The best places to eat in Leeds

Whether you're looking for fine dining, trendy supper clubs or cosy cafés, Leeds has it all. Try a mix of flavours and settings in this thriving culinary hotspot

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 £60.

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 salt-aged lamb rump with peas and ricotta or the grilled aubergine with charred tomato and saffron oil, followed by grilled peaches with mango sorbet and passionfruit cream. 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
By day, on Wednesday to Saturday, this restaurant serves creative lunch dishes, from feta croquettes with peas, cumin and spring onion to lamb's tongue with anchovy and green beans. On Thursday 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, baba ganoush with courgette, basil and granola, with a side of summer beans, dill, rice and walnuts. 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 sweetcorn fritters with halloumi, salsa and eggs to a rarebit with Henderson’s Relish – Yorkshire’s answer to Worcestershire sauce. From £4.50.

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 grilled pigeon, baked scallops and charred watermelon and feta. 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 £3.75.

Friends of Ham
Casual dining

Friends Of Ham
No prizes for guessing what this buzzy city-centre bar/diner specialises in, but there's a lot more going on here than just sharing boards of ibérico ham and finocchiona (fennel seed salami). The cheese selection is impressive, as is the choice of craft beers, small producer wines and sherries. Dishes include hot-smoked pig’s cheek and ham hock, brawn & black pudding terrine. 

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 £11.25.

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. 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 a tempting Sicilian wine dinner (£48pp). Mains from £10.50.

The Cross Keys
Casual dining, kid-friendly

The Cross Keys

A short walk from the city centre, this inn on Water Lane is a comfortable, polished gastropub. Expect plates of pig's cheek scotch eggs, elderflower- and gin-cured salmon and minted lamb burgers, plus great Sunday roasts. Its Yorkshire-focussed ales invariably include beers from Leeds' North Brewing Co. There's an excellent suntrap beer garden, too. Mains from £9.95.

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. Sample upmarket sandwiches and stews at its Noonshine Café pop-up within the Tall Boys craft beer bottle shop. Dinner from £6.

Hansa's
Casual dining

Hansa restaurant

Launched in 1986 when real, home-style Indian food was unknown in Leeds, Hansa Dhabi’s vegetarian Gujarati restaurant is – three decades on – still packing in keen diners. It makes for a super-friendly, relaxed night out, with Hansa's keen to welcome all like old friends. Order the bhel puri, five-pulse chevti dhal and the “spice bomb”, a spicy, deep-fried potato sandwich. Mains from £7.25.

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 braised Mekong catfish, 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 £6.00.

Café Moor
Cheap eat

Café Moor

Swathed in bright fabrics and North African trinkets, this has to be the prettiest stall in Kirkgate Market. Its Levantine food is equally colourful. Beyond stacks of kibbeh, stuffed vine leaves and bowls of tabbouleh, Café Moor’s repertoire extends to falafel and shawarma sandwiches, various bourek (stuffed filo pastries) and mhadjeb (pasty filled with onion, tomato and harissa). The harira soup and benchmark baba ganoush are musts. Meals from £4.50.

Hepworth's Deli & Kitchen
Casual Dining, cheap eat, kid-friendly

Hepworth's Deli

Located in Thorntons Arcade, one of Leeds’ many glass-covered Victorian shopping precincts, this neat, stylish deli-café does the obvious things (like all-day eggs Benedict and sharing platters at lunch) – but it does them very capably. Fine local ingredients underpin the little cheffy flourishes that owner Joe Hepworth brings to his gussied-up sandwiches of, say, fish goujons with homemade tartare sauce or fried chicken with chipotle salsa. From £4.50.
 

Five 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.

Supper Clubs
Look out for East 59thBalcombe & Smith and Dinner at the Manor.

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 5 September 2018 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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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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