The best places to eat in Leeds

From modern British restaurants to global vegan street food, Leeds’ vibrant scene has all bases covered. Take a bite out of West Yorkshire’s capital.

Home
Special occasion, casual dining
Hidden above an unremarkable shopping precinct, this handsome dining room – a Scandi-tinged neo-Georgian space - is where chef-owners Liz Cottam and Mark Owens deliver monthly-changing tasting menus of seasonally inspired modern British food. Underpinned by fine Yorkshire produce, dishes such as roast garlic rabbit dumplings, a caviar-topped riff on omelette Arnold Bennett with crumpets, or perfect pan-roasted halibut with slivers of Jerusalem artichoke and a creamed fish stock reduction, are elegant crowd-pleasers. Chef Adam Rasburn oversees daily services, as Owens and Cottam are also busy opening a cluster of venues in Kirkgate Market. These include their 21st century pub, The Owl (theowlleeds.co.uk). Menus from £55.

Assembly Underground
Casual dining, cheap eats, kid-friendly

Assembly underground
Leeds loves street food and this subterranean hub will sate all your smashed burger and Neapolitan pizza needs. Its communal tables are packed with people chowing on, for instance, excellent wraps from local heroes the Falafel Guys, or Punjabi dishes from masala dosa dons, Jah Jyot. Bangin’ West Yorkshire brewery, Vocation & Co. provides all the lubrication you'll need across a gin bar and 50 (yes, 50!) taps of beer and cider. Dishes from around £5.

North Star Coffee Shop & General Store
Cheap eats, casual dining, kid-friendly

North Star Coffee
On Leeds Dock, this coffee roastery’s café serves a neat flat white, a full menu running from Yorkshire sausage hash to seasonal grain bowls, and magical baking from Sarah Lemanski and Hannah Mather’s neighbouring Nova Bakehouse. This flour powerhouse bakes a mega four cheese rye scone and possibly the most decadent salted caramel brownie you'll ever taste. Around North Star’s chic, skimmed-concrete walls you'll also find products for sale, from ceramics to free-range eggs. Bakery items from £2; dishes from around £5.

Owt
Cheap eats, casual dining

Grilled salmon
The premise behind Owt is as neat and simple as this tiny Kirkgate Market café unit. Owners James Simpson and Esther Miglio write fresh menus weekly, taking inspiration from the market’s produce to create a tight list of affordable, lovingly assembled dishes – all backed-up by terrific baking, vegan sausage rolls and surprisingly good, free filter coffee. Dishes might range from a breakfast of smoked haddock, hash browns, soft boiled egg and greens to a knock-out bolognese with perfectly al dente linguine for lunch. A real find, this. Lunch meals from £6. 

Matt Healy X The Foundry
Casual dining

Raspberry sorbet

Tucked into the historic workshops and warehouses around Water Lane, now colonised by Leeds’ creative industries, Matt Healy’s restaurant – all exposed brick, glass and stylish tableware – is a swanky, grown-up hideaway serving a modish, pick ‘n’ mix menu of snacks, cheeses, charcuterie and small-to-large plates of increasing cheffy refinement. From a convincingly rugged pork terrine (note: Healy once worked at London’s Terroirs) to an ornate plate of cured mackerel, apple, celeriac and blackberry gel, Healy’s cooking delivers. Mains from £16.50.

Sarto
Casual dining, cheap eats, kid-friendly
The views of Leeds bus station won't rival Rome or Milan, but, in Sarto, Laynes Espresso’s Dave Olejnik has created a fresh pasta joint whose creative, largely meat-free dishes would cut a dash anywhere. Sarto’s communal dining room – an ultra-minimal, retro-modern gem – is as sharp as the cooking across renowned arancini or, for instance, a winningly spiky plate of kale and almond pesto fettucine with pickled cauliflower. Portions are sensible and prices keen. Pastas from £7.

Little Bao Boy @ Leeds City Tap
Casual dining, cheap eats 

Bao bun
Most folk will hit North Brewing’s tap for its 19 lines of IPAs, impy stouts and triple-fruited gose rarities. But from Little Bao Boy’s hatch-kitchen you can also eat next-level bao, noodle soups and gyoza. Owner James Ooi’s buns are persuasively light and his inventive fillings (fried chicken thighs marinated in gochujang buttermilk, for instance), bristle with big flavours. His shredded beef brisket is a deep dive into the mutually reinforcing qualities of heat and spice. Buns from £4.

Kanassa Kitchen
Cheap eats, casual dining, kid-friendly

Empanada
Located in Kirkgate Market’s Market Kitchen, this vegetarian and vegan homage to Colombian street food – smoked aubergine empanadas; manchego-filled arepa corn cakes on homemade chipotle-spiced black beans – has Leeds’ foodies transfixed. Sisters Anna and Beth Shindler’s colourful food is alive with flavour in its every detail. Meal from £4.95.

