Where’s the best place to drink (and eat) outside in Manchester? We’ll admit it. With a moniker like ‘the Rainy City’, there’s always an element of risk involved in committing yourself to a day of outdoor drinking or eating in Manchester. You’re never far away from a soaking in this town. It’s what brings us together under one, big collective umbrella of positive spirit, right? Anyway, don’t let this dissuade you. Summer is on its way, we’re assured, and in the event that the sun does make a welcome appearance, you need to know the best places to head for. Here’s our top picks for places to eat and drink outside in Manchester this summer, in no particular order…
1. GREAT JOHN STREET HOTEL, city centre
As locations go, you’d have a challenge finding a more magnificent one than this.
Situated at the top of a Victorian school turned stylish chic townhouse is a Roof Garden Playground that is ideal for BBQ’s, cocktail parties and weddings. With a south facing terrace that overlooks the city, there’s no better place to raise your glass to a rare, sun-kissed Manchester than the Great John Street Hotel. Residents have access to Sun Loungers and an exclusive Hot Tub, but the rest of the Roof Garden is often open to the public.
Great John Street, Manchester M3 4FD
2. Epernay, City Centre
This champagne bar is a sophisticated and romantic affair, with an enormous array of International wines by the bottle or glass and an exciting cocktail menu. The balcony is a great spot for people watching, overlooking the comings and goings from the Great Northern Warehouse. They serve quality Champagne by the glass at just £6.50.
1a Great Northern Tower, Watson Street, Manchester, M3 4EE
3. Rosylee, Northern Quarter
Rosylee is an ideal setting for Afternoon Tea with the girls, a Sunday Roast with family or cocktails with friends. And the large outdoor terrace, which is one of the biggest and best sun traps in Manchester, make it perfect for al fresco dining or sipping cocktails in the sunshine too.
Rosylee boasts a delicious a la carte food menu, designed by executive chef Rob Owen Brown. All food is prepared on site and sourced as locally as possible, with the fruit and veg from local farms and growers. With precious little space for outdoor grazing in the Northern Quarter, be prepared to fight for a seat – and obviously look smug when you nab one.
11 Stevenson Square, Northern Quarter, Manchester M1 1DB
4. The Lowry Hotel, edge of Salford
Manchester’s first five star hotel sits comfortably upon the meeting point point of Manchester and Salford and boasts the longest bar terrace in the city.
The hotel’s prestige means the chefs have access to some of the best produce in the country, and eating al fresco here is a delight. Overlooking the River Irwell, the open-air terrace is a pretty special place for a bottle of sparkling in the sparkling summer sunshine.
50 Dearmans Place, Salford (just) M3 5LH
5. The Wharf, Castlefield
The Wharf is an al fresco heavyweight in Manchester, and with very good reason. The Castlefield canal basin is a sight to bold when it shimmers under the sun and The Wharf’s large outside terrace area is right at the heart of it.
It gets extremely busy in the summer months, but there are few better places to spend an afternoon. The fantastic pub grub, extensive wine list and old-fashioned charm make for a pretty formidable combination when the big yellow ball does decide to poke its head out from the clouds, and mean that any boats mooring up for the day will be greeted with a lot of smiling faces.
6 Slate Wharf, Castlefield, Manchester M15 4ST
6. Dukes 92, Castlefield
Another Castlefield favourite, Dukes is Manchester’s original bar & grill and the perfect choice for informal and infectiously friendly al fresco in the daytime hours.
The huge canalside patio area is legendary amongst locals, and a 40 cover balcony just above ensures that if you’re looking for some genuine Mancunian atmosphere to go with you sun tan – you’re in the right place. As a grill, Duke’s reputation speaks for itself, and the jewel in the seamlessly diverse menu’s crown is probably the sumptuous cheese board – even better in the warm summer glow.
18 Castle Street, Castlefield, Manchester M3 4LZ
7. Mr Thomas’s Chop House, city centre
Mr Thomas’s Chop House is a Manchester institution, and boasts the most city-central outside bar area in this list. If you like being right in the thick of the action as you sip your way through what may well be the longest wine list in Manchester, then look no further.
The beer garden – and trust us when we say this place knows how do beer – is a gorgeous place to catch the sun and a great way to sit back and watch the trendy shopper’s buzz around as you enjoy some quintessential Manchester hospitality. The summer menu is plentiful with salads and light bites for guilt-free al fresco, and all the ingredients are freshly local.
52 Cross Street, Manchester M2 7AR
8. Taurus, Canal St
Canal Street is synonymous with Manchester’s community spirit and colourful diversity, and one of its most popular bars, Taurus, is about to relaunch after a £100k refurbishment. The canal is the heartbeat of the village, and Taurus’s outdoor seating area is a perfectly picturesque way to enjoy an afternoon in its company.
