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The 17 best cheap eats in Leeds

This is a city rich in flavour, variety and quality – and you won’t necessarily have to pay for it. Just check out these amazing cheap restaurants in Leeds

Daniel Dylan Wray
Written by
Daniel Dylan Wray
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Leeds is a city with a wealth of culinary excellence and excitement going on. This is a place where you can get Michelin-star contemporary cuisine that sparkles just as brightly as some of the longstanding curry houses. It’s a city rich in flavour, variety and quality. The drinks scene is pretty knockout too.

However, while treating yourself to a fancy meal is always a joyous experience, sometimes you want all those flavours without the hefty bill. Thankfully, Leeds has also got you covered on that front. From amazing pizza joints to tasty Thai and deliciously crunchy Vietnamese sarnies, here’s our guide to the best cheap restaurants in Leeds.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Leeds

Best cheap eats in Leeds

Leeds’s simple but excellent concept of pairing Indian street food and craft beer has proven so popular it now stretches across several cities in the North of England. This is for good reason. Not only is their 100 percent vegetarian menu truly delicious but it’s also incredibly affordable. Small plates, in some places, have become synonymous with expense but not so here. Whether you just fancy a quick snack, several small dishes or one of the combo deals that offers a variety of different dishes to sample, it’s always at a price that won’t leave your eyes watering.

This place began life as a pop-up and was so successful it almost immediately won Best of the Best at the British Street Food Awards. Now in its own building, it serves up arguably the city’s best ramen, alongside rice bowls, gyoza, amazing sides and a sake menu. And head chef Ben Iley knows a thing or two about ramen. While living in Tokyo for nine years, he worked at some of the country’s top restaurants including Aquavit, The Tokyo American Club and Fujimamas. He even worked with Ivan Orkin, the chef behind the internationally renowned Ivan Ramen. So if a steaming hot bowl of noodles is your thing, this place is not to miss.

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  • Restaurants
  • Pizza

Arguably some of the best pizza in the city, Dough Boys’ creations feature a mega-thin base, sauce that strikes the right balance between sweet and tangy, and is made from juicy San Marzano tomatoes, an obligatory pile of cheese, and a whole range of toppings. The owners take pride in the provenance of their ingredients, the origins of which are proudly displayed and are locally sourced where possible. Slices won’t break the bank either – if you visit at the right time (before 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and before 7pm the rest of the week), you can pick up a piece for half price.

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese

Serving tasty Vietnamese street food, Nom is a safe bet for those who are on the hunt for a more exciting lunch than the usual soup or sandwich. The banh mi sandwiches (starting at £3.95) are very good, and feature a locally made baguette that’s crisp on the outside yet soft inside, packed with a choice of delicious fillings – either chicken, grilled fish, barbecue pork, hoisin duck or tofu and mushroom. The menu also features summer rolls, pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and noodle salads, all of which are freshly made, and vegetarians or those with gluten intolerances will also find themselves well catered to.

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Mommy Thai’s street food has proven so popular in Leeds that there are two locations. If you’re looking for no-frills, good-quality, inexpensive Thai food then this is definitely worth checking out. Their lunch menu deal is one of the best in the city and proves that you don’t have to endure soggy packet sandwiches if you want a cheap and quick lunch. Here you can get a starter, main and a side dish for less than £8.

Banh and Mee is a Vietnamese street food kitchen in Leeds market. Whether you’re a local looking for a way to make that lunch break taste a little livelier or a visitor looking for great food at an inexpensive price, then Banh and Mee have got you covered. There’s plenty of options, such as summer rolls, loaded fries, bao, noodles, salads and of course bahn mi, those deliciously crunchy, fresh and flavour-loaded Vietnamese sandwiches.

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  • Restaurants
  • British

Pieminister has become a bit of a staple food all across the UK, from festival sites to supermarket shelves. And that’s because they knock up tasty, well-priced pies with a fun variety of fillings. As excellent for veggies and vegans as for meat-eaters, it’s a reliable cheap eat. 

