From Spanish tapas to Mexican small plates, bigger isn’t always better.
Dreaming of garlicky gambas dripping in olive oil, crispy calamari rings with a dollop of aioli and perfect little arancini balls filled with cheesy goodness? We bet! Tapas may be small in stature but it’s big on flavour and there are loads of places where you can get it in Leeds. So if you want to create a sharing feast of epic proportions, check out these fantastic restaurants and get to it – one small plate at a time.
With a name like ‘Ambiente’ you might expect a restaurant brimming with atmosphere – and you’d be 100% right. Exposed brickwork, original floorboards and an outdoor terrace over the river that comes into its own in summer all combine to create a totally charming dining experience. And that’s before the food. Here, traditional dishes like patatas bravas and calamares fritos mingle with inventive plates like presa ibérico – Pata Negra pork marinated in soya and Fino sherry, served with melon ajo blanco and toasted almonds.
Ambiente, 36-38 The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EW.
Topping the list as one of the best-looking, Ibérica is also one of the most impressive tapas restaurants in Leeds. High ceilings, swanky wallpaper and soft velvet benches set the scene for a night of true fine dining, and Ibérica certainly lives up to its surroundings in the historic Hepper House. Classic Spanish dishes like padrones and croquetas sit on the menu alongside contemporary small plates, like prawn tortilla, wild boar fideua and 28-day aged ribeye steak with baby potatoes. It’s a truly decadent affair.
Iberica, Hepper House, 17a East Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2BH.
From the little bar above to the cavern restaurant below, El Bareto is Spanish through and through. The decor is undeniably rustic, with wood panels, warm hues and a hand-written blackboard where you’ll find all the specials – there are a lot of them. The portions are generous, so expect loaded plates of garlic king prawns, chorizo in cider and Spanish meatballs to share (or not). With so much to choose from and a warm welcome that extends to recommendations, you won’t have any trouble filling your belly here.
El Bareto, 120 Gledhow Valley Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 6LX.
No two visits to Stuzzi are ever the same. Their menu of stuzzichini, Italian tapas you’d find in traditional osterias, changes regularly. Many of their ingredients are sourced directly from Italian producers to the Leeds restaurant, so every visit is a guaranteed goldmine of culinary discoveries. Ever tried a beetroot and balsamic arancini? How about whole chargrilled Cornish sardines with salsa verde? Well, this is your chance to try something new. For dessert, revel in semifreddo tiramisu, cannoli, fine cheeses and more.
Stuzzi, 7 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
La Taberna is the epitome of a hidden gem. In fact, it’s a completely different restaurant by day. You can tuck into all manner of traditional Spanish fare at this family-run tapas restaurant in the heart of Leeds. There are typically 14 options on the menu, which may be small for a tapas restaurant, but that’s more than enough classic dishes to keep your belly full and your smile firmly planted. Aubergine fritters with cinnamon honey? Homemade meatballs smothered in sauce? Spicy chargrilled octopus? You name it, it’s here.
La Taberna, Britannia House, 16 York Pl, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2EU.
Pinche Pinche is a Mexican restaurant with a thing for small plates. From al pastor pork and vegan mojo mushroom quesadillas to black bean hummus, baja style fish and brisket birria tacos, the chefs whip up marvellous tapas feasts packed full of Latin American flavours. It’s perfect for sharing, with portions that are more than generous and prices that won’t break the bank. All served in a colourful restaurant with ever-so-friendly service, this is a must-try in Leeds for all tapas and Mexicana lovers.
Pinche Pinche, 116a Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 4NY.
El Gato Negro
A meal at El Gato Negro isn’t your usual tapas experience, oh no. Chef Simon Shaw sprinkles his fine dining flair on Spanish classics, giving them a whole new lease of life. The mini Catalan chorizo comes with a tangy Aspall’s cider sauce, the jamón ibérico is perfectly paired with a celeriac rémoulade and the salt cod croquetas sit with a dip-worthy piquillo pepper purée. You can enjoy it all in a restaurant packed with character – the stripped-back former bank now a bright and airy dining room, perfect for sharing these small plates of joy.
El Gato Negro, 35 Park Row, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5JL.
