Got a new love interest you want to impress? Don’t overthink it, simply opt for a date in one of these brilliant Leeds bars. Simple.
Cosy, casual and with just enough ‘cool’ to show your love interest how irresistibly in-the-know you are, bars are prime first date territory. Add a little booze to the mix and you’re surely onto a winner. But which are the best bars for a first date in Leeds? Whether you’re in need of a hipster hideaway, a woo-tastic wine bar or a cheap-as-chips place to chill, we’ve got you covered.
1. Outlaws Yacht Club
If you’re worried about awkward silences, don’t be – Outlaws Yacht Club is on your side. This retro-styled Leeds bar is so laid-back it’s a wonder anyone can stay standing. The relaxed vibe has the power to settle even the most jangly of nerves, while added perks like vintage board games, an in-house vinyl store and impressive selection of craft beers are perfect conversation starters. Add romance to the mix by sharing one of their legendary grilled cheeses in between games of Boggle. The cheeses (there’s three) and spicy gherkins will see you through to round two.
Outlaws Yacht Club, 38 New York Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DY.
2. Assembly Underground
Like to take the lead but not sure what your date is into? Play it smooth with a first date idea that’ll keep everyone happy. Assembly Underground is Leeds’ basement bolthole and has not one, but two bars to choose from. Find the perfect pint at Vocation Brewery’s 50-beer tap room, or squeeze into the teensy gin hideaway at the back for a cocktail or two. You may quickly find yourself cosied up on a sofa, but the handful of yummy street food vendors that also call this place home should be enough to tempt you back out again.
Assembly Underground, 12 Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AL.
3. The Botanist
Treat your date to a killer G&T at The Botanist, a bar sitting pretty on the ground floor of Trinity Leeds. And we mean pretty. Bringing the outdoors indoors, The Botanist is filled with plant pots, hanging garden tools and earthy wooden panels galore. It’s a little like drinking in the best shed you’ve ever seen. Take your pick from thirteen gins on the menu. And if your tipple is finished before you are, turn your attention to the hefty cocktail list instead. Perhaps a gin house punch with grapefruit liqueur and pomegranate juice to share?
The Botanist, 67 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.
4. Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen
For a one-stop-shop of first date delight, team up with your date to work your way through the best this three-storey bar in Leeds has to offer. Start off on the ground floor, where the relaxed bar rubs shoulders with Dough Boys, who serve up superior pizza by the slice. Talk about a match made in heaven. If you fancy catching a gig the first floor is where you need to be, while the top floor is the jewel in the crown. Rejoice! It’s a roof terrace filled with comfy cushions and deck chairs, perfect for a sunny day’s schmoozing.
Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, 1-1a Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
5. Once Upon A Vine
Okay, it’s technically a wine shop, but it’s still possible to rock up and sample exquisite reds and whites from all over the world at this little Horsforth local. A smattering of bar stools and the promise of a wedge of cheese with your chosen plonk make this a prime first date for wine lovers. Owner Simon is a true expert and happy to advise on the best glasses from an ever-changing selection on offer. Plus, everything’s available to take home by the bottle, so the night needn’t end when your glass does.
Once Upon A Vine, 21 Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS18 5LJ.
6. Domino Club
For a Leeds bar that will impress your date the second you’re through the door, head to Domino Club. If you can find it, that is. This subterranean speakeasy isn’t easy to track down, but as the city’s only secret jazz bar, it’s worth the wait. Pass through the hidden doorway at the back of Lords’ Barbering barber shop, slink down the stairs and emerge into a candlelit drinking den packed with stand-out cocktails, leather booths and superb live music. It’s open late, so you can toast to new-found love ’til the early hours.
Domino Club, 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
7. Lazy Lounge
Lazy Lounge is a welcome hybrid on Leeds’ date scene. Chilled enough for a first meeting yet snazzy enough to catch your crush’s attention, it has all your bases covered. In the main it’s a wine bar, so expect an award-winning wine list with well-paired light bites to boot. But there’s not even a whiff of stuffiness. You’re just as welcome to sip on their vast selection of whiskey and gin, pop open a beer or nibble on bar snacks. Those chesterfield sofas are mighty comfy and there’s no rush.
Lazy Lounge, Unit D, Westpoint, Wellington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4JY.
8. Below Stairs
Leaving a great big hint as to its location, Below Stairs is indeed… below stairs. But it should be high on your hit list for a first date bar in Leeds. An easily missed entrance down a wrought iron staircase leads the way to a smashing cellar bar. These guys take their cocktails seriously. Request your favourite from the knowledgable bartenders or take a punt on one of their own concoctions, like Carosello combining bourbon, whiskey, peach melba beer cordial, mint and hazelnut. Candlelit tables add an extra touch of romance to the evening.
