The Best Restaurants In Leeds
Leeds: the capital of the north. A city renowned for its culture and burly Victorian architecture. If you’ve never been to Leeds before, let me just tell you that you’ve really been missing out on experiencing one of the UK’s most interesting cities. There’s a reason northerners make fun of southerners and one of the contributing factors is how bloody nice cities like Leeds and Manchester are.
As you’d expect from the birthplace of Marco Pierre White, Leeds has got a strong food scene and a litany of quality restaurants, cafes, and pubs that are home to more than a handful of exciting chefs. You can dine well in Leeds, my friend. And you can do it without spending too much of your hard-earned money.
Whether you’re a resident of the city or having a UK-based staycation and want to eat something nice outside of your AirBnb, these are some of the best restaurants in Leeds you should be adding to your eat list. I’m not saying they’re the only good restaurants in Leeds. They’re just the answers that I’d provide to you if you were to ask me the question: “where should I eat in Leeds?”
If there are any must-visit locations that I’ve missed out on in this guide, please let me know and I’ll either check it out and add it to the list or tell you it’s not actually very good.
House of Fu
Pork broth splatters and noodle slurps aren’t just unavoidable in House of Fu: they’re essential to the eating experience. This ramen joint is the real deal. Head chef Ben Iley worked in Japan for 9 years at some of the country’s top restaurants including Aquavit, The Tokyo American Club and Fujimamas. He even had a brief stint working with Ivan Orkin, the American ramen master you’ll probably recognise from Netflix’s Chef’s Table. Iley returned to Leeds after that sojourn with an intent to bring a taste of Japan’s culinary culture back to his old stomping ground. With House of Fu, he’s done just that.
15-19 The Headrow, LS1 6PU
Not to be confused with Wen (the Women's Environmental Network – a lovely charity that works on issues that connect gender, health and the environment), Wen’s is a family-owned Chinese restaurant on North Street that won’t disappoint. A dish of succulent cold chicken arrives in a murder red pool of chilli oil, belting out wave after wave of forehead-glistening heat. And that’s just one of Wen’s many great plates of food. It’s hard to order wrong at Wen’s.
72-74 North Street, LS2 7PN
The Swine That Dines
Simple cooking, seasonal produce, and a pleasant ambience go a long way into making a restaurant successful. The Swine That Dines is a spot that has all three of those aspects nailed. Run by Stu Myers and his wife, Jo, the 40-cover restaurant never lets gimmicks get in the way of flavour, carefully crafting a menu that shifts with the ebb and flow of the seasons. The pie Sundays are reason enough to visit the premises and give them your hard-earned money. The combination of Jo’s pastry with Stu’s hearty fillings makes for a food marriage to remember.
58 North Street, LS2 7PN
Tharavadu is the best Indian restaurant in Leeds. Nothing less, and so much more. Specialising in food from the cuisine of Kerala, Tharavadu is where you should come for crisp and flaky dosa, punchy fish curries, and enough soft and fluffy appam to satisfy an army. Fans of this restaurant include Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, his wife Anushka Sharma, and Andrew Lincoln from Love Actually. If that’s not enough to get you through the door, then I don’t know what is.
7-8 Mill Hill, LS1 5DQ
Good Mexican food isn’t all that easy to source in the UK. It’s actually, on the contrary, very hard to find. If, however, you ever find yourself in Leeds with a craving for tacos al pastor, queso fundido, and carne asada, it couldn’t be easier for you to decide where to have dinner. Lupe’s Cantina is where you should be eating, and if you do eat there, I can guarantee that you will be eating well. A fun and friendly family-run operation.
204 Cardigan Road, LS6 1LF
Located in the Leeds Corn Exchange, throwing out plates of brunch-y rarebits and hash browns as well as lunch-y freshly made soups and larger dishes of fried chicken and chips, OWT is unrelentingly and unapologetically a vibe. Founders James and Esther have barely put a foot wrong since they opened up shop and OWT is one of the best spots in the city to start your day off right.
