Fabulous fine dining, Indian street food, top tapas and outstanding Italian food – get your fill of fabulous feasting in the suburbs of Leeds.
Making plans to dine out? Some of the best restaurants and cafes in Leeds can be found beyond the confines of the city centre, just a short bus ride away. Whether you’re heading to Meanwood, Horsforth or Otley, Rawdon, Harehills or Farsley, you’re sure to find a tasty meal, and without the city centre crowds. Add these neighbourhood knockouts and suburban stunners to your must-try list.
Acclaimed chef Matt Healy has refocussed on great produce treated simply at his Horsforth small plates restaurant, and it’s paying dividends, as it’s a heck of a place. It’s open for brunch from Tuesday to Saturday, and for dinner Wednesday to Saturday, and both menus are delicious, assured and full of the kind of refined touches he brought to The Foundry.
Drop by in the morning for an exemplary bacon sarnie with cheekily named ‘sauce rouge’, summer berry pancakes or sweet potato & chorizo hash. The evening menu shifts regularly, but you can expect the likes of steak tartare, grilled duck pancake, chorizo in cider and the outstanding sourdough accompanied with Marmite butter. It’s a place with a real buzz.
Tapas and Tunes
Tapas and Tunes was a fictional ‘samba-tapas’ restaurant in the film La La Land, but its real-world equivalent has given Otley’s dining scene a shot in the arm. It’s true to its name, dishing up Iberian-inspired dishes downstairs, with a gig space up top. Head up the stairs and you’ll find local bands, open mics and lunchtime concerts – heck, they even put on salsa classes.
In the downstairs dining room, you can tuck into excellent charcuterie and pinxtos – the Pan Con Tomate is a great way to start a meal, while the king prawns are divinely dressed with chilli, garlic and lemon juice. The classics are all present and correct – Patatas Bravas, Calamares Fritos – while the the day’s fresh market tapas might include lamb braised with shallots or swordfish skewers. Muy bueno!
De Baga’s wonderful elevation of Goan cuisine wowed the punters of Headingley, so much so that they opened another outpost in Chapel Allerton – and that’s smashing it out of the park too. This is far from Indian food by numbers, even though they do a mean biryani. Instead, you’ll be treated to some dishes you might never have experienced before, with a menu notably different to their sister venue.
From the starters, look no further than Grandmother’s Porco – a pork curry dishes up with Chef Clive’s alchemist rice cake. There’s a range of stellar chaats or go for the Baar Baar Cornetto, a cone stuffed with soft cheese and smoked aubergine. You’ll have ordering anxiety with the mains – do you go for soft-shell crab, the rabbit xacuti or a sea bass curry? Okay, anyone else drooling?
Heaney & Mill
Pretty much the perfect neighbourhood restaurant, Heaney & Mill does all the day’s meals very well indeed. It starts with breakfast – tempting stacks of pancakes, eggs every which way, with a nice line in brekkie booze as well. It’s midday somewhere, after all. Sunday lunches mix the traditional, as in a lamb rump or corn-fed chicken and trimmings, with the likes of pan-fried seabass.
Arrive at night and you’ll be greeted by a comprehensive menu that is awash with modern classics. Halloumi fries and burrata, king scallops with black pudding – it would be rude not to. Carnivores will make a beeline for the dry-aged beef rib-eye, with fries, beer-battered onion rings and a choice of classic sauces. Still got room? The desserts were all dreamed up in comfort-food heaven.
Pinche Pinche, Chapel Allerton
Are you craving a kickass Mexican? If so, a trip to Chapel Allerton might be in order, where you’ll find first rate burritos, nachos and enchiladas at Pinche Pinche. You may be tempted to order something for yourself, we certainly wouldn’t blame you, but you should cast an eye over their tapas menu too. Perfect for sharing, it gives you the chance to sample as many authentic Mexican plates as you can handle.
There are soft corn tacos, filled with marinated lamb and salsa. There are tempura courgettes with cashew cream. There are toasted quesadillas. BBQ brisket burritos. Sweet potato and black bean tarts. Even vegan nachos! They recommend two to three dishes per person, so choose your favourites and never look back.
This much-loved Headingley staple has been delighting the denizens of North Leeds for over 40 years. They expanded into a neighbouring salumeria a few years ago, but the cherished original soldiers on, delivering Italian classics to a reliably high standard. It’s a family-led business, launched by Salvatore Dammone and now helmed by sons, John and Gip.
The antipasti never fail at Salvo’s, whether it’s the Caprese salad, the truffled mushroom arancini or the artisan salamis. The classics are present and correct – the carbonara uses guanciale for a porcine hit, the frutti di mare is generously stuffed with queen scallops, king prawns and more. The pizzas are great, but the real showstopper might be the branzino – seabass paired with risotto.
With staff who love to chat, covered outdoor seating on a vast terrace and a reliably delicious menu of Turkish food, Turkuaz ticks all the boxes for a great suburban restaurant. It’s a cash-only affair, but well worth withdrawing some readies for generous plates of well-spiced food, with a few curveballs thrown in alongside the Turkish classics.
