Deansgate, the southwest gateway to Manchester city centre, has seen some changes in recent times. Step back a mere 10 years, and most of it was a bit flyblown. The Kendals/King Street area, with its upmarket shops, has always been posh but once you got past the Sawyer's Arms, pub, well, it all got a bit grotty. There were a few greasy spoons, some fairly downmarket pubs, and lots of motorbike shops -- plus the odd chippy. It's now changed for the better but the bad news is that every weekend (and some days of the week) Deansgate can resemble downtown Benidorm. Gangs of bright young things en route to Castlefield tend to stoke up at the many bars and restaurants which have sprung up. Speaking bluntly, it can be a nightmare. Yet Deansgate also has some of the best places to eat and drink in town so it's worth risking a bit of raucous behaviour.
Topkapi Palace - Turkish
A wonderfully quirky little place which in various locations have been in business almost 30 years. It's family-run, and offers Turkish food all excellently cooked with fresh ingredients. They do great shish kebab, chunks of marinated lamb cooked over charcoal with spices. And there's a long list of hot and cold meze from spinach with yogurt to Turkish sausages, grilled cheese, and spicy meatball. Their firin kebab - Lamb shank with roast potatoes and cumin is also tops. Hard to spend more than £25 a head with wine.
Evuna - Spanish
Absolutely excellent Spanish food. The menu at Evuna is small but perfectly formed from great tapas -- Serrano ham, tortillas and Manchego cheese are a speciality -- plus main dishes like seabass and paella. There's a fantastic wine list (it's principally a wine importers) which can't be bettered anywhere else in the city. From modest beginnings, this has become a really cool place to eat and drink and booking is advised at weekends.
The Living Room - Stylish international cuisine
Another footballer's favourite, which was recently refurbished,. The Living Room opened about six years ago in Manchester and was the spot where the paparazzi skulked in case Beckham turned up (he sometimes did). It doubles as a nightclub and has The Dining Room, a very decent restaurant with an interesting international menu, which changes regularly according to season. Current offerings include salt and pepper squid, duck spring rolls, mussels of the day, salmon fishcakes and other eclectic choices.
Café Rouge - French-ish
OK it's a chain but still worth a mention. Café Rouge may be an old-fashioned concept but offers decent wine and affordable food of the bistro variety -- lots of chicken liver pate, beef bourguignon, salads and so on. The good thing here is that because it's not trendy it doesn't get too crowded. A good place to stop if you're in need of a shopping break and especially welcoming to women in search of a place to lunch and gossip or eat on their own without harassment.
Dimitris - Greek and Mediterranean
Over the road from Evuna, Dimitris Taverna recently celebrated 10 years in business. One bar fronts onto Deansgate while the older bit backs onto Castlefield. Still owned by Dimitri Grilopouolos, this cosy eaterie offers loads of Mediterranean faves. Many, like the kleftiko and moussaka are of Greek origin but you can also get stuff like patatas bravas, bean stews, kebabs, and all manners of dips with nachos. Open late at the weekends and a favourite with media folk.
Jowata - African
Probably Manchester's only African restaurant and one which offers genuinely different grub. It's basically stews and casseroles, made from ingredients like yam and sweet potato. Spicing is subtler than in Indian cuisine, not so hot, and the stodge factor is high. Probably not to everyone's taste but again this has been in business a long time and has a loyal clientele.
La Tasca - Tapas Bar
The first, and arguably the best, of what later became a nationwide chain. Open over 10 years, La Tasca (view a 360 movie) was once the haunt of Manchester United's Eric Cantona. They have kept things much the same since tbe days when The King used to sip on a San Miguel. The range of tapas is reasonably authentic and they also make a decent fist of dishes like paella but in the evenings the accent is more on drink than food. There's live music in the bar downstairs, and it's open late at the weekends. A really lively place to hang out if you're young, free and single.
The NCP car park at the back of Kendals is the nearest. There used to be lots more but most of the said sites are now occupied by new flats and the massive new Spinnginfields complex.
The NatWest, John Dalton Street, and Abbey on Deansgate itself. But there are lots others dotted around on nearby St Ann's Square.
The Sawyers Arms will win no prizes in the style stakes but it offers cheap and cheerful food of the steak and chips variety. There's also a giant screen for the footie fans. It boasts an impressive Edwardian tiled frontage but has had many refurbs over the years. Once one of many hostelries on Deansgate, it is now one of the few originals surviving. Fashionistas won't like it but traditional beer buffs still frequent its doors in search of a cheap pint and a pie.
Open 15 years, and still popular. Atlas, once independently owned, was bought by a corporate concern some years ago but continues to draw the crowds. When it opened, no one lived in the area. Now it's surrounded by apartments of the executive variety. Right next to Deansgate station, it's a great starting-point for a Manchester night out. They do nice food at lunchtimes -- mainly light snacks and soups.
You are spoilt for choice for late-night drinking here. Most of the above places mentioned here are open late at weekends but The Living Room is probably the most vogueish. Another late-night newcomer is Label, next door to Living Room, which is open until 2am at the weekends.
More Manchester Neighbourhood Watch Areas Albert Square (2006) | Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton (2006) | Burton Road, West Didsbury (2006) | Canal Street (2006) | Chapel Walks (2006) | Cross Street (2006) | Deansgate (2006) - Deansgate Locks (2006) | Drake Street, Rochdale (2006) | Faulkner Street (2006) | George Street, Chinatown (2006) | King Street (2006) | Lloyd Street (2006) | Oldham Street (2006) | Oxford Road (2006) | Palatine Road, Northenden (2006) | Peter Street (2006) | Piccadilly Gardens (2006) | Portland Street (2006) | Princess Street (2006) | Shudehill (2006) | St Peter's Square (2006) | The Curry Mile (2006) | Whitworth Street (2006) | Wilbraham Road (2006)