Red bricks line the streets, walls are decorated with worker bees and slicks of paint, independent bars, coffee shops and stores are stacked up next to each other.
I’ve headed out of my beloved Leeds and hopped over The Pennines to visit Manchester. It’s an hour out of Leeds to the heart of the city making it an easy day trip. Or if you’re looking for hotels in Manchester, they are dotted around the city to allow you an extended exploration.
I’m not a newbie to Manchester, but it’s been a while since I’ve been given free reign of the city. We took the day to explore the Northern Quarter. A hub at the top of the city, devoted to independent cafes, hidden bars, record stores and street art finds around every corner. Very much my style.
Collecting the street art in Manchester was an unintentional scavenger hunt of our day trip, stumbling onto the artistry of the Northern Quarter. I am a Leeds fan girl, as you very much know, but the pride of Manchester ricocheted around the streets. There were worker bees adorning different pieces of art, welcoming us in the different doorways and scattered across each street.
Weaving through the streets from Piccadilly Station we were on the hunt for a caffeine boost to start the day. Tungsten lights glowed from within little nooks dotted along the streets, windows steaming up at the corners with an inviting warmth. Spotting an empty table, we tucked ourselves into Fig & Sparrow in the heart of the Northern Quarter. A latte for me, a green tea for him, we people watched through the Christmas doodles still adorning the window and set-out our plan for the day ahead.
The same street happened to be littered with record stores, as is much of this area of the city. Vinyl Exchange, on the corner of Oldham Street and Dale Street, is a haven for anyone looking to top up their music collection. Each record is labelled with its condition and any hit tracks that may be included. We fleshed out our collection with an eclectic mix of genres, with the option to play each find before leaving to double check the condition.
As with most of our day trips, this one was centred around beer and food. We’d had a tip that Siop Shop was somewhat of an undiscovered treasure, not yet being the obvious choice for locals. We tracked it down to be greeted with shutters, closed for an extended Christmas break and the puffed up dough undiscoverable for the day. If you’re in the area, I’m going to go ahead and recommend a visit, a look at their Instagram feed will probably have you in agreement. I’ll add this one to the list for our next trip.
We replaced donuts with a trip to the Manchester version of our beloved Northern Monk. The Leeds craft brewers have recently extended their good brew to Manchester and we couldn’t pass up a trip to see what they’d done. Tucked out of the main hub of NQ, the new bar is a great set-up. Your favourite Monk beers on tap, a massive space and a delicious food menu to soak up the beer.
Next on the menu was to track down some proper grub to see us through the evening. There are a few bigger street food places in residence in Manchester, giving you more choice and somewhere to park up. One of those being Mackie Mayor, housed in an old market building dating back to the 1800s, on the edge of the Northern Quarter. Tiptoeing beyond the busier streets, the building springs up out of nowhere as you push through the door. Lights are strung over the main dining hall, with guests seated around the balcony to take in the smell of freshly cooked chicken, while toasting with craft beer and tucking into their meal of choice.
It’s one of those places that had my eyes widening when I walked in to take everything in. The food stalls line the main dining area, with bars tucked just back from there, the rest of the building filled with seating.
We grabbed a balcony seat upstairs for an ultimate people watching vantage point, deciding on our cuisine for the evening.
For him, a half chicken from Rotisserie. Fresh roast chicken, served with roast potatoes, pickled carrots and a moreish garlic aioli. Such a delicious serve, the condiments acting as the perfect pairing to the roast.
For me, a good ol’ pizza from Honest Crust. Stone-oven baked, sourdough pizza, this time topped with the salami of the day. I’m going to herald this as the best dough I’ve ever had, with delicious melted cheese on an impossibly thin base.
Just like Leeds, there were too many craft beer bars in Manchester to tick off, but we got one last one in before we headed back for the night. Port Street Beer House is a cosy spot on the edge of NQ again, a whole host of craft available to sip on and a great last spot before heading to our final check-off for the day. The Northern Quarter is a great shout if you want a craft beer bar crawl in Manchester, with or without a guide, there are plenty to stumble on.
You might have seen a couple of years ago, a devoted trip to Manchester on North of London, purely to try Northern Soul. It’s always on my mind when I visit the city and with a second location now in-situ by the station, it acted as a final night-cap before we headed for the train.
A wonderfully cheesy menu as always, we shared the Salt & Pepper Chicken - brand new to the menu; the classic ‘soul’ base, with salt & pepper chicken and a sticky soy glaze.
And here endeth the trip, clambering onto the train with bellies full of beer and delicious, local food.
Should I ever break ties with my beloved Leeds, I could easily slot myself between the street art and craft bars of the Northern Quarter. There’s still plenty more to be explored, keep your peepers on my Instagram for my next visit 👀
Spending money for this adventure was gifted by Hotels.com but all views are my own.