If you fancy something a little different next time you’re eating out in Leeds, why not check out one of these rather unusual restaurants?
Leeds is packed full of restaurants, all offering something a little bit different – but there are those that go one step further. From barbecue restaurants that make you the grill master to Michelin starred eateries with innovative tasting menus and cafes that come over all gourmet after dark – these Leeds favourites are all doing something a little bit unusual.
1. Bulgogi Grill
Right up there at the top of the list is Bulgogi. It’s the city’s first Korean barbecue restaurant, and as such, it offers a completely unique experience. The first thing you’ll notice is that there’s a grill built into your table – because you’ll be cooking your dinner yourself, Korean style.
Load on prawns, squid and a host of marinated meats, as well as a selection of vegetables, then roll yourself a lettuce wrap, adding your choice of dips, pickled vegetables and more. Not only does it taste great, but it’s fun too – definitely one of the more unusual Leeds restaurants.
Bulgogi Grill, The Arena Quarter, 9 Merrion Way, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8BT.
2. Man v Roast
What’s unusual about a Sunday roast? Well, in this case, it’s not so much the meal as it is the restaurant. You see, Man v Roast is a carvery with a difference. They pride themselves on serving up the very best home roasted meats, sourced locally from Sykes House Farm, and they do it for a bargain price. But that’s not the only thing that makes them stand out, because you can get your roast dinner to take away.
Their roast dinners are available every day of the week and they’ll set you back just £4.50. You can choose two different types of meat, with turkey, beef, gammon, pork, sausage and lamb all up for grabs, although you’ll have to pay an extra 40p for the last one. And it comes with all the trimmings, so expect your box to be piled high with stuffing, mash, roast potatoes, seasonal veg, a proper Yorkshire pudding and lashings of gravy.
Man v Roast, 144 Cardigan Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1LL.
3. Shears Yard
Shears Yard has earned a reputation for for being one of the most interesting places to eat out in Leeds. Their menu is ever-changing and incredibly creative, using locally-sourced, seasonal produce in new and exciting ways. Think rolled pig’s head & ham hock terrine with charred corn salsa, smoked BBQ style apple puree and charcoal mayonnaise, followed by pan-fried sea bass fillet with parsnip puree, roast parsnips, confit chicken and leek & tarragon.
The restaurant itself is as impressive as the menu – expect high ceilings, exposed brickwork and stunning light fittings, creating a space that’s bright, open and downright beautiful to look at. It’s definitely one of the best looking restaurants in Leeds, and coupled with the food, it makes for one hell of a night out.
Shears Yard, The Calls, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EH.
When it comes to eating out in Leeds, Fazenda is a no brainer. Why? Five words – all you can eat steak. Before they set up shop in the city, it was a foreign concept, but now we can’t get enough of it as they bring a procession of top quality meats, served in traditional gaucho style.
There are fifteen cuts for you to choose from of an evening, with the likes of picanha (cap of rump) and barriga de porco (belly pork) alongside more unusual options like coração de frango (chicken hearts). Turn your card to green when you’re ready for more – and don’t forget to load up your plate at the buffet bar. You certainly won’t leave this cracking Leeds restaurant hungry.
Fazenda, Waterman’s Place, 3 Wharf Approach, Granary Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4GL.
5. Mans Market
One of the latest additions to Leeds, Mans Market is a Chinese restaurant with a difference. As you wander down the stairs, passing an extravagant display of Waving Fortune Cats, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a traditional eatery, but step inside and you’ll find yourself in a cool, modern restaurant that defies conventions.
It’s not just the decor though – the food follows suit, as the dishes you know and love have been given new life. We’re talking hanging chicken skewers with sauce you can drizzle on from above and beef in black bean sauce, served in the shell of a pepper. Even the fortune cookies are different – they’re filled with Nutella.
Mans Market, West Point (next to Primo Ristorante), Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4JY.
You’ll have to forgo the city centre to enjoy this awesome little eatery, but boy is it worth it. Abyssinia is one of the only Ethiopian restaurants in Leeds, serving up delicious feasts for carnivores, with the likes of gommen be sega (lamb stew), kitfo (steak tartar) and doro wat (chicken stew) all on the menu. Vegetarians are well catered for too, with an equally tasty selection.
It’s not just the food that makes eating out at this Leeds restaurant unique though – it’s the experience too. It’s a hands-on feed that will see you scooping up your food with traditional injera bread. And while the restaurant itself may look a little plain, the warmth of the owners more than makes up for it.
Abyssinia, 12 Ashley Road, Harehills, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7AB.
7. Red Chilli
From the outside, it looks like any other Chinese restaurant, but there’s a lot more to Red Chilli than meets the eye. Inside it’s decked out in traditional style, with a tardis like feel that means it’s bigger than you’d expect – but it’s the menu that will really surprise you.
Not just your usual sweet and sour chicken, they’ve embraced the more adventurous side of Chinese cuisine, introducing you to some of the more unusual Beijing and Sichuan dishes on offer. Tuck into 麻辣鴨舌 (hot and spicy duck’s tongues), 銀耳冬瓜湯 (silver fungus and winter melon soup) or 水晶豬耳 (crystal pig’s ears layers).
Red Chilli, 6 Great George Street, City Centre, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3DW.
Nestled on North Street, an area that’s becoming more popular by the day, Hansa’s is a Leeds institution that’s as popular now as it was when it first opened in 1986 – and one of the reasons it’s so popular is its unique approach and offering.
