Co-owned by DJ/tea enthusiast, Mr Scruff, bright, busy Teacup (55 Thomas Street) majors on top regional ingredients and simple, honest dishes. Its baked beans with smoky bacon bits on home-baked sourdough is ace. The boho Northern Quarter [N/4] is crammed with indie record shops, vintage stores and boutiques. Don’t miss Richard Goodall Gallery (59 Thomas Street), with its unique collection of music-focused art, and Manchester Craft and Design Centre’s cute jewellery workshops (17 Oak Street).
Craving culture? Check the listings at N/4 art spaces, Kraak (Little Lever Street) and Twenty Twenty Two (20-22 Dale Street), or detour to Manchester Art Gallery (Mosley Street). You can eat your way from China to Jamaica in Arndale Market Food Hall (49 High Street, 0161 832 3552), but head for Mexican-owned Pancho’s (unit FC1), where the burritos are fat, the flavours unusual and the sauces hot. Try the pork and cactus burrito with a pint from Boggart Brewery’s Microbar (unit FC15/16).
Back in the N/4, pick up the food-shopping pace at Bonbon Chocolate Boutique (9 John Street) – chocolatier Joel Collins’s salted caramels are sensational, Wood Wine and Deli (42 Tib Street), and craft beer specialists Beermoth (70 Tib Street). Revive yourself with a peerless flat white at North Tea Power (36 Tib Street). Common (39-41 Edge Street), is the quintessential N/4 hangout, and the menu at this hip, arty bar is now overseen by Aumbry chef, Laurence Tottingham. Look out for New York Jewish delicatessen specials, the homemade salt beef sauerkraut stack for instance, or Common’s pastrami-topped Reuben burger and classics like lamb kofta kebab.
In the N/4, drinking late is no less than mandatory. Keep following the ale trail all the way to one of Marble Beers’ microbrewery bars 57 Thomas Street (57 Thomas Street) is a legendary boozer and music venue, The Castle Hotel (66 Oldham Street; ) and Port Street Beer House (39-41 Port Street). If you’re still peckish, Slice (1a Stevenson Square) serves authentic, Roman-style al taglio pizza till late.
Chef Michael Caines’ ABode (107 Piccadilly) stands out for its urban-loft style and good food. Individually designed rooms and a terrific rooftop garden make 18 Great John Street (Great John Street) the city centre’s most stylish boutique hotel.
With its tattooed staff and cool music, Gorilla looks very trendy. But this late-bar/gig venue (54-56 Whitworth Street) also serves impeccable eggs benedict. Manchester, the seat of the industrial revolution, has grand 19th century architecture to spare. Stroll by the Palace Hotel (Oxford Street); Manchester Town Hall (Albert Square); and the Free Trade Hall – now a Radisson Hotel (Peter Street), the site of the famous Peterloo Massacre – to get a sense of that history. Take in another iconic local building, John Rylands Library (150 Deansgate), on your way to The People’s History Museum (free, Left Bank, Spinningfields). Stop en-route at Katsouris (113 Deansgate) for homemade baklava and a brew.
Just over the River Irwell (in Salford, technically ), Robert Owen Brown cooks butch grub at The Mark Addy (Stanley Street). You’ll find tripe and bone marrow on the specials, and Lancashire hotpot on his classics menu. If you’re only after a snack, try a (black-pudding-wrapped) Manchester egg and a great pint from Macclesfield’s Red Willow. Prefer retail therapy to real ale? Walk down King Street, past the likes of DKNY and Vivienne Westwood, to House of Fraser, still known locally as Kendals (98-116 Deansgate; houseoffraser.co.uk). Review your purchases over a glass of prosecco in chic San Carlo Cicchetti (King Street West). Wine buffs should head to vintners HangingDitch (42-44 Victoria Street), for friendly, down-to-earth advice and the chance to try before you buy. Australasia (1 The Avenue), a glam subterranean bar-restaurant goes on late and gets busy. Visit pre-dinner to enjoy a rose and lychee martini. For now, Harvey Nichols Second Floor Restaurant – with views over Exchange Square and assured cooking from Sam Everett – remains the city’s fine-dining benchmark (21 New Cathedral Street). Whether pairing smoked yoghurt and chicory tart with venison, or creating oriental dishes, the kitchen shines.
On a Budget? Get there by coach from London (nationalexpress.com). Stay over at Roomzzz Apart-hotel.
Words TONY NAYLOR
Trust olive Food and arts journalist Tony Naylor was born, lives and works in Manchester.