Unit C12A&B Leeds Corn Exchange, Call Lane, LS1 7BR
Thai Aroi Dee
The best Thai food in Leeds is on Vicar Lane. Specifically, at 120-122 Vicar Lane in a little spot called Thai Aroi Dee. This restaurant is affordable and friendly but the chefs don’t just do the business on caucasian-friendly chicken satays and pad thais, they also send out deep cut Thai classics like goong chae nam pla (raw king prawns topped with garlic, chillies, fish sauce and lime juice). You won’t find a meal that’s better bang for your buck.
120-122 Vicar Lane, LS2 7NL
If you’re after an Italian restaurant run by a kindly Sicilian nonna, this isn’t the place for you. Stuzzi is run by four Brits with a passion for pasta who have managed to create a joint where the food might just give that nonna a run for her money. The ingredients are imported from Italy, as well as from local suppliers, and used to make everything from fegatini to chocolate pappardelle. It might not have Italian ancestry but it has the attitude down pat. And that’s the most important thing of all.
7 Merrion Street, LS1 6PQ
Slap & Pickle
A dish that makes you think about the important provenance of ingredients and causes you to marvel at the careful balancing of intricate flavours within it can be a beautiful thing. But sometimes all you need is a hamburger. You don’t have to do any critical thinking with the burgers at Slap & Pickle where 40-day dry-aged, grass-fed Yorkshire beef patties are smashed on a flat top till they’re thin, juicy, and lacy before being thrown in a glossy brioche bun with shrettuce, pickles, and burger sauce. The result of those efforts is one of the best burgers in Leeds and the essential eating companion for a cold beer.
Unit 2, Assembly Underground, Civic Court, Great George Street, LS1 3ED
They say that home is where the heart is and HOME, on the banks of Leeds’ river Aire, is where the heart of the city’s best eating is. Chef-owner Elizabeth Cottam has created a haven of high-end dining, offering two tasting menus (priced at £70 and £90 respectively) that flit across numerous cuisines but remember their roots by making a song and dance of the local produce sourced from suppliers based in Yorkshire. It’s not somewhere you can eat on a regular basis but, for a special occasion like a birthday or an anniversary, HOME is the one.
3 Brewery Place, LS10 1NE
Friends of Ham
Simple bar snacks, great charcuterie, and good wine are Friends of Ham’s forte. This is where you should eat in Leeds if you’re the sort of person whose ears prick up at the mention of lardo or ‘nduja. The move to make is to order a range of strong cheese and deep-cut cured meats like finocchiona and lomo. Draped onto a board and served with tangy sourdough, it’s one of the best spreads in Leeds. Pair that with a bottle of chilled red and you’re laughing.
4-8 New Station Station, LS1 5DL
Eating at Choessi Ajeossi is an enjoyable experience. This Korean restaurant hits every note on just about every dish they serve, making it a shoo-in on this list of the best restaurants in Leeds, and a place where you’re always guaranteed to end a meal with a debris of used napkins surrounding you like a crumpled paper graveyard. The bibimbap is a comforting conglomerate of warming rice and crunchy veg; the banchan crisp and fresh; and the Korean fried is a must order.
6A Great George Street, LS1 3DW
Fettuccini. Campanelle. Radiatori. Bucatini. Rigatoni. You name the pasta, and there’s a very good chance that SARTO has an excellent rendition of that on their menu. Fresh, handmade pasta is at the core of what SARTO (and they do it well) but snacks of Truffle Gloucester arancini and Uphall Farmhouse air-dried ham make it an all-rounder. Sit by the window with a stiff Negroni and a salty puttanesca and all of your troubles will be forgotten. For a bit, at least.
Munro House, Duke Street, LS9 8AG
Neapolitan pizza is one of life’s simple pleasures. The best pizzas are often the barest – buoyed by a focus on quality ingredients rather than an obsession with throwing as many ingredients on the pie as possible. Rudy’s does really good Neapolitan pizzas. The sort of pizzas that arrive on your table with a light and airy cornicione as fat and circular as a plush steering wheel.
