My favourite quiet bars in Leeds

quiet bars in Leeds
blind tiger leeds


Forgive me for sounding live I’ve aged by approximately 50 years but nothing drives me more cray cray than bars which play excessively loud music during the day. I’m looking at you Revolution, the Slug and Lettuce, and the like. They’re all guilty of playing excessively loud pop music when nobody is quite tipsy enough to dance yet. Or even worse, on a lunchtime. WHY?!

If you’re relying on hits by S Club 7 and Steps to create the atmosphere, rather having an ‘everyone’s loving life and it’s a bit infectious’ vibe you maybe need to consider where you want to go with your establishment. I get that I don’t hit the target market of ‘hen do for a second marriage which will involve a cocktail masterclass and carting around photobooth props from B&M’, but y’know, does anyone really enjoy going for a 241 cocktail and having to shout at your friends who are sat less than three feet away?

And that is why I’ve put together a list of my favourite bars for afternoon and early evening drinking in Leeds which aren’t excessively loud or busy, but have decent drinks and a friendly atmosphere.

Everyone seems to think of Smokestack on Briggate as an end of the night place but I actually prefer it earlier on. It’s very chilled, the cocktails are really good but the bar staff know their shit and are happy to go off menu if you fancy something different. I’ve been a few times around the time that they open (7pm midweek, 5pm on a Saturday), and it’s never rammed, but never empty.

Another one from the same group as Smokestack, but this time located at the top of town. Ever noticed the little doorway a couple of doors up from Belgrave? If you head up there, you’ll get to Blind Tiger which has a quirky, cool vibe that I’m definitely here for. Cocktails are served in teacups, there’s a little taxidermy knocking about and it has a bit of a hidden bar feel. It’s the kind of place you could go if you’re on a first date, you’ve already been to Belgrave but want to go on to somewhere quieter to continue the conversation.

Just next door to Blind Tiger is The Watermark. The bar started after the owner, who had an extensive home bar, decided to turn it into the real deal and open an actual bar in Leeds – the branding has his two cats on it which is a lovely, personal touch. It’s not excessively busy and I enjoyed that I could sit at the bar without feeling like I was massively in the way. Again, it’s relaxed, the cocktails are decent (I had a ‘peng ting’), and you can get bar snacks like pork pie and bread with oil.

I think Cabana is an absolute hidden gem. For transparency, I’ve worked with them a couple of times on reviews, but this isn’t an ad, I just like their drinks. I headed here a couple of weekends ago with one of my best friends as I thought it would be perfect for her – she hates over-crowded bars that are really loud but loves a cocktail offer. Cabana’s cocktail menu is a little sweeter (think fruity crowd pleasers that don’t taste like the spirits that are in them) and there’s definitely that novelty factor. We had a couple of cocktails and a nice catch up in there – the drinks were on two for £10 or £12 (depending on the cocktail), and it wasn’t all that busy. I just can’t resist a cocktail that is served in a ceramic coconut.

My Call Lane favourite! Again, for transparency, I’ve worked with Cuckoo before but this isn’t an ad. Cuckoo definitely livens up later in the evening, but throughout the day, it’s really relaxed, especially around the 5pm mark when they start the free pizza with every drink offer until 9pm. I mean, I’ll be honest, that is the major selling point to me, particularly midweek when you need to line your stomach. But Cuckoo during the day is relaxed, there’s always chance to grab a seat and the cocktails are dreamy.

So that’s my round up of my favourite bars in Leeds which don’t play excessively loud music during the day. Have I reached peak grandma? Absolutely. Am I arsed? Absolutely not. Let me know if you have any go-to bars for a chilled afternoon in the comments.

1 comment

  1. I much prefer the quieter bars, Cuckoo was great when we went!

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