Leeds-List: The Best & Most Insightful Guide to Leeds

The Best Restaurants in Leeds

· Ruth Hargreaves · Food and Drink

Bibs at the ready, things are about to get seriously tasty.

Ox Club Sunday Lunch

The definitive list is here, let the guzzling commence.

Let’s cut to the chase, you’re after the best restaurants in Leeds, right? Those places to eat that are the absolute bee’s knees, packed with drool-worthy dishes and food so good it’ll leave you gagging for more. Well Leeds is full of ‘em, and believe it or not, some of the greatest gorging in the city won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. From fine dining to deliciously downmarket, these are the best restaurants in Leeds.

Tharavadu

Tharavadu

Boasting its own Michelin recommendation (it’s not quite a Michelin star, but give them time), a visit to Tharavadu is always an absolute pleasure. The home of south Indian Keralan cuisine in Leeds, this restaurant sets expectations high, but continues to meet those high standards every single time.

There are no bland kormas or butter chickens here. Instead you’ll find generously-portioned, authentic cooking inspired by the Kerala coastline and thrumming with rich spices. Unless you’re familiar with the cuisine, you’ll be heading into unchartered territory, but really, with food this good, it’s all part of the fun. Sit back and enjoy the ride, it’s going to be tasty.

Tharavadu, 7-8 Mill Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DQ. Main courses range from £6.89 to £21.29.

The Reliance

The Reliance

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Aimee Stevens

On first glance, The Reliance looks like nothing more than a vintage chic bar, but this dine-in pub has no trouble nabbing the title of ‘best restaurant in Leeds’. The decor is comfortable, but minimalist. The service is warm, not ostentatious. And all the attention goes on their seasonal food offering, which is whipped up in the pub’s open plan kitchen (there’s even a smoking room for their home-smoked charcuterie meats). They are surprisingly creative here, with dishes like pork belly with spinach and pickled peach in a jus.

Try them out at lunch, dinner or for a mighty fine Sunday roast – the latter is the stuff of legends. Tender rare breed beef, Yorkshire lamb, roast pork with crackling-crunch and their famous nut roast too – all served up with roasties, vegetables and the obligatory Yorkshire pudding. You can book-in to bag a table or just rock up and enjoy a local ale while you wait.

The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN. Main courses range from £12.50 to £16.50.

Crafthouse

Crafthouse Tasting Menu

Credit: Will Stanley

This British restaurant, sitting pretty atop Trinity Leeds and accessed via its very own lift, is one slick Rick. Everything about it is suave, from the attentive wait staff who seem to notice you need a drink top-up even before you do, to the stunning dishes that have you jumping to take a picture before you dig in. Sure it’s posh, but it’s not only posh.

The menus are crafted with the seasons and celebrate quality local produce. You can enjoy an a la carte feast with dishes like Gressingham duck breast with pickled red cabbage puree, confit leg pastilla and duck fat rosti, but why not go one step further with a seven-course tasting menu? The views from up there are pretty glorious too. For special occasions or a bit of pampering, it’s undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in Leeds.

Crafthouse, 5th Floor Trinity Leeds, 70 Boar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6HW. Main courses range from £16 to £35.

Kendells Bistro

Kendells Bistro

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Aimee Stevens

Flickering candles. Chalkboard menus. A delectable menu crammed with French classics. Yep, Kendells Bistro is about to take your date nights to the next level. Quite frankly, this little restaurant is cosy as heck and one of the best restaurants in Leeds when you fancy a little intimacy alongside your salmon en croute.

The low lighting and sophisticated service lends itself to special occasions. As does the accomplished food, which ranges from fresh vegetable tarts and classic steaks all the way to a mouthwatering venison loin crowned by an ox cheek croquette. They’ve even fused French fare with a beloved British tradition: the Sunday Lunch. Because who doesn’t want to round off their roast dinner with a pillow-soft crème brûlée?

Kendells Bistro, 3 St Peters Square, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 8AH. Main courses range from £15.90 to £29.90, Sunday Lunch costs £35 for three courses.

