Merrion Street is the place to be when it comes to food and drink in Leeds, with a host of bars and restaurants ready to help you have a memorable night.
It’s a staple of nightlife in Leeds and one glance through this bumper round-up of Merrion Street’s finest watering holes and dining spots will show you why. In recent years, the area has seen a series of eclectic new openings arrive to provide the perfect foil to a series of familiar favourites. The result is it’s the perfect place to party, whether you’re enjoying a tasty bite, catching up over drinks or dancing to top DJs.
The main strip of Merrion Street is a buzzing hub of pubs, bars and restaurants…
Parkside Tavern has something for everyone. It’s a cornerstone of Merrion Street, its vast pub providing the perfect place to cosy up in leather booths, play your mates on their pool tables or boogie to classic indie tunes, while outside there’s a trio of sun-trap beer gardens. Beer-lovers are well catered for, with a rotating line-up of local breweries on keg and cask. Prefer cocktails? Classics like espresso martinis sit alongside signatures like the Appleberry Dazzler. If you get peckish, their food menu takes you from hand-stretched pizza to nachos.
Parkside Tavern, Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JG.
The Social is what happens when two Leeds legends, Sela and the Brudenell, come together to make bar dreams come true on Merrion Street. A super-cool soundtrack, exposed brickwork and framed music prints create the perfect setting for a few drinks inside, while the summer often sees their terrace out back become one of the most popular spots in Leeds. It’s great for beer, on both cask and keg, all at a reasonable price, while spirits and cocktails are all present and correct too. Look out for their occasional DJ nights as well.
The Social, 21 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JG.
A New York-inspired bar with cool industrial decor, finished with luxurious leather booths, bright neon lights and a huge statement bar, Manahatta is a little different to its Merrion Street neighbours. It’s popular during the day for a bite to eat – the menu includes trusty favourites like beef bao buns and steak frites – and at night for after-work drinks, but it really comes alive at weekends when DJs take you into the early hours. For the thirsty, craft beers are present, but it’s really all about the cocktails – a tequila-laced Watermelon Paloma, anyone?
Manahatta, 11 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
Mojo is the original rock and roll dive bar and it all started here in Leeds. Over 20 years since it opened its first ever bar on Merrion Street, it’s still going strong. Music icons adorn the walls, providing the perfect backdrop to a night of rocking revelry, soundtracked by classic soul, rock and funk tunes. While you’re dancing along, you can enjoy everything from bottled lagers and craft beers to classic cocktails like the Bramble and French Martini. Prefer rum? Head to The Rhum Room upstairs, a petite hidey-hole with its own dedicated bar.
Mojo, 18 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
Roxy Ball Room
Roxy Ball Room is a Leeds favourite that promises three floors of gaming and good times on Merrion Street. From pool to shuffleboard, basketball to beer pong, bowling to karaoke, you can do it all under one roof. Play to your heart’s content in a cool-as-heck venue soundtracked with indie tunes and with walls covered in graffiti, industrial-chic furniture and leather booths to take a break between games. The bar is full of local craft beer or you can try one of Roxy’s signature cocktails, like the vanilla vodka-heavy Mardy Bum.
Roxy Ball Room, 9a Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
Mean-Eyed Cat Bar
Mean-Eyed Cat is a late-night party bar that brings a touch of the Deep South to Merrion Street. Inspired by the rebellious spirit of Johnny Cash, this bold and lively dive bar is the place to show off your dance moves as you move your feet to a soundtrack of old school rock and roll anthems until the early hours. The bar is stocked with a trio of their own craft beers alongside familiar favourites. Prefer hootin’ tootin’ cocktails? They have a host of American-inspired mixes like the Southern Sling, Long Island Iced Tea and Lynchburg Lemonade.
