This great northern metropolis is probably best known for the many incredible Indian restaurants on its Curry Mile, but being the friendly city that it is, it’s also teeming with lovely cafes. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to catch up with friends over breakfast, perhaps with little ones in tow, or craving a quiet half hour with a great cup of coffee, we’ve assembled a hot list of Manchester cafes for your perusal.
Some major in wholesome breakfasts, while others are all about premium coffee or speciality teas, so you’re bound to find one you love. Each of our picks has its own distinct vibe, from trendy to cosy and everything in between, and all deserve their place in our round-up of the best cafes in Manchester.
What: Located at the edge of the Northern Quarter, this independent café is beloved by locals for its fresh, home-cooked breakfasts, which are always served with a smile. Café North’s version of a full-English comes in three sizes: mini, big and super, and they’ll serve up eggs just about any way you can think of.
Salads, sandwiches and burgers supplement its extensive breakfast offering (which also includes things like pancakes and granola), and you’ll find a range of alcoholic bevs on the menu alongside the many hot drinks, smoothies, juices and milkshakes on offer.
Where: 66 Shudehill, Manchester, M4 4AA
Ezra & Gil
What: This trendy neighbourhood hang-out has a vision true to its name (Ezra means ‘helper’ and Gil means ‘happiness’ in Hebrew), and that is to provide a simple, seasonal menu and serve it in a space that's friendly and wholesome. And, judging by its popularity, it manages to fulfil that vision with ease.
Housed in a former clothing showroom, this industrial chic café majors in all-day brunch items including various things on sourdough (beans, eggs, preserves etc ), house-baked granola and full-English-type combos, but you’ll also find a selection of salads and poke-style bowls come lunchtime. The menu goes through slight seasonal changes, but always caters for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.
Where: 20 Hilton Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1FR
Fig and Sparrow
What: Decked out mostly in reclaimed wood, this vibrant Manchester café is the go-to spot for Mancunians looking for super-friendly service and an excellent cup of Joe. This independent coffee specialist also sells prints, cards and gifts, and is child- and dog-friendly, so you can take the whole family with you for breakfast, a hot drink and slice of cake or a hearty salad.
Window seats and outside seating allow for people-watching as you take a moment in convivial surrounds, either by yourself or with friends, while a range of food and drink options allow for varying dietary requirements. It can sometimes be difficult to get a seat, but it’s worth the wait.
Where: 20 Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JA
What: Described by its founders as “a big fat love letter to Reykjavik – its people, and their love for the coffee bean”, this Scandinavian coffee house and brunch kitchen provides not one, but three welcoming spaces in which to meet, work and enjoy great coffee and food. its Northern Quarter location is as Scandi as you like, with big, communal wooden tables, exposed brickwork and arty prints on the walls.
One of Takk’s major draws is its artisan coffee, which is a single origin coffee from Finca Miravalle in El Salvador (though it does feature guest espresso from some of the best roasters in Europe and further afield too). These guys also source their produce from specialist suppliers, so you can expect fresh and delicious dishes such as maple and coconut chia pudding and French toast with blueberry compote, honey and vanilla mascarpone, cinnamon streusel, maple syrup and pistachios.
Where: 6 Tariff Street, Manchester, M1 2FF
Pot Kettle Black
What: With two locations – one in Barton Arcade and one in Spinningfields – this speciality coffee and brunch spot has proven it’s a popular choice for all occasions, whether it’s a quick coffee catch up, business meeting or lazy weekend brunch.
Folk tend to come here for an exceptional brew served with a smile, but food oughtn’t be overlooked. Colourful plates of breakfast and brunch classics, from egg and avo on toast to fluffy French toast and corn fritters are just some of the tasty offerings Pot Kettle Black serves alongside a range of vegan and gluten-free options.
Where: Unit 14, Barton Arcade, Manchester, M3 2BW
What: If a vintage tea room is your idea of a cosy café then Sugar Junction is a must-visit. Born from a passion for all things vintage, along with a desire to serve delicious cakes and premium blend teas, the owners of this cute café in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the place to go for afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea, comprising a selection of freshly baked cakes, sandwiches, and a pot of loose tea of your choice, is served daily, but you’ll also find the usual brunch and lunch staples on offer too, as well as a range of alcoholic beverages. Space is limited, but it does take bookings.
Where: 60 Tib Street, Manchester, M4 1LG
What: Trove began as a market stall laden with handmade organic chutneys, but has climbed the ranks to become a collection of talented artisans making organic, locally-sourced food from scratch in a beautifully minimalist café in Ancoats, just above the Northern Quarter.
Everything here is made from scratch (except meat, which is sourced locally), so whether it’s a simple bagel with peanut butter or eggs Benedict on toasted sourdough, you know it’ll be as fresh as can be. Pair with an Allpress Espresso coffee and enjoy the peace and tranquillity afforded by the clean, white lines and easy ambience.
Where: 5 Murray Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6HS
Thyme Out Food Co
What: It’s a little way south, but we reckon this buzzy café in Didsbury is worth a trip. Along with locally-roasted Heart and Graft coffee, there’s a tempting menu of brunch classics, as well as an impressive selection of homemade cakes.
The look of the place is nothing special – just your average cosy café vibes – but staff are chipper and did we mention those cakes? Vegans are catered for and the café is fully licensed so you can enjoy a cheeky glass with your meal.
Where: 147 Nell Lane, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2LG
What: Inspired by the cafes and diners of New York City, this trendy coffee house chain is popular with visitors and locals alike, meaning it’s always buzzing with happy punters. The people behind Moose Coffee have taken time to recreate some of the most classic American/Canadian dishes, so you’ll find fat stacks of fluffy pancakes drenched in maple syrup alongside hotdogs, potato hash dishes and even grits.
As you’d expect, this joint is also a solid place for a cup of Joe, thanks to its range of Fairtrade certified South American coffees, though it does offer tea, juices, softs and shakes too. A great place for the whole family, if you’re willing to wait for a table at weekends.
Where: 20 York St, York House, Manchester, M2 3BB
What: This ultra-friendly brunch, lunch and coffee spot in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is run by an all-girl gang with a passion for baking, eating, drinking and chatting. The experience here is honest as they come, with almost everything made on-site (items that aren’t are sourced from local independent businesses).
The menu changes according to the seasons, but the kinds of things you can expect include breakfast bagels, fresh, colourful salads and a range of cakes and baked goods including a fudgy beetroot brownie. Drinks-wise, Nibble offers all the usual caffeinated suspects, including local espresso from Salford Roasters.
Where: 36 Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JN
North Tea Power
What: Just up the road from Sugar Junction, this trendy cafe is known for its great coffee and fair pricing. It serves up a mean grilled cheese sarnie on sourdough alongside other lunch plates such as soup and sandwiches, and a selection of all-day breakfast offerings.
The vibe is industrial chic, but chatty staff make it feel as cosy as can be. Pop in for a takeaway coffee and a pastry from the bar, or settle in for a hearty meal with friends.
Where: 36 Tib Street, Manchester, M4 1LA
What: Situated in the bohemian suburb of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, three miles southwest of the city centre, this coffee shop/tea emporium is the place to go for handcrafted cakes and a loose leaf brew. There are over 20 teas to choose from along with a selection of freshly baked cakes and provisions for breakfast and brunch.
A homely atmosphere and welcoming staff add to Tea Hive’s appeal, as does its vegan, gluten-free and child-friendly offerings.
Where: 53 Manchester Road, Chorlton, Manchester, M21 9PW
For our round-up of the best cafes in London, check out this list of 12 London coffee shops and cafés we can’t get enough of