2 New Station Station, LS1 5DL
The Reliance is, as its name would suggest, one of the most reliable restaurants in Leeds. It doubles as a pub and a restaurant but don’t let that make you think that The Reliance is anything vaguely like a gastropub. The food here is at least three steps ahead of the game. Dishes are the seasonal, British-leaning sort that you’ll find dotted about all over the UK. The plate that best sums up The Reliance is its most iconic lunch option: black pudding and pancetta with new potatoes, leaves, and a poached egg. It’s simple, elegant yet entirely unpretentious. Just like The Reliance.
76-78 North Street, LS2 7PN
A favourite with families and students alike, Hu Nan is a Chinese restaurant that’s remained one of the best takeaway options in Leeds for a number of years. It’s the perfect restaurant to ring when you want a Friday night in on the sofa with some salt and pepper chips for company but it’s also a good shout for an efficient and delicious lunch or dinner out. They don’t make them much more classic than this.
69, 69a Raglan Road, Woodhouse, LS2 9DZ
Old fashioned pub grub isn’t the sexiest-sounding phrase in the world but in the hands of The Owl’s chef-patron Mark Owens, classics like ox cheek and pork belly are made undeniably alluring. This classy restaurant in Kirkgate Market has a host of different tasting menus available for you to get your laughing gear around some top, top plates of British cooking. Three courses at lunch come in at £31; the “Early Owl” sitting at 5pm nets you four courses for £36; and the balls-to-the-wall dinner menu is five courses for £52. Cheap? No. Excellent? Yes.
Leeds Kirkgate Market, Kirkgate, LS2 7JL
Sous Le Nez
Moules marinière, ratatouille, crème brûlée – those are just a few of the dishes you can find on the menu at this classic French restaurant in Leeds. Sous Le Nez has earned its reputation as a reliable bistro where you’ll eat well and, although the prices are steep, the food is good. Having kept the Francophiles of Leeds fed since 1991, this long-established restaurant isn’t going anywhere.
The Basement, Quebec House, 9 Quebec Street, LS1 2HA
Whenever someone asks me what “modern British” food is, my hands start to go clammy and I get all flustered. “It’s… uh… y’know… like… British classics but, like, done fancy?” I’ll splutter out before muttering something about St. JOHN and Fergus Henderson under my breath. The next time someone asks me what “modern British food'' is, though, I’ll simply direct them towards the menu at The Whitehall. The specials at this restaurant in West Point are a prime example of a chef using seasonal produce to full effect – everything sounds good, and everything tastes good.
West Point, Whitehall Road, LS1 4JY
Eat Your Greens
Greengrocers by day and restaurant by night, Eat Your Greens is the Bananaman of the Leeds dining scene. Dishes like fried pea flour tofu nuggets and oyster mushroom skewers might sound a bit like they’ve been produced by a well-meaning Alice Waters acolyte but they’re genuinely tasty and examples of how delicious seasonal veg can be. It’s not all meat-free either – you’ll find sustainably-sourced meat and fish cooked deftly by the EYG’s chefs. A quietly brilliant little spot for lunch and dinner.
42 New York Street, LS2 7DY
Yorkshire produce is some of the finest you’ll find in the UK, and the Ox Club is a restaurant that makes fine use of that bounty. Local and regional producers used by the team include meat from Swaledale Foods and R&J Butchers, fish sourced by Hodgson’s of Hartlepool, and fresh fruit and veg from Wellocks. The steak is so good, and cooked to such a degree of perfection, that I can forgive the fact they shower it in chip sticks rather than serving it actual chips. Nobody’s perfect. But the Ox Club is pretty damn close.
19a The Headrow, LS1 6PU
Having previously existed as a café known as Fettle, FINT is a Scand-inspired restaurant throwing out some properly hygge plates of food on Great George Street. Head chef and owner Simon Hawkins has created a cosy atmosphere where you can get to know dishes made with plenty of locally-sourced ingredients. Tuck into that fresh produce and quality cuts of meat alongside some well-travelled bottles of wine from countries like Romania and Lebanon for the full FINT experience.
73 Great George Street, LS1 3BR