Manchester’s cafes, bars and restaurants that don’t require a booking

If you are anything like the team at Lily Shippen and love going out for lunch, dinner or drinks, then you will have struggled not being able to venture out to your favourite haunts during lockdown. However, now that many bars and restaurants are opening their doors again, we were then beginning to worry about the next struggle that we might face – the places we had been daydreaming about being booked up for the foreseeable future!

Whilst some restaurants and bars are operating with a booking only system, we are pleased to say that many of our favourites have not followed suit and are allowing walk ins. We have listed some of our top picks of cafes, restaurants and bars who are allowing walk-ins below, enjoy!

Federal Cafe – With two locations in Manchester city centre (Northern Quarter and Deansgate) this is one of our go-to places for amazing breakfast or brunch dishes. Not only is the food delicious and the portions huge, the service is second to none too. In addition, if you fancied more of a boozy brunch, Federal also sells a range of cocktails, beers, natural wine and sparkling wine – what’s not to like! Both locations are offering a walk-in only service, however, be prepared to wait as they are extremely popular, especially at the weekend!

Bundobust – This vegetarian Indian Street Food & Craft Beer restaurant based off Piccadilly Gardens has been a hit every time we have been. The food is delicious (if you are a meat eater you won’t even miss the meat) and the street food style portions encourage you to share (but only with people from the same household or with social distancing measures of course!). The restaurant entry is off Piccadilly gardens, but the stairs take you downstairs underground, so it can be easy to miss. Although you can book tables if you would prefer, they are also offering walk-in tables and, if there isn’t a spot for you straight away, they will add you to a virtual queue and notify you when your table is ready.  

Hampton & Vouis – Right around the corner from our head office in Manchester, Hampton & Vouis is one of our favourite places to grab a quick bite if we are bored of our homemade lunches. Located on Princess Street at the side of the Town Hall, this small, award-winning independent speciality coffee house and kitchen has a selection of delicious bowls, sandwiches, breakfast and brunch items, as well as diary, vegan and gluten free cakes and bread. Whilst it is only a small café, it is very popular, especially mid-week at lunch time. Hampton & Vouis are operating with a walk-in service, so why not try somewhere different if you are in the office or simply looking for a tasty lunchtime bite.

Bab – Described as a ‘kebab worth sitting down for’, Bab is a high-end kebab house and bar based in the Northern Quarter. The kebabs are absolutely delicious, and the in-house chefs use only top-quality fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Whilst you are there you can watch the chef’s cook in their open-theatre style kitchen. As well as delicious kebabs, Bab also offers a mezze style menu, desserts and a wide range of beers, wines and cocktails to go with your meal. If you are craving a kebab but want something a little fancier, then Bab should be right up your street! They are offering walk-ins where you can either sit downstairs in their restaurant or, if the weather is fine, you can sit in their new outdoor terrace.

Seed & Cherry – Another brilliant spot for breakfast or brunch is Seed & Cherry based on Church Street. You may have walked past this place a few times and not noticed it, but once you know about them, you will continue to go back. Passionate about their coffee, they offer an artisan coffee drinking experience paired with healthy and creative recipes which are served up as small plates, or you can choose from larger brunch plates, toasted sourdoughs and a selection of sides. Seed & Cherry prides themselves on using the best quality fresh and seasonal ingredients. If you love coffee and good breakfast then this is the place for you, with walk-in’s welcome!

Northern Soul Grilled Cheese – A firm favourite of the Lily Shippen team when we are looking for a cheat-day treat which never fails to hit the spot! This place is what it says on the tin, a restaurant that sells a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, plus a few other delicious treats. The team’s favourite is the Mac Attack, which is pretty much the cheesiest mac & cheese you will ever try sandwiched between two big pieces of sourdough bread and toasted. There is a good choice of sandwiches, including some meat and vegetarian options. If you have never been here before and fancy an indulgent meal, then you will not be disappointed! There are typically three locations that you can find them at, however, at the moment only their Church Street ‘shack’ is open from Tuesday-Sunday 8:30am-3pm. There is very limited seating there so you may have to eat on the move or take it back to your desk.

Hatch – Hatch is Manchester’s award-winning food, drink and retail destination based on Oxford Road under the bridge. If you are someone who loves supporting independent businesses, then look no further. Hatch has over 30 independent traders, so there is always something for everyone’s taste. This is a great location when the weather is dry as you can enjoy their outdoor seating, however there are some covered areas too. Choose from a range of street food stalls selling everything from tapas plates, Vietnamese cuisine, to award winning sausages, to bars specialising in wine or cocktails, this place is a hive of activity and deliciousness! Walk-ins anytime.

Bay Horse Tavern – If you love proper pub grub then the Bay Horse Tavern is a great option. Based in the Northern Quarter, their menus range from breakfast (including a full English), lunch and dinner such a pies, sandwiches, burgers and sausage and mash to Sunday roasts. Unfortunately, if you are wanting to eat and drink inside then a booking is required, however, if you are happy braving the British ‘summer’ weather than walk-ins are available in their outdoor terrace area on Thomas Street. If you have missed your more traditional pub fare, then look no further!

Twenty Twenty Two – If you are looking for a fun activity paired with a few drinks then Twenty Twenty Two will do the trick. Based in the Northern Quarter, this unique bar and ping pong room are back open and allowing walk-ins. In order to keep on top of health and safety they will be sanitising all equipment between games, but this spot promises to be just as much fun as before!

The Jayne Eyre – This popular bar based in Ancoats is back open and taking walk-ins. On offer are a range of delicious cocktails, craft beers/ales, a selection of wines and some small plates. They also have a breakfast menu at the weekends and a Sunday roast menu too. Whilst walk-ins are available, this is a very popular and often busy spot, so you may need to wait.

NQ64 – Another bar with a twist! NQ64 is an underground arcade bar filled with retro arcade games and classic consoles. If you are looking for somewhere a bit different to let off some steam and have a drink, then this is a great choice. Not only do you get to play some of the classics like Pac-Mac and Space Invaders, but there is also a great selection of themed cocktails and specially selected beers to choose from. NQ64 are available for walk-ins, seven days a week!  

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