Leeds-List: The Best & Most Insightful Guide to Leeds

The 30+ Guide to Going Out in Leeds

· Ruth Hargreaves · Food and Drink

Go on, show those young nippers how it’s done.

Angelica Bottomless Brunch

Bingo halls and garden centres can wait another day, because these bars in Leeds have your name on ‘em.

With secret speakeasies, brewery taprooms, live music hangouts and cracking pubs aplenty, Leeds is a haven for late-night revellers. So why should the young’uns have all the fun? Going out in Leeds in your post-thirty isn’t about finding somewhere sedate (let’s face it, you can party just as hard as the twenty-somethings). It’s about being wise enough to know exactly what you want from a night on the town, and having the smarts to zone in on first-rate drinks, good vibes and late nights. Growing up doesn’t mean growing old, after all. Let the boozing commence…

1. Assembly Underground

Vocation

By now, you’re well versed in lining your stomach before a big night out in Leeds (any excuse for a juicy burger), which is why Assembly Underground is one of the city’s best bars. Yes this is Vocation Brewery’s taproom, yes there are 50 fresh-as-heck beers to sup on and damn right there’s a secret gin hideaway out back. But the subterranean drinking den also boasts a mouthwatering line-up of street food favourites, so you can team your first drink of the evening with a loaded burger from Slap & Pickle or one of the crispiest darn dosas you’ve ever seen from Jah Jyot. Between the booze and the bites, Assembly Underground attracts a totally laidback crowd of all ages – a fantastic first stop.

Assembly Underground, 12 Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AL.

2. North Bar

North Bar

Credit: Jo Ritchie

A true pioneer on the city’s nightlife scene, North Bar in Leeds has been serving the thirsty masses since 1997. With over 20 years under its belt, you can be sure it has perfected a swoon-worthy line up of around 150 beers, from rare international finds to beer straight from their own brewery up the road. Top notch staff can talk you through the choices if indecision strikes, while the warm welcome invites you to stay and sample for as long as you like. Whatever you choose, you’ll knock ‘em back in great company. From first-time students to hop-happy punters who’ve been loyal patrons since day dot, this skinny slice of beery goodness just gets better with age.

North Bar, 24 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.

3. The Domino Club

The Domino Club

Credit: McFade Photography

You may have already spent many happy (and squiffy) years going out in Leeds, but did you know there’s an oh-so-sultry speakeasy hidden away beneath Lord’s Barbering? No? Then hotfoot it there, pronto! Step inside a dimly lit world where leather booths, live jazz and heady cocktails transport you back in time. Of course it’s cool, it’s a secret bar hidden below a barbershop for Pete’s sake, but there’s no age limit on awesomeness. Purists will be pleased to hear the classic cocktails are all here, but no drink is out of bounds when the friendly bartenders can whip up a creation of your choosing. Take your pick, kick back to the gently crooning music and spend a happy evening sipping like it’s 1926.

The Domino Club, 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.

4. Whitelock’s Ale House

Whitelocks

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Ollievision

Warm, welcoming and with over 300 years of history at its heart, Whitelock’s clientele spans every generation. Tucked away down an alley near Trinity, this charming old boozer is hard to resist – antique stained glass, original copper bar, beams overhead and a range of real ales so good it’ll make your soul sing. Plus, nobody gives a fig about your age. It’s one of the oldest public houses in Leeds, after all. From students to grandparents, lifelong Leeds-dwellers to day trippers, this is the sorta hideout that once you find, you never forget. Plonk down and work through all those local beers – just make sure to line your stomach with a homemade beef pie first.

Whitelock’s Ale House, Turk’s Head Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HB.

