Leeds-List - Leeds' ultimate magazine and guide

The Ultimate Guide to Call Lane

· Joseph Sheerin · Food and Drink

Get the comprehensive lowdown on one of the city's hottest nightspots.

Call Lane Social, Tiki Hideaway, Cocktail Masterclass

Call Lane is the city’s most famous nightspot, and with good reason, because you’ll find a slew of bars that are determined to make your night unforgettable…

Whether you head down The Calls or up Merrion Street, there are loads of places to go out in Leeds – but none of them are quite as famous as Call Lane. Home to everything from cool rock’n’roll haunts to secret cocktail bars, it’s the most famous nightspot in the city – and we’ve created the ultimate guide to help you plan your next night out in Leeds.

Top of Call Lane

You might not realise it, but Call Lane actually starts at the other side of the Corn Exchange, just by the Kirkgate entrance to Leeds Market, and it’s got a couple of Leeds’ favourite bars to try out…

The Maven

The Maven, Leeds

Credit: Ollievision

You might have to be a member of the Illuminati to find the entrance, but when you do The Maven cocktail lounge is one of the most rewarding bars in Leeds to visit. Dressed up in its pre-Prohibition USA style, it’s a novel way of adding a new dimension to the existing Call Lane offering, bringing a sense of elegance in amidst the chaos.

And what do you order? Well being a cocktail lover’s paradise, take your pick. They present their own take on the classics, such as the spiced daiquiri, and offer up original incarnations (try the Smoking Tommy if you’re a margarita fan) as well as having one of the finest collections of spirits you’ll find in a Leeds bar, just don’t be tempted to try them all in one go.

The Maven, 1st Floor, 1 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.

Bad Apples

Credit: Laurie Cooper-Murray

If you’re after something a little heavier, with drinks served alongside a fair helping of Black Sabbath or Foo Fighters, Bad Apples may well be the Call Lane bar you’ve been looking for. The rock fan’s ideal soundtrack (they even promise no Morrissey – ever) and skeletons in the floor make for a buzzing atmosphere, one that’s quite different to its neighbours since it swung its doors open in 2012.

But that doesn’t mean it totally sits out of character from the rest of Call Lane’s bars. In fact they too pride themselves on cocktails and quality lagers, but with their own rocking spin – how about a Deep Purple Flirt or a Planet Caravan? They cater to what would make their own staff come in, which is always a good quality, and the busy, but not heaving nature of evenings, even at weekends, make it a pleasant alternative to the norm – rocktail bars are Leeds’ latest source of pride.

Bad Apples, 7 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7DH.

Wire

Wire

Credit: IGR Photo

Wire is akin to a Leeds right of passage. Most folk between 18 and 30 have spent a murky night in here, spinning on their toes, with a Tuborg or Jagerbomb in hand, to some classic indie rock’n’roll, or raised the roof with some of the world’s best DJs. Its list of club nights is impressive – Acetate, Butter Side Up, Selective Hearing and Fuzzy Logic are all cornerstones of the Leeds nightlife and helped give rise to the popularity of new (and old) genres of music, while the most iconic of nights, Back to Basics, also now calls Wire home.

The underground venue isn’t massive, but that plays into its intimate, everlasting charm (and ability to make you boil at the depths of winter). With the help of the ground-shaking Funktion One Soundsystem, names such as Theo Parrish, Four Tet, Tensnake and Annie Mac, amongst many more, have all been responsible for memorable nights out in Leeds. As a result Wire has become an integral part of going out in Leeds, particularly for those students who have Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays available to party.

Wire, 2a Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DN.

Milo

Milo

Milo is the life and soul of the party. Inside, it’s all exposed brickwork, with rustic bar and pizza oven out back. It’s all about creating memories today, and it does it by channelling the spirit of rock’n’roll, whether in the tunes (old and new blaring out of the speakers) or the live talent they have coming through their upstairs gig space.

