Festive Food & Drink
Tis’ the season to eat, drink and be merry…
…And where better to be than Leeds – a city known for its outstanding food and drink scene as well as its excellent hospitality.
Whether you want to indulge in foodie festive feasts, celebrate with sparkling winter cocktails or cosy up next to a roaring fire for a roast dinner with all the trimmings (of course WITH Yorkshire Puddings) – Leeds has you covered.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite places to be this festive season. Read on and enjoy the magic and merriment of a Leeds Christmas. Or jump to: Traditional Pubs and Roasts, High-End Festive Dining, Get into the Festive Spirit, Dining with a View, Pre-Theatre, Best for Sharing, Non-Traditional Christmas Dining, Casual Dining and Street Food, Sweet Treats, Celebrate with Cocktails,New for this Year, or try a Leeds Food Tour.
(For festive afternoon teas and bottomless brunch inspiration – check out the food and drink section in our Ultimate Guide here)
(Whitelock’s – Mark Newton Photography for Visit Leeds)
TRADITIONAL PUBS AND ROASTS
For a classic pub experience with roast dinners, hearty meals and fantastic beers and ales – you can’t do better than The Adelphi. Located just ten mins walk from the train station, this traditional pub has open fires and cosy corners galore. Its festive menu has a range of options for Christmas including baked camembert and duck parfait, for those looking for something more luxurious, as well as vegetarian and vegan dinner options.
Built in 1715, Whitelock’s is the oldest public house in Leeds, and the history and charm of the establishment remains today. Christmas at Whitelocks is a traditional affair, with crowd-pleasing favourites and cosy-interiors. The festive menu is extensive and caters for all tastes including maple cured salmon, butternut squash pate, stuffed turkey ballotine and a chocolate and cherry cheesecake.
Restored from a crumbling 19th century building, the Lamb and Flag mixes warm exposed brickwork with big open windows and a superb Christmas menu. You can enjoy two delicious courses or opt for three-courses, with tasty treats including mulled wine poached pears, roast turkey with the trimmings, a spiced vegetable pie and a chocolate orange tart. Delicious!
(The Ivy, Victoria Quarter. Photographer Paul Winch-Furness)
HIGH-END FESTIVE DINING
Fancy treating yourself? It is Christmas after all. If you want a show stopping festive dinner in Leeds then head on over to Tattu. This year, Tattu is honouring the winter season with their spectacular ‘The Great Snow’ event. Walk into an enchanted winter scene where Tattu’s iconic pink cherry blossoms will be turned blue and shimmery with frost, while feasting on curated cocktails, elevated modern-Chinese dishes and show stopping desserts. For a one-of-a-kind festive treat, head on over to this restaurant on the edge of one of Leeds most popular night-time hotspots, Greek Street.
The Cut & Craft is a casual dining experience of flat-iron steaks and hand-crafted cocktails in the height of luxury. The restaurant is breath-taking with a domed ceiling and circular bar, retaining the charm and history of the building that is part of the Victoria Quarter arcade. If you’re looking for a luxury night out with friends or a special date night this festive season, The Cut & Craft is for you.
For exquisite dishes and a true foodie experience Chef Jono at V&V is the place to be. A Professional Chef for over 16 years and a proud Yorkshireman, Jono has spent many years training in some of the UK and the World’s best restaurants including, most notably Michelin Starred, Noma (Denmark), Quay Restaurant (Sydney) and The Box Tree (Ilkley). Jono is one of the most creative and talented chefs emerging onto the UK Culinary scene, with his appearance on the BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals 2020 further elevating his profile
The Ivy Victoria Quarter brings relaxed, sophisticated all-day dining to the heart of Leeds. From modern British classics to Asian-inspired cuisine and fantastic vegan and vegetarian dishes, there’s something for everyone to love, seven days a week.
Shears Yard is a kitchen and bar that delivers a fresh and seasonal menu of creative combinations of locally sourced ingredients. It is one of the city’s leading independent restaurants with a real focus on offering guests a delicious fine dining experience in a laidback environment. At Shears Yard, you’re in for some real Christmas magic.
