Walks in Manchester: best restaurants and bars where you don’t always need reservations

These are some great Manchester bars and restaurants where you don’t always need to book in advance.

Spontaneous nights out can be a lot of fun, but trying to find a table in Manchester city centre at short notice – not so fun. Luckily, there are plenty of places in Manchester that offer, or even welcome, walk-ins – you just need to know where to look.

We’ve looked through some of the city’s restaurants in the Northern Quarter and Deansgate, areas which both have a high concentration of restaurants and bars, to find out the best walk-in spots. Here are some of our favourites.

Northern Quarter

The Northern Quarter is home to a lot of independent bars and restaurants, and the majority of them offer walk-ins. However, some of them are quite small so fill up quicker on peak times. During the pandemic, Stevenson Square, Thomas St and Edge Street were pedestrianised, with the resident bars and restaurants extending their seating areas into the streets, which means they have more space than ever.

Pie and Ale, as the name suggests, specialises in craft ale and pies. It’s a good place to go if you’re in need of a hearty meal, but it’s also a great place for a quiet drink. Tucked away just off Stevenson Square, it does not get as much foot traffic as its neighbours so tends to be quieter. However, they do screen football and other sporting events, so maybe avoid on match days. Pie and Ale is open from 12pm daily.

Almost Famous is always a crowd pleaser. Famed for their extravagant burgers, they have recently moved Northern Quarter locations to a larger space on Edge Street. If they happen to be busy, there is another, bigger Almost Famous franchise just a 20-minute walk away at the Great Northern Warehouse. They are open 12-10pm every day.

Nell’s Pizza at Common on Edge Street is great if you’re just looking for a quick bite and a couple of drinks as they offer pizza by the slice, as well as whole pizzas. They also have another city centre location at Kampus, near the Gay Village and just a 15-minute walk away. Nell’s is open 12-10pm daily.

Ezra & Gil is a walk-ins only restaurant that is most well known for its brunch and breakfasts. It is a very popular spot, so there is often a queue to get in, especially if it is brunch you are after.

Deansgate and Spinningfields

This is another area of the city centre known for its restaurants and bars. Here are some of our favourites.

HOME, the cultural hub located on First St near the Deansgate metro stop, has three separate spaces for food and drink. They recommend you book if you’re wanting to visit the first floor restaurant, but the ground floor bar area is for walk-ins. They also offer takeaway options, so if it’s a nice day you will have no problem finding space in the square outside.

Oast House in Spinningfields is another good spot to pop into at the last minute, as they mostly accept walk-ins, only taking booking for parties of six or more people. Their website even states that they have room for people most of the time. They serve everything from full roast dinners to just a plate of wings. They also have a great outdoor bar and terrace.

Bunny Jacksons, is an American-style dive bar, which prides itself as being the “home of the 25p wing.” They do not take any bookings and only welcome walk-ins. The bar is open until 3am daily and the kitchen is open until 10pm.

Food halls

Food halls can be a great option if you’re looking for a last minute place as the premises are usually a lot bigger than traditional restaurants. And because they have several food vendors under one roof, it’s a good option if you’re still deciding what kind of cuisine you’re in the mood for.

Mackie Mayor in the Northern Quarter is probably the most well known and was recently named the best food hall in the country. Elsewhere in the city centre, Manchester also has Society, which has four kitchens, a cocktail bar and taproom. If it’s a nice day and you don’t mind sitting outdoors, Hatch on Oxford Rd is designed with walk-ups in mind. It has several food vendors and bars, as well as other kinds of shops and a stage where performances regularly take place.