Poco

Poco Leeds

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Ali Turner

Small in name but certainly not in nature, Poco is Leeds’ first Sicilian street food joint and it comes with attitude. Big, unapologetic flavours are served in the form of pizzas, arancini, rotisserie chicken, cannoli and traditional Italian sides. That’s your lot, but that’s all you need because the myriad toppings, fillings and daily specials mean you actually end up with a decent amount of choice.

Authenticity is key at Poco. Everything on offer is utterly delicious and very good value – the supersized stuffed arancini balls are around £3 a pop. The pay-off is the seating as there are only a few stools and outside tables for when the weather is fair, but wild horses couldn’t stop the queues of hungry patrons that continue to flock here of a mealtime. It’s that good. Make sure you join them next time.

Poco, 360 Kirkstall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2HQ. Pizza starts from £3, pasta starts from £5 and chicken starts from £3.50.

Senbon Sakura

Senbon Sakura Sushi

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Contakt Photography

Swoon-worthy Japanese fare for surprisingly affordable prices – that’s what you can expect from Senbon Sakura. This is good old cheap and cheerful dining. All your favourites are here, including traditional ramen with three different bases (the pork bone broth is slow-cooked for no less than 18 hours), bento boxes packed with steamed rice and meats, and enough sushi rolls to fill up an entire page on the menu (it’s simpler at lunchtime and becomes more adventurous in the evening).

Honest, home-made and fresh, it’s a far cry from the stale sushi boxes stacked up on supermarket shelves. The dining room is decked out with colourful Japanese murals and cherry blossoms, but let’s face it, all your attention is going to be on that steaming bowl of deliciousness right in front of you. And with great portions and very reasonable prices, it’s as close as you’ll get to guilt-free eating out in Leeds. Big bonus points for having the lesser-spotted tofu katsu curry on the menu too.

Senbon Sakura, 71 Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3BR. Sushi starts from £2.50 and main courses range from £4.50 to £13.

Heaney & Mill

Heaney & Mill

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Oliver Dixon Photography

Another suburban sensation is the delectable Heaney & Mill. They serve an ever-changing menu of fine-dining treats to the Headingley masses. Scrumptious small plates like sesame-crusted tuna or ham hock croquettes pave the way to main dishes that range from teriyaki salmon to salt-aged lamb rump.

Every element of the dishes has been carefully thought out and although the exquisite presentation screams high-class, the pricing is surprisingly reasonable. Bring your friends and make tidy work of the deli platters – there’s both meat and cheese options that will go down an absolute treat.

Heaney & Mill, 48 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AL. Main courses range from £12.95 to £27.95.

Home

Home Leeds

Elizabeth Cottam is the chef at the helm at Home, and she comes with serious foodie credentials – a fact that is evident when you browse their British-inspired menus and see the pretty plates of food flying past your table.

The restaurant was borne out of a love for fine dining and local produce, but rather than exclusive, they want visitors here to feel ‘at home’. It works. The staff are extremely friendly and take the time to explain each of the dishes that arrive as part of the 8, 10 or 12-course tasting menus – you’ll jump from rabbit dumplings with roasted garlic to halibut with horseradish and Jerusalem artichokes in the blink of an eye. It may be a little pricier than your own home, but there’s no doubt it’s a darn sight tastier.

Home, 16-17 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6BY. The condensed menu costs £70 and the full menu costs £80.

De Baga

De Baga

Credit: Reza Gorji Hassani

De Baga is a true neighbourhood treasure, delighting the folks of Headingley with chilli-giddy meals inspired by the Goan coastline. Certain ingredients crop up over and over – coconut, rice, tropical fruits and a veritable smorgasbord of seafood. Transport yourself to the Arabian Sea with fiery balchão king prawns, delicately-spiced soft shell crab and classic Konkani fish curry, sweet with coconut and fierce with Sichuan pepper.

If fish doesn’t float your boat, no biggie. There’s buttery-smooth dal bukhara, punchy meat curries and sizzling tandoori platters as big as your head. For pud? Sugariffic Indian desserts that’ll make your sweet tooth sing. Throw in top notch cocktails and the unfailingly friendly service, and you’ll be Go-an back in no time (sorry, couldn’t resist).

