I had my first trip ‘up North’ this month and I loved it! Living in London, it’s too easy to forget how much there really is going on around the rest of the country. So if you’re thinking of visiting Leeds – do it! Here’s a list of the five things to do in Leeds – see them all check out my city guide here.
The drag queens up North are FIERCE! And there is no better place to check them out than the Viaduct. Open 7 nights with live entertainment, this venue is the heart and soul of the LGBT community in Leeds. Inside there is a bar and stage, with just enough room for you to squeeze in and see the show. Outside, there is a large beer garden that is of a similar size to the bar. If you get there a little too early for a show, nip across the road to Queens Court, another gay bar with a big outdoor section, to take advantage of their INSANE happy hour: 50% off all drinks from 5-9pm (and they’re already pretty cheap to begin with)!
Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen
When the sun is shining, there is no better place to be than the astroturfed rooftop of this former 1930’s Children’s Palace. It reopened in 2013 as a music venue and craft beer hotspot and has become a firm favourite since. When the sun isn’t shining, there’s still plenty of room in the huge main bar, which doubles as an eatery for Patty Smith’s burgers and Dough Boys pizza as well as Leed’s coffee starlet, Laynes Espresso. It has it all and thus makes it my recommended first stop in the city.
1A Cross Belgrave Street
Bibi’s is pure Great Gatsby glamour! Just don’t let the entrance turn you off. Its elegance is encompassed by a large concrete car park, which surely wasn’t there when this Italian restaurant opened in the 70s. Either way, once you’ve slipped inside its polished glass doors the outside world is definitely forgotten. I immediately started planning my own roaring 20s party. I usually can’t afford to eat in places with such glam interiors but two courses and a bottle of wine was about £35 each. The menu is large with loads of classic vegetarian options and a separate gluten-free menu upon request. I definitely recommend checking out this spot for a romantic meal or a fun group dinner.
Laynes Espresso – Station Street
Laynes has a reputation for having the best coffee in Leeds. I didn’t have time make it to every single cafe to confirm this but silky soy cappuccino was pretty perfect. This is a small cafe with a small menu but everything they do they do very well. The brunch menu had a selection of toast based options, including braised beans, and whilst there were no gluten-free options, there were some pretty outstanding gluten-free cakes giving you the perfect excuse to eat dessert at any hour of the day. But it definitely is the coffee that shines here, especially as they use Square Mile Beans.
16 New Station Street
This independent cafe was a bit of a surprise for me. I’m not quite sure why my expectations were so low – it didn’t look like much from the outside – but the dark, moody interiors quickly seduced me into being its latest fan. Our coffee was spot on, served promptly by extra friendly staff and there was a great vibe for the Sunday afternoon when we swung by. Their brunch menu runs all day and comes highly recommended.
Check out my full map and city guide for Leeds here!