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Photograph: Marketing ManchesterCutting Room Square, Ancoats

Ancoats, Manchester neighbourhood guide: what to see, eat and do

From restaurants and bars to art galleries, here are all the best things to see and do in Ancoats, Manchester

Rob Martin
Written by
Rob Martin

In the past, we’ve named this fast-changing neighbourhood centred around Cutting Room Square one of the coolest places in the world. And now it seems the idea is catching on. These days, Ancoats features regularly in all sorts of ‘best of’ lists from publications all over the world. Like many places that see a sudden regeneration, places to eat, drink and be entertained come and go until things start to settle down and residents decide what’s right for the community, and so it has been in Ancoats.

And while there’s no doubt that the area has become synonymous with Manchester’s emerging food scene (and has some of the city’s best bars too), there’s more to the place than dining and drinking. In the mood for some classical music? One of the city’s most innovative theatres? A boutique treat for your pet? Head to Ancoats and you’ll find all of that and more.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Manchester

Best things to do in Ancoats, Manchester

Cutting Room Square
Photograph: Marketing Manchester

1. Cutting Room Square

Cutting Room Square is the beating heart of Ancoats. It does what Manchester is so good at, celebrating a proud industrial heritage while constantly looking to the future. Sit in the open air, take in the five giant copper monoliths that look out over the square, and gaze out over the foreground of the converted warehouses and St Peter’s Church. On the other side are some of the finest, award-winning places to dine – in Manchester or anywhere. Cutting Room Square’s seamless mix of culture, exquisite dining and rich sense of history makes it one of the coolest places in the city, let alone in Ancoats.

On the outskirts of Ancoats over towards the Etihad Stadium, a small space with big ambitions is bringing some of the very best theatre to the city right now. Inspired by the Off West End Theatres and small producing venues which dominate the London theatre scene, Hope Mill officially opened its doors in November 2015 and has become one of the most successful and reputable independent venues in England. It’s easy to see why, as its fantastic programme never fails to deliver superb quality in an intimate space.


Set up and run by two brothers who have named their venue after their mum (but no, not that one), The Jane Eyre is much more than you might expect from its description as a ‘warm and welcoming neighbourhood bar’. And it’s a whole lot more than that too, being one of the finest places to eat in the city. No surprise that the menu consists of small plates, but what small plates, with some of the food on offer more than rivalling more expensive nearby restaurants. 

Since 1811, The Edinburgh Castle has been serving the good people of Ancoats with a beverage or two. These days we can guarantee the food is a lot better than back then, but there’s still a lovely old charm about the pub that immediately feels like a relaxing step back to calmer times. Whiskey is the drink of the house, and there are many, many varieties from which to choose, but there’s a great wine and ale selection too and, as mentioned, the food is great, including their delicious Sunday lunch.


Sir Charles Hallé founded his orchestra in Manchester in 1858 and, since then, it has become one of the finest in the country and beyond. It was based at the Free Trade Hall and then Bridgewater Hall, but Hallé St Peters has been the home for the orchestra since Ancoats started its rejuvenation back in 2013, when the Manchester International Festival hosted an incredible performance of ‘Macbeth’ wstarring Kenneth Branagh in the deconsecrated church. Now that space and the award-winning Oglesby Centre stand at one end of Cutting Room Square, inviting you in for a concert or a cuppa.

Still maintaining a well-earned place among the very best pizza restaurants in the country, Rudy’s has expanded from its Ancoats origins to several other sites across Greater Manchester and nationally as well. But the famed Ancoats venue remains, and a visit easily reveals why the brand is such a success. Sticking to their tried and tested formula of creating proper Neapolitan pizzas, the simplicity of the vegan dough, the freshness of the toppings and the warm feel from the team are enough to keep that queue heading out of the door. That, and the very reasonable prices. If Ancoats is a dining destination these days – and, who are we kidding, of course it is – then Rudy’s must be one of the main reasons why.


