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The Best Alfresco Dining in Leeds

· Ali Turner · Food and Drink

When we say eating out, we mean out in the sunshine.

The Tetley Afternoon Tea

Where should you go when you’re ravenous, but it’s too hot to go inside?

When the sun finally comes out, we don’t want to go in. So as well as the city’s fabulous beer gardens, we’ve rounded up some of the best places in the city centre for alfresco dining. Whether you’re after loaded burgers in a private beer garden, Neapolitan-style pizzas by the water or creative dishes served with views of the city, you’ve come to the right place.

Ambiente

Ambiente

This has to be one of the coolest alfresco dining destinations in Leeds. Ambiente sits right on the edge of the River Aire, with lovely waterfront views and a good dollop of evening sun. They don’t take reservations for their outside area, places are allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, but get there early and you can enjoy a menu of Mediterranean delights in the sun. Tuck into loaded plates of charcuterie meats, as well as tapas dishes like calamares, albóndigas and patatas bravas. They recently added a Josper grill to their kitchen, which has made things even more interesting – try the silla de cordero (barbecued lamb rump with slow cooked broad beans and parmesan).

Ambiente, 36-38 The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EW.

The Parkside Tavern

With not one, not two, but three outdoor spaces, The Parkside Tavern is a no brainer when it comes to summer sun, but what you might not know is that their kitchen has been taken over by the Secret Pizza Company. Brought to you by the same people as the famous Boss Burgers, they’re serving up a menu of simple classics and unusual combinations from Wednesday to Sunday – get it while you can.

The Parkside Tavern, St Johns House, Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JE.

A Nation of Shopkeepers

A Nation of Shopkeepers

Nation has recently had a makeover, making it an even more appealing spot for alfresco dining in Leeds. They uncovered the beer garden, which means you can eat out in the sunshine – or if you’d prefer, you can take one of the booths that line the courtyard, which come complete with heat-lamps, in case the summer sun is winding down for the day. The menu is pretty simple – they do burgers well, fried chicken better and sweet potato fries you won’t want to share. Enjoy it all with a beer and get your night off to a great start.

A Nation of Shopkeepers, 29 Cookridge Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 3AG.

Banyan

Banyan

Credit: Ali Turner

Since opening on City Square last year, Banyan has become one of the go-to bars for sun-seekers. Their outdoors space is ideal for drinks, but it’s also a great shout if you want a bite to eat, and their tasty menu means there’s a little something for everyone. Tuck into anything from superfood salads to steaks, gourmet sandwiches and burgers – hell, you can even come by earlier in the day for an indulgent brunch out in the morning sun. American pancakes anyone?

Banyan, 2, The Old Post Office, City Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2ES.

Crafthouse

Crafthouse Chef's Dinner

Crafthouse is probably the best alfresco dining destination in the city, and no, they’re not paying us to say that. It comes down to three things – the location, the service and the menu. The first is exceptional, at the pinnacle of Trinity Leeds, it promises sunshine galore and views over Boar Lane. The second is just as important – you don’t want to feel forgotten just because you’re sat outside. And finally, the third means you can choose from a selection of uniquely assembled dishes, designed to give you a true culinary experience. Try the likes of the pork belly with pomme berny, sweetcorn and turnip or orzorotti with spinach and aged parmesan.

Crafthouse, Level 5 Trinity Leeds, 70 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.

Brasserie Blanc

Brasserie Blanc

How about grabbing a bite at a fancy French restaurant? Brasserie Blanc is the place to go. Their outside terrace is nestled on the riverfront – it feels like it’s a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, so where better to grab a bite? They serve their full menu out in the sunshine, which means you can indulge in duck leg confit with black cherry sauce, king scallops provençale and Mediterranean summer salad, all washed down with one of their fine wines.

Brasserie Blanc, Victoria Mill, Sovereign Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4BJ.

Cielo Blanco

Roof terrace at Cielo Blanco

If you like your alfresco dining with a spot of people watching, Cielo Blanco is a great shout. Their terrace overlooks Briggate, which means you can look down on the crowds, the street performers and the buskers. It has a menu of Mexican street food, with everything from tacos and enchiladas to chicken tinga tacos, black bean tostadas and rump steak sharing boards. While you eat, make the most of their cocktail menu – or jump straight to the tequila.

Cielo Blanco, 415 Trinity Leeds, Albion St, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5AY.