Eat Your Greens
Casual dining 

Eat your greens

A collab between the Outlaws Yacht Club bar and Leeds’ foremost flexitarian chefs, Grub & Grog, this grocer’s-cum-casual diner is almost entirely meat-free. The cookbooks on display (Noma, Ottolenghi, Ethicurean) are good pointers, stylistically. Think: organic seasonal produce and big natural flavours tweaked, preserved and concentrated into vibrant plates of wow. The brunch menu: kimchi hash, baked eggs in creamed celeriac, stout rarebit etc, is a doozy. Plates from £6.

Water Lane Boathouse
Casual dining

Burger with chips

In summer, Leeds makes a beeline for this canal-side spot, a sister operation to those hip, food-savvy venues, Headrow House and Belgrave Music Hall. Beyond alfresco boozing, its menu of sourdough pizzas, burgers and salads constitutes some of the city’s best ad hoc, pub-ish grub. Order the panko-crumbed fish finger butty, a side of chef Ben Davy’s legendary skin-on chips and a pint of something good from Northern Monk. It is a great way to fritter away an hour. Meals from £5.95;

The Man Behind the Curtain
Special occasion

The Man Behind The Curtain
Channelling the avant-garde spirit of Spanish nueva cocina, chef-owner Michael O’Hare has turned this restaurant into a highly regarded Michelin-starred destination you need to book months in advance. O’Hare’s tasting menus deliver ornate creations often served on outlandish crockery. Options include the veal sweetbread, char siu octopus and ajo blanco soup. Tasting menu from £65.

Ox Club
Casual dining
After creating the food outlets at Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, chef Ben Davy significantly upped the ante at Ox Club, his cool, friendly restaurant at Headrow House. The kitchen features a solid fuel grill imported from the US and the food showcases the best of Yorkshire produce. Try the barbecued lamb neck with smoked potato or the smoked celeriac with braised celery, followed by burnt Basque cheesecake with Yorkshire rhubarb. Mains from £14.

Pizza Fella
Casual dining, cheap eat, kid-friendly

Pizza Fella
Every modern city deserves a fastidious joint serving wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizza. In Leeds' city centre, that place is Pizza Fella. These street-food graduates, now based in a raw, fashionably stripped-back space on Vicar Lane, serve magnificent pizzas layered with vibrant San Marzano sauce. The fresh, elastic bases are beautifully and authentically spotted with char, a technique known as ‘leoparding’. From £6.

The Swine that Dines
Casual dining

The Swine That Dines
On Fridays and Saturdays, from noon to 3 PM, this restaurant serves creative lunch dishes that change regularly, based on seasonal produce. From Wednesday to Saturday evenings, however, it opens its doors to a different style of dining. Chef-owner Stuart Myers gets creative across a seven-course sharing menu of, say, broccoli with miso, sesame and ginger or sourdough with tarragon, garlic and green beans. The menu changes every month, so expect new delicious dishes. Sharing menu, £49.50 for two.

Tharavadu
Casual dining, cheap eat

Tharavadu
For Brits used to heavy, oily, high-street curries, the light, sensitively spiced food of southern India can be revelatory, with plenty of coconut, mustard seeds, fish and vegetables. This simple, handsome space of rustic dark wood and huge digital prints of coastal Kerala is a great place to start that adventure. For cooking of this calibre, try its express lunch option: three curries, a side dish and rice, plus ineffably light, crisp dosa and chutneys. It’s a steal. Express lunch from £6.95; mains from £6.99.

Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen
Casual dining, cheap eat
This hip, late-night bar and music venue, complete with quirky rooftop terrace, is no slouch on the food front. Its NY-style slice kitchen, Dough Boys, serves terrific pizza, with your first two slices half-price (until 7pm, Sunday-Thursday; 5pm, Friday and Saturday). Try the meat-free 'queen brie' pizza with French brie, caramelised onions, red grapes and black pepper. The venue also hosts Belgrave Feast, an art and street-food market held every second Saturday.

Laynes Espresso
Casual dining, cheap eat, kid-friendly

Laynes Espresso
The city’s premier third-wave coffee shop (all your flat white and single-origin, pour-over needs covered) is arguably one of the best brunch spots in Leeds. A colourful menu runs the gamut of global flavours, from shakshuka with sourdough toast to a rarebit with Henderson’s Relish – Yorkshire’s answer to Worcestershire sauce. From £4.

The Reliance
Casual dining

The Reliance
Well into its second decade, this boho café-bar and dining room remains enthusiastic and agile. Its selection of craft beers and natural wines is exemplary. Try a sharing board of homemade charcuterie, followed by small plates of Toulouse sausage with mash and onion gravy, battered haddock and twice cooked chips or Yorkshire asparagus with black garlic. Heartier main options include braised rabbit with pancetta. Mains from £11.95.