Blossom Street Social is, as you might suspect, more than just a neighbourhood bar – it’s a big ol’ place to hang. Yes, there’s wine, beer, spirits and food, but there are also events, music and even the opportunity to shop for a lovely gift. And the food here is far from incidental – yet another reason why Ancoats is the culinary heart of Manchester right now. Look out for their weekend ‘social sessions’ too, which make the venue a one-stop shop for pretty much all you need on a good night out.

A wander around Ancoats will reveal that both residents and visitors love taking their four-legged besties with them. Not only are many venues in Ancoats totally cool with your dogs dropping in with you, there’s now a store catering just to pampered pooches. With products emphasising sustainability and kindness to the planet as well as animal comfort, it’s more like stepping into a boutique than a pet shop. You’ll find luxurious food items, ethical dog wash, leads, collars and harnesses from recycled materials, and much more.


Part of 42nd Street, the younth mental health charity, The Horsfall is a gallery and creative space designed to encourage a connection between mental health, well-being, art and nature. Thomas Horsfall opened the Ancoats Art Museum to improve the lives of the poor people who lived in the area back in 1884. Now, exhibitions, activities and more occupy the same spot, ensuring that the Horsfall legacy lives on.

This famed neighbourhood bar and kitchen is one of those places that has helped put Ancoats on the culinary map. It’s a narrow space with an industrial aesthetic but cosy booths and a friendly staff warm the place up no end. And then there’s the fantastic food, a combination of British small plates, brunches, Sunday lunches and more. Incidentally, the name comes from the first name for Ancoats, ‘elnecot’ meaning ‘lonely cottages’, although the place is so popular we doubt there’s any room for loneliness anymore.


Just across from The Edinburgh Castle is Canto, with its Mediterranean-tinged small plates (no surprise given that Canto comes from the team behind El Gat Negro). Ingredients are sourced both locally and internationally and there’s a fantastic wine selection too. The food is exquisite, the atmosphere is warm and it’s a perfect spot on the edge of Cutting Room Square for a shared bite to eat. In fact, check out their excellent ‘group-value menu’ for parties of seven or more.

Not only is Ancoats a great place to visit, it’s also a great place to live. So whether you’re a resident or you’re doing a spot of cooking in your nearby aparthotel, Ancoats General Store will serve you well for all of your domestic needs. And that includes a great selection of drinks of the spirit, wine and beer sort. Stock up on fresh produce, vegan goods, bread – all your daily essentials or just a hot cup of coffee. Oh, and it’s a post office too!


Ostensibly a bar offering low-impact wines, Erst has really made a name for itself thanks to its small-plates offering. For some it’s the best restaurant in Ancoats, causing the venue to be in the envious position of sometimes being booked out (so reserve a table in advance). The place is often described as ‘New York’ in its style and the atmosphere is cool and calm. The menu is small and perfectly formed, but if you don’t eat meat or fish you’re choices are limited. 

Waterside Coffee
Photograph: Rob Martin

14. Waterside Coffee

As you might guess from the name, this lovely café sits across from the canal, so you can take in relaxing views while you tuck into the fine food on offer. And that offering includes full breakfasts, lunches, cakes and sandwiches – perfect for when you’re on the go, heading to a meeting, or if you just want to sit back with a brew and enjoy a slice of something sweet. The staff are as warm as the coffee, so expect a hearty welcome.


The Seven Bro7hers beerhouse – yes there are seven of them and yes they are actual brothers – has been a stalwart of Ancoats for years. The brothers were inspired by their own dad’s basement brewing, which gave them a love for ale and for family, and this ethos spills over into the fabric of the Seven Bro7hers company, brewing their ales in Salford out by Media City. With such a vast range of bottles on offer, don’t worry if you’re a little bewildered as to which one to go for – the friendly staff know their stuff and will be happy to help you out.

Inspired by the cuisine of southern Italy, Sugo has several sites in Manchester, the Ancoats one facing Blossom Street Social. Upon opening it was deemed to be one of the very finest places for pasta in the city and the small but delightful menu exudes quality. 

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