Below Stairs, 12 South Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5QS.
9. North Bar
Back above ground and straight to North Bar. A pleasing slice of beery goodness carved out of New Briggate, North Bar takes all the pomp out of dating. Instead, this skinny sanctum offers a handful of wooden tables, a bar laden with whiskeys and rums, plus top-notch beer the likes of which you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. Many are their own brews, the rest are handpicked from around the world. This classic has been making first dates in Leeds easy since 1997 – let’s say cheers to many more.
North Bar, 24 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
10. The Alchemist
In need of an attention grabber? The barmy science-inspired cocktails at The Alchemist are sure to do the trick. Smoking cocktails, colour-changing cocktails, bubbling cocktails – these are drinks with a serious sense of drama. Ice breakers don’t get much more exciting, but hark, there’s more. A full-blown food menu, ranging from crispy prawn sharing tacos to rib-eye steak is on hand to extend the date a little longer. There’s even a roof terrace with spectacular views.
The Alchemist, Trinity, 27 Albion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.
11. The Reliance
Some venues in Leeds just spoil you rotten with their versatility. Take The Reliance, for example. Family meal? Definitely. Cheeky solo pint? Sure. Wooing a first date? Abso-blimmin-lutely. Kick off proceedings in the light-filled bar at the front. They’ve got a rotating range of keg, cask, can and bottled beers, plus a hefty wine list too. But things get extra special when it comes to the charcuterie boards, which are cured in their very own curing room. Heading towards a second date? Earmark the Sunday roasts for next time.
The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
12. The Maven
No prohibition-style bar should be easy to find, but The Maven takes secret to new extremes. That’s what makes it such a fun bar for a first date in Leeds. A single, unlabelled doorway is all that stands between you and a gamut of award-winning cocktails. Everything is achingly stylish, from the drinks to the vintage furniture. Even the master mixologists look the part. It’s all too easy to lose track of time when in great company, but you probably want to recce the entrance first. Your date may not be quite so impressed when you accidentally walk straight past it.
The Maven, 1 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.
13. Headrow House
Fence-sitting gets a bad wrap, but a non-committal first date idea can be a smart choice when you’re getting to know someone new. Join forces at Headrow House and make your first decision together. Will you sip through the 60 beers on offer in the Beer Hall, or opt for cocktails at the bar? Nibble on street food snacks or treat yourselves to a slap-up meal at the Michelin-recommended restaurant? Whatever you decide, don’t miss the two roof terraces. Both come with patio heaters and keep the warm and fuzzies going long into the night.
Headrow House, 19a The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PU.
14. The Decanter
A lovely little wine bar, The Decanter has all the trappings of a city slicker spot. And sure, it is slightly more well-to-do. But the fab selection of wines are thoughtfully chosen, there’s beers and cocktails for those not into vino, and the super cosy interior lends itself to blossoming romance. And if all that’s not swinging it, we have just one word for you. Cheese. From creamy, smoked ones to locally sourced blue veined cheeses, Decanter’s expert handpicks each one for you to enjoy with meat, chutneys and and crackers.
The Decanter, 17 Park Row, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5JQ.
A brewery on an industrial estate might not be your first choice for a date in Leeds, but hear us out – this is a little bit special. Springwell isn’t just any old brewery. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the team behind North Bar fling open their brewery doors to all. From first daters to life-long friends, anyone can pitch up in the no-frills bar to sip on fresh-as-you-like brews. Thoughts turning to food? From braised beef to panko aubergine, Little Bao Boy’s delicious steamed buns will kerb any hunger pangs, no matter what your preference.
Springwell, Buslingthorpe Lane, Meanwood, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 2DF.
16. Calls Landing
Waterfront location, beamed ceilings, and a big ol’ beer garden – Calls Landing might just be carrying the mantle for the most first-date friendly bar in Leeds. Vibe-wise, it’s slightly more pub than bar and there’s an impressive choice of beers to match. But who are we kidding – if the sun’s shining you’re going to be outside soaking up River Aire views and each other’s company from that lovely big terrace. For a bite to eat, there’s a lovely selection of beer snacks, ranging from vegan chyk’n bites to BBQ mustard sausages.
Calls Landing, 36-38 The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EW.