Music is what they do they best, but the drinks menu isn’t bad either – whether you’re after a tasty real ale, for which they have four new taps, or a cocktail like their Espresso Martini, they’ll be happy to provide a spot of refreshment – something you’ll surely need after you’ve rocked out. This is a classic Leeds venue, reinvigorated as your friendly neighbourhood dive bar.

Milo, 10-12 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DN.

Call Lane Strip

The heart of Call Lane runs from the Corn Exchange to the junction with The Calls, and it has earned itself quite a reputation over the past decade or so as the vibrant heart of Leeds’ nightlife, even if you do have to battle your way through the hordes of revellers that practically pedestrianise the street of a weekend.

Red’s True Barbecue

Red's Ribs

Red’s True Barbecue has quickly become a Leeds institution, and one that has taken flight to places like Nottingham, Manchester and Liverpool, but their original home is on Leeds’ Call Lane and it’s always packed out with diners hungry for slabs of juicy, marinated meats.

That’s what Red’s is all about – meat, slow cooked and smoked to give it intense flavour. Their menu will have you drooling, whether it’s the Kansas City baby back ribs or the double patty donut burger with smoked peppered bacon and crispy onions – you’ll soon see why Red’s has come to be regarded as one of Leeds’ finest modern exports, just make sure you’re prepared to wait, as it’s incredibly popular, but certainly worth it.

Red’s True Barbecue, 1 Cloth Hall Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2HD.

Jake’s Bar and Still Room

Jake's Bar

For over 10 years now, Jake’s Bar has been a solid force behind the Call Lane revival into one of the city’s most thriving nightspots. Venturing down (or back up) the stairs might not be the easiest, or cheapest thing to achieve in high heels or after one of their famous cocktails, but you will not be left short changed. The ‘thank God it’s Friday’ atmosphere permeates the place, whether there are dance anthems blaring, classic hip-hop bouncing or indie sing-a-longs.

You see, Jake’s has an advantage in that it has its very own still room, allowing the bar itself to create their own unique recipe spirits and liqueurs, as well as a fine range of draught and bottle beers. But those cocktails – well first you have to battle your way through one of the most detailed, thirst-inducing menus you’ll find at a Leeds bar. When you’ve come to terms with the offering, you’re obliged to try one of them out whether it’s based on gin (Blighty Mojito), vodka (Vanilla Laika), bourbon (Bourbon Renewal), or whatever else Jake’s have ready to throw at you. One thing’s for sure, you’re not short of options.

Jake’s Bar and Still Room, 29 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.

Oporto

Oporto

Credit: Laurie Cooper-Murray

Oporto survives on three staples – good music, good people and good drinks, and it’s this triumvirate that has helped build the Leeds bar up into a bastion of drinking invincibility. Well, if you can withstand their Jager antics that sorts the men from the boys that is. The latter of the three is of course vital, and whether it’s beer or spirits, you’re well looked after with a hefty draught, bottle and spirit selection behind the bar.

Music, however, is what makes the place so popular. Gigs are on weekly, and feature esteemed nights by the likes of Communion (Noah and the Whale, Laura Marling, Mumford and Sons) and The Gaslight Club (Sam Airey, Slow Club, The Crookes), while the soundtrack nods back to classic rock’n’roll, soul and dance from the past four decades. And with the Dogging Club supplying weiners to feed their punters, Oporto seems to have all bases pretty much covered.

Oporto, 33 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.

Neon Cactus

Neon Cactus

Credit: Katie Nicole

Bringing a taste of ‘old town street Mexico’ to Leeds, walking into Neon Cactus is very much like stepping into the heart of Latin America. Its rustic charm emanates from the old wooden bar top and tables to the backdrop which sings of true Mexican spirit, with all the right spirits and trinkets on display, which make it a comfortable place to chill and chow during the day, and a lively hotspot at night.

