12 Of The Best Restaurants In Leeds

Known for its rich contributions to art, architecture, music, sport, film, and television, Leeds has long been a cornerstone of Yorkshire’s contemporary culture. The city’s cultural scene is deeply rooted in its history, dating back to its development as a prominent market town during the Middle Ages. 

As the Industrial Revolution swept across England, Leeds transformed into a major mill town, with industries such as wool, flax, engineering, iron foundries, and printing playing significant roles in its growth. 

The city’s cultural prowess extends beyond industry and commerce, of course. Leeds has been home to many notable artists and sculptors in its history, including Kenneth Armitage, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Jacob Kramer, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Edward Wadsworth, and Joash Woodrow. 

The city’s art scene was further enriched by The Leeds Arts Club, a radical modernist arts organisation that existed from 1903 to 1923. This club was instrumental in promoting German Expressionist ideas about art and culture, staging early British exhibitions of work by European expressionist artists. 

Leeds’ cultural landscape also includes a thriving music scene, with bands like Gang of Four, Chumbawamba, The Cribs, and Soft Cell hailing from the region. It is home to Opera North, Northern Ballet, and The Northern School of Contemporary Dance, and hosts the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition annually. 

In a city of such cultural prowess, a lively and innovative food scene only naturally follows suit, and the culinary landscape of Leeds is equally impressive, with a strong emphasis on both locally produced ingredients and multicultural influences. 

Today, we’re exploring the very best the city has to offer; here are our favourite places to eat in Leeds, the Capital of the North.

Psycho Sandbar

Ideal for trying the latest creation from one of the UK’s most inventive, idiosyncratic chefs…

In October 2023, chef Michael O’Hare announced the closure of The Man Behind The Curtain, declaring that “Things need to change because the world has changed and I’ve changed, my team has changed”. 

The space has just relaunched as Psycho Sandbar (bookings started from 15th March), with a fish-focused menu and an a la carte offering as well as a more sprawling, experimental tasting menu. 

Don’t worry, he’s not changed that much. The chef’s idiosyncratic, maximalist-flavour style (and several MBTC signatures) are still here, but there’s also more flexibility to be found. Prices are still high, with the tasting menu clocking in at £165, but there are some seriously premium ingredients and innovative techniques being deployed to make that pricepoint feel a little less painful. 

Highlights include a Carlingford oyster dressed in a properly spicy Thai dipping sauce, AOC Bresse chicken done in a kind of Hainanese chicken rice style, a dish of wagyu beef, foie gras and smoked eel, and a pre-dessert of smoked vanilla soft serve, Oscietra caviar and duck caramel sauce.

There’s even a rework of an O’Hare classic, the Denia prawn atop an old school phone, à la Salvador Dalí’s Lobster Telephone, here cooked in bone marrow and truffle. Yep, Psycho Sandbar promises to be just as big, bold and beautiful as its predecessor. 

Website: psychosandbar.com

Address: Lower Ground Floor, Flannels, 68-78 Vicar Lane, Leeds LS1 7JH

Read: The best things to do on a girl’s weekend in Leeds


Ideal for trying the laid back successor to one of the north’s most exclusive sushi experiences…

Speaking of beloved Leeds restaurants going through something of a shapeshifting, reinvention process, the five-seater, £100 a head Sushi Bar Hanamatsuri has recently transitioned from an omaksake-only experience to a more convivial, less reverential, but still downright delicious izakaya-style restaurant.

Gone is the delicate procession of tempura, sushi, sashimi and more, as imagined by chef Kaoru Nakamura. In its place, Japanese drinking food at a much more inclusive price point, with fried karaage and grilled teriyaki dishes making up the body of the menu.

The monkfish karaage is particularly good – thick chunks of the famously meaty fish are marinated in garlic, ginger and soy sauce before being dredged through potato flour and hard fried. They arrive super crispy but without a hint of grease, the fish inside cooked through but still translucent and tender. All you need is a side of the excellent homemade pickles, here fluorescent, thick slices of radish and wisps of ginger, and you’ve got yourself a gorgeous spread to pick at as you get through several Aasahi.  