5. Outlaws Yacht Club

Outlaws Yacht Club

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Katie Nicole

Who says fun and games are only for children? Not us and not Outlaws Yacht Club, that’s for sure. Part bar, part record store, part exhibition space and 100% chilled out, this retro-style hangout takes the term ‘crowd pleaser’ to a whole new level. Fancy kicking back with a Jammy Rodger cocktail? No problem. In the mood to neck a locally-brewed beer or two? Sure thing. Ready to go head-to-head in a winner-takes-all round of Boggle? You’ve got it. Alongside the booze and board games, you can also expect comfy couches, a vinyl listening station, late-night DJs and pork pies when you’re peckish. Basically, whether you’re 18 or 80, you’ve just found one of the most versatile bars in Leeds.

Outlaws Yacht Club, 38 New York Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DY.

6. Sela

Sela Bar

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Max Wailes

More fun-and-hip than a school-trip, Sela’s immense appeal means no one’s looking at anything so superficial as your age. Not when there’s much more important things to consider, like which craft beer to sup first (imported from around the world, the choice is epic), whether you should have that second Espresso Martini (it’s made with coffee from Leeds roaster North Star, so the answer’s always yes), and what topping to go for on your handmade pizza. This basement bar is your one-stop-shop for going out in Leeds – great drinks, yummy bites, relaxed vibe and a jazzy soundtrack that plays ’til you’re ready to drop. Us thirty-somethings still need our beauty sleep, right?

Sela, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.

7. Wapentake

Wapentake

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Aimee Stevens

Local pride is timeless, which is why all manner of punters flock to Wapentake. As you’d expect from a bar that puts its Yorkshire credentials front and centre, this watering hole is just the right blend of cosy and cool. A rustic panelled wood bar is the only thing between you and a dizzying array of drinks from all over God’s Own Country. There are eight rotating cask and keg lines, each showing off local favourites like Kirkstall Brewery, Roosters and Northern Monk. Beer not your jam? No problem! There’s traditional ciders, a whole shelf-full of Yorkshire gins and, for when hunger strikes, Wapentake’s very own house pickled eggs. Ain’t nowt wrong wi’ that.

Wapentake, 92 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.

8. The Maven

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Max Wailes

The ultimate bar in Leeds for ‘in-the-know’ brownie points, The Maven is a pretty smug-worthy find. They don’t need to shout about their fancy, prohibition-era bar (there’s not even a sign outside!), because once you’ve found the unassuming door, climbed the stairs and entered this atmospheric hideout, you’re going to want to tell all your friends. This is home to perhaps the best cocktails in the city, served up by aproned bartenders who are just as happy to pay homage to the classics as they are to whip up something special just for you (ask for a flaming Blue Blazer, our personal favourite). You’ll drink, dance and be merry alongside wide-eyed youngsters, as well as the old hands who discovered the secret long ago.

The Maven, 1-3 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.

9. The Reliance

The Reliance

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Aimee Stevens

Is it a pub? Is it a bar? Is it a drinking den fashioned straight from your 30+ dreams? Whichever category you think The Reliance falls into, it’s an absolute joy of a night out in Leeds. An independent through and through, the main appeal is undoubtedly the beer. A core range of keg and bottled favourites are complemented by an ever-changing line up of guest beers from local breweries, making every night the right time to slurp something new. But there are interesting wines too. Lots of ‘em, from fruity Spanish Tempranillo to citrus-fresh Pecorino from Italy. Got the whole gang in tow? Crack open an epic magnum bottle, share one of their famous charcuterie boards and have no regrets.

The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.

10. Smokestack

Smokestack Casanova Shake

Forget that quiet night in. Seriously, throw it in the bin, because one bar in Leeds has everything you need to tempt you away from the sofa. Smokestack is a two-storey bar that pulls no punches when it comes to its music. Whether you prefer to stay sipping Whiskey Sours on the first floor or head to the New York-inspired jazz bar upstairs, you can be sure to get down to a soundtrack dripping with old school Motown, soul, funk and blues – genres so rich in crowd pleasers that only the most epic get the airtime. Your dance floor? Wherever you stand. Honestly, nobody’s looking. And if you don’t believe us, just wait ’til you’ve got a few more of those decadent cocktails in you.

