Leeds is a vibrant city with a rich music culture and shopping scene. With a ton of great things to do/to see/to eat, it definitely makes for a fun weekend away.
Leeds is one of those places that has so many things to do and see, with many of the gems hidden away, that you can always find something new. That’s why I love it so much. Each time I visit, it’s never the same. If you love drinking craft beer, it’s perfect. If you love vintage and record shopping, it’s also great. And of course, there’s too many food places to choose from. If you’re planning a few days in the city (if you’re not, why not?), here’s a roundup of the best things to do.
Where to eat
Red’s True Barbecue, situated on the corner of Call Lane, is the best place to go if you love really good bbq food. Alongside the usual stuff you’d expect to find on the menu are exciting things like frickles (deep fried pickles – amazing) and a donut burger. Instead of a normal bun this has a sweet glazed donut, which sounds crazy but it actually works. There’s also some great craft beer on the menu.
Bundobust is a street food bar, selling some great craft beer alongside equally great Indian food. Not only is the beer and food really good, it has a fun vibe about it and interesting interior. They even sell their own merch, including postcards and posters. A must if asian food is your thing.
Zaap Thai Street Food is the most visually exciting restaurant I think I’ve ever been in. There are Thai shop signs lighting up the ceiling (including a traffic light of all things) and tuk-tuks where you can sit and eat your meal. There’s a rush and a buzz about the place. This might have something to do with the fact that the kitchen is completely open so you can see the chefs busying about. The food itself is true authentic asian food and it is completely incredible. It’s one of my favourites.
If you like something a bit more English, Pieminister will be right up your street. They do great, hearty pies with a bit of added class. There’s something for everyone on the menu, even those of you that are gluten free. And you can add all sorts to your pie to swank it up a bit like sweet potato fries, slaw and even pigs in blankets.
Caravanserai (or just Caravan for short) is one of Leeds’ greatest hidden gems. It’s situated next to the Corn Exchange in a brightly coloured building which has always intrigued me. I never knew what it was because it never looked as though it was open, until I was taken their after a night out a few months ago. They sell the tastiest Moroccan street food you’ll probably ever have, unless you’ve been to Morocco. Falafel, Baba Ghanoush and burgers are all on the menu, including their own paprika fries (which are amazing). It’s definitely out of the ordinary but perfect if you want something a little different.
Zaap Thai Street Food
Where to drink
There are a ton of great places to drink in Leeds but I’ll start with the best of the best: Belgrave Music Hall. This place falls into all categories actually because not only can you drink here but you can eat and see live music too. There’s also an amazing beer garden on the roof for those sunny days. They sell a great range of craft beer, always getting in the new ones from the likes of Beavertown, Cloudwater and so many more. Patty Smith’s (burgers) and Dough Boys (pizza) also take up residency here so there’s always great food to be had. It’s a cool place full of cool people and a great vibe.
I’ve already mentioned Tall Boys on my blog before, but it’s a nice little place to drink a beer or two and have some lunch. Read my post here to hear a bit more about it.
North bar is a great little place to drink. It’s interesting because the owners of the bar created North Brewing Company from its success, which is also based in Leeds. They now have some great beers under their belts. The bar itself is really small but they always have some nice beers on tap and an old-school photobooth in the corner, which gives you good reason to give it a visit.
Headrow House is a sister bar to Belgrave Music Hall, which means you instantly know it’s going to be good. There’s a more relaxed vibe to Headrow and it’s a bit of a quieter place to go for a drink compared to Belgrave. In the evening, the main bar is dimly lit with plants surrounded the seating area and chilled music playing. It makes for a nice end to a night out.
On Call Lane, one of the main places to go for bars in Leeds, you’ll find Black Swan. It’s a pub that not only does drinks but also has a kitchen and a restaurant. They have some great events on throughout the week too. It’s got a rustic, hearty feel to it and somewhere a bit calmer to drink unlike the other bars you’ll find on Call Lane.
Nation of Shopkeepers is another one of those all-rounders. You can drink, eat and listen to live music. What makes Shopkeepers a little different though are the retro games consoles you’ll find in there that you can play on whilst you’re drinking. It’s a great place to go for daytime and evening drinking and a popular venue in Leeds.
Patty Smith’s at Belgrave Music Hall
Where to shop
If you like vintage shopping, Blue Rinse is as good as it gets. There are 3 floors full of vintage clothing for girls and guys, including accessories and second-hand trainers/shoes. Not only that, but they rework a lot of their vintage stuff too. One of their trademark items for girls is the dungaree dress, restyled from old shirts. There are loads of flannel shirts, sweatshirts, dresses and skirts as well. It’s vintage heaven.
Welcome Skate Store, directly opposite Tall Boys in Thorntons Arcade, is essentially a shop for skaters. But as this style becomes more mainstream, it’s for anyone who it appeals to. They get the newest editions of Nike Sbs, Vans and New Balance trainers, amongst others. They also sell tees from premium skateboard brands including Polar, Palace and Welcome. They have their own popular skating blog alongside the shop too.
SingleShot Leeds is a record shop come coffee shop. They sell loads of vintage records as well as new releases. It’s a good place to go if you want to by records whilst also supporting the independents. And if you want a coffee too, of course.
Where to see live music
There are so many cool places to hear live music in Leeds that I’ve already mentioned: Belgrave Music Hall, Headrow House, Nation of Shopkeepers. But one place I haven’t spoken about yet is Brudenell Social Club. It’s in the student area of Leeds, near Hyde Park, and draws in that kind of crowd. They’ve made a name for themselves over the years and is now one of the most important music venues in Leeds. I recently saw Pulled Apart By Horses there and because of the size of the venue, it made for a really intimate (and sweaty) gig, which was great! With its history rooted in the city, it’s an exciting place for bands to play and it definitely gives you an opportunity to see a band play a special set.
Pulled Apart By Horses at Brudenell Social Club