The front section of Fig + Sparrow sells lifestyle goods such as bags, candles, cards and prints. From the street, all you can really see of a seating area is the window and outdoor seating, which is a good vantage point to look out onto busy Oldham Street. On entering, it comes as quite a surprise how far the café goes back. The furniture is mostly all wooden, including a wooden deer’s head, giving the atmosphere an interesting interplay between rustic and modern. There is a wide selection of teas and coffees, about which the staff are all knowledgeable, and they stock Trove’s bread which makes for delicious sandwiches.
Fig + Sparrow, 20 Oldham Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 228 1843
North Tea Power
The interior of North Tea Power, with its bold wood and artwork, reflects the food and drink that are on offer: simple and high-quality. It boasts a wide selection of loose leaf teas and an equally impressive coffee menu that makes North Tea Power a must-visit for both tea and coffee lovers. The staff expertly serve hand crafted coffee and they also introduce new, experimental creations throughout the year. While the drinks are the star of the show, there is also a good selection of food available as an accompaniment to your speciality brew. Specials change daily, but you can expect to find grilled cheese, salads and soup on the menu.
Oklahoma is one of the more vibrant cafés in the Northern Quarter and features a gift shop alongside its food and drink. Oklahoma was founded in 1998 and has recently had a makeover, so even if you’ve been before, it’s worth another visit. In its entirety, Oklahoma is huge, covering over 2000 square feet of floor space. The vegetarian café offers a wide range of coffees, teas, cakes, breakfasts, soups, salads and sandwiches. In the café, you can browse through over 500 titles in their art-house DVD rental library and take in the eclectic goods that are for sale in the gift-shop. This is what the Northern Quarter is all about.
Oklahoma, 74-76 High Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 834 1136.
Sugar Junction is one of the more refined cafés in the city centre and offers some of the best cakes and afternoon teas. The interior is very retro, with 50s style, dainty, vintage cutlery and crockery. The teas are all handpicked by the team, with both teas and coffees being specially blended by local suppliers for Sugar Junction. All of the food is homemade by the team which, considering the size of the sweet and savoury menus, is quite an impressive feat. The relaxed and charming atmosphere, as well as the fine china, will give you a pleasant twang of nostalgia that brings a drop of sophistication to the Northern Quarter.
Sugar Junction, 60 Tib Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 839 1444.
For all the themes that could be chosen in opening a coffee shop, Nordic doesn’t seem the most obvious. Takk, meaning ‘thank you’ in the Scandinavian languages, serves as a creative hub and artisan coffee house, offering hand-roasted and drip coffee from Iceland. Not technically a themed coffee shop, Takkaccording to owner Philip Hannaway strives to ‘create something that feels Icelandic – a space that feels warm and welcoming; cosy and comfortable…that recreates the spirit of downtown Reykjavik.’ The large wooden tables, free Wi-Fi, and selection of Scandinavian art, design and travel books has meant that Takk has become the café of choice for creatives choosing to work away from home. The artwork, intimate gigs and artisan coffees and sandwiches do come together to give a little slice of Iceland in Manchester.
Blue Daisy Café
Opposite the famous Affleck’s Palace is the cosy Blue Daisy Café. Open for breakfast, lunch and an early dinner, the café serves vegan and vegetarian all-day breakfasts and has an enviable deli counter with homemade sandwiches, salads and soups for lunch. They also offer homemade bread and cakes, and all food is available to take out. The cafe boasts a prime position on Oldham Street and is often close to capacity. The large windows make it an ideal spot for people watching, while the comfortable interior makes it a pleasant spot to enjoy some hearty fare. Look out for their daily movie quotes on the specials board.
Blue Daisy Café, 36 Oldham Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)7531 441725.
Many cafés in Manchester offer vegan and vegetarian options, but Earth Café takes the crown for delicious fare. Given the name, it will come as no surprise that Earth Café serves 100 per cent gluten-free and vegan food, and the only dairy they offer is in hot drinks for those who don’t like soya milk. Their cuisine is free from artificial ingredients and preservatives and all produce is ethically sourced and largely organic. The café is housed within the Manchester Buddhist Centre, although there is a separate street entrance for those who do not want to go through the centre itself.
Earth Café, 16-20 Turner Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 834 1996.
Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home is fast becoming one of the Northern Quarter’s most popular venues. The cafe menu consists of classic American dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a wide array of cakes. Even if you aren’t in the mood for something sweet, head over to the cake counter to marvel over the size and selection of cakes that are available, all of which are freshly baked on the premises. The milkshakes are incredibly popular and sumptuous, so much so that you will usually find that the majority of tables will have at least one milkshake ordered. For fans of harder drinks, cocktails are courtesy of the team behind the old Socio Rehab.
Home Sweet Home, 49-51 Edge Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 244 9424.
Nexus Art Café
Nexus Art Café is the only cafe in the city centre that also functions as a community art space. The artwork alone makes the cafe worth the visit as it celebrates local talent and creativity in a series of changing displays. The cafe is part of the Central Methodist Church, the home of Wesleyan Methodism, and its main ethos surrounds the Christian values of creativity, community and spirituality, serving both as a cafe and a community space. The menu consists primarily of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and soup. The ingredients are all locally sourced and they have a range of homemade specials which are made to order.
Nexus Art Café, 2 Dale Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 236 0100.
If you plan on coming to Teacup at lunchtime, straight after work or at the weekend, expect to wait. This enduringly popular cafe is owned by electronic music producer, DJ and tea enthusiast Mr Scruff. The cafe has won a number of awards, including best casual dining experience at the Manchester Food and Drink Awards. There is a wide range of loose leaf teas that are available to drink in or as bagged blends to take home. The handroasted coffee comes from Lancashire roasters Atkinson’s. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is available, as well as cakes and other desserts and where possible, all ingredients are Fairtrade or organic.
Teacup, 55 Thomas Street, Manchester, UK, +44 (0)161 832 3233.