What would make your list of the best bars in Leeds city centre? Here’s what made ours…
It’s fair to say that this list isn’t easy to write. How can you round up the best bars in Leeds, when everyone’s tastes are so different? The simple truth is – you can’t. So this is our take on the city’s finest, with a little something for everyone – but we encourage, nay implore you to add your two-penneth. What would your list look like? Add it in the comments, tell us on Facebook, send us a tweet – we’re all ears.
Belgrave Music Hall
When it comes to compiling a list of the best bars in Leeds, Belgrave is the one that instantly springs to mind. In the years since they opened, they’ve proved that a bar doesn’t have to just be a bar. It can be a music venue, a yoga studio and a comedy club, it can host street food markets, unconventional raves and burlesque nights. It can pretty much be anything you want it to be, all the while serving an awesome selection of craft beer and liquor, with lovingly made burgers and pizzas from local independents.
Belgrave Music Hall, 1-1A Cross Belgrave St, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
Just as famous as Belgrave, if not more so, is North Bar. It’s a thin slice of a bar, but what they’ve got tucked away inside makes a little shoulder rubbing well worthwhile. You can choose from around 150 beers, every time you visit, and they’re constantly changing, so even if you manage to work your way through their whole selection, you’ll soon have something new to wrap your lips around. That’s accompanied by a gang of friendly beer-loving folk behind the bar, who’ll be only too happy to point you towards a new favourite.
North Bar, 24 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
These guys are famed for their cocktails – and with good reasons. Nino Lopez, the man behind the Leeds bar, is something of a local legend – he does things with cocktails you never thought possible, finding new and exciting combinations that are guaranteed to impress. And that finesse is carried through into the whole venue, be it the selection at the back of the bar, the cocktail menu or the decor – think pre-prohibition speakeasy. Add a soundtrack that’s sure to get you dancing and you’ve got one of the best bars in Leeds.
The Maven, 1-3 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.
Come summer, Calls Landing becomes one of the most popular bars in Leeds. Their beer garden is a tempting proposition. Nestled as it is on The Calls, it offers scenic views of the River Aire. Even better, it gets the evening sun, making this one of the few places in the city centre where you can top up your vitamin D while you enjoy a couple of post-work beers – that is, after all, what they do best here. Be it real ale or those ever-popular craft beers, you won’t be disappointed.
Calls Landing, 36-38 The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EW.
Best known as a barber’s shop, Remedy has added another string to its bow – they’ve opened a ground floor bar, with a secret cocktail bar underneath. It’s a sophisticated cafe-bar that takes inspiration from Paris. Expect rich teal walls, vintage furniture and quirky artwork, with a laid-back soundtrack that gives way to live music in the evening. They have a vast selection of wines for you to choose from, alongside premium spirits, craft beer and cocktails – whatever you choose, drink it with one of their meat and cheese boards.
Remedy, 16 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Roxy Ball Room
The first bar in the city centre to make entertainment a real priority, Roxy Ball Room has more to offer than craft beer and cocktails. They’ve got plenty of pool tables, but it’s the chance to re-live our misspent youth with table tennis, shuffleboard and crazy golf that’s really endeared us to them, not to mention the drunken escapades that their beer pong tables have brought on. Nothing will get you cheering like a well-aimed ping pong ball that forces the opposition to down a drink.
Roxy Ball Room, Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.
Come on, it had to be here. Bundobust has won our hearts with its mix of craft beer and street food – hell, it’s even making moves on Manchester these days. The drinks selection is consistently good, beer lovers will be happy as Larry here, nestled among the coloured doors (purely for decoration) or outside in the covered courtyard. Make sure you arrive hungry, because the smell of the food in the kitchen will make you want to eat here – the Bundo chaat is exceptional and we can never say no to a bowl of tarka dal & rice.
Bundobust, 6 Mill Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DQ.