Bundobust
Cheap eat, casual dining

Bundobust
If you’re looking for a venue that encapsulates the city’s contemporary dining scene, Bundobust has a street-food vibe, DIY decor and craft beer. A collaboration between Marko Husak (of Bradford beer bar The Sparrow) and chef Mayur Patel (whose family run West Yorkshire’s Gujarati restaurant, Prashad), Bundobust originally sold itself, modestly, as a bar that happened to serve vegetarian Indian small plates. It remains steadfastly no frills but Bundobust’s bhel puri, massala dosa, tarka dhal and bhajis are all exceptional in their freshness, depth and adept spicing. Plates from £4.

Just Grand! Vintage Tearoom
Cheap eat, kid-friendly

Just Grand! Vintage Tearoom

There are swankier afternoon tea options in central Leeds, such as Harvey Nichols (from £20pp), but if it's homespun indie character you're after, then this Grand Arcade tea room dotted with quirky bric-a-brac is the perfect spot. Loose leaf teas and rosé or prosecco accompany good-quality, freshly baked scones and sound homemade cakes, including matured fruit cake served with a slab of Wensleydale cheese. There's also the gentleman’s afternoon tea option, featuring crisps, pork pie and local ales. Afternoon tea from £13.50.

Manjit's Kitchen
Cheap eat

Manjit's Kitchen
Located within a vast street-food hall at Kirkgate Market, this is the first fixed outlet for one of Leeds’ most popular mobile kitchens. Tasty thali plates of home-cooked veggie curries are served alongside chilli paneer or pakora wraps, dosa and bhajis. There's seating if you wish to linger, and Manjit’s serves a range of wine and beers with its curries. Manjit’s Kitchen is also now open at a permanent site at 333 Kirkstall Road (a mile or two outside the city-centre). Meals from £4.95.

Salvo's
Casual dining, kid-friendly

Salvo's

Should you find yourself in the happening suburb of Headingley, there are a few notable local dining options (such as Zucco and Ecco Pizzeria). But, particularly if you're dining as a big family or group, Salvo's is a cut above; this family-owned Italian has real cross-generational appeal. Head here for relaxed dining in an informal atmosphere. For more hardcore foodie thrills, head next door to Salvo's Salumeria – a deli-café offering sharing platters, seafood dinners and salads. Mains from £8.50.

The Grub & Grog Shop
Casual dining, cheap eat

The Grub & Grog Shop

The Grub & Grog shop forged its reputation in Leeds as a sustainable, flexitarian alternative to the meaty, macho street food then sweeping the city. Based in Sheaf Street, the cafe serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, with everything creatively made from scratch. Dinner from £7.

Viet Guy
Casual dining

Viet Guy

Beyond the standard beefy, slow-cooked pho noodle soups, this simple restaurant offers plenty of Vietnamese thrills for the adventurous foodie, with plates of lemongrass and chilli stir-fried duck or deep-fried seabass with mango sauce – and that's before you get to the colourful pots of pickled garlic and preserved chillies sat on each table. The sunny, welcoming staff are fantastic. Mains from £7.00.
 

Foodie places to try

Trinity Kitchen
Trinity Kitchen
This food court rotates six new street food vans every two months, offering a variety of cuisines in one handy spot.

Latitude
This wine store that prides itself on its global approach to fermented grape juice. It also carries a selection of Yorkshire gins.

Millies
This health-food store and deli is a fine place to browse Yorkshire produce. 

North Bar
One of the UK’s first dedicated craft beer bars. Head here for an unparalleled beer selection.
 

Read our other city guides...

The best places to eat in Bristol
The best places to eat in Hull
The best places to eat in Cardiff

Have we missed anywhere? Let us know in the comments below...

All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of February 2020 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com.

Comments, questions and tips

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HangryH
15th Feb, 2020
Nosh is a hidden gem in the business district. They do home cooked lunches with a different menu every day and the best sausage rolls in Leeds. They also do a breakfast burrito which is proper tasty!
LeedsEggCustard
16th Jun, 2019
I'd recommend checking out HOME restaurant in the city centre for a fine dining option. Monthly tasting menu's Wed-Sat plus an amazing Sunday lunch menu.
Kirsty Cheetham
9th Feb, 2019
Agree, some great places to look at outside of the city centre. The Queen o't'owd thatch LS25 5AQ won best Sunday lunch at the Observer Food Monthly awards, proper Yorkshire pub..
mickleeds
20th Sep, 2017
I would say your list is focused on the city centre and has left out some real gem just outside the centre, the first one that comes to my mind is Ipsum Vinoteca, in the cultural quarter, just opposite the bus station. One of the best in Leeds
PlantBased
22nd Jun, 2017
Comprehensive, inspired list, some seriously good spots to chow down on here, I think maybe you just missed 1... Leeds' first all Vegan Street food pop-up: The Cantina @ The Old Red Bus Station! Stunning Tapas! Definitely worth a trip!
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