Leeds lives up to its reputation as ‘Foodie Capital of the North’

20th February 2024

There are many ‘food cities’ across the UK and around the world, famed for their attitude to dining, drinking, and creating. And Leeds is up there with the best of them. As the unofficial foodie of the North, our city is bursting with award-winning restaurants, independent establishments celebrating locally-sourced, seasonal produce, dining experiences with cuisines from all over the world and vibrant street food and markets. That’s not to mention drinking establishments – we’re spoilt for choice with local breweries, wine bars and distilleries.

There’s a reason why Leeds leads in food and drink in the UK, with amazingly successful and innovative franchises like Bundobust starting out here first.

If you’re planning a foodie trip to the city, we’ve plenty of ways you could fill your time – and your plate, highlighted below.


Try street food from around the world… and closer to home 

Leeds is a real hot spot for street food – from bustling indoor and outdoor markets, to city centre streets, bars and breweries and even shopping centres. You could easily plan a whole visit dining out entirely on amazing meals picked up from carts, shacks and stalls with flavours from cuisines the world over.

For a good place to start, consider Kirkgate Market to really treat your tastebuds. The biggest indoor market in Europe, Kirkgate Market is home to some pretty awesome street food in their newly-refurbished food hall, including the award-winning Vegetarian Punjabi street-food vendor Manjit’s Kitchen and the infamous Yorkshire Pudding Wrap Company who, you guessed it, create delicious Yorkshire Pudding wraps – our real gift to the culinary world! But it’s not just street food at Kirkgate Market – there’s a whole world of stalls to explore and delicacies to taste. Head on over to family-run Hayes Seafood for fresh oysters before you browse the nearby stalls. There’s Sweet Saeeda cooking up mouth-watering, authentic Tunisian cuisine or try a Fat Annie’s instead – an American-inspired, completely plant based burger and hot dog eatery. Whatever you fancy, there’s sure to be a cuisine to satisfy you at Kirkgate Market.

And you can’t miss Trinity Kitchen, where a rotating cast of stalls are backed up by some amazing globally-influenced permanent residents; including Archie’s, offering burgers and hot dogs like you’ve never tasted before, Rola Wala, serving up Indian Street food with a twist, and Tortilla, providing some of Leeds’ best Mexican burritos and rice bowls. Trinity Kitchen is part of Trinity Leeds, the city’s largest shopping and leisure destination.



Dine out on a much loved independent food scene

Indie food and drink is always worth seeking out – from local neighbourhood eateries doing their thing under the radar, to the most innovative chefs and restaurants pushing the envelope in ways you’ll soon see on all the chain menus. Leeds’ indie scene is thriving, and much loved by locals.

New indie food openings regularly pop up in the city centre, and Things in Bread could be one of the most highly-anticipated. Brought to you by the masterminds of Doh’nut (who create the best doughnuts in town), comes a brand-new gourmet sandwich shop in the heart of the city centre, aiming to transform lunchtimes for the better. Things in Bread’s concept is a simple one – creating classic sandwich flavours using high quality ingredients – all encased in their freshly baked bread.

Fancy something a bit more upmarket? The Empire Café is the newest addition to the cool fine dining scene in Leeds. Feeding the people of Leeds for over a century, The Empire Café was re-born in 2023, serving breakfasts with a twist,  small plates, rotisserie chicken alongside an enviable drinks menu. Shears Yard is a well-loved kitchen and bar that delivers a fresh and seasonal menu of locally sourced ingredients. It’s one of the city’s leading independent restaurants with a real focus on offering guests a delicious fine dining experience in a modern, laid back environment. Or try The Collective, which has made its first appearance in The Michelin Guide. The Collective is a brand new concept by Executive Chef Craig Rogan, which by night serves up an exciting choice of tasting menus.

If you’re partial to Italian cuisine (and who isn’t?) then a trip to Stuzzi is a must. A fashionable restaurant on Merrion Street, one of the city’s most popular drinking spots, Stuzzi serves up little plates of Italian street food heaven, from mouth-watering arancini balls to flavourful bowls of pasta. And if you’d like a taste of Scandinavian cuisine, then head on down to Fint offering high-quality Scandinavian dishes in a modern dining environment that wouldn’t be out of place in trendy Oslo or Copenhagen. Their menu specialises in breakfast and brunch dishes in the daytime, and a fine-dining experience in the evening.

If food and wine pairings are more your thing, check out Leeds’ very own Latitude Wines which will be opening its first bar. Cheese and charcuterie boards will be available throughout the evening paired with carefully curated wines plus there’s going to be plenty of events for foodie lovers. Need more of a cheese fix? You can’t go wrong with The Cheesy Living Co based in the iconic Corn Exchange where fondue is available every day.

Another much-loved independent option – with a Michelin Guide recommendation of their own – is Ox Club at Headrow House, where you’ll find delectable Yorkshire meats and fresh seafood cooked over charcoal from a nearby coppice. The same kitchen also turns out famous kebabs and dirty fries to be enjoyed on Headrow House’s suntrap roof terrace or for cooler days in their beer hall – a great option for a casual family meal, with a craft-brewed soda for the little ones and an Aperol Spritz for the big ones.




Explore vegan and vegetarian food like never before

If there’s one thing Leeds does well – it’s meat-free cuisine. Leeds is filled with vegan and vegetarian restaurants guaranteed to change meat-eaters’ opinions on plant-based cuisine, and vegan junk-food giant Doner Summer aims to do just that. Serving up Buttermilk fried ‘chick’n’ that rivals everyone’s favourite fried chicken giant, along with Berlin-style ‘doner’ kebabs and juicy meat-free burgers, one meal at Doner Summer will make you question all you know about vegan food. Another hotspot for veggie and vegan dining is Green Room, conveniently located just minutes away from Leeds Train Station. Green Room has partnered with Grön Kafé to deliver their all-day, hearty brunch menu, with a specific vegan menu offering everything from smoothie bowls to full vegan English breakfasts. Meanwhile, Eat Your Greens is the only completely organic restaurant in the city, and creates delicious, vegan and vegetarian dishes with local organic produce.