If it’s on the specials board, don’t miss out on the ankimo; something of a callback to Nakamura’s omakase days. Here, as it always was, a handsome puck of steamed monkfish is naturally creamy and rich, needing little more than a few finely sliced spring onions and a puddle of ponzu-spiked, gently spicy momiji oroshi sauce to see it on its way. Though we miss the Sushi Bar of last year, we’re equally enamoured with the izakaya that’s replaced it. Our bank manager isn’t exactly complaining either.

Website: hanamatsuri.co.uk

Address: 580 Meanwood Rd, Meanwood, Leeds LS6 4AZ


Ideal for enjoying a long and languid Italian lunch…

On the same strip as the aforementioned Hanamatsuri, Zucco is a gem of a neighbourhood restaurant. Now in its second decade, this Italian restaurant is a place built for a long, languid lunch of snacks, sharing plates, and lingering over dessert and digestifs. 

Bring a few friends; the menu at Zucco is stacked and inviting, ready to satisfy even the most fickle members of the squad with crowdpleasers like crisp, salty fritto misto, polpette and spaghetti (pleasing to order that one outloud, too) and a vast selection of pizzette, bruschetta and focaccia. 

The set menu here is a steal, with four courses plus bread and good quality olive oil priced at £40 per person. You won’t find a menu comprising random offcuts and afterthoughts, soups using up vegetables on the turn, and a flavoured cream to finish. Nope, Zucco have put some of their hero dishes on the set, including a gorgeous (Mob baiting) nduja and burrata pizzetta, and king scallop, prawn and squid risotto, flavoured with saffron. These guys aren’t holding back and there’s a generosity of spirit to the whole place which is infectious, with the dining room buzzing every night of the week, except Mondays, when Zucco closes.

It’s wise to book ahead, accordingly, even more so since a positive review in the nationals from Jay Rayner landed last month. We have to agree on this one; Zucco is ace.

Website: zucco.co.uk

Address: 603 Meanwood Rd, Meanwood, Leeds LS6 4AY

Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana

Ideal for a Mexican seafood feast in somewhat incongruous surroundings…

It can be tough to find true, authentic Mexican food in the UK. It’s also tough to find Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana, whose bright yellow brickwork and rainbow coloured outdoor benches sit in the most incongruous surrounds of suburban Burley, sharing the road with BP garage and a bathtub specialist.

Once you do track his cantina down, though, you’ll be lifted up by chef Rudy’s gorgeous rendition of his native Veracruz’s local dishes, as well as drawing from the wider palate of the Mexican culinary canon. 

Though we’re neither near the sea or Mexico, it’s in the seafood section of the menu that Lupe’s really shines, introducing a number of brothy, uplifting dishes that area little less familiar to the UK than they deserve to be. The sietes mares is especially good. Here, slices of scallop, prawn, haddock chunks, clams and mussels bob about in a light, limey broth that’s turned a pleasing shade of copper from the addition of tomatoes and guajillo chilli. 

Perhaps even better is the mejillones, another soupy number of mussels and a cloudy, creamy white wine-spiked sauce. Topped with caramelised onions, avocado and coriander, all you really need on the side is a serving of white rice, perhaps some black beans, and you’ve got yourself an immensely satisfying, invigorating lunch that feels both healthy and indulgent. After that hour or two of escapism, you’ll feel like the world – or, at least, this little corner of suburban Leeds – is your oyster.

Website: lupescantinamexicana.co.uk

Address: 204 Cardigan Rd, Burley, Leeds LS6 1LF


Ideal for Michelin-approved Indian vegetarian food from a Leeds institution…

A family-run establishment, Prashad has been serving superbly spiced Gujarati vegetarian dishes since 1992 (in its original venue) and now in its third decade, the restaurant has never felt more vital. 

In a converted Drighlington pub (roughly equidistant between Bradford and Leeds), spread over two floors, you’ll find some of the finest food from the Indian subcontinent anywhere in the UK, with flavours precise yet vivacious, and portions properly generous. 