De Baga, 9 Otley Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3AA. Main courses range from £8.95 to £12.50.

Ox Club

Ox Club, onglet

Credit: Reece Leung

Tucked away inside Headrow House, Ox Club arrived in Leeds back in 2015 and has been turning heads as one of the best restaurants in the city ever since. What these guys don’t know about grilling ain’t worth knowing and their ever-changing menu centres around the prime Grillworks grill sitting pretty in the kitchen.

Flavour combinations are exciting and bold, think Swaledale mutton chop with pickled Tropea onion, all executed to smokey perfection. The Scandi-cool dining room is similarly accomplished and the impressive view over the open kitchen lets you see that wood-fired grill in action. End the week with their Sunday lunch menu for classic combiantions with Ox Club’s signature flair.

Ox Club, 19a The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PU. Main courses range from £14 to £65, small plates range from £8 to £11.

Fazenda

Fazenda Meats at Home Kit

If deciding where to eat in Leeds is synonymous with finding somewhere you can gorge unashamedly on as many quality meat, sides and salads as you can stomach, Fazenda will be right up your street. It’s long been a favourite in Leeds and rightly so, as it promises unlimited Brazilian barbecued meats carved straight onto your plate, still sizzling from the spit.

And this is no one-meat pony – of an evening, they have no less than six cuts of steaks doing the rounds, including ribeye, sirloin and rump, but they also do other meats like honeyed pork collar and traditional Brazilian chicken hearts. Don’t worry, there’s a salad bar for when the meat sweats kick in. Upmarket all-you-can-eats don’t come around all too often and Fazenda absolutely nails it.

Fazenda, Waterman’s Place, 3 Wharf Approach, Granary Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4GL. Lunchtimes range from £21.70 during the week to £25.70 on weekends, evenings cost £35.70.

The Man Behind the Curtain

Man Behind the Curtain

Credit: Luke Hannaford

Certainly winning the award for the most intriguing name in Leeds, Michelin-starred The Man Behind the Curtain is also a contender for the best restaurant. The actual man behind the curtain is Michael O’Hare, a celebrated chef who draws parallels with the gastronomic wizard himself, Heston Blumenthal.

Expect a hearty dose of theatricality with your meal, which comes in the form of a 9 or 14 course tasting menu or ‘progression of snacks’ taken in the bar with cocktails. Whichever you choose, you’re likely to find some pretty exciting combination on your plate – how does tuna tartare with watermelon sriracha and furikake sound? You pay for the privilege, but dining here is an experience you’re likely to remember for quite some time.

The Man Behind the Curtain, 68-78 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7JH. Menus range from £88 to £132 per person.

Shears Yard

Shears Yard

Yes it’s modern, but Shears Yard’s impressive style encompasses far more than its sky-high ceilings and exposed brick walls. Ever-changing menus (including veggie and vegan options) carry just the same wow factor, with local produce taking centre stage on dishes like poached plaice slathered in dashi butter or corn fed chicken with sweet grape and sour pickles.

It’s not easy to fuse innovative food combinations with a carefree vibe, but Shears Yard does it without breaking a sweat. Ambitious, elevated, never snobbish – their chefs are guided by flavour. If it inspires them, it goes on the menu! Bottomless Brunch and Sunday Lunch offerings run alongside the seasonal main menu, so you can treat yourself to delicious new surprises every time you visit.

Shears Yard, 11-15 Wharf Street, The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EH. Tasting menus cost £45 per person, Bottomless Brunch costs from £30 per person and Sunday Lunch main courses range from £14 to £18.

Mr Mackerel

Mr Mackerel

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Ali Turner

In the mood for a mackerel sarnie? It may not be the most obvious choice when it comes to street food snacks in Leeds, but Mr Mackerel’s eponymous dish is out-of-this-world tasty. Put your order in and they’ll whack that fillet of mackerel on the grill before cramming it, still piping hot, between freshly baked Turkish bread. Fluffy, juicy and crunchy in equal measure – your mouth won’t know what’s hit it.

