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The Ultimate Guide to Merrion Street & the Northern Quarter

· Joseph Sheerin · Food and Drink

Get the lowdown on one of Leeds’ most popular nightspots.

Wax Bar

Merrion Street is one of the best places to go out in Leeds, with a slew of top bars and restaurants, but where should you go?

There are loads of places in Leeds city centre to go out, but one area that has become incredibly popular in recent years is the Northern Quarter. Centred around Merrion Street, and it’s various offshoots, you can experience everything from rock and roll dive bars to fine dining restaurants – and we’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you organise your next night out in Leeds.

Merrion Street

Taking you from the Merrion Centre down to Vicar Lane, Merrion Street is a buzzing hub of pubs, bars and restaurants for you to check out…

Parkside Tavern

Parkside Tavern Beer Festival

Credit: Ollievision

If you love craft beer, cocktails and pool (or maybe even all three), Parkside Tavern is the Merrion Street bar to go to. They have five Sam K pool tables for you to hire out and 16 real ales on tap, from the likes of Shepherd Neame, Ilkley and Saltaire. Their cocktail menu is jam-packed with favourites like mojitos, daiquiris and cosmopolitans and they have three massive outdoor areas for you to take in the sunshine, providing it comes out.

Parkside Tavern, Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JG.

The Social

The Social, Leeds

A joint venture from two great Leeds bars, Sela and Brudenell Social Club, The Social is a cool, laid-back haunt that brings together great booze and great music on Merrion Street. They keep it simple here – expect an ever-changing selection of local ales and craft beers, as well as cocktails, wine and spirits. The understated decor makes it welcoming to all, and if the weather’s good, you can make the most of their beer garden out back.

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

Manahatta

Manahatta

Inspired by The Big Apple, Manahatta is one of the more extravagant bars on Merrion Street, which makes it stand out from the crowd. It’s a classy affair with a massive statement bar, eye-catching lighting and luxurious booths. It’s the perfect setting to delve into their menu of burgers, salads and small plates, before exploring their extensive cocktail list – try the New York Elixir Highball, blending Bombay Sapphire, coffee cordial, grapefruit and tonic.

Manahatta, 11 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.

Bar Soba

Bar Soba food

If you’re looking for a mix of creative cocktails and pan-Asian street food, Bar Soba is your go-to Merrion Street bar. It’s a bar of two halves, with a dark and atmospheric ground floor that turns into a bright and airy venue upstairs. Their cocktail menu is incredible, with the Drumstick Capriosca a standout – you get an actual Drumstick lolly. Need to line your stomach? They do everything from Japanese katsu curry to Singapore street noodles.

Bar Soba, Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.

Mojo

Mojo Leeds

Leeds’ first rock and roll dive bar, Mojo is a true local success story that has spread far and wide across the country. The original is still best though, and the Merrion Street staple is where the party starts, thanks to a soundtrack of classic rock, soul and funk tunes. As you do, you can enjoy an array of bottled beers, spirits and inventive cocktails. Don’t forget to take a trip upstairs to The Rhum Room too, which has its own rum-filled bar and a rip-roaring atmosphere.

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

The Pit

The Pit New Menu

Blending beers, American BBQ and brilliant cocktails, The Pit is an underground treasure trove on Merrion Street. Kick things off with their finger-licking food menu, which will see you tucking into everything from ribs to wings, fajitas and nachos. Wash it down with one of their craft beers – or have a look through their cocktail menu, with tipples like the Toffee Colada and Gringo Mule. Fancy a game? They have a ping pong table that can become a beer pong table, to make things just a little bit more interesting.

The Pit, 9 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.

Mean-Eyed Cat Bar

Mean Eyed Cat Bar

Head to the Deep South with a visit to Mean-Eyed Cat Bar at the heart of Merrion Street. It’s a cool drinking den inspired by Johnny Cash with a rock & roll soundtrack. It has plenty of craft beer on tap and an extensive cocktail menu, with a particular focus on bourbon and whiskey. If you get peckish they cook up stone baked pizzas too, which you can enjoy for free between 5pm and 9pm every day.

Mean-Eyed Cat Bar, 14 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.

The Key Club

Brawlers, The Key Club, Live at Leeds 2015

Credit: Jess Rowbottom

The Key Club is a gig venue that puts on the very best in punk, rock and metal bands, but that’s not all. They also hold three of the best alternative nights out in Leeds. There’s Slam Dunk every Tuesday, Fuel every Friday and The Garage every Saturday, each of which promises a storming playlist of rocking tunes that you can toast with lagers and spirits for just a couple of quid.

