city slicker Bradford

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The Independent Culture
Bradford is booming culturally this week as the annual arts festival reaches its climax. But is there anything other than Hockney to draw you to the city?

Worst architectural carbuncle: Spoilt for choice really as much of Bradford was re-designed during the 1960s when a dual carriageway was re-directed through its centre. The Richmond Building, part of the university, is a pretty good example of bad taste. Bradford Ice Rink is also hard to beat for sheer aesthetic horror.

Native celebrities: Although Bradford's most famous son is undoubtedly David Hockney; JB Priestly, Barbara Castle and Tony Richardson all roamed its streets as small children.

Tourist Information: Locals say "Bratford", never "Bradford".

Best curry house: Bradford is synonymous with the phrase "cracking curry" and there's certainly no shortage of restaurants happy to dispense naan to the punter. Perhaps the most notable is the Aagrah in Shipley where female visitors are presented with red carnations.

Places to avoid: It's fair to say that Bradford has experienced some "trouble" in recent weeks. Even the "well hard" should avoid the Balldean and Allerton areas if at all possible; the Mountain Ash Pub will cater for anyone wanting a scrap.

Best buy: It's almost worth the train fare to Bradford just to get your groceries. Notoriously cheap shops are everywhere; not least the Morrison's chain of supermarkets where this week's bargains include frozen chickens at the knockdown price of 99p.

Coolest shop: For those who enjoy a good rummage, The Wax Museum in Westgate is irresistible. Stacked with curios of popular culture, you'll come across vinyl dating back to the 1940s, herbal drinks, smoking paraphernalia, vintage magazines and original Slade scarves.

Where to be seen: The Java Cafe near the Alhambra Theatre is without doubt the place to lounge. Soak up the South African ambience, sample Mexican food or kick back to Latin jazz and samba. Live bands are also a regular attraction.

Best pub: McRory's in the Great Horton area offers a welcome combination of homely wooden surroundings and Sixties sounds.

What beers to order: Real ale's the thing. Avoid being labelled a southern lager-drinking softy and confidently ask the barman for a jar of one of the following: Old Speckled Hen, Timothy Taylor's Landlord, Black Sheep or Ringwood's Old Thumper.

Best gigs: Although recently closed by the council, the Queen's Hall is set to re-open later this year. Once a music hall, the venue is decked out with ornate trimmings and a low-slung balcony. Blur and Suede have played here.

Places of highbrow interest: The Little Germany area houses both the Bradford Playhouse and the Design Exchange. The IMAX cinema and Alhambra Theatre (above) are also worth visiting. Salt's Mill showcases the 1953 David Hockney collection and boasts a new set of paintings based on the artist's dachshunds. "A lot of art critics go for sheep in formaldehyde," Jonathan Silver, the owner, observes. "This is cheerful and colourful, just what Bradford needs."