Rarely a week goes by when we’re not announcing a new bar or restaurant in the city, but it’s not just the latest additions that deserve your attention…
Yes, there are lots of lovely new openings in Leeds, but don’t let those sparkly new facades distract you from the awesome restaurants that are sitting right under your nose (and have been for years). These five are absolutely awesome, and yet they’re often overlooked in favour of their newer neighbours – make the most of it and snap up one of those tables.
Viva Italian Restaurant
Nestled on the bridge over the River Aire, Viva is easily missed, but this long standing Italian restaurant is worth seeking out. It’s just about as traditional as they come, so you’ll feel like you’ve stepped off the streets of Leeds and into the heart of Italy.
Now, you’ll find you’re tempted by their pizzas. They’re good, you should be, and they’re cheap too – they all come in under a tenner. Try the Calzone, which comes loaded with chicken, garlic, spinach and mozzarella. But don’t let them distract you from the mains – you can get standout dishes like chicken breast with cream, brandy and mushroom or sirloin steak on a bed of spinach, wild mushrooms and pecorino cheese.
Viva Italian Restaurant, 9-11 Bridge End, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7HG.
It isn’t the most famous sushi restaurant in Leeds, nor is it the most popular, but Sushi Waka has been serving up consistently good food for years, so look past the karaoke bar next door and head inside for a delicious feed.
They’ve stolen their chef, Rui Wang, from the Big Smoke, where he worked for the highly renowned SushiSamba. Now he serves up a surprisingly diverse menu of sushi, with everything from scallop sashimi to salmon hosomaki and tuna nigiri. You can even try oyster, octopus and clam, with a medley of unusual seafood options that you won’t find elsewhere. Want something warm? Tuck into curries, bento boxes and more.
Sushi Waka, 28 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
It may have been around for yonks, but Art’s Cafe is just as good today as it has ever been. This petite Call Lane restaurant has a reputation for serving up a carefully crafted menu of creative dishes that put seasonal produce front and centre.
Take a seat in the restaurant and enjoy the art that adorns the walls as you wait for a medley of delicious dishes to come out to your table. You’ll be tucking into simple classics like beer battered haddock with hand cut chips, tartar sauce and crushed minted peas and complex creations like braised lamb shoulder with red wine, shallots, butter beans, local black pudding and curly kale. Oh, and they do a mean roast dinner.
Art’s Cafe, 42 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DT.
The Crepe Hut
It’s hidden in the maze that is Kirkgate Market, but The Crepe Hut is definitely worth seeking out. It’s a simple, understated cafe where you can indulge in traditional crepes just the way you like them.
They have sweet and savoury covered here. You can get your pancakes loaded with apple and ginger, topped with Nutella, banana and strawberries or whipped up into a mass of peanut butter and galaxy chocolate. We like ours with mushrooms, spinach, mozzarella and just a touch of garlic, but you might be more partial to beef, brie and roasted red peppers or smoked bacon with eggs and mushrooms.
The Crepe Hut, Market Hall, Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7HH.
This really is one of Leeds’ best-kept secrets. The Foundry is tucked away in the winding streets of The Round Foundry, so you’ll have to seek it out if you want to find out why the rare few who’ve discovered it come back time and time again.
It’s a wine bar, so you can indulge your love of quality vino here, with everything from Bachelot-Monnot to Domaine Henri Rebourseau. But there’s more to The Foundry than just wine – it’s also a Michelin Plate recommended restaurant. So you can tuck into the likes of breaded escalope of veal with capers, anchovies and fried egg or roasted monkfish with samphire, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic.
The Foundry Wine Bar, 1 Saw Mill Yard, Round Foundry, Water Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5WH.Header image copyright Justin Gardner.