The Top 10 Cafés And Teahouses In Manchester's Hip Northern Quarter

Cafe at sunset
Cafe at sunset | © jonas01123/Flickr
Sophia White

New York has Williamsburg, Los Angeles has Silverlake and Manchester has the Northern Quarter. The creative hub of the city is home to a host of independent shops, restaurants and bars, as well as the highest concentration of independent cafés and coffee shops in the city. Whether you are a vegan or a coffee aficionado, there is plenty on offer in our top ten pick of cafés.

Fig + Sparrow

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

Coffees in Fig and Sparrow

1. Takk

Cafe, Coffee Shop, Coffee, British, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Steakhouse, Fast Food

Takk artisan coffee house
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.

2. Blue Daisy Café

Cafe, Deli, British, Contemporary

Vegetarian Breakfast
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.

3. Earth Café

Cafe, Vegan

Stuffed Pepper
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.

4. Home Sweet Home

Cafe, Contemporary, American

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.

5. Nexus Art Café

Cafe, British, Vegetarian

Nexus Art Cafe
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.

6. Teacup

Cafe, Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Tea Room, Dessert, Coffee, British

©Teacup Kitchen
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.

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