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The Marble Arch, Manchester
Photograph: Marble Arch Inside the Marble Arch pub

The 15 best pubs in Manchester

Fancy a pint? These are the absolute best pubs in Manchester for drinks, food and live entertainment

By Rob Martin
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Manchester has seen its fair share of gentrification over the last few years and the city centre has suddenly sprouted high rise buildings like never before. That has brought us some amazing bars and fancy world-class restaurants too.

But if you're looking for somewhere more traditional for your evening pie and a pint and a warm atmosphere, where do you go?

The good news is that, despite all of the building work that dominates the Manchester skyline,  there remains a thriving traditional pub scene in the city if you know where to look. 

The pubs on our list thrive because they're getting the basics so right. These destinations are knocking out quality food, working with the finest indie brewers and craft beer bars, and hosting top-notch comedy and music events. Whiling away an idle afternoon, book and beer in hand, must be among the best things to do in Manchester. Our list is here to help guide you to the coolest, most atmospheric pubs this city has to offer right now.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Manchester

Best pubs in Manchester

The King's Arms, Manchester
Photograph: King's Arms

1. The King’s Arms

Bars and pubs Pubs

Owned by former Beautiful South and Housemartins lead singer Paul Heaton, this Salford institution has tapped into the gentrification of Chapel Street with a lovable mix of old and new styles. Some features date to Victorian times with lovely woodwork and tiled flooring as well as a carved wood, cathedral-esque performance space on the top floor.

The Marble Arch, Manchester
Photograph: Marble Arch

2. The Marble Arch

Bars and pubs Breweries

If you were putting together a dream pub in your booze-fuelled mind you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more perfect construction than the Marble Arch. Admire beautiful tiled walls and floors dating back to the heyday of pub architecture while you explore one of the city’s best selections of ales, lagers and liquors, plus food that goes far beyond regular pub grub.

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3. Eagle Inn

Bars and pubs Pubs


Located on a back street just off Trinity Way and down the road from Elbow sanctuary Blueprint Studios, The Eagle Inn is a relic, dating back to 1903, lovingly brought back to life and infused with a youthful exuberance from those that have restored it. A live music lineup that's at once totally at odds with the Victorian setting and so right makes this one of the best hidden gems in the city.

4. The Crown & Kettle

Bars and pubs Pubs

If there’s a pub with a better ceiling in anywhere in the world, we haven’t been to it. The rest of the building isn’t bad, either; it’s Grade II listed and dates back to the early nineteenth century. Situated just on the cusp of the Northern Quarter, the Crown and Kettle is a neat hybrid of hipster scene pub and good-and-proper local. The beer is decidedly craft: local brewers Privateer, First Chop, Blackjack and Shindiggers are all regulars on cask and from further afield there’s guest lagers from the likes of Camden Town and Runaway breweries.

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5. The Briton’s Protection

Bars and pubs Pubs

Just across from the neon and fake tan of Deansgate Locks, The Briton’s Protection could not be further removed in both vibe and décor. A proper old-fashioned boozer with a well-stocked bar that even has a serving hatch at the back, this is the kind of place that wears its nicotine-stained curtains with pride.

Sinclair's Oyster Bar, Manchester, Exterior
Photograph: Sinclair's Oyster Bar

6. Sinclair’s Oyster Bar

Bars and pubs Pubs

Housed in a beautiful Tudor building in the centre of town, Sinclair’s is home to the city’s biggest beer garden. Unfortunately, the secret is well and truly out, so as soon as the sun starts shining you’ll find it awash with drinkers enjoying a lager that’s almost half the price of what you might find just a few streets away in the Northern Quarter.

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7. The Molly House

Bars and pubs

The 18th-century equivalent of a gay bar, a Molly House was a place where men could meet others like themselves without fear of prosecution and public hanging. These days, the only worry is finding a space at the bar.

8. Grey Horse

Bars and pubs Breweries

Manchester’s Portland Street is often seen as a bit of a no-man’s-land, a forgotten road between the Village and Chinatown characterised by a chocka bus route and dangerous crossings. It’s not a destination, more a path to the next place on the map. But that’s what makes the pubs that reside here so much more special, including the awesome Grey Horse.

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9. The Beagle

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars

Taking a brave step outside the Northern Quarter, The Beagle has found its feet after shaky beginnings. Dressed head-to-toe in wood and 1970s-inspired fabrics, the bar doesn’t lack class. Nor does it lack drinks, which focus on real ales and craft beer.

beer
Kate Borkowski https://www.flickr.com/photos/katarzynab/

10. Star and Garter

Bars and pubs Pubs

Tremendous old pub down by Piccadilly station which looks from the outside like it won't last another strong wind but which houses a fantastic variety of club nights and live gigs. Ideally situated as a feeder pub for the Mayfield Depot development too, so you can grab a cheap pint before heading off there.

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11. The Angel

Bars and pubs Gastropubs

The Angel is a local pub on the outskirts of the Northern Quarter serving a fine range of well-priced, locally brewed bitters. Liverpool Organic Brewery and White Lion can usually be found on the pumps, and on-tap lagers go beyond the usual mass-produced swill.

12. The Castle Hotel

Bars and pubs Pubs

One of Manchester’s most popular pubs, The Castle on Oldham Street has proven to be one of the Northern Quarter’s big success stories since its refurbishment in 2009. Originally founded in 1776, it’s well known in indie rock circles as the site of a legendary interview between John Peel and Ian Curtis in 1979, and today pays heed to its musical heritage with several weekly gigs at its own charming music hall.

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13. The Knott

Bars and pubs Gastropubs

You can tell by just looking at the place that Knott is a higher breed of bar. Jutting from the side of a railway arch, it seems to have grown organically from its surroundings. There are beer adverts and gig posters in lieu of wallpaper and it’s also handily close to the ring road and Deansgate station, for those who like to work out escape plans.

14. Mother Mac’s

Bars and pubs Pubs

Mother Mac's is supposedly one of the most haunted pubs in Manchester, which is one of the many reasons a lot of punters are afraid to go in. That’s a shame: this is a damn good pub and, once you’ve consumed a couple of pints, you’ll be treated like family by those who dwell within.

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15. The Wharf

Bars and pubs Pubs

Let’s get things straight: The Wharf is a chain pub. But it’s a chain pub run by the Good Pub Guide’s pub group of the year, Brunning & Price. Which isn’t exactly a watertight seal of approval but it’s at least some indicator of what you’ll get.

And if it’s tip-top mixology you’re after?

The 11 best bars in Manchester

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars

They say that Manchester is a city that thinks a table is for dancing on and, well, after a few drinks at the best bars in Manchester, you’ll not only agree, but probably be actively encouraged to hop on the nearest stable surface. 

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