERE in Manchester and by lunch, you'll find it easier to get seated if you've not made a booking. Rosylee is a picture perfect setting on Stevenson Square, Refinery in Spinningfields is a chilled but chic option but a family favourite for us is Albert's Shed in Castlefield. I was recommended this place all those years ago when I graduated and we can't stop going. Find out for yourself why. And their roast is spot on.
For Drinks...If you're in the NQ, Cottonopolis is a must for its laidback but luxe vibes. Across town you have to try Refuge by Principal - otherwise known as the ex Palace Hotel. Right next to Oxford Road Station, prosecco's just over £4 a glass and it's got wow factor in every corner. If you're the other end of town, MOJOs always serves up a great drinking and dancing vibe and Refinery in Spinningfields has blankets and hot water bottles if you want to sit outside but stay warm.
For Dinner...As for dinner, Rosso on the top of King Street do it damn well with live acts sometimes on and set in an ex bank, you'll be in awe of the building's beauty. For the meat lovers out there you have to try Fazenda - it's all you can eat for £30 and as for an all rounder, give Artisan a go. On a Monday they're currently doing 40% off and their photobooth is usually free on this day. I recommend the Baked Camambert to start followed by the Fillet Steak. Service is faultless and the low level lighting is perfect for date nights.
Another Neighbourhood shout out - this time for dinner. Their Flat Iron steak is the best I've ever tasted. I didn't want it to stop. But heck, it had to.
For Dancing...Despite Spinny (yep, I'm going to try and make this happen) being known as 'the' place to go out out, the NQ is bursting with hidden gems to get your groove on. GBA on Stevenson Square is always a winner past 10pm - just watch the queue as in the winter, that ten minute wait to get in will feel like an eternity. Bring your coat, it has a cloakroom. If small and intimate's your vibe, hit up Terrace or check out El Capo after 10 on a weekend and you'll have to be dragged out, or like me, when the lights come on and you ask how it got to 2am...
On the other side of town, I've had many a good night at Rev De Cuba whether it's salsa-ing with strangers, getting involved with group limbo or just you know, regular dancing too. Albert's Schloss sometimes have live acts and encourage dancing on the chairs. Maybe one to try at the start of the night though when you're not 11 proseccos in.
For Afternoon Tea...I've had a lot of Afternoon Teas. Not that I'm complaining. I've not tried them all but if you're after feeling high and mighty during your high tea - Hotel Gotham really does have it all. Beautiful architecture, impeccable service and a view to die for. You won't want to leave. If you like to have lots of choice, try Richmond Tea Rooms. You can tailor your afternoon tea to a T so you're not left with a plate of things you simply don't like.
For The Beer Garden...Growing up in the country, we had beer gardens nailed, and whilst the city centre lacks these a little, they make up with other things. Come summer or that random few days a year when we have a heatwave, I'll always be at Albert's Shed. Be warned. It's like being on holiday and you get down to the pool and every sun lounger's been reserved. It's popular and with damn good reason. During summer they bring out BBQs, live music and a picture perfect setting next to the canal. There's limited parking but chances are you'll be drinking so ditch the wheels and take a pretty stroll along the canal or there's Deansgate tram and train station a 5 minute walk away.
For The View...One of the main reasons I fell for Duck and Waffle in London was because of the view. Manchester has a few options too. Certain days of the year King St Townhouse and Great John St open up their balconies overlooking the city. If you'd rather stay inside but admire, it's really all about Cloud 23 at the Hilton Hotel in Deansgate. Bear in mind, this place gets booked up and the queue downstairs is painful - so either get planning or go 'off-peak.' Drinks aren't cheap but the views are worth every penny. If you want the best of both worlds - head to Manchester House. With both indoor seating and outdoor terraces offering beaut views - it's no surprise this place is rammed at the weekend.
For Getting Work Done...Not sure whether it's against the rules to feature the same place twice but I'm gonna. Whenever I need to write or get inspired inside, Refuge is my go-to. I may aswell practically live here but if you haven't been, GO. It's beautiful and there's lots of corners to get tucked away and work that brain of yours.
For A Bit Of Fun...Want a night with a bit of difference? Manchester knows just how. Go bowling at Dogbowl or show 'em what you got at 20/22 with a game or three of ping pong. Mondays are free to play so if you want to get your practice on - do it then and the venue doubles up as a drink and dancing destination too. Foundation do film nights on a Wednesday and live music is had at Whiskey Jar on a Tuesday. And for a 'every once in a while' treat - everyone needs to try Bongo's Bingo once in their lives. In the beautiful Albert Hall on Peter Street, it's endless fun, dancing and of course bingo. One of the best night outs I've ever had, and I'm not exaggerating.
For Not Caring About The Calories...Moose located just off Piccadilly Gardens has queues out of its door for breakfast and boy it's worth it. Think pancakes and more is more. There's only one rule: go when you're hungry because portion sizes are huge. Home Sweet Home is the go-to place for not caring about the Kcals. I recommend their Oreo Milkshake - it's just dreamy. They have the original HSH in the NQ but you can't book here so be prepared for a long wait. If you're not about that, they opened a second and bigger venue in the Great Northern warehouse where you can book in.
For Happy Hour...Ah, the happiest of hours. If you're a cocktail fan, Turtle Bay own this with their 241 happy hour which runs until 7pm and comes back on after 10pm so stock up. Rev De Cuba offer this too until 7pm and do a killer strawberry Daiquiri - service on a Saturday night after 9pm is a bit of a nightmare because it's rammed so grab a booth and get loads in.
Back in the NQ, Ply do bottles of wine for £10 before 7pm and you can get a bottle of prosecco at Kosmonaut for £15. I've made a lot of memories at Kosmo and the staff really do make this place what is. AND since their collab with the Hip Hop Chip Shop, you can sip on a Pornstar Martini with a side of halloumi. Who's the real winner here?