Drinks-wise, you should obviously delve into the tequila-based cocktails (Papaya Don’t Preach is a favourite, with its agave blanco base), whilst the ‘sip list’ is astounding – take a trip into real Latino culture in over 50 different variations of blanco, reposado and anejo. Their artisan offerings have helped the Leeds bar settle into Call Lane over the past half-decade, and it’s now one of the most favoured, only helped further by their food menu from the Mexican cantinas with tacos, tostadas and burritos, which has now grown into sister venue Cielo Blanco in Trinity Leeds.

Neon Cactus, 35 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.

Roland’s Bar

Roland's

One of the newer additions to Call Lane’s thriving nightlife hub is Roland’s Bar, and it’s attempting to offer something different from its neighbours – even if the décor isn’t such a contrast. Nonetheless, it works well – the little touches such as the brass beer taps, chalkboard menu, hanging mirrors, and fairly minimal furniture leave more space for folk to enjoy Roland’s two specialities – beer and music.

To a consistently fantastic playlist of classic soul music that’s bound to get the feet moving with little issue, Roland’s profess to love beer, and one look at their menu suggests they’re not lying. Here’s a bar, in the middle of Leeds which is aiming to give the city beers very few will have dug out before. Take the Icelandic Einstok beers, or perhaps the more traditional Portland beers on draught from across the pond. But it’s not just beer, they have an envious cocktail menu too, with the Margarita and Espresso Martini popular favourites. Roland’s aren’t re-writing the Call Lane bar handbook, they’re just giving it their own dimension.

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

Norman Bar

Nights Out in Leeds

Credit: Ollievision

Norman Bar is quite unique in that it’s the Jekyll and Hyde of Call Lane. By day it’s a chilled out bar that has the potential to be a cool city centre haunt to pop your head in. The staff tend to know what they’re doing and take pride in the range of drinks – its hard not to agree, whether you’re after beer, wine, spirits or cocktails.

However by night, it’s a different beast, with the city’s revellers descending on the place (providing you can get past the bouncers) to compare and contrast how cool they all are. In all seriousness though, it does provide an alternative to the other Call Lane bars in that it’s a heaving haunt that attracts any and all – helped by the DJs who have the ability to fuse classics with current chart and dance favourites to create a decent soundtrack to any night out in Leeds.

Norman Bar, 36 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.

Call Lane Social

Call Lane Social

Credit: Laure Cooper-Murray

Much like its opposite number Oporto, Call Lane Social brings together rock’n’roll and cocktails in the surroundings of one of Leeds’ favourite bars. It achieves the look people love with exposed brick walls, dark mahogany furnishings and a quite scary stuffed stag’s head on the wall – and if you can stomach the latter, you’re bound to have a night to remember in here.

Their well-packed bar is obviously appreciated by those looking for beers with the likes of Quilmes, Pacifico, Erdinger and Cusquena being imported in from around the globe, as well as a healthy range on tap and in the fridges. They’re also well stocked when it comes to spirits, so you can get your favourite mixer or a couple of shots no problem while the never ending jukebox of rock’n’roll hits keeps the folk coming back.

Call Lane Social, 38 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.

Tiki Hideaway

Tiki Hideaway

If you’re looking for a taste of some warmer climes while partying on Call Lane, there’s only really one place to go – the Tiki Hideaway. You might want a pint at Call Lane Social first, but then you should make a beeline for the stairs at the back of the bar which takes you up into this 1950’s Tiki paradise.

Split across two rooms that are decorated with low red lights, bamboo decking and some quite scary Polynesian mascots, head straight to the bar, because their cocktail offering is sensational. Their signature is the Flaming Zombie, which is exactly what it sounds like, so don’t dive straight in or you’ll have no eyebrows left. There’s also a wide range of other exotic cocktails to pick from while you’re boogying down to their eclectic soundtrack.

Tiki Hideaway, Call Lane Social, 38 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.

Art’s Cafe

Art's Cafe

Art’s Cafe stands out on Call Lane, because it’s not just a bar. It is, in fact, a very well regarded restaurant that has won fans for its relaxed bistro-like feel as much as its enticing menu of tasty dishes.

