The very best pubs in Manchester and Salford


Like the very folk who go in them, the pubs of Manchester are a diverse bunch, from those with real ale flowing their veins (well, pipes) to centuries-old watering holes where plans were hatched and drinks were sunk to toast them.

These are the very best of them, as (just about) agreed upon by the Manchester Evening News What’s On team.

The Britons Protection




Perhaps the quintessential Manchester boozer, the Brits has been keeping the city lubricated since 1806, and got its Grade II listing in 1990. With its warren of back rooms, and roaring fire in the winter, there are few places as cosy in the city, not to mention as well stocked with whiskey and bourbon from around the world. It has a staggering 360 in stock at any one time. Philosopher Friedrich Engels is said to have been a patron, while other more recent regulars have included the likes of New Order, the late Anthony Wilson and Elbow’s Guy Garvey.

The Britons Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5LE

The Marble Arch




The flagship pub for the venerable Marble brewery, this crooked bar on the edge of Angel Meadows is a gem off the usual beaten tracks of the Northern Quarter and Ancoats. The floor slopes down from the doorway, putting patrons slightly off kilter before they’ve even had a drink, but it’s just one of the things that makes the Marble unique. The pub grub really is a cut above too.

The Marble Arch, 73 Rochdale Rd, Manchester M4 4HY

The Circus Tavern




It might be the smallest pub in town – and said to be the smallest in the whole of Europe too – but what The Circus lacks in room to swing a cat, it makes up for in character. Comfortingly old school, ask for a hop-forward IPA from Vermont, and you’ll get a pint of Tetley, and bloody well like it. Be prepared to sit cheek-by-jowl with those on the next table, and likely be involved in their conversation too. There’s no other pub like it.

The Circus Tavern, 86 Portland St, Manchester M1 4GX

The Eagle




The Eagle is a music venue, band rehearsal rooms, pub rave hotspot and occasional mosh pit, but it’s also just a humble pub too, at its heart. And a very good one indeed, though one increasingly finding itself surrounded by the rapid development of Salford springing up around it. There are great ales, great food (varying from classic pub nosh to Eritrean cuisine, obviously) and great Sunday evening music sessions too.

The Eagle, 19 Collier St, Salford M3 7DW

The Peveril of the Peak




Clad in its original handsome green tiling, the Pev, plonked on its island off Bridgewater Street, is another irreplaceable part of the city’s landscape. Used as a brothel in the 50s, haunted (reputedly), and run by the same family for 50 years, the mix of clientele can be wild at times, but you’re always assured a decent story. It’s hard to imagine Manchester with the Peveril, so long may it endure.

The Peveril of the Peak, 127 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JQ

The Edinburgh Castle




Perfectly placed to take on the mantle of Ancoats’ favourite local – as the area’s shifted from murky backwater on the wrong side of the tracks to the neighbourhood with the city’s only Michelin star – the Edinburgh Castle is now one of the most handsome boozers in town, after being saved from dereliction in 2019. Its cosy nooks, around a central bar, are ideal for hiding away in, and its Sunday roast is also something to behold too.

The Edinburgh Castle, 19 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5EP

The Castle Hotel




Never short of characters, this Oldham Street standard has always successfully straddled the old and new, the young and the old, the CAMRA card-carrying cardigan wearer and the plaid shirt hipster, and done so effortlessly. Its enduring devotion to live music has always helped this along, with the pub’s feted ‘music hall’ backroom bearing witness to dozens of big breaks over the years. Dating back to 1776, it’s even older than the Brit’s too.

The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE

The Horse and Jockey




Like a highwayman’s refuge, the Jockey, with its mock Tudor frontage and low ceilings, feels like a gnarled and ancient country pub, but finds itself on the leafy village green in Chorlton. Popular with walkers on the nearby trails down to the Mersey and Chorltonites alike, it’s the gateway to the smart shops on Beech Road, and a hub for the local community. The terrace out front is also quite the sun trap for those summer afternoons, and has heaters for the winter too.

The Horse and Jockey, 9 Chorlton Green, Manchester M21 9HS

The Kings Arms




Not to be defined by its famous proprietor – Housemartins icon Paul Heaton – The Kings is far more than the sum of its parts. A solid hulk of a building, this place is all things to all people, from backstreet boozer with its leather banquetes, to thriving arts venue, with its fantastic domed theatre room. Great ales, stained glass and a half decent jukebox, it’s an absolute treasure.

The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom St, Salford M3 6AN

The Rose & Monkey Hotel




The Rose & Monkey has been called all manner of things over its few hundred year history; the Glasgow Tavern, The Grapes, and more recently The Burton Arms. Now it’s the Rose & Monkey, and though it’s only been as such for a few years, it’s deservedly a regular haunt at that end of town, with great beer, great live music, a great crowd and a great beer garden at the back too. It’s great, basically.

The Rose & Monkey Hotel, 31 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JZ

The City Arms




You can feel the passion for craft and real ales the minute you walk into the City Arms, the back bar plastered with paraphernalia from hundreds and hundreds of breweries, the wares of which have graced the pumps at one time or another, with local breweries and those further afield embraced and represented. And don’t get us started on the gins. No Manchester pub crawl would be worth its salt without a stop here.

The City Arms, 46-48 Kennedy St, Manchester M2 4BQ

The Metropolitan




A solid local pub amid the smart bars and restaurants of West Didsbury, The Met might be on the sizable side of things, but it’s nonetheless inviting for all that. It’s the kind of local that anyone would want on their doorstep. The breathtakingly impressive building aside – and it really is quite the pile – it has a sprawling garden for those lazy summer weekends, and roaring fires for the winter.

The Metropolitan, 2 Lapwing Ln, West Didsbury, Manchester M20 2WS

Crown & Kettle




Towering over the corner of the Ancoats and Oldham Roads, the Crown & Kettle might look intimidating from the outside, with its ecclesiastical windows, but it’s a pussycat really. These days, it’s also a craft beer hotspot, its lines flowing with IPAs and Helles for days. Look up and you’ll find it’s also got one of the best ceilings anywhere in the city, and there’s even a hidden garden, should the outside benches on the corner of the A62 and the A665 not appeal.

Crown & Kettle, 2 Oldham Rd, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5FE

The New Oxford




Who doesn’t love a pub on a square? And Bexley Square, the corner of which the cosy New Oxford is tucked in, is a fine one indeed. Something of a real ale paradise, there are 40-odd on tap at any one time, not to mention a vast array of Belgian beers too, ranging from the weiss and wheaty to the worrisomely boozy. There’s always a warm welcome, making the New Oxford an essential stop off on any Salfordian pub crawl.

The New Oxford, 11 Bexley Square, Salford M3 6DB

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