Monday, 4 April 2016

"Merendanding" in Manchester

One of the things I enjoy doing the most is eating cakes, sweet things in general and drinking tea. For this very reason I like exploring my surroundings in search of nice cafés.

It doesn´t matter where you are in the UK, you´ll find hundreds of Starbucks, Costa and Café Nero in every street of every village, town and city of the country. I´m not saying they are bad options, but if you are looking for independent cafés or someplace unique, then probably these are not the cafés you want to walk in to.

Fortunately for us – people who love having a merienda (i.e. the Spanish word for the meal between lunch and dinner. Have you noticed I'm trying to introduce this wonderful word and concept of the merienda to the non-Spanish world?)-, we live in a time when Nordic-inspired-hipster-like cafés are trendy and in some areas, like the Northern Quarter in Manchester, there are as many as drunk people on a Friday night.

Today I´m bringing you 2 lists of nice cafés (I must admit I found most of them in search of free WiFi). They’re not rankings but just lists with no particular order of some of the cafés I´ve been to (also their address and twitter) and my personal opinion on them based solely on my experience there. I promise I´ll keep on researching and bringing more lists to you in the future.

Some nice cafés in Stockport:

The Funky Monkey Coffee Company
175-177 Bramhall Ln

For me, the Funky Monkey is an institution, it´s the centre of Davenport. If you want to know what´s going on in that area of Stockport, go to the Funky Monkey. I love how people of all ages go there and everybody knows each other. The staff is incredibly nice and the food is gorgeous. Try the mango smoothie, delicious!

Tandem Coffee House
47 Lower Hillgate

I´ve only been to this café in the early morning because they close at 3pm which is a bit early for a merienda. The breakfasts I´ve had there have been absolutely beautiful. Besides, when my teapot got cold, they replaced it for a hot one so I could keep on drinking tea till the end of time. This is a theme café, the theme is bikes and cycling so the decoration makes this café very unique. Also, it´s very quiet due to its location.

After Eight hot chocolate

59 St Petersgate

If you like mint chocolate, you will adore the After Eight hot chocolate here. I do. This is a big café and for some reason I don´t know (yet), they often have Spanish food and not only serve it in the café but also at the Foodie Friday events at the Stockport Market. I’ll keep on investigating.

cinnamon waffle + house blend tea
Rhode Island Coffee
2 Little Underbank

This is a big and beautiful café. I especially like seating in the large sofa next to the window in the upper floor. I used to go a lot to this café to use their WiFi to Skype with my family, and also to treat myself every now and then. My favourite is the cinnamon waffle with a cup of the house blend tea.

Jaffa-cake cake + carrot cake
30 Great Underbank

I´m not sure what is prettier in this café, the inside or the outside? Whatever the case, this place is perfect for a late merienda because they close quite late since it is also a restaurant. The cake and hot drink deal is fantastic here. Try the Jaffa-cake cake or the carrot cake, they´re simply superb.

French toasts with Nutella and strawberries + brownie
Rosie’s coffee house and kitchen
95 Prince´s st

This place opened quite recently but it is already a classic. The decoration is simple and delicate; just perfect. And the food is good quality. Besides my sweet treat, I also had the eggs benedict and they were delicious. They also have a wide selection of drinks but I can´t tell you much about them because I always go for the Moroccan tea.

Some nice cafés in Manchester:

North Tea Power
36 Tib st

I feel a special connection to this place because it’s the first café I went to in Manchester. When I had my first job interview, even though I didn’t get the job, I had been so nervous that I wanted to treat myself for having survived the interview. I walked into this café and… what a glad surprise! They had Oolong tea! It´s a nice place but at certain times can get too busy so if you´re looking for a place where you can chill, maybe this is not always the best place to go.

cream tea
Café at the Ryland
150 Deansgate

This is not exactly a beautiful café BUT it´s inside the John Ryland’s library, which is beautiful enough to compensate the looks of the café. It’s closed quite early because the library closes at 4 and, ironically, it can be quite noisy, especially if you are expecting it to be as quiet as the library itself.