Mean-Eyed Cat Bar, 14 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
The Key Club
If you love punk, rock and metal music, The Key Club is the most important live venue in Leeds and you’ll find it on Merrion Street. It welcomes a raft of up-and-coming bands, both local and national, to its stage on an almost-nightly basis – you can even check out big-name bands playing intimate shows in this cool underground space. But it’s not just gigs. The Key Club is one of the busiest clubs in the city. They put on hugely popular alternative nights three times a week: Slam Dunk on Tuesdays, Fuel on Fridays and The Garage on Saturdays.
The Key Club, 66 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8LW.
Verve really comes into its own after dark as they spin a mix of classic rock, pop and indie tunes. The masses descend on the dance floor every weekend, boogying their way into the early hours, but if you’d rather go out on a school night, they do free stand-up comedy and live music showcases five nights a week. Whatever you’re at Verve for, you can take your pick from an eclectic mix of craft beers or go for one of their great-value mixers. Prefer cocktails? Twists on classics are their bag – Mariachi Margarita anyone?
Verve, 16 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
It might look like just another fast food joint from the outside, maybe even inside, but Noodle House is so much more than that – even if they get your order out as quick as you make it. This place is a study in no-frills Chinese and Malaysian cooking, all made and served from the open kitchen in this cafe-style come-and-go dining room. Get ready for steaming bowls of noodle soups, blessed with proteins like fish balls and braised beef, but don’t forget about the quarter, half and whole roasted ducks. It’s proper hearty fare with authenticity.
Noodle House, 20 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
Bento Izakaya is the street food extension of Leeds favourite, Senbon Sakura, and it’s one of the finest places to eat on Merrion Street. This pared-back Japanese eatery takes you to Shinjuku one bite at a time, making the most of simple ingredients to conjure up delicious food. Their gyu donburi is a must, beef served over rice, while the stir-fried sliced duck curry udon is one worth coming back for time and again. Drinking and dining go hand-in-hand here, like they do in Japan, so take the time to explore their range of sake and imported beers.
Bento, 10 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
New Briggate has some of the Northern Quarter’s best-loved venues, whether it’s cocktail joints, craft beer favourites or sports bars.
The Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes
If you’re looking for somewhere to watch the big game near Merrion Street, The Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes is it. Screens adorn nearly every nook and cranny of this two-floor sports bar and there are loads of places to watch the action from. From the long benches in the main bar to big leather booths upstairs, there’s always somewhere to watch whatever live sporting events are on British TV. While you do, grab a drink and bite. Local ales and craft beers are on tap, cocktails come in classic form and eats like burgers and wings fill a hole.
The Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes, 54 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
North Bar is a Leeds institution. It opened back in 1997, making it one of the first dedicated craft beer bars in the UK, and it’s still at the very top of its game over 25 years on. This long, narrow bar has local art on the walls, plenty of tables and a photobooth at the back, so you can document your night out. They have over 150 beers on at any one time, ranging from their own North Brewing Co creations to exotic brews like Hitachino from Japan. Beer not your thing? Gin, rum and whiskey will hit the spot. Pair yours with meats and cheese.
North Bar, 24 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 6NU.
Sela Bar has been a cornerstone of nightlife in Leeds for nearly decades. It’s a hub of jazz, funk and soul music, so head down to this cool subterranean bar and prepare for a night of undeniable earworms. It’s not just DJs – they welcome local and international bands to their stage on a regular basis. At the bar, they have local draught beers on the taps and in the fridges, but it’s cocktails like the amaretto and brandy fusion of the Cherry Bakewell they’re known for. If you get peckish, treat yourself to one of their stone-baked pizzas.
Sela Bar, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 6NU.
If you like your cocktails with a dose of old school rock and roll, you have to visit Wax. Small, but perfectly formed, it has a big personality – the walls are decked out in cool pop culture references, old gig posters and classic record covers. It’s the perfect setting for laidback drinks during the week, but come the weekend, it’s jumping as their DJs take to the decks to play vinyl-only sets. While you’re dancing to tunes, you can enjoy craft beers, which come served in an ice-chilled glass fresh from the freezer, or go for one of their classic cocktails – Wax on!
