City Arms, Manchester

46-48 Kennedy Street
Manchester
M2 4BQ
0161 236 4610

Traditional Town Pub, 1* Heritage Pub

Matthew Curtis in his 2023 book Manchester’s Best Beer Pubs and Bars, reckons that the City Arms is “probably the best pub in Manchester”. It’s an assertion backed up by seasoned real ale veterans who compare it to classic beer pubs like the Fat Cats in Sheffield and Norwich and the Cambridge Blue in Cambridge. On the handpumps, Odin from Manchester’s Brightside is a regular with changing beers from breweries like Titanic, Thornbridge and Red Willow. There are at least two dark ales and at least one vegan beer. If the ale makes you hungry pies and scotch eggs are available all day.

It’s an 18th century pub right in the centre close to the neo-gothic Town Hall and St Peters Square, and sits between the Vine on the right and the Waterhouse on the left (photo 1).

The centre entrance door takes you into a plain, dimly lit bar with a wooden floor and matchboarded counter on the left (photo 2). There’s an L shaped wooden shelf on two sides for stand-up drinking, with a dartboard above which I suspect is rarely used. The back room still has some 1930s fittings, including stained glass windows and a lovely art deco fireplace with mirror above. On each side is green padded seating which is almost always occupied – I’ve never managed to grab a seat in here. A wooden notice on the counter in German translates as Regular table, they always sit here and sure enough, one of the tables in the back room has a sign with the shortened version, Stammtisch. 

The left side entrance leads to a corridor with a service hatch (visible in photo 2) and half height green tiling which also dates from the 1930s. Incredibly, given its central location, there is also a small garden at the back.

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