Why Leeds is on par with London when it comes to craft beer and street food - YEP comment

My first trip to the capital was an underwhelming one, mainly due to my being a moody teenager and having just discovered Joy Division.

Sunday, 29th August 2021, 4:45 am
Leeds is on par with London when it comes to the food and drink scene. Pictured: Multistories, a new pop-up event space on the top of the Citi Park in the Merrion Centre.

It was part of a media studies school trip to Parliament and the BBC Television Centre, which I trudged around with typical teenage nonchalance. My highlight of the trip was the Pizza Hut lunch buffet in Piccadilly Circus, but we do already have them up north.

It was when I travelled down for the first time as an adult, on a £10 National Express from Leeds Bus Station, that the allure of London suddenly became clear.

My first port of call was Camden, obviously, because I was obsessed with The Libertines. Back then, Camden Market blew my mind, with its myriad street food stalls offering cuisines from all over the world.

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Over the course of that weekend, we explored the city’s bars and restaurants, popping for specialised craft gins, sampling pints of beer in the microbreweries, stumbling upon pop-up food festivals by the banks of the Thames - we even tried one of these “bottomless boozy brunches”, have you heard of them?

London just had all these cool, new things that we didn’t seem to have in Leeds and that was really exciting.

Ten years on though, that has completely changed.

I recently came back from a weekend in the city and had a great time, but the novelty of London had worn off. Part of that is familiarity, I have been there many times since, but I think another part is that a lot of what was a ‘very London’ thing, we’ve got up here now too.

Street food vendors from all across the country now descend on Leeds on a very regular basis. The Falafel Guys red truck is a mainstay on Briggate, Assembly Underground serves up everything from pizza to Brazilian barbecue, while Trinity Kitchen plays host to new eateries each and every month.

Food festivals are also very frequent, such as the seafood and prosecco events at Water Lane Boathouse, or the recent North Leeds Food Festival.

These types of foods have become so popular here in Leeds that several vendors have set up pop-ups in already established businesses, such as Slap & Pickle in Beer Hawk or Little Bao Boy in North Brewing Co’s city taproom.

Speaking of North Brewing Co, those craft microbreweries? We’ve got plenty of them too. From Kirkstall Brewery and Northern Monk to smaller set-ups like Horsforth Brewery and Farsley’s Amity Brew Co.

As for bottomless brunches, we've got a new one popping up every week!

There’s still plenty London has to offer that we don’t have, like affordable and functioning buses, but in terms of things to do, and the food and drink scene, Leeds has more than caught up.

I mean, we’ve even got a pop-up events space on the roof of the Merrion Centre car park - can it get more London than that?