Iberica is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city, the space is light and airy restaurant, with high ceilings and stunning chandeliers. And the food is fantastic too! The talented chefs have created a Christmas feast to be enjoyed together. From traditional Spanish dishes with a twist to brand-new creations, which are perfect for sharing with family, friends or colleagues.
(DoubleTree by Hilton – Tom Martin for Visit Leeds)
GET INTO THE FESTIVE SPIRIT
This year we have the Leeds Christmas Markets with an abundance of stalls where you can enjoy your festive favourites including mulled wine, bratwurst and hot chocolate. In addition to this, the city centre is full of cosy tipis and pop up bars.
If you want a taste of Christmas magic, Green Room encapsulates the magic of a Christmas, by transforming its roof terrace into a cosy winter garden. They’ll be warming visitors up with fire pits, woollen blankets and heat lamps and filling their bellies with delicious festive bites. All of which can be washed down with steins of beer exclusively delivered by Kirkstall Brewery and crafted cocktails made by expert bartenders – what’s not to love?
The biggest indoor market in Europe, Kirkgate Market has been at the heart of Leeds retail since 1857, and is one of the best food hubs in the city too. Expect to see festive twists on favourites from the Yorkshire Pudding Wrap Company and hot-dog joint Fat Annie’s throughout the festive season. Kirkgate Market reflects the wonderfully diverse population of Leeds which fills the market with true Christmas spirit.
Have a jolly holly season and meet Santa in the festive terrace igloo at DoubleTree by Hilton. Mulled wine, hot chocolate and food will also be available on the day to purchase along with free family-friendly activities. Be sure to book in advance.
(Issho – Carl Milner for Visit Leeds )
DINING WITH A VIEW
In the heart of city square, Leeds’ landmark Old Post Office is now home to Restaurant Bar and Grill. Having undergone a glamourous 2 million pound refurbishment just this year, the interior is reminiscent of the Grand Central Station in New York; experience New York Christmas right here in Leeds!
Angelica is located on the sixth floor of the Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre, with a wraparound planted terrace and panoramic city views making Angelica the ultimate destination for Christmas vibes. Want to make the most of the party season? Angelica are inviting you to host your festivities on their rooftop winter wonderland this year with all your nearest and dearest.
Overlooking the city square, Banyan hosts a Winter Tipi, featuring an outdoor bar and firepit for you to get extra comfy and snug. They have a multitude of winter packages available, including a 3-course meal for with mouth-watering starters – maple glazed ham hock terrine with a beetroot chutney and mini French toast – and mains – a turkey escalope parcel filled with apricot and sage stuffing wrapped in streaky bacon with fondant potato with all the trimmings. Finish with a ‘festive mess’ which features a mulled berry filled meringue or a classic cheese board for savoury lovers.
Rooftop bar Crafthouse offers some of the best views in the city, and conveniently located in the Trinity Leeds shopping centre, is a fantastic spot to refresh after a day’s Christmas shopping. They serve an array of wines, beers and crafted cocktails to enjoy alongside a really Christmassy fine dining experience, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Take a sip while sitting back on the heated rooftop terrace and be taken away from the hustle and bustle of the festive period.
Issho – meaning ‘together’ in Japanese – is a contemporary Japanese rooftop bar and restaurant in Leeds’ swanky Victoria Gate. It’s a super stylish place to enjoy a Christmas cocktail with friends or family, the drinks and sushi are among the best in the city. This year, Issho are celebrating their fuyo (winter) season, with crafted cocktails including toki whiskey, bulleit rey whisky, akashi tai yuzu sake, semsame oil, hazelnut syrup and matcha foam. Get your party dress on and come on down!
(Stuzzi – Jo Ritchie for Visit Leeds)
Heading out to see a spectacular festive show in Leeds? Why not pair your trip to the theatre with a delicious meal beforehand? Kino is Opera North’s new restaurant, offering delicious food and drink to satisfy taste buds before taking to your seat for an evening of world-class entertainment. Kino is also nearby to Leeds Grand Theatre, one of the oldest and most spectacular theatres in the UK, and is closeby to independent arts venues the Carriageworks and City Varieties, so Kino truly is best situated for some pre-theatre dining. With food inspired by western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and North-East Africa, dishes include thirkleby duck & stuffed radicchio and popcorn, sweetcorn & courgette. Dessert lovers can choose from traditional favourites including their arctic roll & pear or Jerusalem artichoke cake & salted popcorn ice cream. A delicious dinner followed by a show? What could be better?
