My favourite places in Leeds

I spent 7 months living and working in Leeds, between 2013 and 2014, so I thought I might put together a little list of my favourite places to visit, drink and eat in.

Red’s True Barbecue

I’ll start with the one place I implore every one to eat in. I love every little detail about Red’s. From their bible inspired menu to their always incredible soundtrack, this place is a massive crowd-pleaser with locals. Expect waiting times of 2-3 hours when they’re exceptionally busy at weekends (as booking isn’t available those days); luckily, however, this provides a little time to have a few beers down Call Lane.

Try their donut burger; it’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever tasted.

Friends of Ham

A brilliant gem in Leeds, enjoy a meat sharing board alongside a spectacular beer from their extremely large range of craft offerings.

Roundhay Park

Canal Gardens at Roundhay Park
Canal Gardens at Roundhay Park

This is a fantastic large area of parkland, gardens and lakes that is perfect for both a lazy and brisk walk. I visited on an extremely hot summer bank holiday so the park was busy. I’m reliably informed that Roundhay Park is 4th largest city park in Europe.

Mrs Atha’s

A quaint little independent cafe located in one of the centre’s back streets, Mrs Atha’s really does provide a great vibe to go with their delightful hot drinks, delicious cakes and treats. They do breakfast and lunches too, their blueberry pancakes are beautiful.


The kings of the craft brewing revolution across the UK, Brewdog have a small, unassuming bar that packs a punch. Sensational beers, pleasant staff and a multitude of retro console and board games lead to a great atmosphere. Guaranteed to be busy throughout the weekend.

Leeds Corn Exchange

Leeds Corn Exchange
Leeds Corn Exchange
Photo: Tim Green

A large Victorian building in the centre of Leeds. The Corn Exchange is a bustling boutique shopping centre that has regular events such as vintage and record fairs at weekends. Among my favourites here is Primo’s Gourmet Hotdogs and Village Bookstore. It’s also home to the insanely cool King Koby Chop Shop.

There’s a rich variety of historical and contemporary art housed here. It’s also has the first Damien Hirst piece I’ve ever saw - one of his famous spot paintings. It’s a must-visit if you enjoy art.


A fantastic bar located in an alley off Leeds’ main shopping street. Perfect for a Saturday afternoon pint on their copper plated tables.

A beautiful large Victorian hall that links Leeds Central Library and Leeds Art Gallery. Huge columns and archways make it a fantastic place to grab lunch.

Aire Bar

This bar is somewhat hidden as it’s only a set of stairs off a street. It’s a great bar with a good selection of beers; best part of it is you can enjoy a drink on the edge of the canal. The food is good and reasonable.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Leeds & Liverpool Canal sign
Sign on Leeds & Liverpool Canal

This canal is perfect for the amateur photographer as there’s a multitude of opportunities for interesting photos. A walk along the canal is perfect for a relaxed Sunday morning.

The Cockpit

Small, dark and dingy - everything you want from a music venue! I saw God Is An Astronaut and Nordic Giants at this venue housed underneath railway arches. Sadly The Cockpit closed down in September 2014.

Dry Dock

Dry Dock
Dry Dock
Photo: Rept0n1x

A docked canal barge in the middle of a traffic island? It really is a bit bizarre but worth a visit. They have a great open roof top space, which is perfect for a sunny days drinking. Essentially it’s a student bar so avoid if you don’t like that. Also avoid the food; it’s cheap for a reason.