Another member of the North Bar family (those guys sure do get around) is the petite Preston in Oakwood. You can rely on the same tip-top beer selection as its city-centre cousins, so why does it stand out as a first date destination in Leeds? Firstly, the atmosphere, which has a much more local vibe and makes you feel instantly welcome. Secondly, the location on the southern tip of Roundhay Park means it’s in pole position for a post-pint romantic walk. Or just sit on the benches outside and watch the world go by.
Preston, 468 Roundhay Road, Oakwood, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2HU.
18. Brewdog North Street
Brewdog’s North Street bar is a great place for a first date, especially if you’re into your craft beer and challenging your date to a game or two. It’s quiet, as you might expect from its position on the fringes of the city – perfect for actually getting to know someone rather than screaming over the tops of heads at them. And for daters ready to go head-to-head, the downstairs game room has enough shuffleboard, pinball and arcade tables to keep you battling it out for many dates to come.
Brewdog, Crispin House, New York Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PF.
19. The Cross Keys
A city centre pub with a country manor feel, The Cross Keys on the south side of the River Aire feels a million miles away from Leeds city centre. Perhaps it’s the sunny patio garden in the summer, perhaps it’s the blazing wood burners in winter, perhaps it’s the shabby-chic interior with loads of nooks and crannies to snuggle up in. Or maybe it’s simply having your date by your side. Whatever it is, it’s all too easy to forget about the world outside and get lost here for an afternoon.
The Cross Keys, 107 Water Lane, Holbeck, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5WD.
20. Craft Asylum #1
Craft Asylum #1 definitely deserves to be on your list for first date ideas. From the minds of the Salt Beer Factory brewery in Saltaire, their Leeds venue is nestled at the bottom of Candle House, with a canal-side beer garden. Of the 14 keg taps, seven are their own while the other half pour out a changing line-up of guest breweries. Yep, Yorkshire bred and brewed, Craft Asylum is a must for those hoping to find love over a stand-up pint. You can also quaff artisan gin and wine if one of you isn’t a huge beer fan, while local musicians play for your entertainment.
Craft Asylum #1, Candle House, Granary Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4GJ.
21. The Brunswick
Full of rustic charm, The Brunswick is a surefire winner for a first date bar in Leeds. Everything is small but perfectly formed. The cocktail list contains a handful of favourites from espresso martinis to hard iced teas. The beer selection is solid, with a nod to local breweries. And the food is almost entirely burger and roast dinner-related, but superbly done with bonus points for veggie options. No daters need miss out. Plus, nothing says romance like cheesy leeks, and Brunswick’s baked version is out of this world.
The Brunswick, 82 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
22. Friends of Ham
Friends of Ham is a little like a bar and a lot like a place to stuff your face with some of the best charcuterie boards in Leeds. Let your eyes meet and sparks fly over a platter of Iberico ham and truffle salami. As you might have guessed from the name, you might want to re-think if your potential other half is veggie. But for meat, cheese and craft beer lovers, it hits the nail on the head and has the knack of making everything feel special, without a hint of pomposity. Perfect for your big date.
Friends of Ham, 4 New Station Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DL.
23. Crowd of Favours
Higgledy-piggledy furniture, Victorian portraits on the wall and a couple of endearing bookcase corners, Crowd of Favours is a Leeds bar full to the brim with quirky charm. As far as first date ideas go, it’s a hit. The cosy decor and good choice of beer make you feel right at home in no time. Even more so if you manage to nab a table in one of the sweet little side rooms. And if your date’s a success you’ve got a tailor-made excuse for a second meeting – the roast dinners here warrant a return visit.
Crowd of Favours, Harper Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EA.
24. Junkyard Golf Club
Ready to throw off the cloak of convention and treat your crush to a real curveball? Get yourselves down to Junkyard Golf Club in Leeds and curvy balls are precisely what you’ll find. This is crazy golf on steroids. Zany courses, flashing lights, humungous props and, you guessed it, bars. Four, to be precise, all dotted around to keep you well hydrated as you putt your way to pure love. And the cocktails are as wacky as the decor. Inspired by childhood treats, garnishes range from jammy dodgers to love hearts. How apt.
Junkyard Golf Club, The Light, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 8TL.
25. The Tetley
Back down to earth and on to the marvellous Tetley. This art deco behemoth is a gem on many fronts, and that versatility is what makes it such a great spot for a first date in Leeds. Firstly there’s the excellent bar, super laid-back and crammed full of marvellous beer (as you’d expect from a former brewery). Next there’s the kitchen, with all-day menus filled with lovely Yorkshire produce. And if you’re really wanting to make a day of it, there’s the in-house art gallery for a post-pint wander, arm-in-arm.
The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ.Cover image credit: Matthew Corner