Fancy some decent pub grub? Lamb and Flag has been restored from a crumbling 19th century building and stands as one of the city’s favourite pubs today. Good pub grub is one of the main draws of the Lamb and Flag, and they offer vegans delights such as battered banana blossom ‘fish & chips’ and a Moving Mountain burger that will satisfy even the biggest meat eaters.

And no vegan food roundup is complete without mentioning Bundobust. Cooking up a menu of entirely vegetarian and vegan Indian Street food, Bundobust’s most popular dishes include Vada Pav (a mashed-potato burger), flavourful paneer & mushroom tikka kebabs and a variety of curries to make your tastebuds sing. Alongside their variety of craft beers and ales from local and international breweries, Bundobust is a restaurant everyone should try at least once.


Shake things up with a food and drink experience 

If you’ve got a special trip planned, then it’s worth finding a special food and drink experience to go alongside it! Whether you’re in town for a celebration, or just fancy a bit of culinary exploration, Leeds is well served by unique and innovative ways to get you in touch with your foodie side. It’s also a fun way to involve the whole family, especially older kids and teenagers who might prefer a chance to get hands on.

One of the easiest ways to find your way around the diverse and different Leeds food scene is by booking on to a guided tour. The locals know their city best, after all. The friendly and accessible Leeds Food Tours offers a variety of options, taking you around the city’s most exciting locations focussing on everything from local producers to global flavours. You can also buy a voucher and discover them for yourself! Then there’s Leeds Beer Tours, with tasters in some of Leeds’ beloved drinking establishments. It’s a drink whilst you learn experience. Whether it’s the history of the growth in craft beer or Leeds’ most famous historic pubs – whatever your tipple there’s a tour waiting for you to enjoy.

If you want to learn a few new skills, then the award-winning Leeds Cookery School might just be the place. Whether you’re a true beginner, or you’ve got some seriously cheffy chops, there are courses to suit, with many focussing on local dishes and ingredients. For those who prefer their refreshment liquid, The Liquor Studio offers masterclasses and tasting sessions to suit. Ever fancied creating and mixing your own spiced rum? Well now you can.

If you’re a budding barista, then how about heading back to school? Just for a day, at least. 200° Coffee offers a range of courses at their barista school, so you can tune up your home brew, or perfect your latte art.



Put on your glad rags and treat yourself

We could all do with a treat now and again, so if you’re in the market for an unforgettable meal then Leeds has plenty of places to get dressed up for. Unlike some cities, we don’t pin all our hopes on fine dining accolades and internationally renowned chefs. Though we’ve got a few of those anyway. There’s just as much fun to be had eating at a tiny but refined neighbourhood place as there is at a Michelin-starred city centre restaurant.

Chef Michael O’Hare has recently launched Psycho Sandbar a new concept tasting menu and the description sums up Leeds perfectly. It’s a balance between ‘glamour and grunge, non-conformity and familiarity and aesthetics and deliciousness’. You can also try the A La Carte option for an alternative dining experience. The food is eccentric, truly unique and always exquisite – well worth the wait for a table, and quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime meal too.

Another renowned chef heading up a Leeds-based eatery is Chef Jono at V&V (previously Vice & Virtue). An award winning, fine dining British restaurant and prohibition cocktail lounge, V&V offer guests a choice of two extraordinary tasting menus to really turn your date night up a notch, all curated by chef Jono – who you may recognise for his impressive stint of Masterchef: The Professionals in 2020.

The Cut & Craft opened last year and is now a firm favourite on the Leeds foodie scene, iserving up steakhouse favourites such as juicy flat-iron steaks and delicious burgers alongside hand-crafted cocktails. And it’s not just the food that will bring people in. The restaurant is simply luxurious, with a grand central bar, plush furnishings and booths and tables set far enough apart for you to enjoy your night without feeling like you’re on somebody else’s. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a great dining experience, and The Cut & Craft know it.

Newly opened Ivy Asia is also part of Victoria Leeds’ luxury dining scene. The Ivy Asia has been delighting guests with incredible modern pan-Asian dishes since it opened; think crispy duck pancakes delivered to your table in a towering golden duck bellowing with dry ice, or a white chocolate sphere that melts into a passionfruit mousse as soon as a rich caramel and yuzu foam is poured over it. And of course, the interior matches up to the food. With jewel-toned marble floors, cherry blossom trees and grand decorations, you’ll feel like royalty dining here.




Just a short walk from the Train Station lies Tattu; an independent modern-Chinese restaurant that tantalises all the senses. Iconic pink cherry blossoms, atmospheric lighting and intricate finishes adorn Tattu and each work together for a romantic setting worthy of your next special occasion celebration. But it’s not style over substance. The chefs at Tattu serve up incredible dishes, from caramel soy beef fillet to Shanghai black cod and a mouth-watering Dim Sum selection, while bartenders delight with crafted cocktails and high-quality wines.

You can have a hoot at The Owl, which concludes our roundup of the best high-end dines in the city. A small and relaxed restaurant based on Leeds’ canal, The Owl serves up modern British food, using the best local fish, meat and game, in a modern and stylish setting.


To find out more about places to eat in Leeds, head to our Food and Drink page, where you’ll find food and drink events and festivals, articles, features and listings for everything from family friendly festivals to veggie and vegan cafes.


*This blog was originally published in November 2021 but has been updated for 2024.