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’s come over all gourmet – 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 you can choose two different types of meat, with turkey, beef, gammon, pork, sausage and lamb all up for grabs. 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 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 pickled beetroot, apple and potato salad, coal oil, dill and beetroot gazpacho, followed by a sea bass fillet with chickpea dhal, carrots, orange, onion seed and coriander yoghurt.
The restaurant itself is as impressive as the menu – high ceilings, exposed brickwork and stunning light fittings create 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 on an evening, with 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 – the food follows suit, as the dishes you know and love have been given new life. We’re talking hanging chicken skewers with sweet and sour 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. They 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, you may even feel like you’re walked into someone’s home, 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.
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.
9. 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. It’s the city’s first 100% vegan cafe and it’s quickly become a favourite with vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Expect inspired dishes, made using sustainable, local and seasonal produce.
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 spicy seitan bites and crispy battered shrooms, before moving on to the main event. From fauxfish butties to loaded burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese, they have all the dishes that are usually off the menu for vegans and loads more besides.
Cantina at The Old Red Bus Station, 101 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.
13. Vice & Virtue
Vice & Virtue may be a cocktail bar, but tucked away upstairs you’ll find one of the city’s most respected fine dining institutions. 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. It’s the work of award-winning chef, Luke Downing. 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 honeydew 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.
14. The Swine that Dines
The Greedy Pig was a Leeds institution that won our hearts with bacon butties and American-style pancakes, but their alter-ego has now taken over, so you can enjoyed relaxed fine dining every day of the week at The Swine That Dines. The gourmet side of their brand sees them forgoing the breakfasts they’re famed for in favour of a host of weird and wonderful lunches and suppers.
The supper club takes place every evening from Wednesday to Saturday and promises a menu of small plates that put quality ingredients at the heart of every dish. Expect the unexpected, because they like to get creative, with the likes of chicken liver, pear, celeriac and ginger, alongside clementine, chicory, labneh and mint, 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.
A Manchester import that has made itself right at home in Leeds, Tattu offers a high-end take on Chinese food. The menu is vast and it has all your favourite dishes, but they’re a million miles away from the takeaway classics you’re used to. Expect creative cooking, unusual combination and a fundamental focus on making something we all love a little bit better.
Step into their dark atmospheric restaurant and take a seat under the life-sized cherry blossom trees to work your way through small plates like chicken truffle shumai dumplings and lobster prawn toast before you move onto big ticket items like their sweet and sour iberico pork.
Tattu, Minerva House, 29 East Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5PS.