Prashad’s prowess hasn’t exactly gone unnoticed; the restaurant was featured on this year’s BBC’s ‘The Hidden World of Hospitality with Tom Kerridge’, as well as listing in the Good Food Guide. Perhaps even more prestigiously, Prasha holds both 2 AA Rosettes and a Michelin Bib Gourmand award.

Prashad is closed on Mondays, open for dinner Tuesdays to Fridays, and open for both lunch and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays.

Website: prashad.co.uk

Address: 137 Whitehall Rd, Drighlington, Bradford BD11 1AT


Ideal for plant-based streetfood from the Indian subcontinent, bang in Leeds city centre…

Should you be seeking your fix of vegetarian Indian street food a little closer to Leeds City Centre, then Bundobust is your guy. A collaboration between Mayur Patel (whose parents own the aforementioned Prashad) and craft beer entrepreneur Marko Husak, Bundobust offers a modern take on vegetarian Indian street food paired with a selection of craft beers. 

Testament to the success of the concept, the restaurant now boasts five locations across the North and Midlands, but it’s at the original here on Mill Hill, just a three minute walk from Leeds Station, that we’re dining in today.

Don’t miss out on the classic Mumbai snack bhel puri. Studded with pomegranate jewels and piquant from tamarind chutney, it’s a textural delight, with broken samosa pastry and puffed rice bringing plenty of crunch. For something heartier and more fulfilling, the chole saag (a chickpea curry of sorts) is knockout, too. Clocking in at just £7.50 and coming with a side of freshly puffed puri, it’s one of the best value plates in the city. 

Even better value is the express lunch here, with a snack and main available for just £9.95, Monday to Friday from midday until 4pm.

Wash it all down with a pint of Bundobust’s Peela pale ale, and you’ve got yourself a superb meal for under £20. God it’s great up north.

Bundobust is open daily from midday until late, with slightly shorter operating hours on Sundays. 

Website: bundobust.com

Address: 6 Mill Hill, Leeds LS1 5DQ

OX Club

Ideal for the best of Yorkshire produce, cooked over flames…

Just one wing of the multifunctional events space Headrow House, OX Club specialises in high-quality cooking over flames using the best of Yorkshire produce. What more could you want? 

The restaurant is known for its wood-fired dishes, with a menu that balances robust flavours with delicate touches. On a recent visit, a grilled sardine dish, paired with local rhubarb and pickled radish, was as pretty as a picture. For the carnivores, a whopping 600g Dexter beef wing rib chop sits proudly alongside roasted bone marrow and beef fat bearnaise. Sure, you’ll need to be stretchered out after taking it down, but as you stare at the ceiling from your pallet, you’ll feel very satisfied indeed.

Don’t forget to save room for their exquisite desserts – the now ubiquitous burnt Basque cheesecake is done very capably here, and is accompanied by more rhubarb (well, we are in Yorkshire after all!).

OX Club is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. From Wednesday to Friday, the restaurant is open for dinner only. On Saturday, you can dine from midday until 10pm and on Sundays, OX Club is just open for lunch.

Website: oxclub.co.uk

Address: 19a The Headrow, Leeds LS1 6PU

Three’s A Crowd

Ideal for a pre-show meal of confidently composed pub classics…

When it was announced that popular gastropub The Reliance was to close earlier this year, Leeds residents were devastated. 

Fortunately, the buyers of the site know a thing or two about running a cosy, welcoming pub that does confidently cooked plates, having run acclaimed Harrogate establishment Three’s A Crowd since 2019.

And so, the second iteration of Three’s A Crowd has already fallen on its feet and hit its stride, with a relaxed dining room serving up the likes of pheasant and guinea fowl terrine, sloe gin cured salmon, pig cheek ragu over pappardelle. 

With prime position just off Lovell Park and a couple of minute’s walk from the Grand Theatre and Opera House and the Leeds Playhouse, this one’s ideal for a pre (or post) show meal. 

Three’s A Crowd is open daily from midday until late.

