Leeds is packed full of places that’ll feed you fabulously for a fair price. Get ready for globetrotting grub on a budget.
Whether it’s a pre-payday, end-of-the-month meal with mates or an impromptu dinner with your other half, sometimes you need a cheap fix of good food. Happily, there are some excellent budget restaurants in Leeds, from places serving up perfect pizza to heavenly dishes from Southeast Asia that will sing in your mouth. These places prove that budget can be brilliant.
Pizza has always been a great shout when it comes to eating out on the cheap, and Pizza Fella is high on the list for the best slices and pies in the city. The most expensive is the Capricciosa at £14, but you can dive into a delicious Marinara for just £6.50 – it’s also vegan-friendly – or the classic Margherita for £8. They don’t cut corners on quality ingredients – it’s san marzano tomatoes and fior di latte DOP cheese all the way. Want to drive an even-harder bargain? Margheritas are just £5 from 12pm to 5pm, Tuesday to Friday.
Pizza Fella, 114-116 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
Thai Aroy Dee
Less than a tenner gets you a princely meal at Thai Aroy Dee. This Thai stalwart might be cheap and cheerful, but it’s also authentic. Starters such as spring rolls and Yum Tofu Sord – that’s tofu sautéed with ginger, peanuts, lemon juice and chilli powder – can be yours for south of a fiver. Veg and tofu mains are £6.50, chicken, pork and beef £6.95 and prawn, duck and lamb are £7.95. Choose from tasty Pad Thai and familiar curries, as well as must-try specialities such as Gang Phed Ped Yang – special roast duck in red curry sauce with pineapple.
Thai Aroy Dee, 120-122 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
Burley Road’s Corner Cafe is one of the fixtures of the city’s dining scene, getting on for nearly 50 years old. You’d think inflation didn’t exist here however, as it’s still one of the best cheap restaurants in Leeds. It serves up three different menus, including separate gluten-free and vegan cards. Most starters are sub-£5 and you can enjoy an expert Chicken Bhuna or Mutton Massala for just over £8. For dessert, choose from a mind-boggling array of over 20 kulfis.
Corner Cafe, 104 Burley Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS3 1JP.
La Besi doesn’t just offer keenly priced Italian food, it’s also BYOB, so you can avoid paying hefty wine or beer mark-ups too. That gives you even more money to spend on Funghetti alia Crema – pan-fried mushrooms with garlic cream and white wine sauce and rustling, deep-fried calamari. The pizzas start at just £8.50 and you can enjoy sirloin steak and sides for £13.50. If you’re after a real bargain, come for the early bird menu. From 4pm to 7pm, Sunday to Thursday, you’ll get two courses for a mere £11.95.
La Besi, 211 Clarendon Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9DT.
Considering the price, you might be surprised by just how good My Thai is – budget restaurants in Leeds don’t come much better than this. There are two Leeds branches to choose from, with the subterranean charm of The Old Steps branch a contrast to the vibrant Merrion Centre outpost. They both hit all the right notes in the kitchen, however, with £3 for steamed pork dumplings making it feel like they’re paying you. The rice plates, noodle soups and curries generally come in at less than £10, with jasmine rice on the side just an extra £1.50.
My Thai, 43 Wade Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NJ, 8 Swinegate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4AG and 26 York Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2EY.
The Viet Baker
Banh Mí stuffed with fragrant herbs, chillies, pickles, pate and your choice of BBQ beef, chicken or belly pork. And it’s only £5.50? The Viet Baker is a dab hand at pocket-friendly Vietnamese street food classics, with tasty summer rolls, large pho bowls for under £10 and an array of bao buns for £3.95. Animal-free diets are amply catered for, with no reduction in the bold flavours, and the meal deals that package a main with fries and a drink will give you change from a tenner. It’s rustic and unpretentious but, worry not, it’s all about the food here.
The Viet Baker, 15 North Lane, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3HG.
This colourful cafe specialises in North African cuisine, with a broad menu of Moroccan and Mediterranean dishes to sample. Even the pizzas – all of which are less than £10 – weave in these influences, with Moroccan lamb, aubergine, halloumi and harissa sauce all making appearances as toppings. The tagines and couscous dishes are a little more, but still offer great value. Magical merguez sausages with perfectly fluffed couscous and a deep sauce, lamb shank cascading off the bone – the kitchen know what it’s doing.
Oranaise, 1 The Crescent, Hyde Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2NW.
The first all-vegan restaurant in Leeds also happens to be a brilliant place for a budget feed. Cantina takes dirty diner food and gives it a plant-based twist, and the most you’ll pay for a single dish is £8.95. Start off with tofu popcorn or a clever take on poutine, the stupendously sloppy mix of chips, gravy and ‘cheese’ curds. Mains include burgers, most of which are seitan, although the chickpea curry burger with coconut sauce is the pick. Elsewhere, there’s an aromatic Thai laksa and specials such as vegan fish and chips.
Cantina, The Old Red Bus Station, 101 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
While prices have shot up everywhere over the last couple of years, the pizzas at Franco Manca are still reliably affordable. Pizza number one – a Marinara, pretty much – is pocket change at £5.55. That gets you a sourdough pizza base, made daily in the building, with organic tomato, basic, garlic and oregano. Top of the shop is pizza number eight. It’s topped with a rich ragu of 8-hour slow-cooked beef and pork with hints of onion, white wine, two types of tomatoes and British mozzarella. A Scotch Bonnet chilli dip on the side tips it over a tenner, but it’s worth it.
Franco Manca, 1 Trinity Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AP.
Food doesn’t have to be progressive or reimagined to be good. Sometimes you want a menu full of tried-and-trusted Chinese dishes and a kitchen that knows how to cook them. That’s what Home does. Sizzling Szechuan Beef, Sweet & Sour, Kung Po Chicken and more than decent dim sum won’t hurt your bank balance. They have a large Chinese clientele, so you will find some regional choices on the menu – give the pickled fish fillets a try or the all-you-can-eat hotpot. Even more old school, it’s cash-only.
Home, 7 Back Blenheim Terrace, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9HZ.