Leeds: A Modern Mecca for Food and Drink

2nd March 2022

Foodie capital of the North is quite the title. Especially given that the North is hardly short of cities with brilliant modern food scenes. In a league of its own, it’s no surprise that we’re talking about Leeds. Bursting with flavour, global delicacies can be accessed right here in the heart of the UK.

Now, admittedly, we’re biased. But even if we weren’t, we’re pretty certain the burgeoning food and drink scene of Yorkshire’s biggest city deserves the moniker.

But ultimately the proof’s in the pudding. And the main course. And the starter, amuse bouche, cocktail, and coffee for that matter.

So, with all that big talk, here’s a taster of what’s on the menu in Leeds!

Just like mama used to make. A taste of Italy.

If Italian is your thing (and let’s face it, it definitely is) then you’re in for a treat. Between them, these three joints will get you as close to Tuscany, Puglia, and Lazio as is possible.


Located on the bottom floor of a revitalised former mill, Sarto describes itself as having a ‘passion for pasta’. The impressive thing is that, having eaten there, it’ll actually sound like an understatement – such is the expertise demonstrated through a stripped back, yet perfectly executed menu.

Away from the pasta, the other must-try is the Arancini, while you can also be assured of some top vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options (the latter including pasta and wet polenta).


Like a modern take on a traditional osteria, Stuzzi strives to reflect a ‘true Italy’. To the folk at Stuzzi this equals ‘a chaotic mix of gastronomic treats from the world’s greatest food country’, but to you and me it means a dinner where you have to be restrained from ordering the whole menu.


A mainstay of the waterfront at Granary Wharf and nestled beneath the station arches, Livin’ Italy has become something of a foodie institution. With origins way back in 1980’s Milan, the restaurant established itself in Leeds back in 2012. Its enticing, homely combination of restaurant, deli, cocktails and wines has meant it’s become a destination for the hungry and thirsty.

Drink up! Bars, beers, and high spirits.

Leeds has got food covered, but what about when you get your thirst on? You won’t be surprised to find that you’ll be well catered for..


Sometimes a name is just a name. Other times the name tells you about a place. So it is with the Hedonist, a place to kick back, sup and sip…and where pretty much everything is geared towards the pursuit of pleasure.

In terms of cocktails and spirits, Hedonist’s menu takes you around the world and back, but you might also be interested in its clever ‘Project 1’ cocktails (containing just a single unit of alcohol).


The brainchild of two of the Hedonist’s three founders, The Liquor Studio is where to go if, when you drink a great cocktail, you think: ‘how did they do that?’ There’s a shop where you can get your hands on their own brand gin, rum and more, but it’s the experiential (maybe even educational) bit that has really made The Liquor Studio’s name.

Think ‘make your own rum’ sessions (extremely popular with local pirates), tastings and truly expert cocktail masterclasses.


Who isn’t excited by the concept of ‘Gin School’? Exactly. Hothams doesn’t just teach you how to make gin, it teaches you how to create your gin. You’ll get an award-winning experience and expert help from the head distiller while choosing your botanicals and creating your own perfect recipe.

And yes, there’ll be plenty of ‘tasting’ and cocktails along the way. Hoorah!


A chauffeur driven tour around five of Leeds’ very best gin touting establishments in the city, with all sorts of treats along the way. You’ll learn about Victorian botanicals and the local dude who invented carbonation… but dare we suggest you might be more interested in the five gin samples and five gin cocktails that come as part of the package?


Choosing from a range of tours that include craft, heritage or even cider, you’ll be treated to some of the best beer in the city as well as some of the deepest brew knowledge and the history of brewing in Leeds, courtesy of self-confessed beer evangelist, Mike.


Back for the 5th time, Leeds Rum Festival takes place inside the iconic Corn Exchange building. For £30 you’ll get entrance to the festival, spirit sampling, access to workshops and entertainment.

Again, expect the pirates to be out in full force.


Over the past decade, Northern Monk has made the post-industrial area of Holbeck its own, with a major brewery and an enduringly popular refectory bar.

Its tour covers all that, as well as its original brewery site at the Old Flax Store. Expect to learn all about the methods and philosophy of the brewing, as well as being well lubricated with beer samples along the way.

All Spice. South Asian cuisine in the city.

Yorkshire is famous for its diversity, and the huge (and delicious) imprint that’s had on the food culture.

And there’s no better place to experience the fire, flavour and invention of South Asian cuisine than Leeds.


If you come recommended by the Michelin guide for four consecutive years, you must be doing something right.

And Tharavadu certainly are. Expect huge, traditional Keralan flavours underpinned by a deep knowledge of sophisticated sub-continent spicing.


A West Yorkshire institution, Aagrah grew from its first restaurant in Bradford (all the way back in 1977) to one of the most recognisable and popular Indian restaurants in the region.