  • Restaurants
  • British

An all-day menu – from 8am – encompasses everything from organic oat porridge, bacon (albeit Lishman’s of Ilkley bacon) butties to slow roasted belly pork with cumin salt and Atlantic prawns with Cornish crab. There’s also an extensive range of beers and cocktails and, if you get happy feet, a disco till 12am, 1am at weekends.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian

The family-run business is a mammoth operation nowadays, but it started from humble roots in the late 1970s at a time of culinary suspicion in the UK, and has since earned a fond place in Yorkshire hearts. All the usual curry house staples are available, but the signature house dish is the Hyderabadi – a mild-to-medium curry with a rich blend of spices and cream that could easily rival any korma or tikka masala. The range of ever-changing specials includes spicy lamb kebabs that hit the table still sizzling, and fresh fish cooked to perfection in a blend of aromatic spices.

With locations in various other cities, Rudy’s has become something of a go-to place for dough lovers in recent years. Favouring the Neapolitan style – chewy and softer rather than crispy – the dough takes 24 hours to double ferment but just 60 seconds to cook. And, crucially, it won’t break the bank. Order a pizza from the cheaper end of the menu and you may still have change left from a tenner after ordering a drink as well.

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  • Bars and pubs

Friends of Ham is a favourite among food lovers in Leeds. Since opening a couple of years ago it’s become a go-to destination for great food and drink, serving quality charcuterie and cheese alongside equally good beverages, including a wide range of craft ales and wine. A short walk from both Leeds train station and Boar Lane, it’s a convenient spot to duck into. The menu has a section dedicated to small dishes, such as jabugo bruschetta or ploughman’s that start from as little as £5; order them alongside meats, cheeses and bread if you’re in the mood for a more substantial feast. Or try one of the platters if you’re in the mood for sharing.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese

This longstanding city-centre restaurant has served up Japanese staples for many years. The menu consists of small dishes, such as gyoza, fried noodle dishes, including yaki soba and fuji beef men, as well as chicken katsu curry, chahan (fried rice) and steaming bowls of ramen. The interior is simple, bordering on stark, but the decor is not the reason to visit Fuji Hiro, rather its quality, good-value meals (a set meal, which includes a side dish, main and beer starts at £15.95) are what attract its customers. Portions are generous, in particular the chahan and yaki soba, which are served in mountainous proportions.

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  • Moroccan

If you’ve ever taken a journey down the Otley Road through the student confines of Hyde Park, you probably will have noticed the curious, Middle-Eastern-looking Oranaise Café on the corner of Woodhouse Moor. Channelling the diverse flavours of Morocco, Algeria and Andalucía, this pretty eatery offers a sit-in and takeout menu filled with flavour and North African warmth. It’s cheap, too – the generous, superb tagines are the most expensive items on the menu, at a very reasonable £11.

  • Restaurants
  • Malaysian

With its bright yellow frontage, strip lighting and cheesy pop music playing in the background, this Malaysian restaurant, in the increasingly smart environs of the Merrion Centre, looks more like a takeaway than a restaurant. But don’t be fooled, the food here is the real deal. The menu is divided into noodle soups, roasted meats, rice and meat combos and stir fried noodles. There’s even a roast suckling pig but as it comes in at around £120, you might want to reserve that for special occasions. There’s no alcohol licence.

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Exactly like good authentic Neapolitan pizza should be served, Pizza Fella knocks up simple, cheap and excellent-quality pizza made with the best ingredients – in this instance San Marzano tomatoes and Fior di Latte mozzarella, made with dough left to prove for 48 hours. There are plenty of options on the menu but if you’re looking for a cheap bite then Tuesday to Friday between 12pm and 5pm is the time you want to go, as you can get a margherita for just a fiver.

  • Restaurants
  • Iraqi

La Cafetiere is a magnet for snuggling student couples thanks to its sultry purple décor, fairy lights, waxy wine bottle candles and sexy-sounding Mediterranean food for cheaps. By modern standards the food isn’t fancy, but it is sufficiently exotic-sounding and smelling to make it a shrewd go-to date night option – and it’s one you’ll find yourself returning to again and again. Keenly priced starters include delicious kubah and dolmas, while most mains – ranging from pastas and pizza breads to falafel, kofta, salads and lamb meatballs with couscous – are priced between £5 and £9. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés

The inviting space pays tribute to the building’s rich manufacturing heritage, while ensuring that the food and selection of alcoholic drinks on offer are sufficiently à la mode to entice trendy young professionals. Meals are served on homely earthenware; the couscous salad is warm and full of flavour. Lunchtime prices are in line with most similar cafés.

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