Proper Tea
10 Cateaton st

This is one of the most beautiful cafés tearooms in the list. The decoration of the place is exquisite and the views to the cathedral make it even prettier. The tea here, as the name of the tearoom implies, is proper tea. It´s served with a timer, and you have to serve it onto a different teapot before serving it into the cup. Don´t worry if you don´t know what to do, the staff will take care of explaining it to you in detail. It can be quite pricey, to be honest, but it´s definitely worth it. Just for fun, try to find the toilets and go back to the tearoom without getting lost at least once.

23 Edge st

This is a VERY unique café. The quality of the products is not exactly like that of the other cafés in the list, so if you’re looking for high quality, this is not your place. The interesting thing about Ziferblat is the concept: you don´t pay for what you eat/drink, but for the minutes you spend there. First of all, you need to find the café, which is not very easy if you haven´t been there before. You access it through a lift, so it seems you’re going to an office instead of a café. But once you walk in, you can´t help but to be impressed by how big and beautiful the place is. Once you register the time of your arrival at the counter next to the entrance, YOU make whatever you want to drink: there’s a kitchen with all the products and utensils you might need. Also, there’s a piano you can play if you want, books you can take and read, board games, etc. When you are finished, before leaving, you must take your cups and plates to the kitchen and either wash them or put them in the washing machine. Then you tell the boy at the counter your name, and he’ll tell you how much you have to pay for the minutes you’ve been there. Best of all: it’s very cheap. I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of this place.

chocolate + banana + peanut butter + salted caramel milkshake
Black Milk Cereal Dive
52 Church st (Affleck’s Palace, 2nd floor)

This café is in a tiny corner at the Affleck’s Palace and has had an amazing success in a very short period of time. I found out about them, funny enough, because they followed me on Twitter. They specialise in cereal. They have lots of different types of cereals, sometimes from around the world, sometimes special editions. You can mix different types in a bowl with milk or flavoured milk. You can even order it in an edible bowl – there are 3 different edible bowls: dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate.  Just let your imagination decide what to put in the bowl or the jar and give it a try. As I said, they’ve had such a success that they’re extending the café and making it bigger.

the best banoffee cupcake ever
Hey Little Cupcake!
Little Quay st

I found out about this café cupcakery when I won one of their cupcakes for retweeting something in Twitter. I’ve only been there the time I went to collect the cupcake I had won. The place looked beautiful and I was impressed by the fact that they organise classes where you can learn to make your own cupcakes. The cupcake I won was not a specific one, I could choose one from a selection. I chose the banoffee one. I’m not exaggerating: it was the best cupcake I have ever had. My next sweet goal is to try the afternoon tea there.

Pot Kettle Black

14 Barton Arcade, Deansgate

This café is in the stunning Barton Arcade. Every time I have to go from Market st to Deansgate, I try to go through the Barton Arcade (unless I have to go to Paperchase, of course) because if the Titanic was a building, it would be something like this. I’ve only been to this café once but it’s so pretty and comfortable, and the staff is so kind, I’m definitely going back. I had a pot of Darjeeling tea and it was served with a thin wafer tube. More than correct.

Ibérica Spinningfields
14-15 The Avenue

This one is not a café, it´s a restaurant, a very good one, actually. Ibérica is a chain of restaurants that belong to Spanish chef Nacho Manzano, who has 3 Michelin Stars, so yes, food in this restaurant is of the finest quality but, at the same time, it’s not as expensive as one would expect. Anyway, today I’m not talking about that (maybe in another post I will talk about restaurants). Today I’m only focusing on what I had for desert: a chocolate mousse with berries, which was from out of this planet. Although this desert is quite international, in this restaurant they offer a selection of typical deserts from around Spain. If you want to get a glimpse of typical Spanish deserts, try going to this restaurant.

I think 14 are more than enough for my first post about nice cafés in the Greater Manchester. Have you been to any of these? What is your opinion about them? Have you been to any other café in Manchester or Stockport? As usual, all comments are welcome and appreciated. Thanks for reading!


  1. He contado 14 sitios donde merendar, si es que a esos festivales del azúcar se les puede llamar merienda... Eso me lleva a una única conclusión: la ocupación de tu casa durará, como mínimo, 14 dias. En caso de ser menos, merendaremos dos veces al día, en plan hobbit. Tengo muchas ganas de coger un avión!!!
    (Había empezado en inglés, pero al final no he tenido lo que hay que tener...��. Ya si eso, traduces tu...)

    1. Se merendará las veces que haga falta.