Wax Bar, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 6NU.
The Wrens isn’t like the other bars around Merrion Street. It’s a traditional Leeds pub with snug rooms, wood-panelled walls and proper fireplaces. You’ll get a warm welcome as you take a seat in one of their long leather booths or hideaway in one of the many nooks and crannies. Local real ales are a speciality, welcoming brews from Saltaire, Ilkley and the likes to the pumps, but they’re also gin lovers – expect tipples from Mason’s, Death’s Door and Aviation. Want to make a night of it? The Wrens doubles as a hotel so you can book a room upstairs.
The Wrens, 61a New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JD.
Chef Jono at V&V
If you’re looking for a bite of Leeds luxury on your next visit to Merrion Street, stop by Chef Jono at V&V. The exquisite dining room is matched, no, elevated further, by the confidence and creativity that pours out of the kitchen. It’s led by chef-patron Jono Hawthorne, a former Masterchef: The Professionals finalist, and you can see why. Dishes like French onion with brown butter and parmesan cremé or Yorkshire duck with beetroot, hazelnut and chocolate show craft but are also fun. Their Sunday tasting menu gives new life to the classic roast.
Chef Jono at V & V, 68 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
If you’re a film lover on a night out near Merrion Street, there’s one Leeds bar you have to visit – Grindhouse. It’s the city’s first-ever movie-themed bar, from Santiago’s Dave Holmes and colleague Paul Handley. They’ve transformed an old shop into a super-cool joint decked out with rare film posters, original film cells and huge screens that play classic films as you drink. Speaking of which, enjoy North Star Coffee during the day, Northern Monk and more beers later in the day, all of which goes perfectly with food from their rotating kitchen.
Grindhouse, 22 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Greek dining meets British drinking at Tavassoli’s, an exposed brick-lined and neon-lit bar-cum-restaurant on New Briggate. It’s the perfect place for a dose of day drinking with their epic bottomless brunch one of the very best the city has to offer – you can scoff a gyro, washed down with unlimited cocktails like their Blood Orange Spritz. You don’t have to leave right away though – stick around for more cocktails, rotating spirits and craft beers, while if you want dinner, gyros are joined on the menu by pizzas and burgers.
Tavassoli’s, 14 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Nam Song Caphe
The bright orange signs and decor mean you can’t miss Nam Song Caphe on the corner of Merrion Street and New Briggate, and you wouldn’t want to. This is one of the finest Vietnamese restaurants in Leeds, split over two levels with traditional cushioned floor seating and very eclectic decoration. It packs a punch on the eyes, but also the palate. Lunchtime promises veg-packed summer rolls and sticky chicken wings, followed by fragrant bowls of pho and tasty noodle salads for dinner. The Viet-inspired cocktails are a must too.
Nam Song Caphe, 57-59 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JD.
Brew York have hopped down the A64 and made Leeds their second home with their brilliant tap room around the corner from Merrion Street. They have 20 lines filled with incredible craft beer and real ale across keg and cask – prepare yourself for Rhubarbra Streisand and Juice Forsyth, beers that live up to their incredible puns. You can look forward to guest brews and collaborations on the regular too. Hungry? Yuzu Street Food run the kitchen here, so you can pair your brews with everything from bao buns to rice bowls, curries to dumplings.
Brew York, 72 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
One of the finest Japanese restaurants in Leeds, Sushi Waka is the perfect place for dining near Merrion Street. If sushi’s your bag, you’re in for a treat – their hand-rolled delights are the real deal, whether you’re looking for sweet shrimp or flying fish roe. With soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger on the side, Japan’s true flavours find you in the heart of Leeds. That’s not all, though. There’s a tempting line-up of signature rolls alongside a smattering of hot classics like the katsu. They have a bit of fun too – try their iconic sushi donut!
