Neighbourhood guides: Live like a local in The Northern Quarter, Manchester
11 May 2022
No area encapsulates the Mancunian spirit better than the Northern Quarter. And much like Manchester in general, this neighbourhood marches to the beat of its own drum. Located north-east of the city centre, this bohemian spot is a bastion of independent fashion and music, with some of the most eclectic shops in the city.
Unsurprisingly, this once working-class neighbourhood experienced a post-industrial slump in the 1980s and didn’t really bounce back until the early 90s. When places like Dry Bar, Piccadilly Records and a host of other musical haunts began to pop up, this ‘hood cemented itself as the city’s prime area for live gigs, authentic old-school pubs and cocktail bars.
Here are our favourite spots.
If you’re looking for somewhere to brunch, look no further than Home Sweet Home – a cosy milkshake bar and café that offers a tasty American-style menu and the most indulgent cakes in the ‘hood.
The second you enter District you’re transported into a kitsch Neo-Bangkok eatery. The spot is filled with video projections, and a huge open kitchen that dominates the space. Providing a progressive approach to Thai food, using a wood-fired barbeque to create a multi-sensory tasting menu experience for diners, District features dishes, flavours, spices and cooking techniques with overtly Eastern influences.
Form Lifestyle Store
Everything that Form sells has been carefully chosen for its focus on design, function and simplicity. Their designers and makers have been selected for their craftsmanship and attention to detail. Don’t expect to leave empty-handed.
Ginger’s Comfort Emporium
Ginger’s Comfort Emporium is not your average ice cream parlour. Its founder – former chef, author and food stylist, Claire Kelsey – describes her vision as “ice-cream for grown-ups”, which you understand when you visit the vintage-style diner that serves up scoops of wildly creative and indulgent flavours.
Start your morning at this Icelandic-themed coffee shop on Tariff Street. Whether you’re after a cup of their drip coffee, a healthy breakfast, or a place to power up your laptop and check emails, Takk is a freelancer's dream. The laid-back vibe and welcoming atmosphere is unmatched in the city. Oh, and if people-watching is your thing, make sure you get a spot by the window.
If you’re into music – whatever genre – Piccadilly Records is the place to shop. An iconic institution, this record spot displays an eclectic range of both local and international artists. The indisputable and knowledgeable staff also love recommending new music.
Cocktail Beer Ramen + Bun
Craving late-night noodles? This is the spot. Specialising in Tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen and steamed bao buns, their menu is simple yet delicious. Combining traditional elements and methods with a unique CBRB twist, they also offer a large range of vegetarian and vegan options.
MCR Craft and Design Centre
The Craft and Design Centre acts as a home to over 30 independent designers’ studios crafting a variety of handmade work including ceramics, textiles and jewellery. Recently the space opened its community-minded cafe which makes delicious food and caffeinated brews. There’s always a great selection of vegan and vegetarian options, too.
Margot and Lux
Margot & Lux is a boutique vintage store owned by Geordie, Holly Edgar. It offers a more bespoke service selling unique, one-of-a-kind garments, accessories and homeware, which Hollie hand-picks – every single item – scouring everything from charity shops to wholesalers, and warehouses to the internet for pre-loved pieces. You can also find limited runs from sustainable brands such as Sandra Alexandra and Summer Morning Studios.
This unpretentious bar-slash-gallery space is regarded by many as the bar that launched the Northern Quarter into the undeniably cool destination it is today. Common’s menu offers dishes like spiced lamb tacos and Korean fried chicken, along with staples such as classic chilli burgers, coffee and craft beers. Almost everything inside is custom-made, locally sourced and eco-friendly: there is no shortage of local pride. The bespoke furniture was crafted by Mancunian Peter Masters and fixtures, such as the pendant lampshades and coffee tampers, were made by local ceramist Joe Hartley.
Deadstock General Store
Contrary to what the name might suggest, the store isn’t general at all. The owner, Liam, has crafted a balance between the useful and the beautiful, keeping in mind material, design and sustainability. Discover more familiar brands like Kinto from Japan or P.F. Candle Co. along with more obscure finds to create a collection of useful and interesting things that make perfect gifts.