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You know you live in Headingley when…

Written by
Jon Howe
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LS6: a sporting metropolis, an eclectic mix of dining, shopping and coffee culture, and a sea of under-graduate debauchery for large segments of the year. Whatever Headingley is, it has character and always has done. But since the early 1990s, the standard of bars and restaurants has improved ten-fold and students now have more cultured tastes and past-times, turning this corner of north-west Leeds into a kind of student-friendly Notting Hill. You know you live in Headingley when…

You marvel at the Victorian houses only to discover they're B&Bs and student flats
Huge, period, four-storey houses frame the leafy streets around the cricket ground on Cardigan Road and Far Headingley along Otley Road, but few are mortgaged by local homeowners. Cricket fans will make block bookings around test-match time and every September portable speakers and over-stuffed bin liners will be up and down those stairs like the dray men delivering barrels to the Original Oak and the Skyrack.

Victorian Flats Headingley

Tim Green/Flickr

What you thought was a shop or cinema is probably now a trendy bar or burger joint
On the outside it’s the same, but make a deposit inside and you’ll get more than just a receipt for your records. Headingley has always been lively but it's now packed full of choice for varying types of night out. The Box, Arcadia and Headingley Taps all sit proudly in buildings far removed from their current use. Headingley Taps, for example, was once a pumping station for the local water work; The Box is restored from a rather dull parade of 60s-built shops; and Ask Italian on North Lane made few friends when it took over the former Lounge Cinema – a beautiful, independent, period theatre.  

Charity shops are actually vintage clothes shops in Headingley
Shabby chic? Yes, that works in Headingley. It’s rare to pass anyone under 25 wearing an item of clothing that isn't inspired by Jarvis Cocker's natty threads circa Common People. If they haven't yet visited Sue Ryder's Vintage and Retro, Dusty and Dylan's Vintage or Retro Boutique, they soon will. 

The odd-looking building with queues outside is actually one of the world’s most famous fish and chip shops
Bryans and Bretts are institutions. Bretts, in particular, is a national treasure that offers an experience dripping in charm, Englishness and, well, batter. Bretts has served gourmet fish and chips since the early 1920s, and Bryans at the top end of Headingley is often so busy that drivers abandon their cars on double-yellow lines while they nip in.

Bretts Fish and Chip restaurant Headingley

Tim Green/Flickr

You struggle to find a decent café but you can’t move for ‘Deli’s’
Baked goods and wholesome soups made from ingredients locally-sourced (of course) and a fine view of the nose-to-nose traffic on Otley Road to help conjure up visions of Paris, Milan and the back streets off La Ramblas, Bareclona. Sebby's and Slips offer a cosmopolitan theme, but a different beast altogether is Salvo's Italian Deli. Next door to the famous restaurant is Salumeria, which is a genuine taste of Italy: meats, cheese and, most importantly, wine, right in the middle of suburban Leeds. 

Check out Leeds and Yorkshire slang on Time Out Leeds.

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