Look beyond the chain restaurants to explore York's vibrant food scene, from modern fine dining to hip wine bars and exotic street food.
Find cafés that make the most of local produce, or have your tastebuds tickled by the more adventurous international cuisine that has become a new draw for tourists visiting this historic city. There's something for everyone in York and if you're a real foodie, there are plenty of eateries to choose from. Here are our favourites...
Le Cochon Aveugle
Special occasion, casual dining
Chef Josh Overington and his partner Vicky Roberts have created a gastronomic cocoon that is a particular product of their food-obsessive personalities. At this lightly vintage-styled restaurant, indulge in a constantly changing eight-course tasting menu, served blind, so each course is a magnificent culinary surprise. Have no fear, for Josh’s clever, produce-driven dishes – like the rose veal tartare minced with fried capers, smoked bonito flakes and citrussy tonnato sauce or the nasturtium ice cream with pea velouté – are beautiful, considered creations that deliver oodles of profound flavour. The biodynamic and natural wines are also a winning choice.
Its sister wine bar, Cave du Cochon, is located on the same street. Sample a selection of cheeses, charcuterie and small plates with your drinks. £60 for eight courses at Le Cochon Aveugle.
Chef Neil Bentinck’s globe-trotting small plates leap between East Asian, Indian, classical French and modern British influences with self-assurance. Each dish is a self-contained marvel. Don't miss his sensational hen’s egg, a glamorous union of Dale End cheddar velouté, mushrooms and Pedro Ximénez sherry, or the brown butter hollandaise fried chicken. Skosh’s super-affable staff are brilliant, too. Plates from £3.30.
The Pig & Pastry
Cheap eats, casual dining, kid-friendly
Heading out of town, Bishopthorpe Road is an enclave of indie businesses, including this busy breakfast favourite. Quality Yorkshire ingredients and home-baked sourdoughs underpin its Brindisa chorizo with scrambled eggs, and the buttermilk waffles with maple syrup are a real treat. Breakfast from £4.
Cheap eats, casual dining
In Shambles Food Court, you’ll find Tarik Abdeladim’s Los Moros shack, where he serves vividly flavoured Levantine and North African food to go. You can also visit the new Los Moros restaurant on Grape Lane. Originally from Algiers, Moorish cuisine played a big role in Tarik’s upbringing – as is evident in his Merguez sausages, made with local lamb, and his saffron Persian chicken wraps with harissa mayo and pickled beetroot slaw. Dishes from £6.
At this elegant, gently idiosyncratic restaurant, chef and owner Michael Hjort has been applying sharp classical technique to fine seasonal Yorkshire produce since 1990. Dishes such as sea trout with smoked almond and broccoli, or lamb three ways (loin, shoulder and bacon served with swede, cavolo nero and black garlic) illustrate why he’s a true food hero. Mains from £18.20.
Mannion & Co
Casual dining, cheap eats
This café does many things well, from the classic eggs Benedict to stellar salads, like the heritage tomato panzanella with burrata, and superb sandwiches, such as chorizo, comté and pepperonata. Its baking is best experienced during an afternoon tea of classy open sandwiches, scones and cakes, with options such as raspberry & lime curd tart or chocolate orange mousse cake with cardamom cream (£19.50pp). Lunch specials from £8.
Il Paradiso del Cibo
Cheap eats, casual dining, kid friendly
Eating at Il Paradiso is like visiting a bustling, family-run joint in Naples’ backstreets. Over the years, it's gone from a deli-pizza bar to a thriving restaurant. Fastidious methods (fresh pastas are made daily) and keen prices mean Il Paradiso is adored by the locals. Try specials such as fresh potato dumplings served with a cream of fresh langoustines. Mains from £7.95.
As well as 60 different beers, 27 artisan gins and a selection of crisp cocktails, this late-night basement bar serves terrific tapas until 9.30pm. There are three varieties of croquetas on offer (ham, cod and mushrooms) plus an array of tempting Spanish dishes, from octopus with picante paprika to black pudding balls and spinach with chickpeas. Tapas from £4.50.
A little off the usual tourist beat, just beyond the city walls, this South Indian restaurant works exhilarating flavours into its freshly spiced dishes. Tamarind, dried chillies, curry leaves and mustard seeds are deployed with multi-dimensional aplomb across everything from its masala dosa to Keralan specialities such as beef chops or a roasted coconut varutharacha mutton dish. Mains from £6.45.
Special occasion, casual dining
Down on Peasholme Green, chef Adam Humphrey has returned to Yorkshire from Sydney to open this swish white space decorated with bright, Keith Haring-esque wall art. Expect fascinating wines, exceptional bread and quietly innovative main courses, such as cod with crab and lobster sauce. Afterwards, be tempted by the cheese trolley. Two courses, £22.