Sushi Waka, 28 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Opera North has its very own restaurant and bar within its Howard Assembly Room home. Kino is an exquisite dining room, its stylish decor making it a must-visit for a pre or post-show bite to eat. Their kitchen residencies will change regularly, the first being taken by MorMor, the lauders of Levantine cuisine in Leeds. The menu takes you from butterfly tiger prawns in harissa butter to soft shell crab in lemon and caper mayo by way of sumac-covered lamb adana kebabs. Cocktails and local craft beers round off the experience.
Kino, 34 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Liv Bar is a little different to its Merrion Street neighbours. This is a sleek, stylish cocktail bar where tunes come in the form of hip-hop and house bangers. It really comes alive on the weekend, taking you into the early hours with a series of guest DJs and drinks offers, but don’t pass it by to kick off your nights out in Leeds. Their cocktails are keenly priced and promise the classics, from a Tequila Sunrise to an Alabama Slammer. Get down early because they’re 2-4-1 if you’re in there before 9pm.
Liv Bar, 62 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Delirium & Revelry
The name doesn’t leave much to the imagination and that’s exactly the idea of Delirium & Revelry. They want today’s revelry to inspire tomorrow’s delirium, and what a place to do it in. It’s all mood lighting and neon signs to create the perfect environment to work your way through their extensive cocktail offering. Classics get a Delirium twist, like the Chocolate Orange Espresso Martini, while their signatures promise creativity, like the rhubarb and custard-heavy Dream Soda. They also do a cheese and charcuterie bottomless brunch.
Delirium & Revelry, 52 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Just off Merrion Street, along the side of the Merrion Centre, you’ll find a quartet of restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat before your night out in Leeds.
Stepping into My Thai is like stepping into a secret corner of Bangkok. It’s a charming little restaurant where traditional Asian trinkets adorn the walls and a fabulous fusion of flavours shimmy out of the open kitchen as their chefs whip up amazing plates of Thai food, as quick as a flash – perfect for a pre-show or gig meal. The menu is big but affordable and inspired by dishes you’ll find on the streets of Bangkok. Expect favourites like Tom Yum Soup, next to signature plates like Kow Moo Dang, a five spice roast pork belly with boiled eggs.
My Thai, 43 Wade Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NJ.
You’ll find Arnold’s almost equidistant from Leeds Grand Theatre and First Direct Arena, making it the perfect stop for a pre-show feed and post-gig drink. It’s a light and airy venue, decorated with artwork that pays homage to God’s Own County, from record sleeves by Yorkshire bands to prints of local landmarks by Yorkshire artists. The menu is full of good-for-all dishes, from chicken tikka masala to the cheeseburger. Whatever you go for, you can wash it down with local beers or classic cocktails – Old Fashioned or Margarita, what will it be?
Arnold’s Restaurant and Bar, Wade Lane, Merrion Centre, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NJ.
What Fuji Hiro lacks in style, it makes up for in substance. This understated restaurant has been a Leeds mainstay for over 20 years and they’ve built up an enviable reputation as diners return for their exquisite Japanese food. The menu is big and full of traditional dishes. Their yakisoba noodles are a joy, their katsu curry hits the spot and the gyozas are delightfully soft, but it’s the ramen that stands out – you can choose the broth, the meat and the veggies to suit your tastes. And it goes perfectly with imported Japanese beer or a traditional sake.
Fuji Hiro, 45 Wade Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NJ.
Oba Kitchen is the restaurant arm of the Hang Sing Hong Asian supermarket and uses their produce to create a menu of fine Japanese and Korean cuisine, with a bit of fusion in the mix too. Kick things off with sashimi and sushi, but the real wow factor will be found in their rolls – salmon avocado and spicy tuna are familiar favourites, but don’t be afraid to push the boat out with their kimchi and pork belly sushi roll. It’s not just sushi, though – you can enjoy classic bibimbap, bonburi and japchae to enjoy a real taste of East Asia.
