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Eat & Drink

Eat & Drink

Leeds is a haven for foodies, and a real destination for visitors looking to drink award-winning craft beer or sip some innovative cocktails. Whether you’re looking for a quick sandwich and coffee, an informal lunch with friends, an unobtrusive high-end venue for a business lunch, an intimate location with great food for a special date night or just the perfect piece of fast food - the city has it all.

Over the past decade, the city has become a real destination for great food and drink. Home to pioneering innovators in haute cuisine like Man Behind the Curtain and HOME, artisan breadhouses and bakeries like Porterhouse Co, Nova and Leeds Bread Co-op, weekly and annual food festivals like #EatNorth and Leeds Indie Food, some of the nation’s best coffee shops like Laynes Espresso, Mrs Athas and North Star Coffee Shop, and great regional food from countries all around the world, the city has something to tick every box.

Whitelock's Ale House Whitelock's Ale House

Leeds was once the home to the Tetley Brewery, which operated between 1822 and 2011, when it sadly closed. This spurred on the development of a whole host of smaller breweries though, and the Leeds beer scene has never been stronger. Leeds Brewery were one of the first, followed by multi-award winning modern breweries like Northern Monk and North Brew Co. It is not all just beer, either. Jake’s Bar on Call Lane distills its own spirits in its inhouse copper pot still ‘Tabitha’, and Leeds is home to numerous gins. The cocktail scene is thriving too, with innovation and unique experiences coming courtesy of bars like The Hedonist, speakeasies The Domino Club and Poison, and the beautiful Below Stairs. 

The food and drink scene in Leeds is so exciting that the city attracts lots of festivals and one-off events to the city, too, from Beer and Bratwurst extravaganza Oktoberfest to nationally renowned Leeds International Beer Fest, the innovative Cocktail Experience to the Rum Festival and the Gin Festival. It is always worth finding out what exciting events are coming up in Leeds’ food and drink events calendar.

North Brew Co. North Brew Co.

Innovation and diversity are two hallmarks of Leeds’ food scene, with so many new independents and pop-ups showcasing the best Leeds has to offer, as well as established favourites committing to finding the best local produce to put on their menus. This pioneering Leeds spirit is summed up by the innovative Meatless Farm Company, founded here, who now stock massive supermarkets and big restaurants with their planet-friendly meat alternatives.

There is great food from every corner of the world available across the city. Find plenty of foodie haunts in historic Kirkgate Market, home to hotspots like Manjit’s Kitchen – amazing Indian on-the-go, Fat Annie’s – local homemade hot dogs, and new opener The Owl, a unique new gastropub from a Michelin star-winning chef and HOME’s co-founders!

Leeds Indie Food Leeds Indie Food

Find modern Italian at places like Sarto, Zucco and Salvo’s, contemporary Chinese at Wen’s and Tattu, and enjoy food from across the Indian subcontinent throughout the city, with specialists serving up dishes inspired by Kerala, Gujarat, Punjab, and beyond. 

Despite all the above, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on Leeds’ multi-national, diverse, exciting and innovative food scene! 

All this before we even mention drinks. Leeds has the best of both old and new. Traditional pub Whitelock’s has been pulling great pints (and serving up hearty grub to match) since 1715, but Leeds also has the most contemporary and innovative bars, like secret cocktail bar The Domino Club (enter through a secret door in a working barber’s shop) and innovative cocktail experience Below Stairs. The city boasts some amazing local breweries too (established names like award-winners Northern Monk, North Brewing Co. and Kirkstall Brewery Co. as well as newcomers Anthology, Zapato and Wilde Child, to name but a few), so there’s always a good drink to be had.

Whether you fancy something quick and informal, a long and lazy lunch or a special and intimate evening meal for two, Leeds can provide something for all budgets. It’s hard to choose, but we’ve singled out some of our favourites below:

Innovation and diversity are two hallmarks of Leeds’ food scene, with so many new independents and pop-ups showcasing the best Leeds has to offer, as well as established favourites committing to finding the best local produce to put on their menus.”
The Man Behind the Curtain

Leeds’ only Michelin-starred restaurant, The Man Behind the Curtain is theatre in food. With innovation and playfulness brought to the fore, expect the most unusual, and inspiring, food you’ve ever laid eyes upon - or eaten.

Price:£££
Web:themanbehindthecurtain.co.uk
Iberica

Iberica is an upmarket Spanish restaurant guided by Michelin-starred Nacho Manzano. The Leeds venue is one of only 3 outside of London, and the beautiful venue is regarded as “one of our most beautiful restaurants” by Iberica themselves. Painstakingly built within a former cloth merchant, Grade II-listed Hepper House’s carefully curated interiors now set the perfect tone for an indulgent treat. The restaurant serves a mixture of traditional and innovative tapas; think melt-in-the-mouth serrano ham croquetas (Nacho’s grandmother’s recipe) next to wild British hare croquetas with caper aioli.