Smokestack, 159a Lower Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6LY.

11. Friends of Ham

Friends of Ham

Friends of Ham is a shoo-in next time you’re going out in Leeds and want to indulge in sophisticated fare, without sacrificing the merry-making. The focus at this informal city centre bar is all on quality – a fine wine list, smashing craft beer selection, plus a glorious choice of premium meats and cheeses with which you can create your own DIY sharing platter. Plus, of course, quality time with your friends. What’s not to love? Bed down for a comfy night’s sipping and nibbling in the cosy basement, or claim a spot on one of the rustic sharing benches upstairs and eyeball your neighbours’ cheesy choices. Bustling but not boisterous, it has truly found a place in the heart of the 30+ masses.

Friends of Ham, 4-8 New Station Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DL.

12. Blind Tyger

Blind Tyger

Age ain’t nothing but a number, and this vintage cocktail bar in Leeds ain’t nothing but a good time waiting to happen. Blind Tyger has gone the whole hog on their speakeasy style, with rickety old drinks cabinets, a gin-heavy drinks list and patterned wallpaper that’d make your nana proud. You’ll find people from all walks here, keen to dive headfirst into creative cocktails that celebrate unusual ingredients. You may have reached your thirties, but have you ever supped on drinks laced with eucalyptus mist, coffee jelly or Bramley apple kombucha? It’s never too late to try something new, and you’ll feel pleased as pine liqueur punch to have found this gem.

Blind Tyger, 5A Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.

13. Thewlis Cocktail Lounge

Kir Royale, Thewlis

Credit: Thewlis

No matter how rip-roaring your nights out in Leeds are, you’re probably going to want to rest your feet at some point. Enter Thewlis, the sumptuous cocktail lounge that puts your comfort front and centre. Amongst the glittering chandeliers, superb bar staff and chock-a-block spirit selection (they need a freakin’ ladder to reach the top shelf!), you can reserve your very own leather booth. You won’t even have to un-peel yourself ’til the night is through, because Thewlis brings your handcrafted Espresso Martinis, Mojitos and Gin Mules straight to your table. Basically you’ll want for nothing at this classy joint, which is really how it should be in your thirties, isn’t it?

Thewlis Cocktail Lounge, 18 Park Row, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5JA.

14. Mojo

Mojo

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Max Wailes

Ay ca-rum-ba! Going out in Leeds has never looked so deliciously boozy as at Mojo, the rum and cocktail bar where the music rocks and the good times roll. Expect foot stomping, drink swigging and hip swinging aplenty, as this music-obsessed dive bar serves up just as many rock ’n’ roll tunes (think Elvis, David Bowie and The Kinks) as they do classic cocktails. You won’t be outnumbered by young folk either, because Mojo’s endless good vibes attract a mixed crowd of party-goers, each eager to keep the celebrations going ’til the early hours. Think you’re too old for table top dancing? Like heck you are! Get up there and give it some welly.

Mojo, 18 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.

15. Below Stairs

Below Stairs

Below Stairs may be tucked away below ground, but its ambitions are sky-high. Inside a cosy, candlelit sanctuary awaits, ready to serve you handcrafted drinks like you’ve never seen before. Here, expert mixologists transform cocktails into a multi-sensory experience where you select your tipple from an illustrated booklet of short stories. From hickory-smoked barbecues in the Southern States to walking the streets of a fragrant Moroccan bazaar, each cocktail is thought-provoking, expertly crafted and, of course, bloomin’ delicious. Never mind your bog standard Screwdrivers, this is mature boozing on a whole other level.

Below Stairs, 12 South Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5AL.

16. The Adelphi

The Adelphi

Credit: James Broome

If you’re keen to cut the faff on your next night out in Leeds, there’s one pub that’s prime for partying like the good ol’ days. Bed down for an evening in The Adelphi and you’ll be rewarded with a recently-renovated, Grade II-listed tavern. Forget flashing lights, selective guest lists and blasting music, here you can settle down with friends among crackling fireplaces, original tiles and tempting nooks instead. But despite the traditional tendencies, The Adelphi is abuzz with drinkers of all ages. With a dazzling drinks menu ranging from fruity gin and tonics to limited edition craft beers, it’s the quintessential all-rounder.