Speaking of the menu, Art’s Cafe draws on influences from all over the world with the likes of wild mushroom & paneer dhal, spinach purée, grilled king oyster mushroom, onion seed yoghurt and naan sitting alongside beer battered haddock and hand cut chips, tartar sauce and crushed minted peas. There’s a finesse that goes with the food, and yet they’ve maintained a down to earth vibe that makes it perfect for everything from leisurely lunches to quick bites before your night out.

Art’s Cafe, 42 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.

Revolution

Okay okay, it might stand out on this guide as being the rarity that is a national chain, however Call Lane and Revolution have managed to serve each other remarkably well during their time together. After all, Revs, as it is affectionately known, fits in with the exposed décor the area thrives on and isn’t bad at knocking up a tasty cocktail or two and burgers, pizzas or steaks if you’re looking to fill a hole.

While it might not have the kudos of some of its nearby friends, Revolution has only succeeded because it does what it does so well. There’s decent tunes if you’re into a mix of chart, dance and r&b, while the food is straightforward meaning everyone’s fed well. It might never change the world, but Revolution succeeds in giving people what they want – food, drink and good music.

Revolution, 48 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.

Brooklyn

Credit: Contakt Photography

After a brief dalliance as EPIC Cocktail Club, Brooklyn is back and it’s the place to party on Call Lane. Spread across two floors with a jam-packed bar, it’s filled with a tempting array of classic cocktails, from the Long Island Iced Tea to the Downtown Daiquiri. Not your thing? You can also choose from a selection of craft beer and lager from around the world.

Out back, you’ll find an open plan garden that’s connected to the other venues on Queens Court – it’s the perfect place to enjoy a drink on sunny days, without losing any of the party spirit. If you’d rather stay inside though, there’s plenty to keep you busy – it’s the home of beer pong on Call Lane, so gather your pals and see who can make the opposition down their drinks first. And all this is backed up by a soundtrack of floor-filling anthems. Brooklyn is back.

Brooklyn, 50 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.

Bottom of Call Lane

The world doesn’t begin at Jake’s and end at Brooklyn you know – Call Lane stretches down to the bottom of Lower Briggate and there are a few gems on here that are well worth your time and your money…

The Backroom

The Back Room, Leeds

Right on the bottom corner of Call Lane, The Backroom is a lively spot for nights out in Leeds, and only open from Thursday through to Saturday, making it worth your wait for the weekend. Split over two floors, with white leather sofas and black furnishings, it’s a stylish affair with more than hint of a 1920s speakeasy.

If you’re a fan of spirits, you might want to settle in for the night at The Backroom. They have an envious selection, ranging from Grey Goose vodka to Tanqueray gin, Mount Gay rum to Jack Daniel’s Single Barrell bourbon, which they can also turn into delicious cocktails. If you’re going all out, treat yourself to some Verve Clicquot or Dom Perignon champagne – you can really make a night of it at The Backroom.

The Backroom, 50a Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.

Baracoa

Baracoa

A little bit different to its neighbours, Baracoa is a lounge bar and club that aims to create a luxurious experience where you can sup cocktails in a sumptuous setting before the party starts in earnest. The bar is well stocked with spirits, which are put to good use in their classic cocktails, and you can also choose from a selection of beers and wines.

But it’s not just the drinks that will tempt you here, it’s also the entertainment. They have DJs on the decks, taking your night into the early hours with the likes of Manny Brown and DJ Trooper making appearances.

Baracoa, 52 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.

Revolución de Cuba

Revolućion de Cuba Leeds

Revolución de Cuba, the sibling venue of Revolution, has recently joined the Call Lane elite. Spread out over two floors, with three different bars, all of which have a chic, rustic design, it’s a good looking venue, but it’s the menu that will demand your attention.