Get things off to the perfect start with their mezze sharing platter, laden with humous, halloumi, falafel and more, or take a detour to try the Ottoman liver. The mixed grill is a joy, with chicken and lamb shish, kofta, lamb chop and chicken wings in the company of salad and sides. If you like your food fiery, go for the Martabac, a spicy sauce adorning your choice of lamb or chicken.
Noi’s Thai Kitchen
Food and football are not usually a great mix, but this gem hidden away inside a prominent pub overlooking Elland Road is a notable exception. Noi’s Thai Kitchen can be found in The Old Peacock, a community pub that has stood in one form or another since 1826. It’s a pre and post-match favourite with Leeds fans, and has been run by Ossett Brewery for the last decade.
The addition of Noi’s Thai Kitchen has taken it up another notch and made it a place of pilgrimage not just for football fans, but for South Leeds natives who love the taste of Thai. The red, green and yellow curries all hit the spot, while roasted duck tamarind is a gem that’ll have you wanting to lick the plate clean. Vegetarian and vegan options are available too – back of the net!
Black Market is a relaxed, casual fine dining spot that wouldn’t be out of place in any city centre – happily it’s largely a secret for the fortunate people of Chapel Allerton. The brunch menu is a doozy, with buttermilk pancakes, eggs Royale and flat iron steak with mushroom caramel, egg and chimichurri vying for your love. There’s a great bottomless brunch on the go too.
At dinner, a crowd-pleasing menu runs the gamut from saltfish fritters to antipasti by way of roasted cauliflower with red pepper romesco and sherry-soaked raisins. Cod fillet is miso-cured and cooked over coal for smoky, umami flavours, a hint of what this kitchen can really do. Looking for a great Sunday roast? Head here for seafood bisque followed by roast truffle chicken.
The Box Tree
Ilkley’s famed stalwart is still one of the best fine dining options in the county. Simon Gueller and his team turn out fabulous things from the kitchen, while stepping into the sandstone cottage is like a warm hug where you’ll be cosseted by excellent service. Head sommelier Didier Da Costa is front and centre, talking both experts and novices through the extensive wine list with elan.
A three-courses lunch at £55 is somewhat of a steal for cooking this good. Start with ham hock terrine with celeriac, pear and truffle, then take your pick from Yorkshire pork belly or fillet of stone bass swimming in a luxurious mussel and caviar veloute. A full-on tasting menu comes with canapés, bread with Marmite butter, amuse-bouche, pre-dessert and petit fours. It’s a rare treat.
Head to Sunnybank Mills for peerless pizza at this suburban gem. It’s Farsley’s finest, a kid and family friendly place from the same people behind Saint Jude. Head inside or reserve the outdoor Guinness Snug if the weather is favourable and order up a drink while you peruse the menu – they do good coffee, but also a mean line in cocktails both classic and original.
When it comes to wood-fired pizza, there are no bad choices. The Magda is a perfect melding of mushrooms, mozzarella and blue cheese, while the Simon is adorned with smoked mozzarella, chicken and nduja. Wood-fired new potatoes, baked camembert and spicy anchovy toast are among the winning starters and sides, while vegans can create their own pizza, with a choice of three bases.
Authenticity is the watchword at Amici, a justifiably popular neighbourhood Italian in Alwoodley. Amici means ‘friends’ in Italian, and you’re welcomed like an old one here, even if it’s your first visit. It’s a stylish joint, crackling with life as the chef delivers some impromptu opera and the waiters whirl around the tables, delivering food as good as nonna made it.
Antipasti are all copybook, from bruschetta through to burrata, with a special mention for the chargrilled lamb skewers with rosemary oil. Sourdough pizzas arrive perfectly bubbled, pasta is a comfort blanket with deep, rich sauces. For mains, there’s a generous fish platter and a summery grilled salmon dish, while the tiramisu dessert is as fine as example as you’ll ever devour.
Turkish delights await at this Mediterranean bistro in Adel, which has a cosy interior along with a lovely outdoor area that comes to life with twinkling lights after the sun goes down. The chefs know their way around the Turkish and Greek larder, doling out perfect baba ganoush and hummus – the mixed meze platter for two is a great way to get started here.
Grilled meats are the way to go with the mains. Juicy lamb cutlets charred just so, lamb or chicken shish and the standout Iskender Kebab are all perfection. The moussaka is comforting, as is the Beef Stifado in its rich, herby red wine sauce. The Fruity Lamb, with its apricots, plums and sultanas, is a fine balance of sweet and savoury. End your meal by sinking your teeth into homemade baklava.
With vivacious decor, Viva Cuba gets you into the South American spirit straight away. It’s Havana by way of Burley, with a sprinkling of Spanish seasoning. They’ve been serving up tapas and more for over 20 years now, so drink to that with a perfectly served gin and tonic or rum-based cocktail – the Daiquiri, Mojito and Cuba Libre are all made with Havana Club.
If you’re with friends, there’s a set menu for groups of four or more, a tapas banquet that hits all the right notes. If you’d rather work your way through the menu yourself, off you go. Costillas are pork ribs roasted in honey, pepped up with paprika, the black beans and rice is a Cuban classic and the plates of Manchego and Jamon Ibèrico are sunshine on a plate.