The Star Inn the City
Casual dining, kid friendly
A spin-off from chef Andrew Pern's celebrated Harome gastropub The Star Inn, this polished bar/restaurant sits on the River Ouse, with views best enjoyed from the terrace in summer. Service begins at breakfast (with a top fry-up and eggs Benedict among the offerings) and stays open through to dinner. Choose from mains such as black treacle-cured pork belly with caramelised turnip or rump of lamb with haggis, potato and parsnip. Also in York, Pern runs Mr P’s Curious Tavern, which deals in global small plates. Mains from £15.
The Hairy Fig
The café element of this characterful deli/café – with a vintage, Charles Dickens vibe – is tiny. In peak tourist season, you may have to be quick to bag a table in the compact back room or on the pavement, but it's worth the effort. Quality ingredients underpin its rustic platters, salads and meals, from warm pork pie with minted mushy peas to Serrano ham, manchego and fresh figs. Meals from £8.
All scaffolding poles, corrugated metal and black walls, Ambiente in Fossgate looks like a hip, new wave Madrid restaurant. Its fino and amontillado sherries and dishes such as whole sea bream baked in a traditional salt shell pay homage to rural Spanish tradition. But with its morcilla Scotch egg, calamari in a buttermilk batter and flamenquín (a deep-fried béchamel-filled chicken dish, rarely seen here), Ambiente openly flirts with el dude food. Tapas from £3.95.
Sixteen years old this year, this neat Gillygate bistro (look for its gorgeous art nouveau shop front) continues to impress with modern British dishes such as roast pork loin with crackling, roast potatoes,Yorkshire pudding and cider gravy or baked pear with Harrogate Blue cheese and candied pecan crumble. In summer, its garden is lovely. Café No.8 also operates a café at York Art Gallery. Mains from £10.50.
Run by sisters Kate and Kelly Latham (the latter, a former sommelier at Hotel Du Vin), this dusky, seductive wine bar serves gourmet nibbles that include gordal olives, artisan cheeses and Yorkshire and continental charcuterie – including the prized Ibérico de bellota. All that comes alongside numerous by-the-glass wines, most available in exploratory flights or as recommended food pairings. It carries a decent craft beer list, too. Small plates from £3; boards from £11.50.
Chef Adam Jackson (who put Oldstead’s Michelin-starred Black Swan on the map) now cooks delicious, creative, technically rigorous food at The Park, just outside York’s city walls at chic boutique hotel Marmadukes. Jackson’s exquisite plates of scallops with curry, spiced onions and sea vegetables or sea trout with crab, courgette and avocado are showcased in his seven-course tasting menu (£65), and this friendly fine dining restaurant also has a four-course menu. From £45.
The Perky Peacock
Casual dining, cheap eats
Tucked under Lendal Bridge, this cosy, atmospheric medieval turret offers refuge from the tourist hordes and a fine line in breakfasts, gussied-up sandwiches and home-baked treats. Start the day with avocado on toast with chilli, lemon, garlic and tomato chutney, washed down with a silky flat white, or swing by at lunch for an interesting salad of, for instance, spring onion, kale, pomegranate and pumpkin seed, plus a slice of rose sponge cake.
Cheap eats, kid friendly
The concept is simple at this refreshingly on-point takeaway. It serves a small selection of wraps and sandwiches, the sauces and fillings for which are cooked from scratch daily. Among their legendary recipes are the 10-hour pulled pork and Reuben sandwich – that's homemade beef brisket pastrami with sauerkraut, blow-torched Swiss cheese, gherkins, mayo and mustard (“two weeks to make, two minutes to devour”). Wraps from £4.
The Rattle Owl
Casual dining, kid-friendly
There are – quite literally – layers of history to this restaurant, an art deco-styled space in a 17th-century building that has notable Roman remains in its cellars. Yet the Owl (with its accreditation as a Living Wage employer and its offerings of organic wines), is firmly on trend – not least with dishes such as celeriac velouté or braised poussin with apricot, artichoke and couscous. Mains from £16.50.
Top foodie places to try
Armed with Square Mile beans, this coffee shop caters for all York’s flat white, drip-cup and cold brew needs.
Check out Shambles Food Court, located within Shambles Market, for options such as pizza and arancini at Pizzoli’, rotisserie chicken at Winner Winner and all kinds of teas and herbal infusions at Café M. There's also the neighbouring Henshelwood’s Delicatessen, craft beer bar Pivní and the Monk Bar Chocolatiers.
House of the Trembling Madness
This incredible craft beer bar and bottle shop is housed in a 12th-century Norman house with taxidermy-decorated walls.
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All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of October 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 email@example.com.