Thirty is the new twenty – and there are plenty of places to go in Leeds if you want a great night out after you hit the big three-o.
Leeds’ nightlife is too good to give over to the city’s twenty-something population – and indeed, you don’t have to, because there are plenty of bars in the city that attract enough of us 30+ folk that you won’t feel outnumbered. So if you’re plotting a night out on the town and you don’t want it to make you feel old, check out these age-neutral haunts.
Outlaws Yacht Club
Unlike any other venue in the city, Outlaws Yacht Club is a bar and art space, where DJs take to the decks at night and kids run amok during the day. Their bar is packed with handpicked beers, as is the fridge, and they’ve got a small but perfectly formed menu of cocktails for those of you who want something a little bit fruity. The unique, all-encompassing atmosphere they’ve created brings in all sorts, from new students going out in Leeds for the first time to long-term regulars who’ve been coming for years.
Outlaws Yacht Club, 38 New York Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DY.
The Domino Club
With live jazz, blues and funk every day except Mondays, The Domino Club has become the city’s go-to spot for music-loving revellers. Step into Lords Barbering and head down the back staircase to enter this secret hideaway, where cost-price whisky and heady cocktails are served in a cool, old-school venue. The atmosphere is electric and the doors stay open until the early hours with DJs taking over when the band retires, so if you’re out for a big one, this is a great shout. The patrons are as timeless as the venue itself, so expect a really good mix of young, old and everything in between.
The Domino Club, Inside Lords Barbering, 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
A mainstay of Leeds’ thriving nightlife, North Bar is all about beer – and so are the people who visit, so age doesn’t really come into it. They have young whippersnappers still developing their beer tastes, alongside seasoned veterans who’ve spent years working out what they do and don’t like. And with hundreds of beers for you to try, you’ve got reason enough to come back again and again, until you’ve made your way through them all. It might take a while.
North Bar, 24 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
A bakery, a café and a bar all rolled into one, Wapentake is a Yorkshire treasure that everyone should (and indeed does) visit. Step inside and you’ll be welcomed by a vintage chic decor, a bar filled with local goodies and a friendly smile. They’re wild about local beers, so you can have your pick, with everything from Northern Monk’s Ice Cream Pale Ale to Roosters’ Anything Gose – hell, they’re even working with Crooked Brewery on a collaborative beer of their own.
Wapentake, 92 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.
A big hit with the after work crowds, Dirty Martini is a lively bar that gets louder and louder as the night goes on. Drop by on a Friday afternoon and you can enjoy their signature martinis in a surprisingly relaxed space, but come in the evening, and you’ll find yourself in a packed bar with a party atmosphere. If you like cocktails, you’ll be a very happy bunny here – they have 50 of them for you to choose from with a staggering selection of 15 weird and wonderful martinis. Of course, you can always just have a beer.
Dirty Martini, Atlas House, 31 King Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2HL.
One of the more laid back options for your next night out in Leeds, Calls Landing is one of the city’s most popular pubs, especially when the sun comes out. Their beer garden is the stuff of legend, tucked away beside the river with lovely views and the evening sun. Add an ever-changing selection of beer, a cosy indoor space and those warming stews – you’ll soon understand why the city’s more seasoned revellers refuse to give it up.
Calls Landing, 36-38 The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EW.
Candlebar has quickly found a place in the hearts of the city’s 30+ revellers, if only because they do booze very well indeed. On the taps, you’ll find a vast selection of quality ale and lager, with an even bigger choice of wine – all of which are really rather good. Every month, they pick a region to focus their vino on, but you can still get your favourites. Whatever you choose, you can enjoy riverside views while you sup your drink in a landmark building.
Candlebar, Candle House, Granary Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4GJ.
Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Mastodon… if you like your music heavy, Bad Apples is the place to go. Age doesn’t even come into it here, this is an all-out rock bar with a hoard of regulars who’ve stayed loyal from their twenties through to their thirties (and beyond). The drinks are inline with the music – think hard liquor, craft cans and cocktails inspired by the songs they play. Keep your eyes peeled for their live gigs – they’re loud, raucous and head-bangingly good.
Bad Apples, 7 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.
The Cross Keys
The Cross Keys is a traditional pub that pulls off that country feel in the heart of the city centre. It’s the perfect choice for those of you looking for a more relaxed night out in Leeds, as local ales are matched with hearty food and a roaring fire in the winter, while summer inevitably tempts folk into the lovely little beer garden out back. The clientele is eclectic, spanning every generation – you even get families in there, playing board games on a weekend, after a big Sunday roast.
The Cross Keys, 107 Water Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5WD.
Water Lane Boathouse
Everyone wants a piece of Water Lane Boathouse, so you definitely won’t be outnumbered by the young folk of Leeds here. It’s an incredible waterfront venue with a huge beer garden that comes into its own on sunny days – and they have just what you need to make the most of the summer weather. Alongside their craft beers, they have an enviable selection of gins for you to choose from, each served with the perfect garnish, and you can couple your drink with a pizza from resident eatery Small Victories.
Water Lane Boathouse, Canal Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5PS.
Outside, it’s just a doorway on the street, but once you’ve discovered The Maven, you’ll be loathe to let it go – which is probably why folk go back year after year, with a constant stream of younger revellers joining their ranks as they stumble upon the city’s original secret cocktail bar. With a pre-Prohibition feel inside, it’s all sophistication – and the cocktails are no different, they’re arguably the best in the city. Their soundtrack of classics is impossible to resist, so expect to be dancing long into the night.
