The classier part of Manchester, Deansgate is made up of three major components - expensive shops (from a massive House of Fraser to DKNY), pricy restaurants and bars, and banks. Deansgate itself is just one road, albeit a very long road, especially when you've had a couple, but the area around it stretches from Selfridges to Cross Street, Deansgate Locks to Granada Studios. On a good day you might see WAGs and Corrie stars getting papped as they abuse their plastic, or real celebs (hello, Justin Timberlake) getting turned away from pretentious clubs. The rest of the time you'll see Manchester's answer to the 'beautiful people' staggering around the Locks with half their cocktail spilt on their top, while the genuinely cool people walk past laughing on their way to one of the few quality clubs and bars in the area.
A supremely funky bar, this is a world away from the dinner table shirts and short skirts of the locks. A chilled and comfortable place, Atlas (despite its name) isn't that large. However, the bar does have an ominous ladder heading up to a secret part of the bar. We'd advise not trying to climb up it after a couple of drinks.
376 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LY
0161 834 2124
We'll admit to crying at the following things: The end of Bambi. Any American election. When someone dropped a full pint on our foot. When we got punched for dropping one back on theirs. When Jonathon Ross got two television shows. We open our hearts and tell you all this because when we say that Baa Bar made us weep like children, you will know we were probably crying for a good reason. This is a horrid place and it made us want to put our head in an oven. If you've been there, you'll understand.
Arch 11, Deansgate Locks, Whitworth Street, Manchester, M1 5LH
0161 832 4446
Lakota, previously known as Loaf, has long been the star of the Locks. The interior always somehow seems bigger and grander than the competition and thanks to some canny marketing it can even be busy midweek. The music has taken a turn for the cheesy but then again this is to be expected. The Locks are hardly the cutting edge of cool these days.
Arches 3a-5, Deansgate Locks, Whitworth St West, Manchester, M1 5LH
0161 819 5858
Knott Bar stands firmly by the motif that it's good to talk and if you fancy a quiet chat (of the old-school, face-to-face variety) and an unusual, locally-brewed beer this is exactly the kind of place for you. A comfy atmosphere mixing a bunch of likeminded individuals, you'll feel calm, relaxed and able to ask about your friend's day without having to stand in the only spot in your flat that gets reception.
374 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4LY
0161 839 9229
Tucked away in a cellar off St Ann's Square, Corbieres is a bit of a find. It's got a brilliant jukebox, as nearly every review of the place points out, and the atmosphere is chilled during the week and buzzing at the weekend. The drinks are pretty standard fare for the town centre (European bottled lagers, a few different wines, spirits you'll consider before ordering a pint after all) and the food is definitely worth a go. You might even see the odd indie band in here - though the rest of the crowd are far too cool to let on they've noticed.
2 Half Moon Street, Manchester, M2 7PS
0161 834 3381
The Living Room
Our living room looks like it was stolen from Ikea. Albeit, a really messy and unclean Ikea. Thankfully, this living room looks nothing of the sort. A very high class restaurant, pack your nicest shirt and your classiest dress and embark on a night of fine dining and conversations about overpaid architects in Los Angeles.
80, Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2ER
Panacea is all about being seen. The door staff are notoriously strict so if you're sure you want to go out here, you'd better make an effort. Inside, it's a high-class, drink-champagne-and-watch-celebrities sort of a place. The food is top-notch and the prices are exorbitant. Lucky there are so many banks nearby, eh?
14 John Dalton St, Manchester, M2 6JR
0161 833 0000
Garden furniture masquerading as contemporary seating aside, Simply Heathcotes is a decent little restaurant. The food is delicious, the staff are face-lickingly wonderful and you'll wish you had taken that bank job so you could eat here more often.
14 Lloyd St, Manchester, M2 5ND
0161 835 3536
A fish and chippie with seating, this upmarket restaurant makes sure your kids never want to have fish fingers ever again. With a large selection of freshly caught aquatic life (probably not from the local canal) Livebait is a tad pricey, but worth it if you can't face eating out of newspaper for the fourth time this week.
18-22 Lloyd St, Manchester, M2 5WA
0161 817 4110
We like Tampopo. Oddly named Vietnamese dishes and an oddly shaped seating arrangement that sees you dine next to complete strangers; this is a welcome break from the traditional pub lunch of deep fried chicken burgers. A tip: don't be scared to ask the waiters what you're ordering, everyone does it.
16 Albert Sq, Manchester, M2 5PF
0161 819 1966
Normally, when a restaurant hears it has been reviewed somewhere, there's a tiny tingle of anxiety in the hearts of the staff. Was the service up to scratch? Was the food as perfect as possible? Did the reviewer get indigestion? If you've got a good restaurant and good staff, you don't need to worry most of the time - but it's good to have that tingle. It keeps you feeling alive. Therefore, we pity the staff at Gaucho Grill - their steak is the best in Manchester, their service is spot on, and the restaurant itself is lovely. We don't have a bad word to say about it. Sorry, chaps.
2a St. Mary's St, Manchester, M3 2LB
0161 833 4333
Grill On the Alley
Grill On the Alley has only been open a year, but in that time it has managed to make quite an impression on the steak-chomping public because it serves Kobe steaks. Terrifically expensive, Kobe beef come from cows that have spent their days getting massages and being fed sake (no, really. Google it if you don't believe us). The rest of the menu is pretty good, and far less expensive, though we're still looking at city centre prices, and the service is impeccable, so all in all it's a good choice.
5 Ridgefield, Manchester, M2 6EG
0161 833 3465
One Central Street
With a stylish interior and a dressy crowd, One Central Street is an upmarket sort of a club. It has a good music policy, including the ridiculously popular Funkademia on a Saturday night and Guilty Pleasures once a month too. Drinks can be a little on the pricey side but you’ll probably be too busy dancing to notice.
1 Central Street, M2 5WR
0161 211 9000
There are a few different types of clubbing. There's the 'it's all about the music' type (think Tribal Sessions). There's the 'I want to pull' kind (try Pure). And there’s the 'I’m too beautiful to stay in on a Saturday' sort. That's where Ampersand comes in. Billing itself as the most opulent club in Manchester, Ampersand hosts the legendary Twisted Elegance, as well as Plush. Both are well worth checking out, but make sure you've got your glad rags on. The door staff are about as strict as it gets in Manchester. People have been turned away for wearing knitwear. You have been warned.
Longworth Street, off St. John Street, Deansgate, M3 4BQ
With Manc indie legends Dave Haslam and Clint Boon both hosting nights here, South’s indie pedigree is among the best in the city. If not THE best. We have some fond- if a bit blurry – memories of nights out here, and it’s nice to find a place where you can dance to the coolest indie without being surrounded by students who can’t hold their drink. Thumbs up.
4a South King Street, M2 6DQ
0161 831 7756