With heat waves hitting the headlines and the summer stretching out ahead of us, relaxing outdoors with friends and a chilled cocktail seems like the perfect way to spend an evening or well-earned day off. In Leeds, you’ll find many bars and pubs with rooftops and terraces offering al fresco drinking with wonderful views over the city. Here are some of our favourites.
Green Room, Wellington Street
Situated in the very heart of Leeds, Green Room is a plant-based restaurant and social space that’s home to the city’s largest open air roof terrace. The recently restored building features industrial chic decor and its split-level terrace is south-facing, so it catches the sun all day long. Thanks to the ambient music and hanging bulb lighting, you feel like you’re getting away from it all here – despite being only a stone’s throw from the city’s busy railway station. Green Room’s menu is packed with wholesome vegan and vegetarian dishes, including energy-boosting all day brunches produced in partnership with their friends at Grön Kafé. Working with local suppliers is a major part of the restaurant’s ethos and their drinks list includes only beers brewed in Leeds, like those from Kirkstall Brewery and Northern Monk. Visit in the day for a relaxed meal with friends or come at night to enjoy cocktails, craft beers and live music. You can even stay over in one of their loft style apartments.
The Rooftop, East Parade
On the top floor of Leeds’ East Parade you’ll find The Rooftop – a cool bar and terrace that can be accessed with an entry code given out on social media. This way of getting in gives The Rooftop an exclusive party feel and its central location means you can enjoy a panoramic view over the city and its landmarks. The drinks list up here may be fairly limited but it still features wines, beers and cocktails, including the popular ‘hard slushes’. The terrace regularly hosts live music events with a DJ and has a lively, fun atmosphere. It’s also very handy if you want to pop upstairs for a drink after a day working in the flexible office spaces at Avenue HQ.
Issho, Victoria Leeds
Taking its name from the Japanese word for ‘together’, Issho is a contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar residing in Leeds’ Victoria Gate shopping centre. The restaurant has its own roof terrace, where you can kick back with a cocktail inspired by the culture and history of Japan. Try ‘Storm Mountain’, which celebrates the bamboo forest of Arashiyama with a delicious blend of tanqueray gin, lime juice, elderflower, shiso leaves and soda water. There’s also the ‘Great Wave’ which brings Hokusai’s famous woodblock print to life in the form of a drink made with Havana 7, orange liqueur, lychee puree, lime juice and ginger beer. If you’re feeling peckish, you can snack on seafood gyoza and maki rolls, or sweet yorokobi. More filling options include sushi, bento boxes and even a Japanese-inspired vegan afternoon tea. Issho’s roof terrace is a calm oasis with verdant foliage and plush sofas to relax on, while the restaurant’s interior has a minimal, modern feel.
East 59th, Victoria Leeds
Also located in Victoria Gate, East 59th is a penthouse cocktail bar and restaurant serving modern American cuisine. With a style influenced by the rooftops of Manhattan, East 59th’s outdoor terrace offers great views over the city centre and Kirkgate Market and is decked out with grass and wooden seating. Here you can choose from an a la carte food menu which can be made bottomless with 1.5 hours of unlimited bubbles for an extra £20 per person. At brunch time, you can sit down to poached eggs with smoked salmon, avocado or maple glazed bacon – all of which are served with a bearnaise sauce. The restaurant’s specials include a fantastic seafood platter, which comes with grilled lobster, tempura crab, garlic tiger prawns, beer battered prawns, grilled corn and a selection of dips. On the drinks list, you’ll find cocktails, mocktails and champagne. This summer, East 59th has teamed up with Flor de Cana to turn their terrace into a tropical hideaway where you can sample a menu of tantalising cocktails made with the brand’s Fairtrade rum. The restaurant has a dress code, so it’s worth visiting their website to find out what to wear before you visit.
