Leeds: A pit stop between the North and South

A prosperous Mill Town at the peak of the industrial revolution Leeds today, is UK’s third largest city and is predominantly a university town. The city is an ideal stopover between the North and South of England in the very heart of Yorkshire. Popular for shopping, the city has far more to offer especially when it comes to food and drinks. With the introduction of proud home-grown sites such as Leeds List, businesses are gaining more exposure and seeing the results.

The pods at the Victoria Quarter Arcade, this one, Opposite Coffee

The pods at the Victoria Quarter Arcade, this one, Opposite Coffee

Speaking with staff at Tribeca city café, they are thrilled at the buzz causing a stir as more café and restaurant owners step up to embrace the growing industry. Serving up wholesome corporate lunches in the legal district – soups, salads and sandwiches are made using fresh produce from local farmers. Leeds List has coined the café with “the best scrambled eggs in town”. On another scale, Bagel Nash – a rapidly growing local franchise – offers on the go breakfasts and lunches all around the bagel. Made fresh, and served quickly the concept is working well and includes storefronts as well as a pop-up-pod in the Victoria Quarter arcade. Sharing the arcade pod is Opposite coffee, which is an outpost of the Uni. café at Leeds University. Serving up the best coffee in Leeds, Opposite, is a small operation with big ambitions.

A double espresso from Opposite Coffee

A double espresso from Opposite Coffee

On the topic of ambition, Mrs Athas in the centre of the shopping end of town boasts a cosy tea room atmosphere with dim lighting, comfortable bench style seating around large, communal benches. Meeting an industrial feel thanks to the large steal beam running through the structure of the store, Mrs Athas has the best breakfast in town. Supporting the food, a detailed tea menu offering adventurous teas from Japan to India served in the most practical teapots I’ve ever seen is great value for money. The coffee is lightly roasted and the staff are keen to learn more about the craft, but nonetheless, are having a decent stab at different brewing methods.

The warm and cosy living room style cafe, Mrs Athas

The warm and cosy living room style cafe, Mrs Athas

For the dinner savvy out there it is hard to go past Red’s True Barbecue, which as the title suggests, has meat, MEAT and MEAT. Red’s prices are a little hefty but the feed is well worth the cash. The menu is straight out of deep-south USA and I have to say is extremely accurate. The ribs are juicy, tender and soaked in BBQ sauce, and the pulled pork sandwich (read burger) is also juicy, tender and soaked in BBQ sauce. With seven other sauces free on your table and with most dishes served with salad (you don’t make friends with salad) and fries covered in extreme seasoning deliciousness, you can wash it all down with a hefty English beer and tidy up with the ample moist towelettes suppled.

Red's BBQ is stuffed with juicy meats and sauces like this pulled pork sandwich

Red’s BBQ is stuffed with juicy meats and sauces like this pulled pork sandwich

On trend with ‘exotic’ meats, sauces and strong flavours, Neon Cactus seems to function more as a cheap bar for the uni folk than the decent Mexican restaurant it is. Open and serving all hours of the night, Neon Cactus offers more than just Tex-Mex, but real flavours of coriander, chilli and lime. The quesadilla is full of spice and is a meal within itself and the fajitas are light but filling – enough for two. I was disappointed by the burrito, too much salad, not enough queso and meat but the drinks menu and the giant bottle of Tequila chained to the bar made up for that.

Neon Cactus a Mexican restaurant in Leeds is also a great bar

Neon Cactus a Mexican restaurant in Leeds is also a great bar

Leeds is absolutely trying to prove itself and put a once prosperous town back on the map. With the soon to be completed renovations of the art gallery and renowned as a shopping hub for the midlands, Leeds is a great two to three day stop over.