As you can probably guess from the name, Revolución de Cuba provides a lively, Latino twist to proceedings, with rum at its centre, thanks to an abundance of Havana, Appleton, Wray and Nephew and more. You’ll also want to delve into the Latin inspired Cantina menu, featuring pinchos to start before delving into their 3 for £14 tapas dishes like albongidas, calamari and nachos de sol, or something larger like Cuban sandwiches, burgers and paella.

Revolución de Cuba, 52 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.

The New Penny

The New Penny

Across the street is the famous heart of Leeds LGBT nightlife – The New Penny. As the oldest gay bar in Leeds, and potentially the oldest surviving venue in the country – it opened in 1953 as The Hope and Anchor – it has become the centrepoint of an area which is the centre of gay nightlife in the city. And not only that, it lays claim to being one of Lily Savage’s early venues before shooting to stardom.

Expect cheesy pop classics and dance tunes, as well as a DJ who – wait for it – is happy to take requests, in an atmosphere that feels a lot like a traditional boozer, just without the miserable old fellas propping up the bar. It’s decent value for a standard fare of drinks, and you’re nigh on guaranteed to have a ball, particularly if you choose one of their event nights to visit, with drag acts and karaoke keeping punters entertained all night long.

The New Penny, 57 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.

Down the Alleyways

Tucked away just off Call Lane, you might not realise these bars are here, but once you venture down Hirst’s Yard, you’ll want to keep going back for more.

Hirst’s Yard

Nestled on the alley from which it takes its name, Hirst’s Yard is just off Call Lane, but it’s one of the area’s coolest bars. If you’re looking for a chilled out spot for after-work drinks or a daytime pint, it’ll do the job, but once night falls it’s also a cracking haunt if you want some party vibes.

Why? Well, it’s got a whole host of drinks to choose from, which means it really does cater for any and all, whether you’re looking for imported beers, local ales, spirits, wines or cocktails. The tunes range from rock and indie to soul and Motown, but they often have free live music on here too, which is unique in this part of town, so make the most of it.

Hirst’s Yard, 11-15 Hirst’s Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NJ.

51% Bourbon

51% Bourbon, Leeds

If whiskey is your thing, head for the bar that sits above Hirst’s Yard. 51% Bourbon is a dram lover’s paradise, but you shouldn’t just visit for the booze – it’s a bustling bar that evokes the traditional saloon bars, with dark furnishings and old barrels for tables.

You’ll find a huge range of bourbons behind the bar, leaving you stuck for choice. Whether it’s classics like Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark, or something a little rarer, which might set you back quite a bit, but will certainly be worth it for any discerning aficionado, 51% Bourbon will hit the spot, just like your bourbon of choice.

51% Bourbon, 11-15 Hirst’s Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NJ.

Mook

Mooks Remy Cointreau Takeover

Credit: Ollievision

Half way between Call Lane and Lower Briggate on Hirst’s Yard, Mook is now a staple of Leeds’ nightlife. It’s got no airs or graces, and prides itself on people having a decent time for a decent price, with an electric soundtrack that’s designed to get the punters dancing, whether they’ve got the skills or not.

It’s all about cocktails here, and they have a 2-4-1 offer from Thursday to Sunday, which you should totally make the most of. Pick from the Classic menu, including the likes of the Caipirinha, Mojito and Moscow Mule, the Signature menu, such as Mango Ice Tea, Dib Dab and Toffee Mookshake, or the Fruity menu, featuring the French Martini, Applemac and Polish Princess – you won’t regret it.

Mook, Hirst’s Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NJ.

Space

Club nights

If normal opening hours don’t do it for you, and you need somewhere to dance into the early hours down by Call Lane, well, there’s only one real choice – Space. It aims to bring the spirit of Ibiza to Leeds with a super club that’s so good it has a nationwide reputation.

Once you’ve got past what is usually a pretty extensive queue on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays, you’ll enter a cavernous club that plays only the finest in house music. The drinks offering is your pretty bog standard club choices, but once you’re throwing down some shapes on the dance floor, that won’t be too much of a problem.

Space, 11 Hirst’s Yard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NJ.