When it comes to choosing a bar for the night, you’re usually more swayed by the booze than the food, but if you’re hungry, these Leeds bars will kill two birds with one stone…
Multi-tasking bars aren’t exactly a rarity in Leeds. We’ve got bars that double as breweries, moonlight as gig venues and dabble in craft fairs – hell, there’s even a barber’s shop with a bar that’s good enough to tempt you away from Merrion Street’s finest. But what you’ll find more than anything else are bars that serve up top-notch food to line your stomach in scrumptious fashion.
Water Lane Boathouse
Small Victories are the folk responsible for the kitchen at Water Lane Boathouse and they do a fine job. Their menu is full of sourdough pizzas, burgers, hot & cold sandwiches and healthy salad bowls. Will you go for an ox cheek and horseradish pizza, the chicken and chorizo burger or a grilled halloumi and artichoke salad bowl? Whatever you choose, you can enjoy it in a stripped back riverside bar that’s famed for its craft beer and gin.
Water Lane Boathouse, Canal Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5PS.
The Brunswick is a fantastic little bar, known for its impressive craft beer offering, but they also do surprisingly creative food. It’s a seasonal sharing menu, so why not round up your mates and try a few dishes? You can expect the likes of dijon poached pear with rocket salad, toasted almonds, hazelnuts and fennel alongside braised chicken leg with tomato, olives, capers and burnt chicory. It’s served up in a laid-back venue with a bar full of their local ales and global beers.
The Brunswick, 82 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
Friends of Ham
Friends of Ham is one of the best bars to eat at in Leeds. It brings craft beer and handpicked wines together with a menu of meat, cheese and small plates. You can build your own charcuterie boards with the likes of prosciutto, gorgonzola dolce and Iberica belotta, or just put your trust in their expertise with one of their ready-made boards. They also have a range of small plates if you fancy something a bit different, like the nduja on sourdough.
Friends of Ham, 4-8 New Station Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DL.
Bundobust is as much about the food as it is about the beer. They have a tempting menu of Indian street food dishes, served tapas style and all 100% meat-free. The okra fries are a must, and they’re perfect alongside the paneer kadai, which promises paneer cheese cooked in cinammon, fenugreek, red pepper and tomato sauce. Don’t forget classics like the Bundo chaat or the tarka dhal and rice – paired with one of their huge selection of craft beers, it’s a perfect combo.
Bundobust, 6 Mill Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DQ
The Cross Keys
The Cross Keys is a proper Yorkshire pub, with a quality food menu to go with their local ales on the bar. It’s a proper menu of hearty British grub, with dishes like Yorkshire pork chop in a cider sauce with mash and veg or sausage and mash with veggies and lashings of gravy. Hungry on a Sunday? Get down early for their Sunday roast. With roaring fires in the winter and a great beer garden in the summer, The Cross Keys is a bar for all seasons.
The Cross Keys, 107 Water Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5WD.
Edo Sushi has taken over the kitchen at Candlebar. They’ve brought their authentic take on Japanese cuisine to Leeds, serving up premium sushi dishes like seared Hokkaido scallop nigiri and Godzilla rolls filled with prawn tempura, then topped with flying fish caviar, grilled eel, spring onion and a medley of sauces. They also have a selection of Japanese tapas dishes, including pumpkin croquettes, takoyaki and beef teriyaki, all of which you can devour in a cool, riverside bar with an impressive selection of wines from around the world (not to mention, a full range of Ossett Brewery beers).
Candlebar, Granary Wharf, Candle House, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4GJ.
The Alchemist in Trinity Leeds is probably best known for its experimental cocktails and vibrant atmosphere, but have you tried their food menu yet? They serve a diverse mix of dishes – burgers rub shoulders with fajitas, ramen and Moroccan lamb rump, but you can also play it safe with steaks and salads. In the summer, you can bag yourself a table on their terrace, order a bottle of wine and camp out for the day in the sun, with everything you need, all in one place.
The Alchemist, Trinity Leeds, Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.
The Reliance is a no-brainer when it comes to eating out. This charming, rustic venue has a dining room towards the back where you can tuck into a menu of carefully-crafted dishes like Toulouse sausage with braised lentils and a herb crumb or wild mushroom, squash and Swiss chard tart. That’s not all – they also do bar snacks, smaller plates and charcuterie platters, which will go down a treat with one of their craft beer or real ales. If you need a Sunday lunch too, theirs is one of the best around.
The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
Cantina at The Old Red Bus Station
The Old Red Bus Station does things differently. This supercool bar is also home to the city’s first 100% vegan cafe, made with ethically-sourced produce. It has a diverse menu that takes inspiration from every corner of the globe. There’s the Viking chorizo burger with fireball harissa, beer-battered onion rings and sweet winter slaw or the creamy dal makhni with crispy shallots and cumin butter. You’ve got your pick of craft beers to go with it in a hip venue that celebrates of art and music.
Cantina at The Old Red Bus Station, 101 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
If you want a bar that gives you a proper taste of Yorkshire, try Wapentake. They get all their ingredients fresh from Kirkgate Market and turn them into hearty British dishes. From bangers and mash with seasonal veg and gravy to steak and caramelised onion sarnies with wedges, you’re in for a treat. And if you want something light, you can get a proper crisp butty or a Yorkshire pudding filled with gravy. Pair yours with a pint of local real ale in a venue that’s as welcoming as you’d expect a proper Yorkshire pub to be.
Wapentake, 92 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.
It’s best known as a party bar, but Neon Cacus doubles as a Mexican eatery. You camp out for the day and enjoy a feast inspired by traditional cantinas and street vendors. Delve into their loaded nachos or try their burritos, tacos and enchiladas filled with the likes of chilli beef cheek, slow-cooked tinga chicken and spicy sweet potato. They’ll go down even better with one of their rare tequilas, and if you go in the evening, chances are you’ll hear some banging tunes too.
Neon Cactus, 35 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.Coer image copyright Giles Smith.