The Leeds branch is a stone’s throw away from Leeds Playhouse and not only boasts an incredibly rich and diverse showcase of Indian cooking, but an extremely tempting Early Bird and Pre-Theatre offer.


With rapid growth right across the UK, clearly Mowgli is on to a good thing.

And that thing is Indian ‘home and street food’ and the ‘smash and grab of healthy, light, virtuosic herbs and spices”. We’re in.


Speaking of Indian street food, Bundobust is another fine purveyor in Leeds’ foodie arsenal.

There’s a bounty of great things to try, and when there are things like Vada Pav (deep fried mash potato in a bun with chutneys) on the menu, it’s hard to go wrong.


And finally, the last in the Indian street food trilogy, Manjit’s Kitchen. Having started back in the food hall of Leeds Kirkgate Market, Manjit quickly built up a cult following amongst the spice loving foodies of the city.

Nowadays you’ll also find her just outside the city centre offering a superb vegetarian menu as a dine-in restaurant.

Living history: Food & drink in heritage locations.


Grade-Two-listed Hepper House used to be a former cloth merchants; now it’s been given a second lease of life as an authentic Spanish tapas experience. Think small plates with big flavours in a giant of an environment.


A newcomer to the scene, but one that’s quickly established itself at the top table, OWT offers pared back, ever-changing seasonal menus, showcasing an outstanding understanding of outstanding ingredients.

Based in the Corn Exchange, it can also lay claim to being the only UK importer of Chateau Gasqui.


Once tasted, never forgotten, Ox Club is the epitome of modern dining in Leeds, making appearances in both the Michelin and Good Food Guides.

On the bottom floor of the imposing and revitalised Headrow House (more about that below!), Ox Club is all about the magic of cooking over a solid fuel josper grill.

It’s great whenever, but those in the know take advantage of the showstopping Sunday menu.


As well as Ox Club, former textile mill Headrow House is a veritable feast of food and drink fun. On the ground floor (oppositie Ox Club) there’s a generous Beer Hall, while upstairs you’ll find the Redondo Beach Roof Terrace.

Regardless of what floor you’re on, the standards are set high.

Totally wired: The best of the barista.


Approaching its 10th anniversary, Laynes is one of those coffee shops not content to just perfect one thing.

You might come for the coffee, but you’ll be staying for the breakfast, the brunch, the lunch, and the pastries.


It’s a hot name, and the coffee isn’t bad either. With a policy of partnering with local suppliers, this is a coffee shop that’s as much about community as it is caffeine.

And if you’re so inclined, the Barista School gives you the chance to learn about how the 200 Degrees Coffee team works and apply those learnings to your home brewing.


Quick to see the potential of the Leeds Dock area, North Star didn’t just set up shop, but the whole darn roastery.

To the delight of everyone who lives and works nearby, North Star offers a huge range of blends and beans, each and every one ground and brewed with care and expertise.

Oh, and to top it off, baked goods are supplied by Nova Bakehouse. If you haven’t yet tried the salted caramel brownies or the Fluffins, do so. Now!


Though 108 degrees cooler than the aforementioned 200 Degrees Coffee, 92 Degrees is no less delicious.

Trading from two branches in Leeds (one situated near Leeds Beckett University, the other on Mustard Wharf), there’s also a home subscription service, allowing you to build your own order of beans and blends.

Go there, see that, get the halloumi fries: Leeds Food Experiences


One thing is for sure: whichever tour you choose, you won’t be going home hungry.

Leeds Food Tours cater to all tastes and uses a combo of food and city knowledge to take you (and your taste buds) on a flavour-packed journey around some of the city’s best foodie haunts.


On the second Saturday of every month, the Belgrave Feast is where food meets music meets art.

Alongside an ever changing curation of street food vendors, expect arts, crafts, bands and entertainment.


Yep, North Leeds actually has its own annual food festival. And it’s a pretty big deal too.

The venue is Roundhay Park, the date is the 14th and 15th of May 2022, and the roster is packed with foodie demos, events and workshops, as well as a ridiculously wide array of food stalls and entertainment to boot.


An established annual event, The Great British Food Festival gives you the rare opportunity, amongst other things, to take part in a chilli eating challenge while gazing out on gardens designed by Capability Brown.

There’ll be music, activities, dog stuff, product markets, cake stalls and lots more across the four days in early June.


Hard not to love a festival that knows exactly what it is. Claims of false advertising will have nowhere to go with this one.

There will be sausage, and there will be cider. And all held at the Royal Armouries over one Saturday in late April.


Your visit to Leeds is bound to be a tasty one and we can’t wait to welcome you. Explore more and watch our foodie series of videos below:

Leeds: The Foodie Capital of the North

Leeds: The best indie food scene in the North

Leeds: The best food producing scene in the North