Serving theatre goers for over 120 years, the Empire Cafe is a great pre (and post) theatre dinner. Try their Wall of Flame rotisserie chicken with so many options for lathers, crumbs and sides. Never say no to a dessert, especially with some truly indulgent choices including a Negroni tart or how about Crème Brûlée with coconut biscuit? The ingredients are locally sourced from the nearby Kirkgate Market so you know you are in for a tasty meal.
Stuzzi is a fashionable Italian restaurant in one of the city’s most popular arcades; close to The Grand Theatre and near to Merrion Street where there’s plenty of choice for pre or post dinner drinks! Expect to share mouth-watering bowls of pasta or delicious arancini, all while washing it down with some of the best wines in the city.
(El Gato Negro – Lucas Smith)
BEST FOR SHARING
In the mood for a festive fiesta? Head over to El Gato Negro transports you to the streets of sunny Barcelona. Located in a stunning former-bank on the corner of Park Row and Bond Street, El Gato Negro is a beautifully renovated bar and restaurant offering an array of Spanish tapas that’s perfect for those wanting something a little less conventional this Christmas. Expect to dine on favourites including padron peppers, cod croquettes and patatas bravas, all created by Chef patron Simon Shaw. It’s not your traditional turkey and trimmings, but it’ll certainly make you smile this Christmas.
Ambiente is an independent Spanish restaurant situated on The Calls in the heart of Leeds. In a renovated Grade II listed building, Ambiente is a casual and relaxed dining space that offers some of the best and most authentic tapas in the city. They have a special festive menu for 2023, where you can feast upon Spanish classics including beef and pork meatballs, caramelised chorizo and potato and fresh king prawns with garlic. They are also specialists in the much under-rated Spanish drink of Sherry with an extensive menu from super dry to extra sweet – and what could be more festive than a glass of sherry! Feliz Navidad!
(Tharavadu – Amy Heycock for Visit Leeds)
NON-TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS DINING
The first authentic Kerala Restaurant in Leeds, Tharavadu has won over the city of Leeds since it first opened, serving flavourful and authentic dishes. This year, you can enjoy festive fare, with the restaurant’s special Christmas menu. You can choose between two and four dishes, with options including Kohzu curry, lentil doughnuts, seafood curry and mango kulfi. If you’re looking for a taste of South India this Christmas, head on down to Tharavadu for a great dining experience.
A popular city hotspot since its inception last year, Riva Blu is celebrating their second Christmas on the Leeds’ scene in true style. The restaurant is offering a host of festive menus across November and December that are sure to put anyone in the festive spirit. Dishes include Italian classics such as bruschetta, minestrone, lasagne, risotto and tiramisu, paired with Christmas favourites turkey and grilled salmon. Riva Blu is also perfectly situated on Park Row, so a great place to stop off before enjoying the festivities happening at Millennium Square, which include a carousel, the Wheel of Light and Thor’s tipi.
This winter, pizza fans can channel their inner rebel with the launch of the special Punk’mas Pizza Party deal. Known for unlimited topping, San Franciscan sourdough, Pizza Punks have unleashed a non-conformist Christmas feast to kick-start the festive spirit, whether you’re vegan, halal or a family. Guests can enjoy a selection of tasty sides served to share, followed by their own sourdough pizza and a selection of dips for those crusts, plus a drink for only £28 per person.
With a stunning view from Granary Wharf and luxurious interior design, Fazenda – Rodizio Bar and Grill offers a very special dining experience. Their menu consists of vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian and halal options as well as their grill selections including Sirloin and a Spicy Wagyu Beef Sausage. For the festive season expect to add some special treats from an arrival drink to vegan caviar.
