Light and shade: why Corn Exchange is the perfect place for stylish alfresco drinking and dining


Corn Exchange Manchester has a huge selection of restaurants to choose from. Thirteen to be exact, offering a variety of world cuisines and some beautiful, south facing spots for dining al fresco whilst you soak up some rays.

With three expansive outdoor areas, plus takeaway options for lunchers looking to do it picnic style, The Corn Exchange offers something for any mood or occasion.

Whether you’re looking to top up your tan or simply avoid being burnt to a crisp, there’s something for you to enjoy here.

Let’s start with the shady spots.

If you’re a shy and retiring English rose, opt for a quiet area out of the sun on the medieval, cobbled Cathedral Street side where you’ll find Alston Bar & Beef, Pho and Mowgli.

Here you can enjoy some protection from the sun whilst still getting a breeze in the outdoor seating areas, not to mention enjoying stunning views of Manchester’s neo-gothic cathedral.

If you’re feeling something hearty and classically British, give Alston Bar & Beef a try. They specialise in two of our favourite things – dry-aged steaks and gin by the bucket load. We’ve got a lot of good things to say about this place.

For a taste of Vietnam, visit Pho with its authentic cuisine and enjoy its relaxed al fresco seating. Its light menu is perfect for a sunny afternoon, with fresh juices, healthy noodles and summer rolls all on offer.

For street food and small plates to mix and match for easy meat-free eating, Mowgli has to be the shout. The Temple Dahl is particularly recommended, a comfort-food combination of red lentil, toasted cumin, coriander and lemon.

If you don’t do well in the heat, why not prove to yourself that eating spicy food on a hot day cools you down by making you sweat. No excuse not to give it a go now.

On to the full-on sun traps

If you’re after hustle and bustle and lots and lots of sunshine, sit yourself down at Vapiano, Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Cosy Club or Salvi’s – all perfect for enjoying the buzz of Exchange Square whilst topping up your sun tan.

Cosy Club has a new food and drink menu and is offering any two cocktails for £9.95 from Sunday to Thursday between 4 and 8 pm, as well as a pop-up Aperol Spritz bar which has just launched on its terrace offering 2 for 1 aperitivo cocktails between 3 and 9pm.

Banyan Bar & Kitchen has a huge outdoor area perfect for indulging in its generous selection of gin & tonics, including Empress 1908 and Warner Edwards Rhubarb. If you get peckish, you can buy two courses for £14.95 from Sunday to Friday after 5pm.

Salvi’s Mozzarella Bar has a cosy outside area that is perfect for enjoying some delicious pizza and pasta with an Aperol Spritz. If the sun is shining in Exchange Square and the water feature is working, it could almost be at the Trevi fountain in Rome. Ish.

On the other side of The Corn Exchange, Fennel Street looks out onto the grassy knoll of Cathedral Gardens, a grand place for sitting out and enjoying one of Cabana’s delicious cocktails whilst taking in views of both historic Chethams and the National Football Museum – a wonderful mixture of old and new Manchester.

If you’re in the mood to take away, for sunny lunchtime breaks, Cathedral Gardens also make a perfect picnic spot. If you’re looking to build your own from scratch, Salvi’s Deli is ideal with plenty of delicious meats, cheese and antipasto to take away.

Alternatively, Pho to Go is perfect for lunchtime if you want to enjoy some Vietnamese food on the grass, Tampopo offers £5 takeout lunches (what a steal!) or you can enjoy a pizza takeaway with a difference from fresh Italian eatery, Vapiano.

No matter what you’re in the mood for, if you find yourself in the city centre wondering where to go, you can guarantee that you’ll find it at Corn Exchange.



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