Independent Bars in Leeds

24th July 2020

Leeds is home to some of the best independent bars in the UK; drinking spots that have made the city a must-visit for boozy brunches, cocktail afternoons and dancing until dawn. Many venues unique to our great city are reopening with a socially distanced makeover and new safety measures in place.
Why not plan a visit to some local staples you simply can’t find anywhere else! Most bars are operating a reduced capacity and reduced opening hours, and may require a booking, which will be done on a first-come, first-served basis. Please always plan ahead and book in advance. View further guidance here.

Heading in by train? Well, make sure to bring a face covering and hand sanitiser for your journey, and then discover the wealth of independent gems right on the station’s doorstep.
Head to Granary Wharf and sample the craft beers and artisan gins of Water Lane Boathouse in their glorious waterfront beer garden, perfect for those long summer days. Lazy Lounge (reopening 31st July), home to one of the most extensive, and unique, gin collections in Leeds.

In the heart of the city centre, you will find plenty of independent bars to cater to all tastes. Spend an afternoon enjoying the stunning roof terraces of Headrow House, sampling a classic cocktail or two from their rooftop bar, and Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, a glorious three-story venue in the Northern Quarter. With a number of luxurious cocktail bars around, this part of town is a must for those who like their drinks sophisticated and delicious. The rustic charm of The Watermark and the creative mixes that have put Vice and Virtue on the map.

Headrow House Rooftop

               (Headrow House Rooftop, Credit Tom Joy)

A central part of the Northern Quarter, Merrion Street is a must for those who like their drinks strong and their music loud. Santiago’s extensive whiskey selection and rocking soundtrack will have you dancing until the early hours, and long-time local favourite Mojo is a must for those who love all things rum and rock ‘n’ roll. You won’t want to miss the Mean-Eyed Cat Bar, a raucous dive bar inspired by the legendary Johnny Cash – make sure to have a chilli-infused ‘Ring of Fire’ pale ale for us!

MOJO Leeds Interior

(MOJO interior)


Merrion Street is also home to Verve, a margarita-lovers paradise complete with its own underground tequila bar, and Tailors Gin (reopening soon), a 1920s themed gin bar with a difference: bespoke tailors by day and an illustrious gin lounge by night! No night out in Leeds is complete without a drink on Greek Street, home to a number of exceptional independents. In the basement of a Grade II-listed building you’ll find Below Stairs, a relaxed cocktail bar revered for its original creations. Another hidden gem, but this time you have to go up to find it, is The Rooftop at East Parade.

For those looking to dance until the early hours, Call Lane has got you covered. Start out at Oporto, a great choice both day and night, and wander over to Jake’s Bar, known for their unusual assortment of homemade liqueurs and delicious cocktails. Across the road, you’ll find Call Lane Social and its timeless indie rock soundtrack, and above it, The Tiki Hideaway, an exotic cocktail bar that brings a taste of tropics to the heart of the city. And be sure to seek out The Maven, an effortlessly cool speakeasy hidden behind an unmarked door that specialises in cocktails

The beauty of Leeds is that it has incredible independent bars around every corner. Wander down historic Briggate and discover Whitelock’s, one of the oldest pubs in the city, revered locally for its diverse selection of beers and ales. Or head to Granary Wharf where you’ll find Craft Asylum #1 and Livin’Italy for a beer or wine on the waterfront.

Livin itlay

                                  (Interior of LIVIN’Italy, credit Robert Norbury)    

These are just some of our personal favourites, and we hope we have given you plenty to choose from. Things may look a bit different right now, so be sure to plan ahead and follow the latest guidance to make your next visit to Leeds a safe and enjoyable one.