With its creative arts scene, live music venues and a huge student population, Leeds offers up a lively night out with something to suit everyone, from traditional pubs serving local ales to stylish wine bars and secret cocktail dens.
The unofficial capital of Yorkshire, Leeds has grown from an industrial northern city to one of the buzziest and best-loved destinations in Britain. Long known for its lively music scene and student nightlife, the city also boasts a burgeoning collection of secret cocktail bars and prohibition style drinking dens, serving up carefully crafted drinks in sophisticated surroundings. And of course, in a county known for its traditional ales it’s not hard to find a whole host of Leeds bars championing local beers and independent breweries. Here is our pick of the best ten bars in Leeds for every kind of night out.
Tucked away back off one of the city’s busiest streets, Headrow House offers four floors for drinking and dining in a historic former textile mill. The award-winning restaurant, Ox Club, champions regional Yorkshire cuisine, serving up meat from local family-run farms and fish sourced from Hartlepool, while in the downstairs Beer Hall you can find more than 60 beers from all corners of the world. There also two roof terraces, a space for live events, and a weekly pub quiz.
19a The Headrow
Open since 1997 and the original craft beer bar in Leeds, North Bar is still leading the way with one of the best offerings of unique beers in the city. The founders are so passionate about craft beers and ales they even set up their own brewery and tap room, North Brewing Co, and they bring together other local breweries for their annual summer party.
24 New Briggate
This cosy little jazz bar can be found secreted away behind barber shop Lords’ Barbering. There’s live music on most nights of the week with a focus on jazz, blues, soul and funk, although you might find a bit of reggae, hip-hop and even gospel thrown in. The bar is known for serving up signature craft cocktails, as well as a few of the classics, while the comprehensive beer menu boasts a bit of everything, from pale ales to porters.
7 Grand Arcade
This unpretentious cocktail bar focuses on great drinks with a warm welcome rather than fancy décor. The menu makes it easy to pick your poison, breaking down each cocktail into a simple ingredients list and description, or ask the bar staff to mix you up one of the classics. Wines are thoughtfully chosen from small producers, and there’s a selection of craft beers on tap.
12 South Parade
A café and brunch spot by day, Iroko turns into a slick and stylish bar at night, when staff literally slide away the back bar stacked with coffee to reveal a new one with boozier drinking options. Iroko is known for its excellent wine selection, but also serves up craft cocktails, great gin and tonics, and small plates perfect for snacking on.
7 Duncan Street
Belgrave Music Hall
Another one of Leeds’ sprawling nighttime spaces, Belgrave Music Hall is spread across three floors and boasts two bars, a large event space, and roof terrace. Events range from everything from live music to film and comedy nights. On the menu is a selection of craft beers, cask ales, and frozen cocktails, with popular Leeds pizza place Dough Boys Leeds serving up the food so you have something to snack on.
1-1a Cross Belgrave Street
Friends of Ham
This laidback bar offers a carefully selected list of wines from around the world, as well as a rotating selection of craft beers, so there is something new to try every time. As the tongue-in-cheek names implies charcuterie plates are the main dish on the menu, along with a selection of cheeses, which go well with the European offering of fortified wines.
4-8 New Station Street
Blind Tyger isn’t a secret bar as such, but you will have to be on the lookout to find it hidden away up a dark winding staircase. Known for its expert bar team and craft cocktails, Blind Tyger’s unique concoctions combine carefully chosen spirits with its own homemade infusions. If you don’t see anything you fancy ask the team to shake and stir something to your taste, or opt for one of the craft beers or ales if cocktails aren’t your thing.
5½, Cross Belgrave Street
Whitelock’s Ale House
Famously the oldest pub in Leeds, Whitelock’s has been going strong for over 300 years and is still one of the best places for a pint. There is a great selection of real ales and ciders, with many from Yorkshire breweries if you want to try something local. It’s also worth popping in for the charmingly old-fashioned décor, which dates back to the late 1800s, and to enjoy a real log fire in winter and a small terrace during summer.
Turk’s Head Yard
Outlaws Yacht Club
Part café bar, part exhibition space, part record shop, Outlaws Yacht Club is not just a place for a drink, there’s plenty of events on too, from pub quizzes to book readings to DJ nights. The drinks menu is as quirky as the place, and includes the bar’s own pale ale brewed in Yorkshire, plenty of G&Ts, cocktails, and what Outlaws calls “special brews,” where the bar team mix up classics with their own additional ingredients.
38 New York Street