The Key Club, 66 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8LW.

Verve

Cocktail at Verve, Leeds

If you’re looking for a bar on Merrion Street you can spend all night in, try Verve. It has the best pop, rock and indie tunes blaring out of its speakers until the early hours and the bar is chock full of craft beer, spirits and cocktails. That’s not all it has to offer though, as they have plenty of entertainment on in their cellar venue downstairs – expect free comedy nights on Tuesdays and free live music every night from Thursday until Sunday.

Verve, 16 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.

Nash’s Fish and Chips

Nash's Fish and Chips

There’s just a doorway on Merrion Street signalling Nash’s presence, but it’s well worth seeking out. It’s one of Leeds’ most renowned fish and chip shops. They have a takeaway side you can quickly get your order from, but upstairs it’s a fully-fledged restaurant that’s been serving since the 1960s. They have the usual cod and haddock, but you can also get a bit more adventurous, with mackerel fillets, fish pie and breaded scampi.

Nash’s Fish and Chips, 17 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JE.

Gabbar

Gabbar

The name is inspired by the most iconic Bollywood villain of all time, Gabbar Singh, but there’s nothing evil about Manoj Bhura’s Indian street food. It’s his own take on chapata Indian cuisine, which takes its cues from the street food hawkers and working-class cafes of India. Expect a menu of vegan and vegetarian goodness, from the shahi paneer to the daal makhni, gobi Manchurian and masala fries. To wash it down, you’ve got a fine selection of craft beer and Indian-inspired cocktails.

Gabbar, 17-19 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JE.

New Briggate

New Briggate is home to some of the Northern Quarter’s best loved venues, whether it’s cocktail joints, craft beer favourites or brilliant sports bars.

The Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes

Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes, Leeds

First and foremost, The Brotherhood is a sports bar, with a slew of screens all over the venue for you to watch the big game. But it’s also a great place to grab a drink and a bite to eat. They have a fantastic selection of real ales behind the bar as well as craft beers, cider and cocktails – try the Apple and Elderflower Martini, bringing together Grey Goose vodka with St Germain elderflower liqueur, apple juice and sugar. If you get peckish, they keep things simple with pies, burgers and dogs.

The Brotherhood of Pursuits and Pastimes, 54 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.

North Bar

Orval, North Bar

Just around the corner from Merrion Street, North Bar is craft beer heaven. You can try out their own brewery’s wares, but they have a collection of over 50 beers from all over the world, so you can also enjoy the likes of Brooklyn from the USA, Hitachino from Japan and Little Creatures from Australia. If you don’t fancy beer, they have rare whiskies, gins and rums behind the bar, and if you don’t know where to start, these guys are pros, so they can point you in the right direction.

North Bar, 24 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 6NU.

Wax Bar

Wax Bar

Wax Bar is small, but perfectly formed, especially if you love cocktails and rock & roll. This Northern Quarter gem spins classic vinyl records until the early hours playing everything from funk ’n’ soul to indie and rock. They’ve got a slew of classic cocktails for you to work your way through while you dance. Sup brambles, daiquiris and caipirinhas, as well as an array of beers from around the world.

Wax Bar, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 6NU.

Sela Bar

Sela Bar, Leeds

Credit: Ollievision Photography

Sela Bar is an underground haunt just around the corner from Merrion Street. Head downstairs and you’ll discover a buzzing venue with a soundtrack of jazz, funk, soul and blues music – they often have live bands playing through the night. It’s not just the music though, they’ve got some delicious cocktails to try, as well as local real ales and craft beers. Hungry? Head down a bit earlier to give their stone baked pizzas a go.

Sela Bar, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 6NU.

Mint Club

Mint Club, Harrison Street, Leeds

Credit: IGR Photo

Just off New Briggate, Mint is a cornerstone of Leeds’ clubbing scene and has been for twenty years. If you need somewhere to go once the bars shut on Merrion Street, head to Mint for the very best in house, techno and underground. It’s got a national reputation, which means it attracts some of the biggest DJs in the business for nights like System, Mint Mondays and Hush Hush.

Mint Club, 8 Harrison Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PA.

The Wrens

The Wrens

The Wrens isn’t like the other bars on Merrion Street. It’s a more traditional local pub. Think snug rooms, wood-panelled walls and proper fireplaces, with a warm welcome. To keep the thirst at bay, you can work your way through their selection of local real ales, an extensive G&T menu and an array of cocktails – there’s something for everyone in this down to earth city centre haunt.