Website: threes-a-crowd.co.uk

Address: 76-78 North St, Leeds LS2 7PN


Ideal for one of Leeds’s most elegant tasting menu experiences…

Home cooking this ain’t. This fine dining establishment, led by chef Elizabeth Cottam, offers an elegant and innovative tasting menu that uses the best local and seasonal ingredients. Recommended by the Michelin Guide, it’s certainly not cheap here, but the quality really shines through. On a recent visit, we went for the Autumn Feast taster, which clocked in at £120 per person for nine courses plus snacks and sweets. 

If you love mushrooms, this one’s for you, with the four standout courses of the night all centered around locally foraged fungi. The highlight of the lot? Grilled hen of the woods mushrooms brushed with beef fat and dressed with an umami-rich mushroom caramel. Later in the evening, a porcini ice cream continued to underline the auburn, woodsy season we’re in.

Home also offers a choice of excellent wine pairings with their set menus – choose from Signature, Premium or Prestige, and for five, seven or twelve (!) pairings, and settle in for an evening where you don’t have to do much thinking at all. A real treat.

Home is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the restaurant is open for dinner only. Fridays and Saturdays see a lunch and a dinner service, whilst on Sundays, it’s a lunchtime only affair.

Website: homeleeds.co.uk

Address: 3 Brewery Pl, Leeds LS10 1NE


Ideal for soothingly spiced Keralan food close to Leeds train station…

You’ve probably guessed by now that some of the country’s best regional Indian cuisine is found in Leeds, owing to the city’s well-established and diverse South Asian community.

One of the very best Keralan restaurants in the city – and conveniently located near Leeds train station – Tharavadu offers a wide variety of southern Indian dishes. Look out for their crab cooked in coconut sauce, fluffy lentil-fried doughnuts, and smooth vermicelli pudding with cardamom and saffron, in particular.

Closed on Sundays, Tharavadu is open for the rest of the week for both lunch and dinner.

Website: tharavadurestaurants.com

Address: 7-8 Mill Hill, Leeds LS1 5DQ

The Swine That Dines

Ideal for a regularly changing menu of lesser known cuts and concise combinations…

What started as a humble greasy spoon has transformed into a laid back but refined dining experience under the guidance of owners Stu and Jo. The Swine That Dines focuses on small-plate dining, with a regularly changing menu featuring unusual cuts of meat and crisp, concise combinations.

Naturally, there’s plenty of piggy bits on the menu, from pork terrine to a hearty main course of belly, chicory and a marsala sauce, but vegetarians can dine well here, too. The goat’s cheese souffle with confit fennel and hazelnuts that recently stood tall on the evening menu is perhaps the star of the whole show.

The Swine also does a popular Sunday lunch set menu of four courses for £37. 

The Swine That Dines is closed on Monday through Wednesday before opening for dinner only on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, it’s open from midday through to 10:30pm (with a short break between 4pm and 5:30pm) and on Sundays, you can swing by for lunch between midday and 5pm.

Website: swinethatdines.co.uk

Address: 58 North St, Leeds LS2 7PN

Friends Of Ham

Ideal for local cheeses, charcuterie and an impressive selection of wine and craft beer…

Somewhat surprisingly bearing no relation to The Swine That Dines, since opening in 2012 Friends Of Ham has become a must-visit for Leeds-based food lovers. Known for its wide range of charcuterie and local cheeses, this craft beer and wine bar also boasts an impressive list of craft beers and wines. Their platters are perfect for sharing and are best enjoyed with a cold beer in hand, which, incidentally, we’re off for now…

Friends of Ham is open from 11am daily. 

Website: friendsofham.com

Address: 4-8 New Station St, Leeds LS1 5DL

And what a feed that was…

But we’re not done yet. In fact, we’re catching the train an hour or so east, and heading over to Leeds’s noisy neighbour Manchester. When we alight, it’s to one of the great places to eat near Manchester Piccadilly. Care to join us?

Whether you're looking for the ideal restaurant to curb your kimchi cravings, need inspiration for tonight's dinner or are after advice on how to make the creamiest risotto ever, we've got you covered. Our talented team of food obsessed writers and chefs are here satisfy your foodie cravings one article at a time.

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