From awesome eateries to top traders, Leeds Kirkgate Market is a local treasure worth celebrating.
Any food-lover worth their salt should already have Leeds Kirkgate Market plonked firmly on their radar. One of the biggest indoor markets in Europe, this yummy paradise has been keeping Leeds’ stomachs full since 1857. There’s locally sourced meat, veggies in every colour of the rainbow and fresh-from-the-hen eggs. Whatever your foodie fantasy, the market serves up the goods – and those goods are being put to ever better use by their street food vendors.
The Yorkshire Wrap Company, giving a northern favourite a moreish makeover
We’ll warn you now, one visit to The Yorkshire Wrap Company and you may find yourself questioning why on earth you haven’t been wrapping all your lunches in a Yorkshire pudding. But don’t lament for too long, because this is your chance to make up for lost time.
The brainchild of Mike Pratt, The Yorkshire Wrap Company is an eatery full of local love. “Kirkgate Market is the hub of Leeds, the heritage of Leeds,” Mike explained. “It’s something I thought would be a great idea and Yorkshire pudding wraps right in the heart of Leeds? There couldn’t be a better place.” Those fluffy puds aren’t alone, as Mike combines them with another great Yorkshire favourite – the roast dinner.
While the city sleeps, Mike slow roasts beef and pork overnight, so it’s unbelievably tender. Sourced from J P Johnston in the market, the meat is the succulent centre of these wraps, combined with rich gravy and pimped up with all manner of trimmings. There’s red cabbage and mushrooms from Neil’s Greengrocers, sausages from Dale Farm Foods, plus a homemade mustard sauce made with fresh cream and vinegar. It’s almost as old as the market itself – a treasured family recipe handed down from Mike’s great grandmother.
There’s more than roasted meats too. A rotating array of daily specials spring up veggie treats like mushroom stroganoff wraps, while the breakfast wrap is the hangover cure of your dreams. The inspiration? His mates. “They said look, you’ve got the Yorkshire puddings there, try it. So the next morning I went in, wrapped two pieces of bacon, some sausage, a fried egg and some tomatoes in a Yorkshire pudding wrap and the breakfast wrap was born. I’ve never looked back since.”
And onto the lovely Yorkshire puds themselves. Mike gets every ingredient he can from the market, including eggs from Whitaker’s and milk from the greengrocers. But it’s not just the local produce that makes his Yorkshires unique. One of the tricks up Mike’s sleeve is to commit the cardinal sin of Yorkshire pudding making – he opens the oven door. But before you reel back in horror, there’s a damn good reason.
Instead of just rising and rising, these Yorkshires need a little sinking time in order to gain the softness that helps them encase your juicy fillings. A trained chef, Mike used his friends as guinea pigs to find the perfect flavour and texture combinations, and by jove, they did it. In fact, the magician Dynamo DM’d him on Twitter to say he wants to head down to Kirkgate Market for a wrap of his own.
Banh & Mee, bringing Vietnamese bustle to the heart of Leeds
Food is a family matter for Mylinh Chiem and Sengy Tang, the husband and wife team behind Vietnamese street food sensation, Banh & Mee. They’ve always worked in the food catering trade, but with Vietnamese parents, they wanted to bring the flavours they loved and grew up with to the Leeds masses. And so Banh & Mee arrived in Kirkgate Market.
Although they spent a couple of years travelling to research the street food scene at local festivals, they realised the heart of their business was a lot closer to home. From classic pho to chunky banh mi baguettes filled with grilled meat and pickled veggies, all their recipes come from Mylinh’s mum and she cooks them herself at home.
But can Yorkshire produce make authentic Vietnamese food? Abso-blimmin-lutely. Banh & Mee have favourite traders for every kind of meat they serve. “From Malcolm Michaels, we get hens and beef marrow bones to make the pho stock, then from J P Johnston, we get minced pork that we use to make the pork patties we put in our banh mi,” Mylinh told us.
As for those all-important spices, they head to Spice Corner. This tiny tucked-away stall is an absolute gem, and it’s been the mecca of all things seasoning in Leeds for over 30 years. The lashings of coriander on your pho come straight from here and the spices that bring it to life do too.
That signature pho is simmered for 4-5 hours every day to bring out the deep savouriness of the bone broth, before being crammed with thick rice noodles and loaded with fresh produce like coriander, spring onion and fresh onion. Meat-eaters can choose between chicken, sliced beef or tender beef brisket, but there are vegan options too. Like it spicy? Get squirt-happy with the chilli sauce, or top it off a sour wedge of fresh lime instead.
It’s one of the reasons why Banh & Mee finally settled on Leeds Kirkgate Market as their home. Not only do they like to support fellow independents (especially when their products are so good), but the vibrancy reminded them of where their dream first began. “It’s got a really good independent kind of vibe to it. It’s always bustling and a bit like Vietnam because there’s a lot of markets and a lot of fresh produce. We thought it would be a good spot,” Mylinh explained.
OWT, the lunchtime local with French spirit and Yorkshire soul
When Esther Miglio and James Simpson decided to finally open a small restaurant together 18 months ago, they knew exactly what they wanted. Originally hailing from the south of France, Esther was keen to work with the kind of vibrant, fresh produce she was used to back home. And as a chef, James wanted to do those delicious ingredients justice through honest cooking that created a bond between the traders and the customers they fed.
The ‘what’ was clear, but the ‘where’ was another matter entirely, until they discovered Leeds Kirkgate Market. As soon as they stepped inside, they knew they’d found their new home – their unit was a stone’s throw from some of the finest produce Leeds has to offer, and for them, that was perfect. It allowed them to realise their dream, by creating a weekly changing menu with one meat, one fish and one vegan option.
Now, after almost a year nestled away between a butcher and a fishmonger (two neighbours you’ll regularly find used in their dishes), OWT is well and truly into their stride. “What we’re trying to do is show how amazing the produce is here, how to treat them, how easy it is and how cheap it is to do,” Esther explained. “It’s highlighting what Yorkshire, what Kirkgate Market, has to offer and turning it into a really good lunch.”
Simple dishes hit the mark every time, like crushed new potatoes with olive oil and garlic, accompanied by slow-roasted peppers topped with salted, peppery rump steak from Nigel Gifford Butchers next door. The same respect for ingredients is applied to their vegan options. Beer battered ‘sausages’ are made in-house with dehydrated vegetables and gluten powder from The Jar Tree – a zero waste shop just across the way.
OWT’s location on Fish Row, right in the centre of Leeds Kirkgate Market, means you’ll be treated to seafood so fresh it melts in your mouth. “We tend to change fishmonger every week as they’re all amazing,” Esther told us. “We usually go up the row every week. This week we are using R. Bethell opposite us, we used Tarbett’s last week and then we’ll go up to Ramsden’s, which is the last one on the row.” Pan-fried hake in parsley butter? Grilled sea bass in zingy homemade pesto? They’re a triumph.
The open kitchen invites even more familiarity. Pull up a seat at the tiny table outside and watch James bring each dish to life – if you want to know more about the cooking methods they’re happy to spill the beans. You know where they shop, you know how they cook it, and with such transparency, you can even try recreating OWT’s dishes yourself at home. Eating out doesn’t get much more honest than that, does it?Cover image credit: Warehouse.