Hansa’s was the first of its kind in the North, introducing Yorkshire folk to traditional vegetarian Gujarati cuisine. But it’s not just the food that makes this Leeds restaurant unusual. Behind the scenes, in the kitchen, the staff are all women – it was part of the original plan, not just to create an exceptional restaurant, but also to help women who wanted to get out of their homes and into the workplace.
Hansa’s, 72-74 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
There’s nothing subtle about Zaap. From the colourful tuk tuks, murals and knick-knacks that create its unique atmosphere to the exotic aromas wafting out of the kitchen and the almost over-whelming selection of Thai street food dishes – it’s designed to bombard your senses.
It’s meant to mimic the streets of Thailand, and indeed, there’s an air of chaos to proceedings that might have you wondering if you’ve stepped off the streets of Leeds and into a different world. Add a wondrous choice of Thai street food, taking you from the usual curry, noodle and rice dishes to roasted meat, soup and dim sum, and you’ve got a great (and rather unusual) night out. Definitely one of Leeds’ more interesting restaurants.
Zaap, 22 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
10. The Man Behind the Curtain
In 2015, The Man Behind the Curtain became Leeds’ first Michelin starred restaurant in ten years. The accolade is well deserved, as Michael O’Hare’s innovative venue has received rave reviews since opening in June 2014. It’s now moved to bigger digs, downstairs in the same building, creating a more spacious restaurant, with the same focus on pushing boundaries.
His tasting menu is designed to look as good as it tastes, using unusual combinations to create dishes like nothing you’ve tried before. Delivered in 10 to 14 sequences, you could find yourself tucking into anything from hot and sour sauce sea urchin with finger lime to a foie gras donut. This is eating out at its most sublime, and it’s an asset to Leeds’ food and drink scene.
The Man Behind the Curtain, 68-78 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7JH.
Teppanyaki is a Japanese restaurant that serves up everything from sushi to yakitori, chicken katsu curry and vegetable tempura. We know what you’re thinking – there’s nothing unusual about that – but it’s not the food that makes Teppanyaki exceptional, it’s the experience.
Book in with a group of friends and you’ll enjoy much more than a great feed, because you’ll get your own Teppanyaki chef at your table, ready to cook up your food on their teppan hot plates. They’ll turn it into a game, wowing you with their skills and involving you in the process – think egg shell golf and catch-in-your-mouth sushi.
Teppanyaki, Belgrave Hall, Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8DD.
It wasn’t that long ago that Tharavadu first opened its doors, bringing traditional Karalan cuisine to the masses, but since then, it’s become a firm favourite, winning folk over with its combination of authentic Indian cooking and friendly personal service.
Rather than the usual Indian dishes you’re no doubt accustomed to seeing at Indian restaurants across Leeds, Tharavadu offers something a little bit different. Meat and vegetarian dishes mingle comfortably, with the likes of Kerala kozhi curry (chicken, roasted coconut and kerala spices) and kizhangu cheera curry (spinach, potato, garlic, onion and all manner of spices) – both are tempting alternatives to the norm.
Tharavadu, 7-8, Mill Hill Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5DQ.
Cantina is a one of a kind restaurant. No, it really is. It’s the city’s first 100% vegan cafe, and it’s headed up by Billy Collins, the man behind Honest Edibles. He earned a reputation for cooking up inspired dishes, using sustainable, local and seasonal produce – and he’s brought the same passion to his latest venture at The Old Red Bus Station.
As any vegan will tell you, it’s unusual to get choice, but here, you’ll get oodles of it. You can start with plant-based treats like their crispy sui mai dumplings, spiced butternut squash velouté or homemade panko crumbed popcorn tofu and tempura broccoli skewers, before moving on to the main event. Their pulled jackfruit burger is incredibly popular, but you can also indulge in slow-cooked chana masala or southern fried hellfire seitan strips, beer-battered onion rings and chunky chips.
Cantina at The Old Red Bus Station, 101 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
14. Vice & Virtue
At first glance, Vice & Virtue looks like a cocktail bar – that’s because it is. The bottom floor is dedicated to inspired tipples, but upstairs you’ll find one of the city’s most respected fine dining institutions. It’s the work of Luke Downing, the award-winning chef behind the original Dough Bistro, which has recently been reinvented as Aperitivo.
Book in for their seven or ten-course tasting menu and you’ll be led upstairs to an intimate restaurant where the service is second to none. But good as it may be, it’s the food that does the talking here. The menu changes on a near-weekly basis, so you could find yourself eating anything from goat’s cheese mousse, with pickled beetroot puree, beetroot salad, raspberry powder and honey dew to sous vide whiskey smoked lamb shoulder fillet with smoked oyster sauce, Keralan cauliflower, wild red rice and lentil salad.
Vice and Virtue, 68-72 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
15. The Swine that Dines
You’ve probably heard of The Greedy Pig, but you may not have discovered their alter ego, The Swine That Dines. It’s the gourmet side of their brand, and sees them forgoing the breakfasts and lunches they’re famed for in favour of a host of weird and wonderful suppers.
It takes place every Friday and Saturday, from 6pm to 9pm, and promises a menu of small plates that put quality ingredients at the heart of every dish. Expect the unexpected, because this is as far from their usual fare as it gets, with the likes of chicken liver with chickpea, rocket and pumpkin seed, alongside polenta, gorgonzola, sweetcorn and trompette, on a menu that changes so regularly you’ll never have to eat the same thing twice. Oh, and it’s bring your own bottle too, a definite winner when it comes to eating out in Leeds.
The Swine That Dines, 58 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.