The Adelphi, 3-5 Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ.

17. Water Lane Boathouse

Water Lane Boathouse

Credit: Reece Leung

Waterfront location, giant beer garden, local breweries on tap and superb drinks deals, Water Lane Boathouse is the perfect place to enjoy a little riverside revelry next time you’re going out in Leeds. Park your bum on one of the outside picnic tables overlooking the River Aire (it can’t be beat when the sun’s shining, but there are heaters and covers when the weather’s not playing ball), or pop inside to find a snuggly spot and dive into well-priced bevvies with your besties. A former transhipment warehouse with two storeys, there’s oodles of room for everyone to pull up a pew. Oh and they do delectable pizzas too – no wonder the 30+ crowd refuse to give it up.

Water Lane Boathouse, Canal Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5PS.

18. Roland’s

Roland's

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Max Wailes

Any seasoned party animal in Leeds knows Call Lane is a sizzling hotspot for nightlife. But if you think this bar-strewn street is merely the stomping ground of sozzled students, think again. Roland’s, an unfailingly friendly bar nestled among the bright lights, caters to a more grown-up crowd. Exposed brick walls, soft lighting and cosy furnishings are enough to entice you in off the street, while the interesting range of beers and surprisingly sophisticated cocktails are just the reason you need to stay. The vibe is always chilled out, retro classics dominate the speakers and, most importantly, you won’t feel quite so ancient while surrounded by fresh young things.

Roland’s, 39 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.

19. The Social

The Social

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Max Wailes

Another laid back bar in Leeds, The Social is a bit of a gem yet it doesn’t always get the love it deserves. Let’s change that, shall we? If you’re a fan of no-fuss, independent venues that put good beer and fair prices front and centre, this is about to become your new favourite. Cask ales, quality lagers and cocktails for a fiver are just the excuse you need to kick back in the simple yet spacious interior or mahoosive beer garden. You can even spice up your night out with a rousing game of Scrabble from the board games on offer. But it’s not just about the pennies you’ll be saving – The Social is from the same bods behind two other popular city hangouts, Brudenell Social Club and Sela, so you can be sure of a lively atmosphere too.

The Social, 21 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JE.

20. Angelica

Angelica Champagne

For sky-high sips and a seriously classy night out in Leeds, Angelica can’t be beat. Sitting pretty atop Trinity Leeds, this Slick Rick boasts super stylish decor, amazing views through floor-to-ceiling windows and a bespoke cocktail menu dreamt up by their very own bartenders. It’s a combination that appeals to the more experienced drinker, yet there’s still plenty of frivolity. Enormous sharing cocktails invite you to dig in with friends, while dessert-inspired cocktails like Mom’s Apple Pie (vodka, apple juice, lime, cream and Angelica’s homemade apple pie syrup) are sweet enough to guzzle all on your own. The cherry on top? That lovely big terrace – blankets in winter, al fresco DJ sets in summer. Win-win.

Angelica, Trinity Leeds, 70 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.

21. Wax Bar

Wax Bar

© Copyright Leeds-List 2020 by Katie Nicole

The little sister of the fabulous Sela Bar, Wax Bar is only a tiddler (it sits atop its older, larger sibling) yet its fuss-free, old-school vibe attracts a diverse range of ages looking for a great night out in Leeds. Right into the early hours, you’ll find a jolly thrum of fun-seeking folk bopping along to the funk, soul and blues tunes blasting from the DJ deck. It’s totally unpretentious, a place where good times reign supreme, sweat drips from the walls and tequila is always a good idea. More than worth the squeeze next time you’re going out in Leeds, regardless your age.

Wax Bar, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.