Leeds folk are proud of their city and would balk at the idea that anyone would even consider visiting Manchester or Liverpool instead. George Norris rounds up the best bits .
Leeds’ nightlife is just one of the reasons The Independent named it the Best University City. Despite being the third-biggest city in the country, the centre is small enough to navigate by foot even when you’re half-cut. Beer enthusiasts ought to try Tapped, an American-style brewpub with over 27 draft beers, more than 100 bottles from all around the world and stone-baked pizzas to soak it all up.
Bundobust is another craft beer bar with a rather spicy twist, coupling the beer with vegetarian Indian street food. Since its inception in 2013, the collaboration between Indian restaurant Prashad and The Sparrow Bier Cafe has won the hearts of locals and visitors alike; make sure you try their truly fusion Coriander Pilsner.
Whitelocks, having just celebrated its 301st birthday, is the oldest pub around and is more popular than ever. With cheap beer and excellent pub grub, this little boozer is loved by all, from hip teenagers to hip-less pensioners.
Gone are the days when a cocktail in Leeds meant a Jack Daniel’s and Diet Coke: 51% Bourbon stocks over 100 bourbons and serves old fashioneds in a contemporary setting. Have the next couple of cocktails at The Maven, which is nearby on Call Lane, the main street for a Leeds night out.
The atmospheric bar takes its inspiration from the US era of prohibition, so don’t expect to see a sign telling you where to go…
Locals need no invitation to tell you how great Leeds is. But if you need proof (and we don’t) you only have to look at The Real Junk Food Project. These pay-what-you-want cafés not only feed the hungry but repurpose food otherwise destined for the bin (a cardinal sin in these parts).
All over the world there are now versions of these cafés that are doing great things but it all started in Leeds. Pop into see the original Real Junk Food Cafe at Armley Junction.
For centrally located grub, Friends of Ham is a popular bar that has an excellent charcuterie spread with an equally good selection of beer and wine. For Sunday lunch look no further than The Lamb and Flag, a 19th-century building where bare-brick walls come with your big-portioned roasts.
Yorkshire folk can be viciously defensive about what constitutes fish ‘n’ chips. The Fisherman’s Wife, around the back of Kirkgate Market will offer an education in Northern chippy etiquette. They’ll also offer scraps (bits of old batter) with your chips. Take them.
It would be sacrilege to be this close to Bradford and not try a curry. Responsible for the food half of Bundobust, Prashad is a way out of town, 20 minutes on the 254/255 bus route to Drighlington. This family-run neighbourhood restaurant serves north Indian vegetarian cuisine and manages to convince hordes of Yorkshire folk to surpass meat for a meal — no mean feat.
GETTING THERE: Virgin Trains offers direct trains from King’s Cross to Leeds from £14.50 one way. See virgintrainseastcoast.com for more information and to book.
SEE & DO
Walk off the hangover in one of the Leeds’ many parks (Leeds is one of the greenest cities in the country).The historical ruins of Kirkstall Abbey are well worth a visit, and you should also make sure you see Tropical World, which is home to the largest collection of tropical plants in the UK outside Kew Gardens.
Roundhay Park , one of the largest in Europe, is the perfect place for a morning stroll and located just to the north of the city centre. It’s also the setting for the oldest piece of film in existence. Sheffield may have The Full Monty, and Barnsley may have Kes, but Leeds has the Roundhay Garden Scene, a two-second silent film shot in 1888.
The city has a love of cinema, and the Hyde Park Picture House is one of the oldest in the country and always worth a visit. Leeds’ often overlooked relationship with cinema is celebrated every year at the Leeds International Film (3-17 November).
Leeds has a number of free museums that are a must on any trip, if only to take a break from the pub. Between them, Leads City Museum and the Royal Armouries will bring out the inner kid in just about anybody, while Abbey House Museum is another must-see.