The new restaurant and bar is looking to bring a Northern Quarter vibe, with Spinningfields quality and, of course, a Canal Street welcome. A top choice for those long summer days then. The reimagined menu is placing particular emphasis on vegan options too, so nobody is left out. And it probably doesn’t need mentioning that there is plenty to do in the area should you choose to stay beyond daylight…
1 Canal Street, Manchester, M1 3HE
9. The Oast House, Spinningfields
When it comes to eating and drinking outside, the Oast House needs no introduction. But it’s getting one anyway. In its own words, The Oast House ‘turns the cosmopolitan Spinningfields on its head’, and its not wrong. This authentic, rustic pub is a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the high street, but still offers everything you want and more from a pub. Fantastic ales, a simply sublimely tasty deli, BBQ and rotisserie, and one of the best social hubs anywhere in Manchester.
You probably already know about the beer garden, but rest assured the Oast House’s outdoor summer events and live music will guarantee a great time whenever you choose to go. It’s busy for a reason.
The Avenue Courtyard (Spinningfields), Manchester M3 3AY
10. The Lawn Club, Spinningfields
After being closed since the start of the year, The Lawn Club is reopening this month just in time for the (fingers crossed) arrival of the sunshine.
A fusion of glamorous surroundings and traditional Northern charm make this quirky bar a brilliant, very modern retreat. The new look venue will include an outside decking area complete with more seats, all weather parasols and an outside BBQ. The shiny, green lawn is more enticing than ever before.
Priding itself on seasonal food and drinks, the bar will offer creative twists on summer cocktail favourites, fine wine, craft beers and specially selected soft drinks. Uncomplicated small plates and sharing platters will all be locally sourced and ready to indulge on those toasty summer afternoons.
Byrom Street (Spinningfields), Manchester M3 3HG
11. The Laundrette, Chorlton
Trendy Chorlton’s The Laundrette has a cherished history. Once a famous greengrocer and until 2010, naturally, a laundrette, this restaurant bar is proud of its industrial past, and also happens to be rather good when the sun’s out.
The roomy and very comfortable terrace area is the perfect place to enjoy one of their artisan pizzas or commendably inventive cocktails. Another suburban haven for the summer.
32 Beech Road, Manchester M21 9EL
12. Barca, Castlefield
Yet another Castlefield nomination enters the list. It must be something in the (canal) water.
Barca’s decked terrace is one of the largest in Manchester, and they’ve got a giant new BBQ ready for the sizzling, summer rush. It’s central Castlefield location means you’re right in the thick of the action, and they even have live music on the terrace. If you just squint your eyes you might even start to believe you’re on holiday.
8-9 Catalan Square (Castlefield), Manchester M3 4RU
13. The Metropolitan, Didsbury
We’re all in agreement that central Manchester is packing its fair share of wonderful suntraps, but for those preferring their processo served suburban, Didsbury is even more charming in the summer. The popular village has numerous outdoor grazing spots, but for our money one of the best is The Metropolitan.
With a huge terrace that is as generous with sun as it is with shade, The Met is packed to the rafters in the summer months. It’s a great choice for families as there are always kids whizzing around and the lunch menu is pub grub with a touch of class.
2 Lapwing Lane, Manchester M20 2WS
14. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
The DoubleTree by Hilton hotel has a number of outdoor options for sun-chasers. In the next few weeks they’ll be relaunching their spacious terrace bar in time for summer. With one of the best locations in the city, it’s an ideal spot for a few glasses of bubbly if you need an escape from the Piccadilly hustle and bustle.
For the spectacular, there’s also the SkyLounge, the private penthouse dining facility that has amazing views across Manchester made even better by the outdoor lounge area.
1 Auburn St, One Piccadilly Place, Manchester M1 3DG
15. RGB Terrace, city centre
Restaurant Bar & Grill is, needless to say, a very fine place to chow down on a burger. But they also have a great outdoor terrace for a relaxing drink or two. Because it’s directly opposite the Manchester Arena, there’s no better place to meet before one of this summer’s many concerts and live events. Just make sure you actually remember to leave!
14 John Dalton Street, Manchester
16. Worsley Old Hall, Worsley
Nestled in Northern Manchester, Worsley Old Hall is a stunning, grade II listed building with a gigantic outdoor terrace and garden area that is heavenly in the peak of July.
They have an excellent brunch menu and a Sunday roast that changes each week. It often feels like there are precious few green areas in Manchester City Centre, but Worsley Old Hall has postcard-perfect, golf course views, plenty of grassy spaces and it’s a real winner for a family day out.
Worsley Park, Worsley, Manchester M28 2QT
17. ATLAS BAR, CITY CENTRE
Gin & Tonics and sunny weather go hand in hand, which makes Atlas – boasting over 150 different gins – a mecca for summer drinkers. And it’s not just g&t’s. Atlas also stocks a great range of beers and wines, and its wonderfully exotic, award-winning garden area is one of the very best places to enjoy them all. The legendary Deansgate bar has recently been refurbished and not long ago launched a tasty new Spring menu. Plus they’re refurbing the outdoor terrace at the end of April. A solid gold choice for anyone wanting to soak up some solid gold rays.
376 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY