The Most Underrated Bars in Leeds

· Ali Turner · Food and Drink

How many of these bars have you been to?

Have you tried them all? If not, this is your new to-do list…

These bars all fly under the radar. They’re not as famous as their kin, in fact, your feet may never have passed their threshold, but they’re all worth a visit – each for unique reasons. So whether you fancy a night of laidback tapas, original cocktails or lung-busting karaoke, let us lead you from the well-trodden path and into one of these utterly underrated bars in Leeds.

Lazy Lounge

Lazy Lounge

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Whether you fancy a glass of wine, a copa of gin or a few drams of whisky, Lazy Lounge is the Leeds bar with all the answers. You see, this hidden corner of the city centre is home to spirit experts, so if you haven’t been yet, you’re missing out. The downstairs bar area is scattered with chesterfields and barrels, perfect for kicking back with a glass or two, but head up the sweeping staircase and you’ll find a cosy mezzanine. Want a treat? Book onto one of their wine or gin tastings to sample a fine selection.

Lazy Lounge, West Point, Wellington Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4JY.

The Watermark

The Watermark

As soon as you step inside The Watermark, you’ll be welcomed by an eclectic decor and an oh-so-relaxed vibe. It’s wonderfully casual with an air of refinement, making it the perfect place for a catch-up with friends, a romantic evening or even a solo tipple. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic cocktail, a cool craft beer or a glass of wine, you’ll find something to suit your taste buds. And if you’re feeling adventurous, their renowned mixologists are on hand to whip up bespoke drinks.

The Watermark, 3 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.




A little-known treasure that needs to make an appearance on your next night out, Farrands is a petite bar with a big personality. From the pared-back cocktail menu to the indoors-outdoors terrace and the cosy leather booths, it absolutely oozes style. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the drinks list. Hand-picked wines come with personal recommendations, cocktails are original but they’re not afraid to take requests (the mark of a good bartender), and local beers like Kirkstall’s Virtuous come on draught.

Farrands, 18 Swinegate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4AG.

Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa

Credit: Crop45

Filippos Filippopoulos was one of the founding members of the The Watermark, but he’s moved on to pastures new with Tabula Rasa. It’s a classy establishment – deep teal walls are perfectly paired with velvet bar stools, polished wood floors and art deco stylings to create a bar that has one foot in the past and one foot firmly planted in the present. Everything here comes with a level of refinement – cocktails are named after the famous and arrive in Insta-worthy style with every garnish you never knew you needed.

Tabula Rasa, 8 Eastgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7JL.

The Wardrobe

The Wardrobe

The Wardrobe stands as one of the most iconic gig venues in Leeds, but did you know it’s also home to one of the most underrated bars in the city? Unlike the dim space downstairs, upstairs you’ll find a wonderfully bright, relaxed place to chill with your pals over a few. If you’re after beer, they’ve got Camden Hells, Birra Morretti and Amstel all on draught, while wine comes in all variations. Fancy cocktails? There are classics like Aperol Spritz, Espresso Martinis and Margaritas, alongside their own creations.

The Wardrobe, 6 St Peter’s Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 8AH.

The Brew Society

Brew Society

Part coffee shop, part craft beer bar, The Brew Society can quench your thirst from morning through to night, but it’s the latter we’re concerned with here. They have 13 rotating lines, each one adorned with a different micro-brewed beer. From Vault City’s Strawberry Skies to Northern Monk’s Divine Faith and Sevenbro7hers’ Honeycomb Pale, their taps read like a who’s who of brewing’s finest. There’s more in the fridges, and should you find yourself in a mood for something else, wine, whisky, gin and cocktails will call your name.

The Brew Society, 26 Aire Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4HT.


Cane N Coffee Cocktail at Sandinista

Credit: Saltwick Media

It’s a Leeds legend, but it’s worth remembering Sandinista is still dishing out the rock & roll vibes after all this time. You’ll be welcomed with blasting tunes into a lively bar where the walls are plastered with gig posters and the bar is fully stocked with every type of spirit and wine, but there’s plenty of choices for beer lovers too. Or, you can enjoy all the classic cocktails, done well. After a bite to eat? They’ve got a menu of Mexican-inspired treats, so you can take your pick of tasty tacos, nachos and quesadillas.

Sandinista, 5 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.

Wax Bar

Wax Bar

Wax Bar is a criminally underrated no-frills bar that has all the makings for a cool place to grab a drink and have a boogie, with DJs spinning tunes all night long. Its orange walls are covered with all manner of music memorabilia, and the drinks are tip-top. Lip-smacked craft beers grace the fridges, giving you plenty of hoppy options. And there’s no better time to snap up a can of their very own Wax Pale Ale – a collab with Horsforth Brewery. Love cocktails? It’s 2 for £12 on the classics or £15 for the premium cocktails until 8pm every day.

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

La Bodega

La Bodega at Iberica

Tucked away beneath Ibèrica lies a little slice of Mediterranean bliss. La Bodega is basement bar that shares its sibling’s love of tapas – tortilla, padrónes and croquetas de jamón make moreish bar snacks. The ever-changing wine list runs from super-sippable sherries to authentic Spanish cavas and riojas. But that’s just the beginning. Treat yourself to a Gin Mare G&T or choose from an array of Spanish beers – Estrella and Tyris feature heavily. And all this in a laidback setting that’s both rustic and chic.

La Bodega, Park Cross Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2QH.

Hello Karaoke

House of Fu Hello Music Lounge

Credit: Reece Leung

The downstairs restaurant, House of Fu, has been met by much fanfare, but you may not even have heard of the karaoke bar hidden upstairs. Hello is an almost-secret drinking den when you can put your vocal cords to good use. Buzz the buzzer for entry, then head upstairs to the bar where you can choose from a tantalising array of drinks before heading to your booth. They use Singa Karaoke, so you can choose from a vast catalogue of warble-worthy hits on the app and queue them up ready to belt ‘em out. Pass the mic.

Hello Karaoke, House of Fu, 15-19 The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 6PU.

Cover image credit: Crop45.