(Bundobust Christmas – Mark Newton Photography)
CASUAL DINING AND STREET FOOD
At one of the best shopping centres in the city, you’ll find some of the best street food in Leeds. With a concept that is completely unique, Trinity Kitchen rotates six new street food vans every eight weeks and offers visitors the chance to experience various flavours and cuisines under one roof. The rotating street food vendors trade alongside permanent eateries: Archies, Pho, Rola Wala, Tortilla, Pizzaluxe, and Doner Shack
Bundobust have announced their massive vegan, vegetarian and gluten free Christmas menu with plenty of varied items in their combos if you are going in a large group. Don’t miss out on the mince pie parathas and sprout bhajis for a festive twist on Indian street food.
Döner Summer is always a favourite when it comes to vegan food and we can’t wait to see what Christmas specials they will have this year with their annual vegan twists on favourites like turk’y and traditional veg.
Or how about somewhere where you boast about all the local and organic produce and stay seasonal? Eat Your Greens is a vegetable heavy menu that is a grocery store by day and restaurant by night. Even some of the drinks are responsible organic wines and ciders.
Fleur, in The Light, is one of the city’s most instagrammable restaurants, with inspired menus and extensive cocktails and mocktails. The varied selection of warm and cold desserts are mind-blowing with fresh and unexpected new variations of cheesecake, rum baba and profiteroles.
Haute Dolci, also in The Light, is an aesthetic pastel world of savoury and sweet treats where you can enjoy waffles, cakes or a fondue for two. Perfect for small groups or couples.
Cup+Lid on the Headrow is a perfect spot to pick up a hot or iced chocolate drink – with 16 varieties of chocolate. Don’t forget marshmallows on top for a truly festive delight!
The Lost and Found Club on Albion Place is stunning, with interiors inspired by far away travel and old school glamour. Choose from a number of different rooms and seating options to enjoy some of the finest cocktails, dishes and deserts in town!
CELEBRATE WITH COCKTAILS
The Maven on Call Lane is the perfect intimate cocktail bar, with live DJs at the weekend which get the party started. This Christmas Maven offers a Christmas Cocktail Taster Menu where spirit enthusiasts can sample festive cocktails, each served with a small bite to complement the flavours. An experience to share with friends from the office!
Walk through a tailor’s or barber’s shop in the Grand Arcade and you might find yourself somewhere completely different! Tailor’s is a tailor shop during the day, cocktail lounge by night – serving gins and cocktails with a 1920s art deco design. Or just around the corner, enter the barbers and downstairs is a jazz club with live music and a dance floor. Domino Club has an extensive cocktail list with martinis and highballs a plenty.
We know that whilst the booze flows free during the festive season, you may not be interested so we have found the best places for some drinks with your friends with cocktails and mocktails. The Alchemist on both Greek Street and in Trinity centre are well known for their cocktails but did you know they have a great selection of mocktails too? Choose a Cos-No or Punchy Cucumber. And The Botanist, a great place for festive food and cocktails, offer non-alcoholic mojitos and a Forest Spritz which is also suitable for vegans
NEW THIS YEAR
This year Leeds has welcomed so many new bars and restaurants such as Tamatanga and Farmhouse and the run up to Christmas is set to bring even more if you want to enjoy some festive food and drink out in unfamiliar territory.
The Northern Market, a new venture from Northern Monk in the old Assembly Underground unit, will feature a food market (with collaborations from Falafel Guys, Big Buns and more) and beer hall, with a fully stocked bar of the breweries own produce as well as frozen cocktails, wines, and spirits. Opening early November.
Flat Iron will be bringing their remarkable steak at an affordable price to Leeds in late November. Set to open in the former Church Institute nestled beside the Trinity shopping centre in late November, it’ll be a great stop off during your Christmas shopping. The menu also boasts an array of sides, including truffled macaroni cheese, crispy bone marrow garlic mash and homemade beef dripping chips.
Not far from the Train Station, Trevelyan Square will become the home of Pizza Pilgrims. Their authentic menu and casual service comes with a modest price tag for those wanting a quick stop off. Offerings will include a bottomless brunch with free flowing prosecco and beer. Opening early November.
CAN’T DECIDE? TRY A FOOD TOUR
If you can’t make up your mind about where to eat – why not try Leeds Foods Tours? Led by professionals who know all the hidden foodie gems in the city, you’ll be amazed at the range of tasty foods you can find in Leeds.