A hidden bar, tucked underground on South Parade, Below Stairs is unlike anywhere else in Leeds. Why? Because they’ve made their cocktails experiential. Each one is designed to transport you to another time and place, with flavours reminiscent of coastal walks, Moroccan bazaars and the Emerald Isle itself. These drinks are a cut above, and so is the bar itself – it’s all class, with deep mahogany hues and a psychological approach that will help you leave the stresses and strains of the day at the door.
Below Stairs, 12 South Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5AL.
It may be little in size, but Distrikt certainly packs a punch. The cocktail menu introduced us to the likes of the Gingerbread Mezcal Margarita and the PS I Love You (a potent mix of Bacardi oro, Disaronno, Kahlua, Baileys and half and half) – but it’s the constant procession of top-notch DJs that makes Distrikt stand out from the crowd. Over the years, we’ve seen the likes of Nightmares on Wax, DJ Format and Joey Negro take to the decks, as well as Octave One and Derrick May – who knows what big names they’ll bag in the future.
Distrikt, 7 Duncan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DQ.
Brewdog North Street
Our Brewdog shoutout goes, not to their first Leeds bar, but to their second, which can now be found on the bottom levels of Crispin House. It offers up an almost dazzling array of beers, with no less than 36 draught lines showcasing favourites from the world over, with a decent showing of their own brews, of course. The light, airy bar upstairs is outshone by the one downstairs, if only because they have three 22 foot shuffleboard tables, ready for you to challenge your mates to a game.
Brewdog North Street, Crispin House, New York Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PF.
The Domino Club
At first glance, you wouldn’t even know The Domino Club was there, but if you venture down the back stairs inside Lord’s Barbering, you’ll find a secret jazz bar where expertly mixed cocktails meet live music. It’s a mix of jazz, soul and hip-hop, played from 8pm through to 2am in an intimate space that’s all old-school cool. While you’re there, make the most of their cost-price liquor. Every week, they buy a rare bottle, like Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, and sell it at cost price.
The Domino Club, 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
Yes, it’s a national brand, and one of the only ones on this list, but there’s no denying that The Alchemist is one of the best bars in Leeds – and it’s all down to their ever-so experimental cocktails. They’re the reason why you’ll find yourself in a three-deep queue at the bar, as their smartly clad mixologists get creative with liquor, dry ice and all manner of other things to serve up cocktails that smoke, foam and even change colour. Sup them in a cool, modern venue with a decently sized balcony that comes into its own on sunny days.
The Alchemist, Trinity Leeds, Trinity, Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW
A Call Lane institution, Oporto owns a very special place in our hearts. Their love of Jägermeister has erased more than a few memories over the years, but the loud, lively atmosphere sticks with you, despite the haze. It continues to be one of the best places to see new, up and coming musicians, with some cracking gigs to attend, and we love them for it. Then on a weekend, their DJs are on hand to make sure the party goes on long into the night. For us, it’s one of the best bars in Leeds – and has been for years.
Oporto, 33 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.
The Cross Keys
A proper pub with a sophisticated twist, The Cross Keys stands out as one of the finest places to while away a couple of hours in Leeds. It’s a homely local in the heart of the city, with a mighty fine selection behind the bar to cater for all tastes. Come Sunday, their roast tempts folk in, promising the likes of Three Dales pork, Swaledale lamb and Hereford beef topside with all the trimmings – but their menu of classics is just as good during the week, as they cook up tasty morsels like sea trout with beetroot puree, new potatoes,
smoked bacon and samphire.
The Cross Keys, 107 Water Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5WD.
Blind Tyger has carved out a reputation for itself with its sharp pre-prohibition decor and cutting edge cocktail menu. Behind the bar, they have a small, handpicked selection of quality spirits that are perfectly in line with the sumptuous surroundings. Try them on their own or in one of their 16 original cocktails, which range from the locally inspired God’s Own Cocktail, made with rhubarb-infused vodka, to the unusual Popcorn Julep, which is served with its own little serving of popcorn.
Blind Tyger, 5A Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.