Traditionally known as All Saints, the area south of the city centre is home to a smattering of great bars and eateries and as well as Manchester’s university campuses. Top among these are Grosvenor Street’s Deaf Institute and its opposite neighbour Sandbar, which sprawls across the ground floor of two rambling Georgian houses.
Established 16 years ago this has always been a rough and ready venue, with junk shop furniture, bare floors and exposed brick walls, but fashion has caught up in the years since it opened and you’ll recognise its style from many newer bars. It certainly doesn’t put off the hoards of real ale fans who flock here to sample local brews, and the huge range of continental beers the bar imports itself.
Although packed with locals, students and academics in the evenings the place is an oasis of calm on weekdays, when European-tinged meals are available 12:00 – 19:00 and pizzas until 21:00. The WIFI’s free and, unusually for this city, there are several outside seating areas, including a secluded garden. And if the Manchester skies don’t encourage sunbathing you can always just stare at the walls, where you’re likely to see local artists’ paintings or photography.
If that’s not enough Sandbar hosts regular music, cabaret and beer- and whisky-tastings, securing its reputation as a boho haunt without any sniff of pretension. So if the city centre proper’s going alcopop crazy jump on almost any south-bound bus – you can be here in five minutes.
Beer festival: 29 May-2 June.