The Tetley

The Tetley

The Tetley has oodles of outdoor space, with their lovely little patio area alongside a big green field bedecked in picnic tables – which means you won’t have any trouble finding a spot to enjoy a bite to eat. The menu is extensive, with everything from creative salads to burgers, sarnies and sharing boards – the kids have a menu all of their own, so bring the whole family. And if you’re planning a big shindig, they do an outdoor BBQ for groups of 20 or more.

The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ.

Ciao Bella

Ciao Bella

At first glance, you’d never think that Ciao Bella did alfresco dining. But step inside the Dock Street restaurant and you’ll soon realise that they have a secret weapon outside – a peaceful outdoor space that gets the afternoon sun. Make the most of their menu of Italian eats, with classics like penne arrabiata and quattro formaggi pizza, alongside rare finds like saltimbocca alla romana (pan-fired veal, parma ham and sage served with marsala sauce and saute potatoes).

Ciao Bella, 20 Dock Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JF.

The Cross Keys

Cross Keys Pub Garden Leeds

It may be a pub, but The Cross Keys is as good at food as it is at beer, and with one of the best beer gardens in town, it’s a great shout when it comes to eating out in the sunshine. Now, if you ask us, Sunday is the day to go – it’s never too hot for a proper Sunday roast – but head down any other day and you’ll be treated to an equally tasty selection of food, with creative options for the veggies, like their mushroom pastrami melt. Look out for their kitchen takeovers too.

The Cross Keys, 107 Water Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5WD.

Byron

Burger at Byron, Leeds

Credit: Paul Winch-Furness

If it’s burgers you’re after, get yourself down to Byron, because they’ve got their own little slice of outdoor space for you to enjoy. This is the ultimate people watching destination, as the hoards of shoppers pass by mere metres from where you sit. While you watch, tuck into one of their 6oz pink-in-the-middle burgers, like the Smoky which comes loaded with mature cheddar, streaky bacon, crispy onions, shredded iceberg, pickles and chilli BBQ sauce.

Byron, 9a Lands Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AW.

Water Lane Boathouse

Water Lane Boathouse

Credit: Ali Turner

One of the most recent additions to Leeds, Water Lane Boathouse has opened up where The Pour House once stood. It comes from the folk behind Belgrave and Headrow House, so expect an exceptional selection of craft beer, as well as an enviable range of gin. When it comes to eating, they have a secret weapon of sorts, a hand-crafted pizza oven by Stefano Ferrara in Napoli and it’s run by Small Victories. Delve into a menu of Neapolitan-style pizza, made on dough proved for 24 hours, as well as creative salads, sarnies and burgers, all while enjoying their huge canal-side plot.

Water Lane Boathouse, Canal Wharf, Water Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5PS.

Angelica

Perhaps you know it best as a bar, but Angelica also serves up a menu of delicious morsels. Their raw bar is still going strong, which means you can tuck into premium quality sushi, sourced as locally as possible. And if that’s not your cup of tea, they have a slew of classics for you to choose from – think moules, steak and lobster frites alongside Caesar salad and their famous Orkney beef burger. It can all be enjoyed out on their terrace, where you’ll get uninterrupted access to the sun, along with skyline views.

Angelica, Level 6 Trinity Leeds, 70 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.

The Midnight Bell

Midnight Bell Beer Garden

A popular choice when the sun shines, The Midnight Bell has a cracking beer garden out back, perfect for getting the afternoon rays – but it’s not just good for drinking. They have a menu of old classics that are perfectly suited to alfresco dining. Can you think of anything better than a traditional ploughman’s (complete with Cryer and Stott pork pie, Yorkshire Dales ham, Hellfire ale cheddar and Yorkshire Blue) on a glorious day? The only thing that could improve on that is a pint of Leeds Pale.

The Midnight Bell, 101 Water Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5QN.

The Alchemist

The Alchemist Roof Terrace

Famed for its cocktails, The Alchemist has an ace up its sleeve, because their food is just as good. From breakfast, which will see you tucking into huevos rancheros or coconut yogurt with granola, to dinner, which promises gourmet sandwiches, wraps, salads and burgers, alongside a tantalising selection of small plates perfect for sharing – you can enjoy it all out on their terrace. Just be sure to get there early, because you’ll be competing with the beer garden savvy masses for a place on their sunny, south-facing terrace.

The Alchemist, Trinity Leeds, Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW.