Like any big city, Leeds has plenty of surprises for you to discover – so start exploring.
Popular restaurants and big attractions are easy to find, but if you want to truly get to know Leeds, you need to live like a local – and that means hunting out the secrets that only we know about. So today we’re giving all you newbies a chance to discover another side of Leeds, by discovering the secrets we’ve uncovered over the years.
The historic pub tucked down an alleyway
For us locals, Whitelock’s is an institution, but if you’re new to the city, you’d never know it was there. It’s hidden down an alleyway, but seek it out and you’ll discover one of the oldest pubs in the city. It dates back over 300 years and has hardly changed in the years between, so you can get your fill of quality Yorkshire ales and proper British pub grub while taking in a little of the city’s history.
Whitelock’s, Turk’s Head Yard, Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HB.
Our Roman-style ‘pizza al taglio’ joint
Simpatico hasn’t been around long, but it’s already left quite a mark thanks to its ‘pizza al taglio’. It’s pizza by the slice and you’ll find it hidden in one of the city’s historic arcades. It’s done in the traditional Roman style, so you’ll get a rectangular slice with a fluffy base, and a crisp, crunchy bottom. As for the toppings, they change every day, but you can enjoy the likes of Prosciutto and Parmesan or Asparagus and Pumpkin.
Simpatico, Queens Arcade, 28 Land’s Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6LF.
The only form of public transport Leeds folk actually like
For many people in Leeds, the Water Taxi is now a part of everyday life, but if you’re new to Leeds, you could easily miss it. You can board the taxi-cum-boat at Granary Wharf and take a scenic trip down to Leeds Dock where you can enjoy a few hours at Royal Armouries. When you’re done, ride it back to where you started to enjoy a few drinks or a bite to eat by the side of the river. This small pleasure will not only save you legwork, it’ll save you pennies because it’s absolutely free.
The Water Taxi, Clarence Dock, Chadwick Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1PJ.
Our little slice of green space
Among locals, Park Square is the stuff legends are made of, but if you’re coming in from out of town, you’d never know it was there. Tucked away in the business district, this Georgian Square is surrounded by interesting architecture and quaint townhouses. On a sunny, weekday lunchtime, it’s absolutely packed, but head over in the afternoon, on an evening or even over the weekend to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
Park Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2PW.
The cocktail lounge inside a hairdressers
The Domino Club is the ultimate hidden cocktail bar. It’s hidden inside a hairdressers in Grand Arcade. You have to pass through Lords Barbering and head down the back stairs, where you’ll find a speakeasy style bar where they serve up cost-price whisky and expertly mixed cocktails to the sounds of live jazz and blues. Later in the evening, the band is replaced by a DJ, taking you into the early hours of the morning.
The Domino Club, 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
The cool theatre in the shadow of its famous sibling
People flock to Leeds to visit our Grand Theatre, but Howard Assembly Room doesn’t get the same attention – even though it’s in the same building. The historic theatre originally opened in 1879, a year after the Grand, and has been beautifully restored to create a unique performance space that puts on a wonderfully eclectic programme of events. They do a lot of classical concerts, but it’s an incredibly diverse venue, so you could see anything from opera to folk, world music and indie rock.
Howard Assembly Room, 46 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Our own independent brewery-cum-bar
North Brewing Co. is a real-life, working brewery, but it opens its shutters from Thursday to Sunday to give you one of the freshest pints in the city. You can wrap your lips around all their favourites, from Sputnik to Transmission, as well as short run test beers you’ll only find here and guest brews from their favourite breweries. Look out for their summer street food market – it’s well worth a visit.
North Brewing Co, Unit 6, Taverners Walk Industrial Estate, Sheepscar Grove, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 1AH.
The arts space that does things differently
Live Art Bistro flies right under the radar – it’s a theatre space but not in the traditional sense. They focus on performance art in all its guises, which means you could see anything from dance shows to circus acts, visual arts and even one-off cinema experiences. It’s a real creative hub that’s become part of the fabric of the city’s artistic community, and its eclectic programme makes it one of the coolest cultural venues in Leeds.
Live Art Bistro, 1-2 Regent Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7QA.
Our innovative pay-as-you-feel theatre
The HUB is a theatre that locals have taken into their heart. It’s hidden away in Holbeck, so you’ll have to go out of your way to find it, but if you do, you’ll be rewarded. Not only do they operate on a pay-as-you-feel basis, but they also invite small, independent companies to showcase their work. The result is an ever-changing calendar of thought-provoking performances.
The HUB, 67-71 Bath Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 9UA.
This gem of a cafe down a back street
Mrs Atha’s is so popular with the locals you might have to wait to get a table, but trust us – it’s worth it. This is a super cool cafe in the heart of the city centre, that’s easily missed. You’ll be charmed by its stripped-back, vintage chic style, from the exposed brickwork to the retro china crockery. It’s food and drink offering is pretty darn good too – expect their own brilliant Maude Coffee, whether it’s a latte, flat white or Americano, alongside tempting cakes and delicious sandwiches.
Mrs Atha’s, Central Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DE.