Lunchtime queues are testament to the dish’s popularity, but Mr Mackerel has more up its unassuming sleeve. Succulent chicken shish kebabs come with your choice of chips, rice or salad, while the lamb köfte is best wrapped in pita to restrain those meaty juices. What’s more, this no-frills market stall has bargain prices to match. Get there early because hot-off-the-grill lunches this good don’t hang around for long.

Mr Mackerel, Market Kitchen, Leeds Kirkgate Market, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7HW. Main dishes range from £4 to £6.50.

El Bareto

El Bareto

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Ali Turner

Kick-ass tapas is waiting just around the corner in Chapel Allerton. Family-owned and pleasantly rustic, El Bareto ticks all sorts of boxes when it comes to finding a great place to eat out in Leeds. Spanish flavours are whipped up using good ol’ abuela’s recipes.

Try the likes of smokey padron peppers (a Galician speciality), oven-baked Spanish black pudding and enough aioli-covered bravas to leave a smile on your face for days. Portions are more than generous, making the prices incredibly reasonable. The cosy downstairs dining room gets packed to bursting on weekends, so make sure to book, and try to visit on a live music night when the fiesta gets well and truly started.

El Bareto, 120 Gledhow Valley Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 6LX. Tapas plates range from £3.50 to £17.45.

Pizza Fella

Pizza Fella

Once a street food outfit serving fresh-as-you-like Neapolitan pizzas out of the back of a converted Citroen H van, Pizza Fella upgraded to a simple pizzeria on Vicar Lane in 2016 and now stands proud as one of the best restaurants in Leeds.

The vibe is industrial-cool and the welcome is warm, but the dough is really where it’s at. Made on-site using just four ingredients – caputo flour, salt, yeast and water – the dough is proved, hand-stretched and cooked freshly right in front of you within minutes. It’s the perfect carrier for toppings like classic margherita (Pizza Fella’s own personal favourite), diavola with ‘nduja or Napoli salami with prtobello mushrooms. Traditionally Italian, it’s a must for authentic eating out in Leeds – and it won’t break the bank either.

Pizza Fella, 114-116 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL. Prices range from £6.50 to £14.

Vice and Virtue

Vice and Virtue

Jono Hawthorne is one of the most prestigious chefs in the city, his reputation precedes him and his city centre restaurant, Vice & Virtue, is where you’ll find him. Don’t expect to walk in without a reservation, this is one of the best restaurants in Leeds, after all. Report to the bar and they’ll take you up to the art deco dining room, where the food is nothing short of exquisite.

Multi-course tasting menus pack in locally-sourced ingredients cooked and presented to perfection. Expect a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as each plate is brought to the table, whether it’s savoury porridge with aged parmesan, truffle and coffee or it’s the raw beef with oyster custard and Yorkshire parkin. It’s a fine dining feast with a price tag to match, but for a truly unrestrained celebration you can splurge on one of the complementary drinks packages, as they pair wines and creative cocktails with your courses.

Vice and Virtue, 68 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU. Menus range from £49 to £70 per person.

The Oxford Place

Oxford Place

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Aimee Stevens

The only 100% gluten-free restaurant in Yorkshire, The Oxford Place calls Leeds home and answers the ‘where to eat?’ quandary facing coeliacs across the city. But it’s not just the free-from ethos that makes The Oxford Place such an excellent place to eat in Leeds. It’s a beautiful little restaurant, tucked away and easily-missed on Oxford Place, with a classy bistro feel you’d never guess at from the outside.

The gluten-free promise doesn’t mean there’s any compromise on taste. Rather, gastropub favourites like gourmet beef burger, battered haddock with chips and slow cooked pork belly are superbly cooked and served with panache – the edible flowers are a surprising delight. Prices are fair, not cheap, but once you’ve found this hidden gem you’re likely to be back, coeliac or not.

The Oxford Place, 2 Oxford Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AX. Main courses range from £14.45 to £26.95.

Sous Le Nez

Sous Le Nez

Did somebody say… a 40-page wine list?! If you love to drink while you dine, slurp while you scoff, neck while you nibble, Sous Le Nez is the best restaurant in Leeds for you. This basement beauty goes big on old-school indulgence, serving up generously sized French dishes where flavour reigns supreme. Factor in the epic choice of vino and you’ve got something pretty special.