When it comes to tapas restaurants in Leeds, Moreno’s stands alone. This welcoming, family-run eatery fuses modern Spanish favourites with flourishes of Moroccan cuisine. Yep, you can scoff all the patatas bravas, garlic king prawns and tortilla Espagnola your heart desires, but you can also cross the Mediterranean to try a few North African staples without leaving Leeds. In fact, it’s famed for its lamb tagine – rich, tender meat with juicy prunes and just the right level of spice, you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.
Moreno’s, 54-56 Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS15 0DR.
To say Kasa Rosa is just a tapas restaurant would be to do it an injustice. There’s a spectacular selection of small plates but you can also order full-sized Italian dishes like pizza and pasta if you so please. Everything here is made fresh to order, from the spicy meatballs to the lamb in sherry sauce and gratinated mussels, so you can create a Spanish feast worthy of sharing. The prices are wallet-friendly and the servings are generous, so you just might be pleasantly sated and pleasantly surprised by the bill.
Kasa Rosa, Middleton Road, Morley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS27 8AQ.
Chequered floors, wooden ceilings and walls adorned with metro tiles, Zucco toes the line between modern and classic – something that carries over into their menu of Italian-style tapas. It’s changed up regularly, so you can treat yourself to something different every time you visit, but there’s always a tempting selection of classics. Penne arrabbiata, frito misto and pizzetta topped with spicy ‘nduja all take pride of place on the menu, but so does the rabbit with white wine and pancetta, so expect the unexpected.
Zucco, 603 Meanwood Road, Meanwood, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 4AY.
Thai tapas, anyone? That’s exactly what you’ll get at Phranakhon. This quirky underground Leeds restaurant has an undeniably enchanting feel – think ivy hanging from the ceiling, framed portraits and book-filled shelves. But it’s the food you really come for, and boy is it good. There are over 80 dishes, divided into nifty sections so you can find exactly what you’re after, whether that’s perfectly crisp pork belly, Thai salmon tartare or creamy massaman curry. Try one, try them all – you’re in for an unusual Thai treat.
Phranakhon, 11 York Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 2DS.
Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana
Lupe’s Cantina is a colourful Mexican restaurant that oozes personality. From the bright walls in Leeds yellow and blue to the eclectic artwork and sugar skull decorations, it’s impossible not to smile in this place – and the food is equally as joyous. You can feast on tapas like tacos filled with beer-battered haddock, enchiladas stuffed with cheese, chicken and black bean mole, or even their famous cactus salad. But the main attraction is their queso fundido, an entire bowl of melted cheese with tortillas to dip – it’s an oozy, gooey indulgence.
Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana, 204 Cardigan Road, Burley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1LF.
Bomba may do a phenomenal paella, but this Holbeck Urban Village restaurant has a dedicated tapas menu too, and it’s full of classics done well. You can get chorizo sausages in red wine sauce, fried calamari drizzled with fresh lemon and patatas bravas covered in house aioli. The star of the show is the Bomba croqueta. They come three different ways – filled with spicy chorizo, Portobello mushrooms or ibérico ham. Still got room for dessert? Try their homemade churros with a pot of warm chocolate for dipping.
Bomba Paella, 1 Saw Mill Street, Holbeck, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5WH.
Celebrating all things Spanish, Cuban and South American, Viva Cuba is a legendary Leeds tapas restaurant with a whole lot to offer. Boasting an extensive, varied menu, with everything from Catalan bread and fried plantain to fish cakes with salsa and slow-roasted pork ribs, you’re absolutely spoilt for choice here. And if you’re veggie, it’s been made easy for you, with small plates from the garden like wild mushroom croquetas, queso Tenerife (grilled halloumi) and a hearty Cuban bean stew that’ll give you all the feels.
Viva Cuba, 342 Kirkstall Road, Burley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2DS.
Looking for a tasty gluten-free tapas option? Casa Leeds has got you sorted. You can indulge in all manner of Latin American classics in small plate form, from empanadas de queso and tacos with beef, seafood or vegetables to corn cakes and cassava fritters. And if that isn’t enough, their ‘non-tapas’ plates of traditional Colombian, Peruvian and Venezuelan dishes will give you a taste of authentic South American home cooking. The Solomillo Chimichurri is one you won’t want to share.
Casa Leeds, 6 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.