Independent bar Farrands serves food and drink with a South American influence. You can tuck into classic Mexican snacks and street food here, like tacos or elote – corn on the cob with fermented blueberries, paprika, lime and parmesan. It’s worth calling in just to try one of their signature cocktails. Sip a ‘Sugar Turmoil’, made with Eminente Ambar Claro rum, basil and lemon oleo, LemonAid lime and Angostura bitters, or ‘The Beet Goes On’ featuring Farrands ‘Dark Horse’ spiced rum, grape, pomegranate and blackcurrant juice, beetroot masala chai and fresh lemon. Farrands raised terrace is small but sweet with a metal roof and side walls for extra protection against the elements.
Headrow House, The Headrow
One of Leeds’ most exciting event venues, Headrow House regularly hosts art and photography exhibitions as well as performances of live music and poetry. This former textile mill is home to the Ox Club – a solid fuel grill restaurant serving a balanced menu of contemporary dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients. On the second level of the grade II listed building you’ll find Redondo Beach, a cocktail bar with a large outdoor space, while at the very top of Headrow House there’s ‘Kennedy Meadows’ – a two tier roof terrace that’s known for its buzzing vibe. Here you can book an all-weather, covered booth that comes complete with heaters. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, you can order a drinks package to share – like chilled prosecco for the table or a bucket of ice cold beers. Sharing plates of food are also available and their tasty kebab platter includes enough to feed 4-6 people for just £25.
Roland’s, Call Lane
With a hidden rooftop terrace and a comprehensive cocktail menu, Roland’s is the perfect place to stop at for a drink outdoors in Leeds. The terrace here has its own lawn with long tables and umbrellas to chill out under, or, for rainy days, there’s also a covered courtyard behind the bar. You’ll find many great beers here but it’s Roland’s cocktail list that’s truly special. Try ‘Georgia’s Peaches’ with Bonomi handcrafted vodka, creme de peche, champagne syrup, fresh lime and pineapple, or dare yourself to experience something new with the Michelada, featuring house spice and tomato mix served long over ice and topped up with Pacifico Lager and optional tequila. You’ll also find plenty of great low and no alcohol options at Roland’s, like the Aperol spritz alternative ‘Let the Good Times Roll’.
Cuckoo, Call Lane
Located in one of the city’s most popular night spots on Call Lane, Cuckoo describes itself as being ‘a little crazy and THE place to party’. This colourful bar has a surprising and inventive interior with fairground-themed rooms. A handmade pizza is served free with any drink before 9pm and there are vegan and vegetarian options to choose from as well as four fantastic sweet pizzas. Try ‘Blame Canada’ with its custard base, peaches, granola, maple syrup and cinnamon sugar. There’s also the ‘Wonka’, a sweet calzone with Nutella, marshmallows and fudge sauce. You can get the party started here with a bat of six shots or a ‘giraffe’ – a 5 litre tower of beer to share between the table. Cuckoo’s secret garden terrace is the perfect place to get some fresh air and soak up the sun while indulging in a few fabulous cocktails with friends.
Lamb and Flag, Church Row
Part of the Leeds Brewery chain, the Lamb and Flag inhabits a restored 19th century building close to Leeds Minster. This characterful old pub is known for its hearty food offerings and on the main menu you’ll find tempting starters like the beetroot carpaccio with vegan feta, rocket and balsamic pearls. The mains here include elevated twists on gastro pub favourites – such as chicken wrapped in smoked streaky bacon, stuffed with spinach and ricotta and served with sautéed new potatoes, peppers and tomatoes. There are lots of great meat-free options to try too, like their vegan ‘fish and chips’ (battered banana blossom, served with hand cut chips, vegan tartare sauce and a pea puree). Behind the bar, you’ll find a wide range of beers, lagers, wines and spirits. The pub has a courtyard beer garden as well as a private roof terrace which can be booked out along with the pub’s charming upper floor for private events.
Get there by bus! Download the First Bus App to plan your journey and buy your tickets.
Photos: Farrands, Lamb & Flag, East 59th, The Rooftop at East Parade