Serving the people of Roundhay and Harehills, Dervish is Persian to its core – they’ve even bought the colourful cookware and carpets that make the place so welcoming all the way from Iran. Chef Alireza Rafievahid moved to the UK from Tehran in 2007 and has been at Darvish ever since, sprinkling a little magic and saffron all over an authentic menu full of dishes you rarely get to eat in Leeds.
The falafel are soft and subtly spiced, but you have to try the Kashke Bademjan. It’s a fried aubergine dip, mixed with onions, walnuts, mint, garlic, spices and Persian cheese sauce, and served with one of the best naan breads in the city. Mains include Chello Mahicheh, lamb shank in Persian sauce, with saffron rice and barberries, while the stews and kebabs never fail to hit the spot.
Grön Kafe is a Scandi-inspired eatery already beloved by Oakwood locals. Their own blend underpins the exceptional coffee, while the matcha latte might be the finest in Leeds. There’s an understated, light-touch focus on wellness that shines through in their fresh juices and Grön-Tox smoothie, while most of the food menu is geared towards vegan or vegetarian diets.
Kick off your day with their sweet potato and halloumi mash, or the full Grön breakfast with vegan sausages, mushrooms, butter beans, avocado, spinach and more. A trio of pancakes are tailor-made for drizzling maple syrup over, the French toast is next level. The brunch dishes are deceptively simple, with baked butterbeans enhanced with a herb crumb and smoky sauce.
Lupe’s Cantina, Burley
Mouth-watering Mexican food is ready to spice up your life at Lupe’s Cantina in Burley. You won’t miss this suburban favourite, thanks to its bright yellow facade and the huge decorative calavera skull out the front. The boldness continues inside with strong cocktails and punchy dishes.
We’re talking crispy, beer-battered fish tacos, grilled cactus salad and tasty chicken flautas – a rolled tortilla stuffed with aromatic meat and black bean hash and an immensely popular street food snack in Mexico. Round it off with your choice of Mexican beer. They have a wide selection to tempt you, most of which you can’t find anywhere else in Leeds.
Zucco has one of the best offerings of Italian food you’re ever likely to encounter in the UK, never mind Leeds. It’s one of those menus that fills you with both joy and trepidation – what are you going to miss out on? The answer is to come back regularly, as most of the, ahem, regulars do. While the menu is a fine thing, there are also daily specials based on what’s fresh and seasonal.
So, where to start? Pizzette – mini pizzas – come in mouthwatering flavours such as spinach, gorgonzola and walnut or olives, capers and anchovy. Small plates of seafood include baby Dover sole with herb butter and chargrilled octopus. The meat is a marvel – belly pork stuffed with apricots and sun-blushed tomatoes, rabbit with white wine or ox cheek risotto. Oh my days!
Sweet Basil Valley
Sweet Basil Valley is a study in contrasts. It looks truly unremarkable from the outside, but enter and you’ll be greeted by cherry blossom trees, lacquered wood and flattering lighting – it’s a slice of suburban glamour hidden close to a Yeadon roundabout. The food matches the vibe, a mix of Chinese and Thai classics with massive portions and a few surprises.
All the soups and appetisers you’d expect to find are all here and on their best form, and they tick the boxes of Cantonese dishes you know and love. The roast duck is a must-eat, whether with soy, plum or an orange Cointreau sauce. If you’d prefer to go off the beaten track, try the Szechuan five-spice diced beef shin or twice-cooked pork slices, with aromatic pepper and a lick of chilli oil.
They had us at draught Moretti on tap. Crisp Italian lager and pizza is a marriage made in heaven, and Culto are officiating at the ceremony. It’s from the same stable as the street-food hotspot Poco, but you can dine in here, choosing from a menu that runs from perfect pasta to pizza, antipasti and quality Italian wines. There are no bells and whistles, but it’s all utterly delicious.
The arancini are as good as the ones at Poco, whether you want your risotto balls stuffed with beef bolognese or mushrooms and black truffle. The pasta menu includes a lobster puree affair with langoustine sauce that’s a real treat. Hand-stretched pizza is all about great ingredients, and here they’re all premium, with gluten-free bases available, and even a black pizza base made with vegetable charcoal for easy digestion!
Burley is fast becoming quite the foodie corner of Leeds. The Cardigan Arms, Dave’s Pies & Ale, Poco and Manjit’s – head to Kirkstall Road and the choice is dizzying. Manjit’s is all about superior vegetarian Indian food, with the supremely crisp onion bhajis setting the tone for what’s to come – it’s all a bargain to boot, with thalis coming in at less than a tenner.
Their trademark dish, the chilli paneer wrap, is still a handful – and mouthful – of heaven, but the cauliflower butter masala gives it a run for its money, a superbly spiced dish that will have you wondering why you ever needed meat in a curry. If you fancy takeaway, look no further than the vegan chaat patty burger, with salad, tamarind and a brace of chutneys boosting the flavour.
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