Oba Kitchen & Bar, Unit 2, Wade Lane, Merrion Centre, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NG.
Cross Belgrave Street & North Street
From Belgrave all the way to the very tip of the city centre, you’ll find some great bars and restaurants on Cross Belgrave Street and North Street.
Belgrave Music Hall
Belgrave Music Hall is more than just a bar, it’s a venue you can spend all day and night in. The ground floor is a spacious multi-level bar with loads of tables, chairs and benches, where you can choose from craft beers, real ales and spirits. Hungry? Patty’s burgers and Dough Boys’ pizza are a must. They have DJs spinning tunes downstairs on weekends and the monthly Belgrave Feast, but head upstairs and you’ll find one of the best gig venues in Leeds. The pièce de résistance? Their leafy roof terrace, with covered areas and heaters.
Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, 1a Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
Next door to Belgrave, The Watermark is a down-to-earth bar run by mixologists who have created a laidback venue for you to sup incredible concoctions in. It’s designed to make you feel like you could be in someone’s living room, with a blend of mahogany furniture, bookcases and leather booths. When it comes to drinks, you can get craft beer and wine, but experimental cocktails rule the roost. They turn classics on their head and dare you to try something new, like the jerk spice-infused Bacardi-led Rum DMC.
The Watermark, 3 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
Sandinista is back and it’s back for good. This iconic Leeds bar has played a vital role in many an epic night out around Merrion Street and long may the famous shenanigans continue. Vintage posters adorn the walls and its rebellious nature can’t be shaken, but it’s the party you come for and the party you shall have. Line after line of global craft beers give hop-lovers something to love, while cocktail and spirits aficionados are in for a treat. The best bit? It’s the soundtrack of classic rock, soul and hip-hop that takes you into the early hours.
Sandinista, 5 Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
Hidden behind an unassuming doorway between The Watermark and sister bar Sandinista lies Blind Tyger, a refined speakeasy you need to try. It’s one of the coolest cocktails bars around Merrion Street and it’s all pre-Prohibition style. Expect big leather booths, statement wallpaper and a soundtrack of jazz, soul and blues. All their cocktails are originals, expertly made by their rather dapper mixologists. Try the God’s Own Cocktail, a Yorkshire twist on a porn star martini, with rhubarb and red berry. Want a classic? Just ask, they know their stuff.
Blind Tyger, 5a Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.
If you enjoy your dinner with a bit of theatre, head to Teppanyaki. A stone’s throw away from Merrion Street, it’s famed for its unique setup. You’ll sit around a huge cooking station, complete with teppan hot plates. Flames will rise as their chefs sizzle meat and veggies in front of you, creating a performance out of dinner and engaging you in the fun. You can go for the Usuyaki, thinly sliced beef that’s rolled and stuffed with mushrooms. If you prefer seafood, try the king prawns & monkfish. Whatever you go for, you can sit back and enjoy the culinary show.
Teppanyaki, Belgrave Hall, Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8DD.
BrewDog North Street
Split across two floors, you’ve got the best of both worlds at BrewDog North Street. The ground floor is a vast open-plan bar with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can watch the world go by. At its centre, the feature bar is home to BrewDog’s own favourites, one-off brews you’ll only get in their bars and guest beers from their favourite local breweries. You can take it easy on one of the many tables and booths, but if you want to get competitive on your night out, head downstairs where you’ll find three 22-foot shuffleboard tables.
BrewDog North Street, Crispin House, New York Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PF.
The Swine That Dines
The Swine That Dines offers a down-to-earth, Yorkshire take on fine dining. It’s that combo that has made it one of the city’s finest institutions, an understated venue where you can enjoy refined lunches and suppers from local legends Jo and Stu Myers. They open for dinner from Thursday to Saturday, when they also open for lunch – it’s uncomplicated cooking using local seasonal produce in interesting ways, like coley, summer beans and smoked oyster aioli. On Swine Sundays, you can swap your roast for their innovative, one-off plates.
