If you've never had the need to head left out of Leeds train station, I can forgive you for having not unearthed a hidden hub of foodie delights in the city. The Leeds West End is in most part a hub for businesses and a smattering of apartment blocks - I fall into both of those purposes, living and working in the west.
For those of you who are yet to visit, I'm here to give you some temptation to turn left. From drinks after work, weekend brunch or amping up your lunch break, get ready to expand your Leeds eats.
A newbie to Leeds and well worth your time. I have a post dedicated to Hive, but there's also a breakfast and post 5.30pm drinks menu to be explored. This is going to be a prime choice come colder days with an ace range of hot pots on offer.
Open Monday - Friday from 7.30am.
Bonus points all round because as well as having a delicious food menu, there's multiple corners you'll need to share on Instagram. For food, think gastro-pub with a hipster touch. My favourite is the veggie burger, not your standard bean burger, but peas and corn mashed with a ton of other goodness and smothered with guacamole. The sweet potato fries are a must for a side for any dish, too.
Open Monday - Friday from 8am.
The older sibling of The GLC and right across the path. Sociable Folk is a favourite for something quick but not your standard on a working lunch. Their salads are amongst the best in Leeds (the SoFo Special with Thai dressing is my favourite) and the bagels come stacked with flavour (try the chicken tarragon if you spot it). There are also a ton of wraps on offer but they tend to be overstuffed with spinach so I go for one of the former options. Whilst you're here, definitely try their iced latte and grab a few of their brownie squares - they're all gluten free, not advertised as such as they saw sales of them drop. People.
Open Monday - Friday from 7am.
Tucked around the back of Wellington Place, this bar-cum-restaurant is seemingly still awaiting its public. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks are all available, food is simple and service is quick. It's a good fail-safe to grab something on a lunch break or pre-weekend-shop. The interiors are industrial - as to be expected - and set over two floors for in-booth catch-ups or lined up for people watching.
Open Monday - Saturday from 9.30am.
A hotel bar wouldn't normally top my listed recommendations, but there's an exception to every rule. Despite being tucked into the Novotel Leeds, The Soap Factory is a destination of its own. Sweet cocktails and a food menu with some options a little out of the ordinary, well worth planning into your evening (and the perfect starter if you're based west of the centre). Look out for the bubbles that glaze the entrance - whether for your Insta opp, or a happy hour flag. Read more about the food at The Soap Factory, or my first impressions.
Open daily, 8am-11.30pm
Quite simply put, this is the local. On the doorstep for work and so easily in my top three most frequented drinking holes. The pub grub is good, not glittering with flavour but the mix & match tapas menu would be my top pick for you to try. There's a rotating craft beer option alongside your easy drinkers and sports fans can get settled here as they seem to show every big game (that's as much info on sports timetables that I know). After going through more than a few changes of hands since I've lived in Leeds, it looks like the Editor's Draught guise is onto a winner and I'm loving seeing it working out.
Open weekdays from 8am, weekends from 10.30am.
A modern twist on your classic Chinese. The usual suspects populate the menu, but expect hipster serves (read: direct from a wok, or cocktails from a takeout box) in an industrial setting, with a weekend DJ to shout over whilst you eat. Everyone I know that's been here rates it, the one time I visited I was non-plussed. The cocktail menu is great, food is good but just as you could get anywhere else and I wasn't a fan of the order system - write it on card and peg it above your table, have each of your orders read back to you (some of ours were unavailable) and put into the kitchen and continue to peg the card up if you need anything else - for me, it was a gimmick that could be simplified. Easy eating for Chinese fans, tucked under West Point.
Open Monday - Saturday from 12pm (weekdays closed from 2pm-5pm)
Long story short, if you're after good wine or a good charcuterie, Veeno will tick that box. The staff and service here have always been amazing and for a wine n00b like myself, they're happy to educate on a level I understand. I've worked my way through a few of the different charcuterie boards and different bite size options, as well as finding a delicious white. This, plus my first foray into the venue by way of an evening of wine tasting - so you could say I've done enough research to give this place a proper stamp of approval.
Open Monday - Saturday from 12pm.
I was invited to try the newly launched menu at the Crowne Plaza restaurant - similarly to The Soap Factory I was a little sceptical as to what the draw of a hotel restaurant tucked into the back of the lobby would be. The main menu is fairly big, standard gastro-pub fair with a heavy focus around meat (although there are still veggie options). Our main dishes were good, each lacking a something to make them more memorable. The cheese board we finished with was the highlight of the night, a platter of British (and heavily Yorkshire) cheeses to suit different palates from mild to a strong Yorkshire blue. It isn't going to top my recommendations, but you'll be in good hands if you're spending a night in the 'Plaza in Leeds.
I'm going to deem this as a hidden treasure. It has a real authentic indie feel to it that deserves a lot more love from people outside the immediate vicinity. Grab yourself one of the comfy window seats or head up to the mezzanine and choose from the extensive drinks menu - wine, gin and whiskys are heralded as specialities. The food menu has enough options to pair with your poison, or there are tasting evenings ready and waiting. I've heard inklings of a craft beer offering coming as an extension to the brand and extending into the space next door... watch this space.
Open Monday - Friday from 11am and Saturday from 12pm
Another after-work spot, expect it to be packed come 5pm on a Friday. Lunch and dinner are on offer, too - I've only ever been for lunch which is perfect to fill a lunch hour, expect the classics - pizza, burgers and a few dabbles in more classic pub serves. There are some ace deals on drinks here and surprisingly good cocktails, good option for easy-drinking post 9-5.
Open weekdays from 12pm, weekends from 11am.
The notable absence from this round-up is that of Buca di Pizza - despite ticking all the above off for this post, it's still one I'm yet to try. I've heard nothing but good things about it and their partner site next door, the D.O.C prosecco bar, is also high up on my to-try list. Watch this space for an update...
As the white towers of Wellington Place continue to spring up and units continue to be filled in Central Square, there's no doubt going to be so many more places to fill a weekend, a lunch hour or an evening after work. If you're yet to head west of the train station, I'm hoping this is your ticket to explore.