Treats like deep-fried brie, mushroom-stuffed fillet steak and roasted black pudding with onion tatin are gorge-worthingly good. The surrounds are simple, plus with early bird and fixed price menus available, you’ll find that French feasting can be surprisingly good value. If you’re not sure which wine pairs best with your chosen dish, chat to the staff. They’re total experts and are happy to make recommendations.

Sous Le Nez, The Basement, Quebec House, Quebec Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2HA. Main courses range from £18.50 to £40.

Zucco

Zucco

Got a hankering for home-cooked Italian nosh just like nonna makes it? Laden with old soul charm and a lick of modern pizzazz, Zucco’s menu is a what’s-what of yumminess. Small sharing plates invite you on a culinary journey with your pals, where you can munch your way through loaded mini pizzette, indulgent seafood platters and all manner of pasta and salads.

Highlights include balsamic-slicked roast duck leg, creamy cod ravioli and melt-in-the middle arancini that’ll keep you drooling long past the meal. With oodles to choose from, Zucco hits the nail on the head for even the pickiest of eaters. Plus, with the warmth of a family bistro and a tempting selection of Italian cocktails to hand, the atmosphere is spot on.

Zucco, 603 Meanwood Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 4AY. Small sharing plates range from £3 to £12.90, main courses range from £8 to £9.50. Zucco will reopen in August 2021.

Bulgogi Grill

Bulgogi Grill

Credit: Richard Walker

For the adventurous among you, the DIY feasting on offer at Bulgogi Grill promises an absolute bucket-load of fun. At this Korean barbecue restaurant, you sit back as sweetly-marinaded cuts of beef, pork, duck, prawn and squid arrive, uncooked, for you to hand-grill on the table’s very own barbecue.

And that’s not all – rice, lettuce, tempura veggies, sauces and dips are also on hand, so you can package your barbecued meats up in a lettuce wrap with all the toppings you want. The staff are helpful but never hovering, so you have free reign to grill and devour to your heart’s content. At £27.95 per person it’s not cheap, but it’s definitely the best experience-led restaurant in Leeds and your once-rumbling tummy will be thanking you for quite some time.

Bulgogi Grill, The Arena Quarter, 9 Merrion Way, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8BT. The Bulgogi set menu costs £27.95 per person.

Tavernaki Bistro

Souvlaki

© Copyright Leeds-List 2021 by Katie Nicole

It always seems to fly under the radar, but Tavernaki is the stuff that Greek dreams are made of. Small, cosy and welcoming, it’s like stepping inside a little island bistro, where the stresses and strains of everyday life just disappear.

The food is reliably top notch and their authentic cheese, meat and fish platters are a marvellous way to enjoy a taste of nearly everything (trust us, you’ll want to). If sharing’s not your bag, opt for one of the individual main courses like the titular souvlaki, grilled skewers laden with succulent meats and charred halloumi, or the creamy aubergine moussaka. Lovely staff and reasonable prices make it a no-brainer next time you’re eating out in Leeds.

Tavernaki Bistro, 18 Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3DW. Main courses range from £16 to £24.

Bundobust

Bundobust

Washing down delicious Indian street food with a craft beer is a mighty fine thing and precisely what’s on the cards at Bundobust. No bookings, no white tablecloths, Bundobust is a bar-style restaurant that keeps things simple. Plonk yourself down at one of their wooden benches or tables, choose from around 20 small plates inspired by the streets of Gujarat, then head up to the counter to order (and pick up a nifty pint of their own brewery’s beer while you’re there).

It’s one of the more low-key places to eat in Leeds but the food is outstanding – crispy okra fries, delicately-spiced paneer curry and the ever-popular tarka dhal lentil curry are favourites – but the beauty of Bundobust is in the flexibility. It’s all fast, fresh and flavourful to the max. Pop by with friends for a taste of everything on the menu (it’ll likely cost less than you think), or make the most of the express lunch offer – two dishes for £8.50 – and slowly work your way through it all.

Bundobust, 6 Mill Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DQ. Small plates range from £2.75 to £6.75.

As always, if you think we missed somewhere, tell us in the comments…

Cover image credit: Ondrej Bires