Leeds’ food and drink scene is thriving, but chances are, you’ve missed some of the city’s finest…
Cool, interesting and downright tasty, these 10 restaurants come high on our list of must-visit eateries, and yet, they seem to go unnoticed. In fact, you probably haven’t been to them. From Persian restaurants serving up humungous portions of delicious food to Venezuelan meat feasts hidden in plain sight, find out what you’re missing.
Vice & Virtue
It’s so close to Merrion Street you can almost touch it, and yet, Vice & Virtue is surprisingly easy to miss. But that would be a mistake, because this mysterious restaurant comes from Luke Downing, the man behind Dough Bistro, and he has something very special lined up for the people of Leeds – a creative tasting menu like nothing you’ve tried before. This is fine dining at its best, and it deserves to be tried.
Vice & Virtue, 68 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
It’s right there in front of you, but have you ever actually been? Caracas Grill is a colourful cafe-style eatery that takes its inspiration from far-flung shores. The food is Venezuelan, with two options for you to choose from – their pepitos are loaded sandwiches, offering a French baguette filled with your choice of meat, but if you want something that feels more like a meal, try the parrillas picadas, big plates of barbecued meats, matched with chips, salad, coleslaw or hallaquitas (boiled corn flour dough).
7 Duncan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DQ.
2 Oxford Place
Those of you who’ve embarked on a gluten-free diet have surely already discovered 2 Oxford Place, but the rest of you may well have written it off as a specialist restaurant you don’t need to visit. You’d be wrong though, because they’ve created a quintessentially English hidey-hole that’s a pleasure to be in, and filled it with the delicious aromas of home cooked meals and cakes. From baked camembert to confit duck cassoulet, you’re sure to be impressed.
2 Oxford Place, 2 Oxford Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AX.
Merrion Street is one of the city’s most popular nightspots, and yet, few people have discovered Fairuz, one of the street’s most unique restaurants. It may not look like much from the outside, but don’t let that put you off – they serve up a host of Lebanese dishes, taking you from baba ganoush to fish hara and fassoulya, with a tantalising array of meze platters that will show you the full breadth of their offering.
Fairuz, Under Fairfax House, Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JU.
Something of a hidden treasure, The Foundry is tucked away in the maze of buildings that make up the Round Foundry, but it’s well worth seeking out. With dim lighting, a romantic atmosphere and loads of character, it’s a lovely place to go for a bite to eat – and they have a menu that makes that all too tempting. Choose from the likes of griddled king scallops and côtes de boeuf, all washed down with something from their extensive wine list.
The Foundry, Saw Mill Street, Round Foundry, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5WH.
The Swine That Dines
The alter-ego of famed Leeds cafe, The Greedy Pig, The Swine That Dines pops up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, showcasing the creativity and foodie know-how of the team with a series of small plates that invite you to embrace your adventurous side. From meaty menus that make the most of every inch of the animal to veggie feasts that take you from root to shoot, it’s one of the most interesting restaurants in Leeds right now – but have you ever been?
The Swine That Dines at The Greedy Pig, 58 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN
How can you miss a restaurant as colourful as Casa Colombiana? It’s hidden away in Grand Arcade, a stone’s throw from the revellers of Merrion Street, but this chilled out restaurant-cum-bar is often overlooked. If you do venture inside, you’ll be treated to a warm welcome and home cooked food, with a menu full of Latin America eats. Think chilli con carne, langostinos al ajillo (king prawns in garlic sauce, with fried plantains) and churrasco (T-bone Steak with chips, salad and chimichurri sauce). After you eat, head upstairs to the bar where you can dance the night away.
Casa Colombiana, Grand Arcade, 6 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
Tucked away in the Electric Press, Souvlaki is a great little find that will send the carnivores among you wild. Expect a meat board like no other, with marinated lamb, chicken and pork alongside Cypriot sausage. Of course, it’s not just meat, you can also tuck into tasty dishes like moussaka, halloumi souvlaki and their tantalising fish meze. The restaurant itself is a little ray of sunshine, with a holiday vibe that runs from the murals on the walls to the live bands that play on selected evenings.
Souvlaki, Electric Press, 18 Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3DW.
Sous le Nez
A little French bistro that’s tucked away under Quebecs Hotel, Sous le Nez is quite the find. Venture downstairs and you’ll find yourself in a traditionally decorated bar, where you can sit and enjoy a drink before moving into the restaurant for your meal. The menu is typically, and deliciously, French, with roast marinated rump of Yorkshire lamb vying for your attention alongside gateau of fillet steak and whole grilled lemon sole, with capers and herb butter. The wine menu is equally impressive, and if you time it right, you can enjoy their Menu de Soir, which is great value at £28.95 for three courses and half a bottle of wine.
Sous le Nez, The Basement, Quebec House, 9 Quebec St, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2HA.
For those who stumble upon it, Safran is an unexpected treat, serving a host of delicious Persian dishes from its central spot on Kirkgate. And while it may not look like much from the outside, you’re sure to be surprised by what you find within. It’s all about the food here, with hefty portions of kebabs, lamb shanks and falafel, all served up with freshly baked Persian bread and rice in generous supply. Start with the meze platter for an almighty feed that will help you get a real taste of Iranian food, and wash it down with a glass of Doogh.
Safran, 81 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.