The Wrens, 61a New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JD.

Rum & Reason

 

Nestled on the corner of New Briggate and Merrion Street, Rum & Reason is a bustling bar that’s obsessed with one thing – rum. They have over 40 behind the bar, from Mount Gay to Havana Club, Wray & Nephew and Diplomatico, they also mix them up into cocktails which you can get at 2-4-1 all day everyday. The rum-loving doesn’t stop there – they’ve got a Caribbean-style menu for you to line your stomach with, including Jamaican fried chicken, curried goat and rum-glazed ribs.

Rum & Reason, 59-61 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JD.

Vice & Virtue

Vice and Virtue, Leeds

Vice & Virtue is a fine dining destination. It comes from Luke Dowling, the chef behind Dough Bistro, and it brings together a cool cocktail bar and luxurious restaurant. The bar which serves up a menu of inventive creations, like the Brexican, a mix of Espolon Anejo Beefeater 24 gin, Briottet framboise, raspberries, tarragon and lemon. But it’s the restaurant that really stands out. Their tasting menus are constantly evolving, and they’ll challenge you to try something new with dishes like dill cured salmon with saffron emulsion, cucumber, pickle, capers and asparagus.

Vice & Virtue, 68 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.

Wade Lane

Just off Merrion Street, along the side of the Merrion Centre, you’ll find a trio of restaurants to grab a bite to eat.

My Thai

My Thai is now one of the most popular Thai restaurants in Leeds, with three venues for you to choose from, but the original (and best) is in the Northern Quarter. The Wade Lane venue is full of tasty Thai food, and you can enjoy it without breaking the bank. They’ve got a big menu, full of treats like jungle curry, tamarin duck and pad Thai. Keep an eye out for their more unusual dishes like kow moo dang (five spice roast pork with boiled egg and a ginger sauce).

My Thai, 43 Wade Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NJ.

Marco’s New York Italian

Marco's New York Italian

Leeds-born chef Marco Pierre White has finally made his long-awaited return to the city by opening his New York Italian restaurant on Wade Lane. It’s full of classic American-Italian dishes like giant meatballs with garlic ciabatta, New York Italian roast chicken and spaghetti carbonara. Don’t forget the burgers and pizzas too – they’ll definitely fill a whole. Wash it down with a handpicked selection of wines from Italy and the USA.

Marco’s New York Italian, Wade Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NJ.

Fuji Hiro

Fuji Hiro

It’s a simple, down to earth restaurant, but man does Fuji Hiro know how to cook great Japanese food. They’ve been cooking up everything from yaki soba to chicken men, ramen to gyoza for the last 20 years, and they’ve built up an army of loyal fans who keep coming back for more. It’s not just the quality of the food – it’s the portion sizes and the great value prices too. Couple your dinner with a glass of beer or plum wine and you’ve got a great start to the night.

Fuji Hiro, 45 Wade Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NJ.

North Street & Cross Belgrave Street

Starting at Belgrave and taking you all the way down to the very tip of the city centre, you’ll find some great bars and restaurants on North Street and Cross Belgrave Street.

Belgrave Music Hall

Belgrave Music Hall

Credit: Tom Joy

Spread across three floors, Belgrave Music Hall offers just about everything. You’ve got an incredible ground floor bar, stocked with an array of craft beers and real ales – it’s sandwiched between Patty Smith’s burgers and Dough Boys pizza, with plenty of space to grab a seat and chow down. The first floor is their events space for gigs, film screenings and fairs, but the pièce de résistance is the rooftop terrace, which has its own bar and views across the city. Look out for the monthly Belgrave Feast, full of street food, beer and art.

Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, 1a Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP.

Chida Cantina

Chida Cantina is a Mexican-inspired party bar that stands out for its winning combination of margaritas and tacos. They have three different types of margarita for you to try – the Chida Margarita, the Tommy’s Margarita and the Frozen Margarita which will go down a storm with something from The Holy Mountain, their Mexican pop-up. Tuck into loaded plates of nachos, corn torillas topped with sticky pork belly, apple slaw and chipotle mayo or their surprisingly hard to find torts, filled to bursting with any of their taco toppings.

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

Blind Tyger

Blind Tyger

Hidden away above sister bar Chida Cantina, Blind Tyger is a hidden cocktail bar worth seeking out. Take the staircase all the way up to a pre-Prohibition era American speakeasy that has been dressed up to the nines, with lush leather booths and incredible wallpaper. They can make up all the classics, but it’s their own unique concoctions you need to try. With a soundtrack of blues, jazz and soul, it’s an incredibly cool Northern Quarter joint not everyone has discovered.