The Swine That Dines, 58 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
Wen’s is a family-run restaurant that’s breathed new life into Chinese cuisine in Leeds. The restaurant is laid-back and welcoming, with tables across two levels and big floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s simple, unassuming, but it’s not the decor you go for, it’s the food. It’s a little different to your local Chinese. Yes, they have all the staples, from sweet and sour to black bean, but you can also try an incredible array of dishes that rarely make it to the UK. Start with deep-fried soft shell crab, follow it with slow-stewed beef belly. You won’t regret it.
Wen’s Restaurant, 72-74 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
A stripped back venue spread across two floors, The Brunswick is an absolute gem. Downstairs, there’s a narrow bar where you can choose from nine keg and six cask lines every day, usually from the likes of Ilkley, Cloudwater or Wylam. Grab yours and take a seat in their small, but atmospheric ground floor space to spend some quality time with a drink. Upstairs, you’ll find a clean, white dining room where they serve epic burgers and fried chicken through the week, before switching it up on Sundays for one of the finest roasts you’ll find in Leeds.
The Brunswick, 82 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
You can find everything from old school pubs to Thai restaurants and alternative bars on Vicar Lane.
Thai Aroy Dee
Thai Aroy Dee is one of the best Thai restaurants in Leeds. It’s a no-frills, no-fuss canteen-style eatery where you can enjoy classic Thai cooking without breaking the bank. There’s no need to book and it’s BYOB, just rock up and bag one of their slightly ragged tables and set about choosing from an extensive menu of traditional favourites. You can tuck into everything from Thai curries to Pad Thai, but if you want to try something a little different, go for Goong Chae Nam Pla, which combines king prawns, garlic, chillies, fish sauce and lime juice.
Thai Aroy Dee, 112 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
The Templar is the very definition of an old school boozer. From the outside, it’s a truly eye-catching pub, with a Burmantofts tile facade jumping out at you and the vintage Melbourne Ales name adorning the side of the pub. Inside, it’s everything you’d expect from a traditional spot. There’s a brass bar top, there’s dark mahogany furniture and there are loads of old beer mirrors. Once you’ve recalibrated and got used to walking back in time, head to the bar, where you’ll find ever-changing local real ales, alongside your usual cider, lager and spirits.
The Templar, Templar Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NU.
If you love pizza, you have to visit Pizza Fella. Just a stone’s throw from Merrion Street, it’s the perfect stomach-liner and a damned tasty one at that. It’s a simple, no-frills venue that’s filled with wooden tables, cork-board walls and industrial lighting. They keep it simple because the focus is firmly on the food. You can choose from a small selection of starters, like olives and garlic bread, before you move onto their Neapolitan pizzas. Enjoy classics like the Margherita or go for one of their creative combos, like ‘nduja with balsamic onions.
Pizza Fella, 114-116 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
A no-frills, rock & roll dive bar, Howl is a place where alternative music lovers will feel at home. Vintage Brooklyn Brewery and Sailor Jerry’s signs adorn the walls alongside Harley Davidson flags and vintage gig posters, so they really do live and breathe the metal vibe. Step inside and you’ll be met with a blend of punk, rock and goth tunes blaring out of the speakers and a well-stocked bar. We’re talking Tetley’s and Iron Maiden’s Trooper Ale on cask, alongside keg beers like Brooklyn, with plenty more cans and bottles in the fridge.
Howl Bar, 112 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
Mommy Thai brings the taste, sound and sights of Bangkok to Leeds with their Vicar Lane home. It’s only small, but it’s a buzzing restaurant, with staff hustling around to a backdrop of Asian movie posters, cool industrial lighting and mismatched furniture. Once you’re sufficiently ensconced in the venue, you can get familiar with the menu. They serve all the familiar Thai classics, but it’s also the place to go to try something new and authentically Thai. Ever tried deep-fried catfish flake? Or marinated grilled pork neck? Here’s your chance!
