When in the city of Leeds, its easy to stop off for a coffee and a bite to eat at the likes of Starbucks, Costas and Greggs, yet the city also boasts a great deal of independent coffee shops. Aside from the more generic chain stores, these cafes ooze authenticity, a sense of community, relaxation and diverse culture. The student area of Headingley is brimming with these distinct and quirky cafes, from the ‘grab a coffee and go’, to the ‘sit down and relax’ types, the town offers new and interesting places to experience away from the hustle and bustle of the inner city.
These independent, eccentric cafes are often cheaper, set up by passionate owners and more efficiently run by using local produce and fair trade. It’s clear from the booming independent scene in Headingley that these far from standard cafes are standing strong against the global coffee companies. So step out of the city centre, hang up your generic coffee gloves, and take a trip to the more cultural and varied part of Leeds. Divulge into the sweet surroundings of Headingley town, eat fresh, local produce and take a moment to relax away from the constant rush of daily life.
Here are the reviews of what I believe to be the best independent cafes in Headingley…
|1. Love Rouge Bakery
51 Otley Road, Headingley,
0113 345 8441
With its pastel blue walls, patriotic bunting and shabby chic inspired decor, Love Rouge Bakery is the perfect place to sink your teeth into a mouthwatering cupcake whilst enjoying a fresh cup of coffee. Lydia and Becky, two ambitious women who left their previous rather mundane jobs to start up this independent café/bakery, are undeniably passionate about their business. “We always loved baking and knew that we wanted to open our own, Headingley was the perfect place for the cafe as it is notorious for its independent community.” This quaint and tranquil café oozes indulgence, with its rustic but also playful furniture and colourful selection of cupcakes; it really does give a sense of individuality against other cafes. The bakery not only serves baked goods on the go but also has a quiet and cosy seating area for customers to come out of the cold and take a moment to indulge in the peaceful atmosphere.
21a North Lane
Far from your normal in and out coffee shop, Café Lento is all about taking your time and enjoying your experience in this exquisite and relaxing environment. The café was opened five years ago by owner Richard Lindley and daughter Kate and has now carved itself a popular space in Headingley for anyone to enjoy a fair trade coffee and a locally produced meal. The name ‘Lento’ in Italian means ‘slow’ which is ironic as this café is all about relaxation and getting away from modern day life. “Myself and Kate wanted to create a place which had the atmosphere similar to cafes abroad, I loved travelling and found that coffee shops had a much more relaxed and chilled feeling in Europe, and I wanted to reignite that feeling in Headingley.” With its impressive lunch menu and delicious coffee selection, this café is somewhere to chill and eat good food. While it mostly attracts students, this café also welcomes many older local residents as well as many university lecturers looking for a quick coffee and some peace.
|3. Dare Cafe
49 Otley Road
Leeds, LS6 3AB(0)113 230 2828
Dare Café is a seemingly popular, busy and lively café, with it’s sleek and modern interior, friendly staff and fabulous lighting, it is a great place for anyone to come in and chill out over a delicious meal. Set up in 1993 by a man named Dan Dare, it has been enjoyed by many over the years, and has recently been booming against most other chain cafes’ in the area. Dare café offers a wide range of food including Mexican, Italian, and of course, British. The portion sizes are very generous and every dish appears delectable and presentable. This place can be enjoyed by the passers by wanting a quick coffee and a slice of cake, or the restaurant goers, who fancy a top notch 3 course meal, with its spacious and sleek seating area, Dare Café is quickly becoming one of the more popular cafe’s in the Headingley area.
61 Otley Road
Leeds LS6 2
0113 278 7847
Costello’s Bakery is a highly authentic and classic looking bakery which sells just about everything including fresh bread, pies, cakes, curds and sauces. This café exudes a sense of nostalgia and patriotism, with the open oven section at the back which lets customers watch their bread being made, it instantly takes you back to the 1960’s. With a cute little seating area in the corner, it’s the perfect place to stop for a coffee, however there’s a sense that this place is used more as grab and go bakery. Owner James and his wife Louise set up Costello’s in November 2011, after inheriting the company from his grandfather. The bakery gives a great sense of family and community, they mostly attract older residences as a few of the baked goods are slightly old fashioned, such as the ‘rabbit pie’, however Students are sometimes spotted on the odd occasion picking up a cake or two.
|5. Mint Cafe33 North Lane
tel: 0113 226 48 firstname.lastname@example.org
This Mediterranean and Lebanese style café is something a little different if you want to get away from the ‘coffee and cake’ side of Headingley cafes, with a diverse and cultural menu of exotic wraps, sandwiches, crepes and breakfast dishes, it sets itself aside from the usual cheese and ham Panini’s seen in various mundane cafes. The nutritional dishes as well as the slightly more ‘guilty pleasure’ meals will definitely wet anyone’s appetite. Set up by owner Marcus as a place for the locals to try something new and interesting, It has grown over the years and is enjoyed by the locals as well as people from further parts of Leeds “I wanted to create a space where people could enjoy new and interesting dishes, as well coming in for a coffee and a friendly chat.”
|6. The Bowery
54 otley road
t – 0113 2242284e – email@example.comThe Bowery café, is a modern, innovative and creative place to visit. On entry you are instantly met by the sumptuous smell of coffee, all smiles from staff and a slightly odd amount of paintings. This café is hardly your bog standard coffee house, it has a very creative vibe, with paintings, ornaments and other interesting pieces on show, it seems not only be a coffee house, but also a gallery where art can be shown and bought. The bowery is also special as it uses all press coffee, which is considered a leading specialty coffee roaster in the UK, and if that’s not enough reason to visit, the food menu is highly desirable, with bagels, pies, soups, pastas and wraps and for reasonable prices, it really has got it all. The café also offer WIFI, so if you’re a die-hard student, you can take a couple of hours to work whilst enjoying their coffee.
|7. The Agora restaurant
55 otley road
Leeds, West Yorkshire
The Agora restaurant is a Greek/Turkish inspired café situated within the centre of Headingley town, which offers a wide selection of authentic Greek food, as well as giving the option of trying other oriental selection. Opened two years ago by Greek born owner, Alex, it gives off a very interesting and cultural vibe. From the sleek and sophisticated furnishing’s to the Greek inspired ornaments, this place gives the vibe of the relaxed and family orientated Greek way of life. “A lot of restaurants in Leeds use frozen food, the food from Agora is all locally produced and fresh.” Alex understandably prides himself in the fact that every item on the menu is fresh and nutritious. The Agora also and unlike other independent cafes in the area gives you the sense that you are abroad, with its Greek inspired atmosphere and decor, which is a great mini vacation.
|8. Jinos Tai café
46a Otley Road
Leeds LS6 2AL
Tel: 0113 2788088
http://www.jinosthaicafe.co.uk If your love for Tai food is through the roof, then this is the place for you. With its Tai inspired interior greeting you as soon as you walk through the door, this is the place to come for a great and authentic Tai curry. The menu has everything you could possibly want from tai food, however if you’ve come for a great coffee and an Italian inspired meal then disappointment will prevail, as this is solely tai, and doesn’t really step anywhere out of that bracket. None the less, this restaurant will have you begging for more, from the classics like the green Tai curry, to the more interesting dishes such as the ‘Kaho soi’ this is the Number one place to visit if you are a Tai fanatic.