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

Teppanyaki

This is a totally unique dining experience. It’s half-eating, half-performance as you sit around a grill and watch their expert chefs performing tricks, flips and moves before your eyes – you might even get to join in. It’s a fantastic theatrical cooking performance and afterward, you can tuck into a freshly cooked dinner, full of teppanyaki meats and seafood, Japanese noodles and more. This is well worth trying out, especially if you’re celebrating.

Teppanyaki, Belgrave Hall, Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8DD.

BrewDog

ShuffleDog bar by BrewDog, Leeds

BrewDog’s North Street bar is a little different to the others. The ground floor is a big, open venue with floor-to-ceiling windows where you can watch the world go by. And, of course, it’s got a bar that’s stocked with incredible beers from BrewDog and a host of other craft beer breweries from around the world. But head downstairs and things start to get even more interesting. They have three 22 foot shuffleboard tables, ready for you and your pals to fight it out.

BrewDog, Crispin House, New York Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PF.

The Swine That Dines

The Swine that Dines

Credit: Thom Archer

From the wonderful folk behind The Greedy Pig, The Swine That Dines is their evening alter-ego. It’s a permanent pop-up supper club, with an ever-changing menu every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Theirs is a unique ethos – for three weeks a month, they focus on ‘nose to tail’ dining, using every part of the animal in unusual combinations you probably haven’t tried before. The fourth week of the month is dedicated to ‘roots to shoots’ dining, giving you the chance to try a 100% veggie menu that’s just as delicious.

The Swine That Dines, 58 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.

Hansa’s

Hansa's Thali

Hansa’s is one of Leeds’ longest serving restaurants – they’ve been serving up vegetarian Gujarati food in the Northern Quarter since the 1990s. if you’d like to get a real taste of what they do, try a thali, which brings together curry and rice with daal, kadhi, farsan, shrikhand or mango pulp, and a glass of lassi. Alternatively, you can choose one of the mains like chora and mushroom, bhaji paneer or ful cobi. They cover the whole spectrum of Gujarati cuisine, giving you a unique taste of the Indian coast’s best.

Hansa’s, 72-74 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.

The Reliance

The Reliance

The Reliance offers you the best of both worlds under one roof at the top of the Northern Quarter. Up front, you can enjoy their cool, vintage-chic bar, that’s got great local real ales on tap and quality craft beer in the fridge. Prefer wine? They’ve got a fine selection of that too. And if you fancy a bite to eat, they have an exceptional restaurant out back, where they use local produce to create delectable modern European dishes – how does beef short rib, sweetcorn, burnt tomato and chilli sound?

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

The Brunswick

Spread across three floors just minutes away from the hub of Merrion Street, The Brunswick brings together craft beer, creative food, art exhibitions and live music. Slip into the narrow ground floor bar and choose from a huge array of beers from around the world and take a seat in what is often a bustling bar. Upstairs, you can tuck into their seasonal menu of sharing plates to try the likes of garlic angels hair pasta with parsley and braised chicken leg with tomato, olives, capers and burnt chicory. Then the top floor is reserved for exhibitions and gigs. The Brunswick’s got the lot.

The Brunswick, 82 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.

North Brewing Co.

North Brewing Co.

At the very edge of the city centre, just past The Brunswick, in an unassuming industrial estate, you’ll find North Bar’s holy grail. Their very own brewery, North Brewing Co. It’s here where they’ve been concocting the likes of Transmission, Sputnik and Herzog. Every Friday and Saturday night, they open up their brewery tap, so you can drink their beers mere yards away from where they’re made. They also offer a few guest beers, as well as operating an open door policy on bringing your own food – not that you need to on Saturdays anymore, as it’s home to the weekly EatNorth street food festival.

North Brewing Co., Unit 6, Taverners Walk Industrial Estate, Sheepscar Grove, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 1AH.

Vicar Lane

You can find everything from old school pubs to Thai restaurants and alternative bars at the top of Vicar Lane.

Thai Aroy Dee

Thai Aroy Dee, Vicar Lane

A longtime Leeds favourite, Thai Aroy Dee is a no-frills Northern Quarter venue that’s all about classic Thai cooking at a bargain price. They’ve got everything from traditional Thai curries to pad Thai, weeping tiger and gang panang for you to pile through, and each dish is packed full of flavour. They serve alcohol these days, but they still allow you to bring your own bottle for a small corkage fee.

Thai Aroy Dee, 112 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.