Price:££
Web:ibericarestaurants.com
HOME

HOME is a co-venture between Masterchef 2016 contestant Liz Cottam and Michelin star-winning chef Mark Owens. Together they have prioritised Liz’s ethos of intimate, homely dining, whilst serving up a tasting menu of perfection and innovation, which changes monthly to mirror the evolving seasons and their produce.

Price:£££
Web:homeleeds.co.uk
Bundobust

Bundobust now have three venues, with a fourth (including their own brewery) on the way. Their fusion of Indian street food and authentic Gujarati recipes with the best craft beers available has been an instant hit wherever they opened. The Leeds venue was the first and original Bundobust. Small, compostable containers of the best Indian ‘snack’ food are perfect - either to complement a beer on a night out, or to make a meal in themselves (2-3 dishes per person should be enough for most appetites). Bringing the unusual tastes of Indian street food and throwing in a Bundobust twist (think Bundo chaat, vada pav ‘burgers’, dosa and their signature okra fries), anyone who appreciates flavour, spice, and a good beer cannot leave disappointed.

Price:£
Web:bundobust.com/leeds/
Ox Club

Ox Club are located in Headrow House, hidden in plain sight just off the main drag. This Michelin-recommended eatery is the perfect combination of amazing food and informal atmosphere. Friendly staff will walk you through any specials, with most of the menu having had some contact with their solid-fuel American grill. All dishes showcase the best of Yorkshire produce, cooked with restraint and finesse. Ox Club also serve up a great brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Price:££
Web:oxclub.co.uk
The Swine that Dines

This ex-greasy spoon is the restaurant for foodies in the know in Leeds. Although the cafe ambience has changed little since their evolution from hearty breakfast gods Greedy Pig, the food coming out of their new iteration The Swine that Dines is stellar. Their tasting menu is designed for 2 to share, and changes monthly, with frequent “Roots to Shoots” evenings designed to showcase a veggie-only tasting menu. With a “BYOB” policy (£5 corkage charged per menu), this is the perfect place to enjoy an amazing tasting menu, whilst enjoying a much smaller bill than at some of the city’s other top-end institutions.

Price:££
Web:swinethatdines.co.uk
The Reliance

The Reliance have been a friendly city centre favourite for years now. Only a 5 minute walk from the hustle of the Headrow, this North Street venue (near to Swine that Dines) is a ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant, with relaxed and welcoming ambiance. They make all of their own charcuterie inhouse, from the best, locally-sourced rare breed pork, and their wines come from sibling business Wayward Wines, who are leading the way in Leeds’ modern wine scene, serving up oranges, bio-dynamic and wines imported exclusively for Wayward. Your wine-and-charcuterie board dreams all just came true.

Price:££
Web:the-reliance.co.uk
Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen

Belgrave is a bit of a ‘does everything’ establishment, switching from a family friendly weekend haunt every other Saturday for Belgrave Feast (a collection of art, ales and street food, where kids are very much welcome), to gig venue for the latest emerging artists, to bar and club. But it’s their inhouse foodies that keep us coming back for more (and more). Their inhouse pizza pros are Dough Boys, who serve up great pizza by the slice (with your two first slices available at half price until 7pm Sunday - Thursday and until 5pm Friday and Saturday!). Flavours include Baa No More (Middle Eastern spiced lamb, pecorino, pomegranate and red chard), veggie friendly Paul and Linda and meaty monster Sausage Fest. Belgrave’s second kitchen is home to Patty Smith’s - burger makers extraordinaire, who were once a pop-up, but are now in permanent residence. The Guardian’s Tony Naylor rated it as ‘the best burger of 2014’, and we reckon it still warrants your respect!

Price:£
Web:belgravemusichall.com/kitchen/
Tharavadu

Michelin-recommended Keralan restaurant Tharavadu serves up beautiful Keralan cuisine in a traditional environment. Having been included in the Michelin recommended list for the past three years, you might expect their prices to be high, but their Lunch Express thali menu offers three curries and a side dish, rice of the day, dosa and chutneys for £6.95 (veggie curry), £7.95 (chicken curry), or £8.45 (lamb curries). Their dosa are paper thin and crisp, the curries offer an authentic taste of South India, and the friendly staff are predominantly Keralan themselves.

Price:£
Web:tharavadurestaurants.com
Beck & Call

Out of central Leeds, off Stainbeck Road, the Beck & Call pub is a venture from the team behind Belgrave, Headrow House and Waterlane Boathouse. They maintain their high standards of food and drink here, but offer a slightly different vibe with Beck & Call - a more family friendly ethos. With food options ranging from homemade fish finger butties to beetroot falafel to steak & ale pie, they marry a menu of traditional pub grub with some lighter and healthier choices (there is also a kids menu, with mains for £4 or main, drink and dessert for £6, as well as a great climbing frame and play centre outside).