Mommy Thai, 110 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
The Old Red Bus Station
If it’s hip and happening you’re searching for, look no further than The Old Red Bus Station. It’s a cool-as-heck day-to-night venue covering food, drink and entertainment across three, industrial-chic floors. Downstairs, you’ll find a stripped-back bar, where you can enjoy craft beers and cocktails with a TORBS twist. Upstairs, you’ll find Cantina, a 100% vegan eatery that serves up hearty food without the meat, like surf ‘n’ turf loaded fires and sriracha cauli burgers. It’s also home to an events space, hosting everything from club nights to exhibitions.
The Old Red Bus Station, 101 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
Take a trip through Grand Arcade to discover underground jazz bars, Latin American cafes and whiskey-loving rock joints.
Decked out in Thai relics, trinkets and knick-knacks, Zaap is packed full of Southeast Asian character. They’ve tried to recreate the atmosphere you’d find in a Bangkok street market and it’s surprisingly effective. Take a pew in one of their old school tables or go all out in their converted tuk-tuks as you peruse a menu of Thai favourites. There are over 90 dishes to choose from, taking you from classics like massaman curry and weeping tiger to horizon-broadening delights like Hoy Tod, their crispy pan-fried mussel pancake.
Zaap Thai, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
Santiago is a local legend for fans of heavy music, a good ol’ fashioned rock & roll bar. The decor pays homage to music royalty, but don’t worry about cosying up on the sofa – you better be ready to mosh, because everything from AC/DC to Bon Jovi and Slipknot blare out of the speakers. The rowdiness at night is contrasted by being a decent spot for a few quiet beers during the day. You’ll find all your favourite beers behind the bar, from lagers to craft beers, but Santiago is known for its love of whiskey – a wee dram (or five) is a must.
Santiago, 1-3 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
Stuzzi takes classic Venetian fare and elevates it with a menu of glorious small plates. It promises morsels of pure joy with their ‘stuzzichini’ allowing you to taste a whole variety in one visit – one moment you could be scoffing a forkful of anchovy fillets, the next seared bavette steak served with guanciale roast potatoes. The ‘dolci’, or desserts if you prefer, are full of temptation from the semifreddo tiramisu to the classic affogato, made with North Star coffee. And you get to enjoy it all, in a truly impressive dining room, packed full of character.
Stuzzi, 7 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
The Domino Club
Lord’s Barbering looks like just another traditional barbershop, but it has a secret. At the back, there’s a door that leads you down to the coolest subterranean drinking den in Leeds. The Domino Club is an underground jazz bar just around the corner from Merrion Street. Parquet flooring, wood panelling and leather booths create a truly sophisticated hideaway. Live music plays nightly, and the bar has everything you need to enjoy the show – the cocktail menu is full of weird and wonderful concoctions that have to be tried.
The Domino Club, 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
Want to escape to warmer climes? Head to Casa. It’s a little slice of Latin America in the middle of Grand Arcade. The downstairs restaurant hits you between the eyes with its bright orange walls, while the upstairs bar is covered in leafy murals that will whisk you to another world. All their food is gluten-free and will take you on a tour from Mexico, south to Colombia, Venezuela and Peru. Arepas and croquetas lead you into delights like llapingacho and langostinos al ajillo. At the weekend, expect Latin DJs until 5am.
Casa, 6 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
A gentleman’s tailors by day, a 1920s gin joint at night, Tailors is an unusual find with more than a few surprises in store. Matthew Wignall creates smart suits from British fabrics during the day, then the bar opens and transforms the venue into a hidden speakeasy for those in-the-know. Once inside, you can try their own brand of Tailors Gin, a perfect combination of lemon peel, camomile and bergamot, best served neat with grapefruit and rosemary, as well as spirits and cocktails. You can even dress up using their incredible costume box.
Tailors, 23-24 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.