The Templar

The Templar

Credit: Katie Nicole

If you’re looking for a traditional boozer near Merrion Street, look no further than The Templar. It’s an eye-catching pub, with a Burmantofts tile facade and a wood panelled bar, that’s always buzzing with punters. On the pumps, you’ll find an ever-changing array of local real ales to choose from, with plenty of cider, lager and spirits to boot.

The Templar, Templar Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NU.

Pizza Fella

Pizza Fella

Pizza Fella have swapped their retro street food truck for a permanent venue on Vicar Lane. It’s a simple, straightforward venue that’s filled with wooden tables and cork-board walls. Their focus is firmly on the pizzas with a a menu of just twelve Neapolitan-style pizzas – choose from classics like the margheritas or creative combos like their spicy ‘nduja sausage, caramelised onion and cacaocavallo cheese.

Pizza Fella, 114-116 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.

Howl Bar

Howl

If you love alternative music, Howl is the venue for you. It’s a no frills, dive bar that spins a storming blend of punk, rock and goth tunes while you work your way through your drink. Speaking of which, they’ve got a decent selection beers on the bar, including Brooklyn Lager and Iron Maiden’s Trooper ale, with craft beer cans and bottles in the fridge.

Howl Bar, 112 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.

The Old Red Bus Station

The Old Red Bus Station

The Old Red Bus Station is exactly that – a former 1930s bus station that was left derelict for years but has now been transformed into a super cool multi-faceted venue in the heart of the city. Split across two floors, it’s the perfect place to grab a drink or a bite to eat in their vegan Cantina restaurant upstairs, but that’s not all. They regularly hosts exhibitions, gigs and clubnights in their first floor events space, which has made it a buzzing nightspot across the road from Merrion Street.

The Old Red Bus Station, 101 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.

Grand Arcade

Take a trip through Grand Arcade which is home to an underground jazz joint, a Latin American cafe-cum-bar and a whiskey-loving rock bar.

Zaap

Zaap Leeds

From the people behind another Leeds favourite, Zaap is a sensory overload. First up, the venue is incredible, jam-packed full of little Thai relics, from the tuk tuks you can eat in to the Bangkok market style atmosphere. The food backs it all up with a heaving menu of more than 90 dishes, from dim sum to curries, noodles and rice dishes. Whether it’s a classic pad Thai or phed yang roasted duck, it’s classic Thai street food that you’ll remember.

Zaap, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.

Santiago

Santiago Bar

Love rock and roll? Love whiskey? If the answer’s yes, chances are you’ll love Santiago. It’s Leeds’ original metal bar, with a constant soundtrack of heavy metal and classic rock that’ll make your ears burst. It’s also an incredibly welcoming venue that’s great for a quiet beer during the day or a louder one at night. They’ve got a slew of brilliant whiskies for you to try, or you can stick to their array of craft beer that’s available on tap and in the fridge.

Santiago, 1-3 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.

The Domino Club

The Domino Club

Leeds has its very own underground jazz club just off Merrion Street. The Domino Club is brought to you by the folk from Call Lane favourite Roland’s, but this is a completely different type of bar. Head down the back stairs in Lord’s Barbering and you’ll come out in a sleek bar decked out with parquet flooring, wood panelling and leather booths. They have live jazz bands playing on the stage, which you can enjoy while you sup their cocktails and rare cost price whiskies.

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

Ham & Friends

Ham & Friends

Friends of Ham has gone down so well over the years, they’ve now got a sister venue – and it’s got just about everything you could hope for. First off, there’s the food hall, which is home to more than 200 wines, a walk-in cheese fridge from George and Joseph and homeware by local makers. There’s also a wine bar where you’ll find some of the best wines from around the world. Finally, you’ve got their kitchen, where you can tuck into an array of ever-changing, inventive dishes – think chorizo, butterbean and tomato stew or roast cod, smoked roe and mussel sauce.

Ham & Friends, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.

Casa Colombiana

Llapingacho at Casa Colombiana, Leeds

Credit: Ollievision

One of the great secrets of the Merrion Street area, Casa Colombiana is a wonderful escape to the warmer climes of Latin America, without having to leave Leeds. You can nip in for a bite to eat, with classic dishes like chilli con carne, langostinos al ajillo and churrasco steak worth leaving room for, or you can just prop up the cocktail bar upstairs. They’ve got caipirinhas, margaritas and mojitos ready and waiting, as well as a decent beer selection. After a couple, they might even get you salsa dancing.

Casa Colombiana, 6 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.