“ 5 Cross Belgrave Street / Leeds LS2 8JP / Tel: 0871 2077475 „
Sandinista Bar has changed substantially since the photo taken! It is now Latin American/Cuban themed with atmospheric/tatty looking decor and Havana Rum logos etc painted on the walls. It does give a good sense of being authentic latino themed. The drinks selection is great for those who want something different than a pint of lager or a glass of wine! A full cocktail menu caters for those who enjoy rum/gin/tequila/vodka with something for everyone. The been list has a selection of the best picked beers from around the world including my favourite Beerlao from Laos, and others from Holland, Portugal etc. The bar is one of the only venues in Leeds which is open late (3am) every day of the week and live acoustic music on a Sunday night make it a good option for those wanting to draw out the weekend a little longer!
Recommended for an alternative pub/bar and for those who like a relaxed and informal/local feel.
These days when you travel within your own country (and sometimes abroad) you usually find the same chain restaurants that you have in your own town. It's also quite likely that you'll come across chain bars and pubs too. One town looks very much like any other when it comes to shops, pubs and eating places. All of which makes it especially pleasing to find somewhere that is not just different in terms of environment and what it offers, but in its whole ethos and the way it goes about its business.
Sandinista in Leeds is not necessarily groundbreaking in terms of its ethos but the team that run this stylish and exciting café-bar certainly go the extra mile and really believe in what they do.
Described as a 'cantina bar', Sandinista is styled on a central American theme and as well as being a bar, offers tapas style snacks, bigger meals and a Sunday roast special. From Thursday through till Saturday there are live DJs and there are occasional gigs too. Although Sandinista is as far from the traditional British pub as you can get, it still has a real 'local' atmosphere with a weekly quiz, newspapers and board games - the latter being perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons.
The place opened back in 2002 when a group of friends stumbled on the idea of turning their passions for music, food and drinking into a business. With a hugely Latin influence, the bar is named after the Nicaraguan political movement and the album by the Clash; the ethos of the establishment is very much influenced by both of these with a definite internationalist conscience being at the heart of the way Sandinista conducts its business.
Sandinista serves Fairtrde tea and coffee and drinking chocolate; it only serves Fairtrade orange juice from Cuba. You won't find Coca Cola here because the owners deplore the poor corporate record of the multinational. They have also boycotted Bacardi for similar reasons. They even refuse to buy ANY products from countries that have not outlawed whaling. All very impressive ideals but doesn't it rather limit what they do?
Not at all! I can personally vouch for the delicious food and excellent range of cocktails. We tried a selection of the tapas dishes. First up we went for some lovely marinated olives while we waited for our hot tapas; it was a decent sized dish and they were delicious. For hot tapas we chose albondigas (spicy meatballs in a tomato sauce) and some crispy Jamaican saltfish croquettes. Both were excellent though - even for tapas - the portions might have been a bit bigger. Tapas dishes cost between £3.95 and £4.95, so not the cheapest but certainly better than many places I've eaten tapas in the UK.
On another occasion we had bocadillos (sandwiches); Sandinista has a small but varied selection of really exciting sandwiches. The rare roast beef is to die for and is served on a granary roll with a gutsy horseradish mayonnaise. The Emmenthal cheese sandwich should please veggies and comes with a spicy homemade chutney that goes well with the creamy cheese. Sandwich prices are similar to those for tapas dishes.
The décor is shabby chic with a Latin American feel that is understated rather than trying too hard. There are basic wooden chairs and tables and simple wooden blinds at the windows. The bare floorboards and walls painted with slogans add to the atmosphere and you really do get a laid back Latin feeling.
The music is mixed but they do have a loose 'no dance' policy which means you get a good mix of rock, indie and world music. Punters are cool with out being aloof and prententious.
Service is relaxed and friendly, food was served in good time. We really had no complaints about Sandinista. From the cocktails to the cold beers this is a stylish but unpretentious place that is original without being wacky and that doesn't charge over the odds for what you get.
5 Cross Belgrave Street
Tel - 0113 305 0372
Open - Sun Wed 12pm - 1.00am, Thuirs 12pm - 02.00am, Fri - Sat 12pm - 03.00am
This Central American inspired bar offers a relaxed atmosphere in which to sample the extensive menu of home cooked food.