The Maven, 1-3 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.
The Lost & Found
The Lost & Found is so popular that they’ve opened a second bar a few streets away from the first. Their Leeds Club venue is bigger and arguably better than their original Greek Street bar. It’s got the usual eclectic decor with lush greenery, travel-worn knick-knacks and cosy armchairs, but here they’ve spread out. You’ve got a lively bar downstairs where DJs take to the decks on a weekend, a more relaxed restaurant upstairs and a secret jungle garden room where you can escape from it all. Best of all, it attracts all sorts – from youngsters through to empty-nesters.
The Lost and Found Leeds Club, 3 Albion Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6JL.
It’s a historic pub that’s stayed true to its roots, so if you’re looking for a local in the centre of town, Whitelock’s is the place to go. Young bearded gents mingle with post-work drinkers and die-hard regulars who’d stay all day if they could, so you won’t feel out of place at all. Behind the bar, they have a vast array of quality ales on tap, with all the spirits you could wish for and a menu of pub classics that will line your stomach ready for a long night of drinking.
Whitelock’s, Turk’s Head Yard, Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HB.
Thewlis Cocktail Lounge
Thewlis has been claimed by the 30+ masses, thanks to its oh-so sophisticated decor, expertly mixed cocktails and book-ahead table policy – it’s nice to know that even when the bar is full your table will be waiting. The icing on the top, of course, has to be the table service – the only thing better than getting a great drink is having it brought to your table. If you’re going to make this your local, why not buy a bottle of your favourite spirit and stow it away in your own personal drinks locker behind the bar?
Thewlis Cocktail Lounge, 18 Park Row, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5JA.
The famous barber’s shop has moved upstairs to make way for a new bar. Poison, as they like to call it, is an old-school jazz bar with live music three nights a week and a wonderfully soothing soundtrack for the other four. Somehow, they’ve found the perfect balance between lively and relaxed, so Goldilocks herself would approve of the atmosphere, and it’s coupled with a handpicked selection of wine, craft beer and spirits, as well as their signature cheeseboards and the occasional pop-up restaurant.
Remedy Hairdressing, 16 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Friends of Ham
Good beer, good wine, good charcuterie – Friends of Ham never gets old. It’s a relaxed bar where you can get to know your neighbours with long benches designed for sharing. Upstairs, it’s bright and airy with floor to ceiling windows, while downstairs promises a cosy base where where you can hide away from the world. It’s very much a ‘sit and chat’ venue, perfect for those nights out when you don’t want anything too strenuous, but it has a real atmosphere, so you won’t feel like you’re playing it safe.
Friends of Ham, 4-8 New Station Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DL.
The Head of Steam
A traditional boozer, tucked away just behind Leeds Train Station, The Head of Steam is a great shout if you’re a fan of the grain. It promises a cracking menu of beers, many of which hail from Belgium and even further afield, giving you a taste of something you can’t get elsewhere. So if beer is the order of the day, this Leeds bar is a definite contender – and don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of friendly 30+ faces in the crowd. It is popular though, so expect to be shoulder to shoulder with your fellow beer-lovers.
The Head of Steam, 12 Mill Hill, City Centre, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DQ.
Vice & Virtue
Have you been yet? Many haven’t, but trust us when we say that this decadent cocktail bar is worth seeking out. You’ll find it just around the corner from Merrion Street, but it’s often missed – venture upstairs and into the lounge, where you’ll be treated to table service and a huge choice of expertly mixed cocktails, all made with premium spirits. It’s a fantastic little find that’s converted cocktail lovers from every generation into regulars – and the fact that you can couple your drinks with Luke Downing’s incredible food is the clincher.
Vice & Virtue, 68 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
A long-time favourite, The Reliance is an unassuming bar on North Street, perfect for starting your nights out in Leeds. They’ve got an excellent selection of beer behind the bar and a restaurant-worthy wine list, as well as their own home-cured charcuterie and a menu of seasonal dishes – all in a cosy little bar with a shabby-chic decor that’ll make you feel right at home. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself camping out for the night – as us regulars know, the more you go, the less you want to leave.
The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
There’s nowhere else quite like Doghouse. They’ve taken raw-chic to new heights by stripping back the walls to the original plaster and brickwork. The result is a wonderfully dishevelled bar where you instantly feel right at home. You’ve got two floors to choose from here, with a record store upstairs in case you want to pick something up, and you can bet your bottom dollar that their soundtrack is top notch. Drink craft beer, real ale, cider and spirits while you enjoy the unique atmosphere and eclectic clientele.
Doghouse Bar and Record Store, 90 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.
Below Stairs takes cocktails to the next level. They’ve turned your Friday night drinks into an experiential adventure that will take you down memory lane. By its very nature, it appeals to the more experienced drinker, and you’ll find the crowd inside mimics this. You can escape to a Moroccan bar with the Bazar Daquiri, which brings together aromatic spices, incense and nuts to create a wonderful Middle Eastern tipple, or relax on a Philippine beach with the Mabuti, which brings aged cachaça together with mango, ginger, soy and lime (with a prawn cracker and mango pickle hat).
Below Stairs, 12 South Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5QS.Cover image © Copyright Leeds-List 2018 by Corvin Pamp