It’s no secret that I love Manchester. I’ve been living here now for almost three years, but I’ve only been in the city centre since I came back from travelling last August. For so long I felt like I didn’t really have anywhere to call home because there wasn’t any place I really connected to enough to root myself in for any great length of time. I might not be quite ready to pack in travel and settle down permanently, but if anything is going to stop me from buying that one way ticket I’ve been eyeing up on Skyscanner, it’s Manchester.
I think that’s thanks, in no small part, to living in Ancoats. Recently ranked as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Europe, this once run-down area of the city is now its most up and coming. Too upmarket for students but still too rough around the edges for the young middle-class families, it suits me perfectly as a twenty-something with minimal responsibilities. And while rent might not be what you’d consider cheap, it’s much more reasonable than in other parts of the city.
People always say the Northern Quarter is the place to be in Manchester and while I’ll never not be recommending my favourite shops, bars and cafes there, its neighbour Ancoats is equally deserving of your time.
It’s home to the best pizza in town – A bold claim, but hardly surprising given that Ancoats was once known as Little Italy. Be prepared to queue – sometimes up to two hours (!) as this cosy Neapolitan pizzeria doesn’t take bookings and is rightly very popular. Nowhere else in the city manages to come close to its crispy yet doughy and perfectly charred pizza base. I went for the cheese-less Marinara topped with a simple tomato sugo, basil and garlic. Controversially Tom liked it even better than his Ancozzese.
If pizza isn’t your thing other notable spots include the Scandi-inspired Squid Ink, Mexica, post-workout favourite Kettlebell Kitchen and artisan bakery Companino.
*Rudy’s Pizza, 9 Cotton Street, M4 5BF
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The street art – Okay so it probably can’t rival the Northern Quarter, but Ancoats has a fair few street art gems of its own too. Why not see more on a Manchester street art tour?
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You can actually take a moment to breathe – There’s always something going on in the Northern Quarter, which sometimes is precisely the problem. While Ancoats is far from boring, you’re almost guaranteed peace and quiet as you wander round. Especially if you head down to the canal and New Islington Marina where you could be forgiven for thinking you were miles from the city centre rather than a ten minute walk. Just watch out for the geese! They have the Manc swagger down to an absolute tee and they know who’s boss. You better believe that you’re finding a different place to sit if they decide you’re not welcome.
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The coffee’s pretty great too – With not a chain coffee shop in sight, Ancoats is the perfect place to grab a brew and actually enjoy it in peace and quiet. Drinking a coffee by the canal before work is one of my new favourite hobbies. Am I millennial enough yet? From coffee roasters at Ancoats Coffee Co. to Japanese tea house Cha-ology and a whole host of Vietnamese cafes, you’ll never be too far away from your next caffeine fix.
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Ancoats General Store – A proper Ancoats institution and the epitome of the neighbourhood, the Ancoats General Store is so much more than your usual corner shop. In addition to a well-stocked (if slightly overpriced) shop, Ancoats General also has an on-site bar and cafe and hosts the weekly SCRANcoats pop-up showcasing local street food vendors. What other corner shop do you know of that will be on hand for a last minute Sunday evening vegan burger dash?
*Ancoats General Store, 57 Ancoats Street, M4 5AB
Drinking in Cutting Room Square will make you feel like a teenager again – If there’s one thing central Manchester is lacking it’s beer gardens, so on one of those rare sunny days one of my favourite watering holes is Cutting Room Square. It’s a slight step up from tinnies and cheap cider but sitting in the square sipping wine from paper cups takes me back to the good old days.
Want to know more about my favourite Manchester hangouts? Check out my articles on Spotted By Locals – travel guides featuring tips hand-picked and curated by bloggers in 60+ cities worldwide.