For those looking for a holiday feel without the air fare, Chow Down at Temple Arches is about the closest you can get. The outdoor destination is a one stop shop for street food, drinks and music (and a little golf).
We headed down at lunchtime on a bank holiday and within half an hour of opening, the place was almost full, with a mix of big groups, couples and some families too. We were lucky enough to have blazing sunshine all day, but the majority of the venue is covered, so it would have been just as enjoyable in poorer weather.
Entry fee gets you a welcome drink, and after that, scannable QR codes on the tables allow you to order food and drinks directly. It was good timing on our part to arrive when the New York Brass band were playing, who kept the crowd entertained with a jazzy take on popular songs. After soaking up some of the rays, my partner and I got to ordering some food. Chow Down has a rotating selection of street food vendors, so there really is something for everyone. This time around we were fortunate enough to be able to choose between the incredible Italian small plates of Sarto, cult favourite middle eastern Mor Mor, Sela Bar staple Little Red Food Truck and the inimitable Spuds & Bros Poutine.
We decided to choose a dish from each menu to get a good feel for all the food on offer. It arrived to the table exceptionally quickly, and was brought over by the sweetest members of staff. From Mor Mor we treated ourselves to sweet and smoky padron peppers and felt like we were on a remote sunny Island somewhere. From Sarto, we chose the arancini – these were much smaller than I am used to but this was actually a good thing, they retained their crispy exterior much better than the larger size, and were perfect for sharing. From Spuds & Bros we chose the vegetarian poutine – without a doubt my favourite dish we tried – the most amazing fries topped with cucumber, tomatoes, gravy and cheese curds, street food at its finest. And finally from Little Red Food Truck we chose fried chicken tenders in buffalo sauce – perfectly crunchy, flavoursome and tangy. There were a ton of other options on all four menus, so lots of choice for all tastes.
Once our bellies had settled somewhat, we ventured over to Chow Down’s mini golf course, the tongue in cheek named Palm Swings, LA bright with pastel colours, the 9 hole golf course proved pretty bloomin’ difficult, with only my partner able to manage the last hole – a steep slope about half a foot thin, with the hole right at the top. It seemed logistically impossible, but my partner would disagree, and I’m pretty bad at golf.
Aside from the food and mini golf, Chow Down boasts a bunch of different DJs in a 360 degree DJ booth, and has a Tanqueray Gin terrace where you can watch the fun from the rooftop. They also have live music on throughout the summer, as well as hosting drag brunches – something I’ve promised myself I’ll come back and experience!
Overall, Chow Down brings something unique to Leeds, and is an excellent place to get that holiday feel whenever you fancy. Go check it out!
Temple Arches, Globe Road, LS11 5QG, [email protected]