Price:£
Web:thebeckandcall.co.uk
Crafthouse / Angelica’s

Above Leeds’ Trinity shopping centre development sit two smart sibling establishments, Angelica’s and Craft House. The former is more of a cocktail spot, with a menu made up predominantly of bar snacks, nibbles and sharing boards and views across Leeds (with an amazing outdoor terrace to take advantage of on warm summer’s nights), whilst Craft House is a serious restaurant, with a Josper grill at its heart - serving up some of that charcoal flavour in their freshly grilled steaks and lobsters - as well as serving up some amazing rooftop views over Leeds, just one storey below Angelica’s.

Price:££
Web:crafthouse-restaurant.com/at/angelica/
Kendells’ Bistro

Kendell’s is a Leeds institution, serving up smart French food just south of the city centre, in the thriving arts district by the BBC and the Northern Ballet. Enjoy dishes like Boeuf Bourguignonne or Confit de Canard by flickering candlelight as the perfect, no surprises date night. The A La Carte menu has mains coming in around the £20 mark, but the Prix Fixe menu, available Tuesday - Thursday 5.30-7.45 offers 2 courses for £22.95, 3 courses £24.95 and 3 courses with ½ a bottle of house wine per person for £30.95, a great deal.

Price:££
Web:kendellsbistro.co.uk
Sarto

New kids on the block Sarto are actually not ‘new kids’ to the Leeds food scene at all. A collaboration between Leeds favourites Laynes Espresso and The Brunswick, Sarto’s focus on homemade pasta, in a cool and informal environment, makes for the perfect place to enjoy a quick bowl of pasta on your lunchbreak, to spend a long and lazy meal catching up with friends, or to take someone on a first date. With all sorts of regional pasta specialities available (and some non-pasta Italian favourites like arancini on the small plates menu too), this is swiftly becoming the place to enjoy Italian food in central Leeds.

Price:££
Web:sartopasta.uk
Below Stairs

Below Stairs is a table-service cocktail bar that serves up experiences through cocktails - whilst also keeping the whole experience really relaxing and calm. You can enjoy fine wines, and they have 6 craft beers on draft (their house lager is being made especially for them by well-renowned brewers of Delirium Tremens) - but the cocktails are the real piece de resistance here. Sip your complementary welcome cocktail when you arrive, and then choose something from a menu the likes of which you will never have seen before. One of their cocktails is called ‘109 miles to Filey’. For £7, enjoy the taste of this journey to the British seaside, recreated in a short drink that is both smokey and sweet, floral and salty. Seaweed-distilled gin brings that tang of the beach, whilst wildflower eau de vie brings to mind those hardy and weather-beaten blooms and their unlikely life in the sand dunes. A realistic (chocolate) brings the nostalgia of childhood rock pooling, whilst a ‘seafoam’ made of Islay Scotch recreates the wind-tossed surf spume on the beach. And that’s just one cocktail! Imagine how many journeys you could have in an evening spent Below Stairs!

Price:££
Web:belowstairsbar.com
Hedonist

The globe-trotters behind the award-winning cocktail bar Hedonist bring an entirely new cultural inspiration every few months. From interiors and decor right through to the menu, the bar whole-heartedly dives into an exploration of a different part of the globe each time it changes. The current iteration celebrates all things Nordic, which brings a world of flavour and experience from Bergen to Stockholm and everywhere in between. Current cocktails on the menu include ‘Breakfast in Stockholm’ - Raisin Fixed Mount Gay XO / Oat Water / Mixed Berry Jam (bringing porridge into cocktail form cannot be wrong!) and ‘Sima’ - Aberfeldy 12yr / Pedro Ximinez / Turmeric. Think hygge, pine forests, crystal clear waters and snowy outdoor pursuits - all in cocktail format!

Price:££
Web:hedonist.bar
Watermark

Bringing cocktails and sharing platters to Leeds until 4am, Watermark is the brainchild of two professional mixologists who wanted their own bar to call home. With an ever-changing menu of fantastic cocktails, split into Highballs and Lowballs, get ready for balance, elegance and mind-blowing taste. The Shrub-Alub-Adub-Dub from the Highballs menu unites white port and tonic in a pineapple and sage shrub, and another crazy special ‘You Wanna Pizza Me?!’ unites all the flavours of pizza in a drink, with balsamic-blackened tomato Cinzano, basil-infused Campari and mozzarella-washed London Dry gin. Totally bonkers.

Price:££
Web:facebook.com/thewatermarkbar/
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