Leeds Freshers’ Guide is giving you a taster of the best bars on offer, to suit any taste and budget…

The Call Lane Strip, running from the Corn Exchange down to The Calls, is home to some of the best and most popular bars in Leeds – the true home of the Leeds Bar Crawl. Particularly worthy of mention here are Brooklyn Bar (sleek New York decor, funk, soul, R&B and hip-hop soundtrack, and exquisite burgers), Neon Cactus (Mexican diner by day, tequila cocktail bar by night), Milo (less mainstream dive bar, with live music, and a great selection of alcohol all day long) and, of course, the infamous Call Lane Social (always buzzing, always fun). Call Lane is home to many old classic bars, as well as a host of new up and coming venues, so explore it to your heart’s content.

The Maven is your bit of posh on the upper end of Call Lane. With no sign outside, and just a plain staircase leading up to a solid set of doors with a silver ‘M’ handle, The Maven is just the right level of effortless cool, yet unpretentious. The prohibition bar feel is supplemented by the huge range of quality spirits and talented bar staff, mixing the finest (if somewhat pricey) cocktails Leeds has to offer. Trust the bar staff and just tell them what you like in a drink. You’re sure to not be disappointed.

Slightly cheaper than The Maven, but producing cocktails of almost rival quality is The Smokestack (Lower Briggate). The Motown vibes and retro American theme attract a wide range of clientele, but particularly those with a taste for great cocktails or a love of Motown, reggae, blues, jazz and latin music. Live Funk & Soul music every Wednesday.

The Viaduct Showbar (Lower Briggate), situated at the very heart of Leeds’ Gay Quarter, is a guaranteed night of glamour, drag and brilliant entertainment. With weekly Cabaret spectaculars, award-winning entertainment, cheesy pop classics, and the friendliest atmosphere around, this is a bar not to be missed!

The underground bar and restaurant, Distrikt (Duncan Street), bring a little bit of Berlin grime to Leeds. With a menu boasting Middle Eastern and Mediterranean tapas, as well as a broad selection of cocktails, Distrikt is as much of a draw during the day as it is at night. But it’s Distrikt’s night scene, with live music and internationally recognized DJs, that really brings the crowds in (Food & drinks offers Wednesday – Friday)

A little further out is the Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen (Cross Belgrave St). This versatile gig venue, canteen and bar offers and impressive selection of craft ale, as well as playing host to local food vendors, including their regulars – Dough Boys Pizza (without a doubt the best pizza in Leeds). Their Belgrave Street Feast festivals attract crowds in search of the most delicious and the most unique street food Leeds has to offer. And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s a panoramic roof terrace to enjoy too!

Anastasia Kennedy


Featured image from Belgrave Music Hall gallery.

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