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Photograph: Jo Ritchie

The 24 best restaurants in Leeds you need to try

Feeling peckish? Here are the best restaurants in Leeds for ramen, curry, small plates and more

Daniel Dylan Wray
Written by
Daniel Dylan Wray
Jenessa Williams

Feeling hungry in West Yorkshire? Leeds will not leave your belly nor taste buds lacking. Aside from the wide array of brilliant things to do, this is a city that’s home to a properly exciting and eclectic food scene, one which is constantly evolving with its culturally diverse population. Complemented by a range of great bars and pubs, the Leeds food industry prides itself on its welcoming atmosphere, catering for the classics as well as pushing the envelope with exciting (and aesthetically pleasing) new inventions. 

From quick affordable bites to budget-blowing fine -dining, Leeds really is a city that has it all. So, whether you fancy ramen and karaoke, 12-course British-fusion food or some of the tastiest Chinese dishes in the UK, here’s our round up of the very best restaurants in Leeds right now.

RECOMMENDED: The best bars in Leeds

Amazing restaurants in Leeds you need to try

  • Restaurants

What is it? Leeds’s only Michelin-star place. A high-concept, ultra-refined dining spot that stays just the right side of pretentious.

Why go? The name refers to the titular sorcerer in The Wizard of Oz, and in turn, chef Michael O’Hare, who cooks in full view of diners. His restaurant is as much an artistic as a culinary experience: the walls are used as blank canvases for more creative patrons to doodle on. 

Time Out tip: It’s the ‘Dahli to Delhi’ dish that really shines: red prawn, tikka-spice tail and roasted head juices with a nod to surrealism.

What is it? Indian street food and craft beer. 

Why go? The original Leeds location has proven so popular that they’ve expanded into Manchester and Liverpool. It’s a relaxed setting, 100 percent vegetarian (brilliant for vegans), and the small-dishes approach means you can sample a variety of flavourful bites alongside an excellent range of local and imported beers.

Time Out tip: Go with some friends and order the Bundo Combo i.e every dish on the menu.


What is it? An intimate sushi bar owned by chef Kaoru Nakamura.

Why go? For the omakase dining experience (meaning you trust the chef to pick what you eat). The tasting menu does have some options for supplementary dishes but you’re in fantastic hands with chef Nakamura, whose seven-seat sushi bar is recommended by the Michelin guide.

Time Out tip: Book well in advance.  

What is it? Fine dining with Yorkshire ingredients by chef Elizabeth Cottam. 

Why go? For the elegant and innovative testing menu that uses the best local and seasonal ingredients. Recommended by the Michelin Guide, this fine-dining establishment also offers some excellent wine pairing with the set menus, should you really want to push the boat out. 

Time Out tip: If you have the budget, time and appetite, then the 12-course ‘signature collection’ tasting menu is worth the spend.


What is it? Vibes-heavy karaoke and noodle bar. 

Why Go? Next door to Ox Club and Headrow House, House of Fu is the latest hipster addition to Leeds Headrow. Fortunately, the food is just as good as the influencer-friendly aesthetics. Expect rich, comforting bowls of simmered stock, noodles and tender meat (or veg), with a revolving menu of culture-melding gyozas on the side. If you’re wanting to make a night of it, head upstairs after for karaoke and a stylish late-night cocktail bar.

Time Out Tip: The frozen yuzu margarita or desert ice cream sandwiches are the perfect sensory contrast to a bowl of warm soup.

What is it? Nordic-inspired food with a sophisticated feel.

Why go? With its cosy coffee-shop feel, you might be forgiven for thinking that Fint is a simple croissant-and-flat-white joint. In fact, it’s quite the progressive spot, promoting innovative, well-balanced Nordic plates with warming, wintery ingredients such as toasted fennel, salmon gravlax and golden syrup gravy. Book early for a spot; this small space fills up quickly.

Time Out Tip: Fint is also a great indulgent brunch spot – get down from 10am for buckwheat porridge or duck crumpet benedict.

  • Restaurants

What is it? Hearty, traditional southern Indian dishes in a family-run spot. 

Why go? In a region that’s known for its high-calibre curry houses, the award-winning Prashad stands out. This veggie Gujarati spot is in the suburb of Drighlinton, and boasts a menu jam-packed with traditional regional dishes.

Time Out tip: Like what you taste? Book in for one of Prashad’s signature cooking demonstration classes.

What is it? A popular Keralan spot with a mean dessert menu.

Why go? The Malayalam word ‘tharavadu’ roughly translates as keeping traditions alive – and that’s certainly the ethos of this charming Keralan restaurant, which you’ll find just across the road from Leeds train station. They cover a wide variety of southern Indian dishes, among which you’ll find some unusual treats. 

Time Out tip: Look out for crab cooked in coconut sauce, fluffy lentil-fried doughnuts and smooth vermicelli pudding with cardamom and saffron.


What is it? Upmarket offerings in an upmarket setting. 

Why go? The ever-brilliant D&D are the hospitality group behind this restaurant, and they certainly don’t slip up here. Lee Bennet’s kitchen delivers a superb seasonal menu that succeeds thanks to its focus on high-quality local ingredients. 

Time Out tip: The fish dishes, like rhubarb and caper-dressed cod, are particularly tasty.

What is it? A classy-looking restaurant at Headrow House specialising in high-quality cooking over some serious flames.

Why go? The food here is how cavemen wish they’d eaten. The focus is on wood-fired cooking, with more than half of the dishes here given a lick of flame (and then some) from a very fancy bit of kit from US barbecue experts, Grillworks. But it’s not just big, boisterous flavours – they do delicate damn well, too. Make sure you save room for the exquisite desserts...

Time Out tip: Don’t scrimp on the sides; beautiful potatoes and buttery green veg complement those meaty steaks.

  • Restaurants
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A former supper club-turned-intimate small-plates dining room. 

Why go? This little joint on North Street started life as a humble greasy spoon, only moonlighting as fine dining supper club The Swine that Dines a couple of times a month. That all changed in 2018, when husband and wife owners, Stu and Jo, decided to embrace small-plates dining full time. Stu, who has a Michelin background, heads up the kitchen with a focus on nose-to-tail dining. The regularly-changing menu is always full of unusual cuts of meat and cutting-edge combinations.

Time Out tip: Embrace a singular experience on ‘Swine Sundays’, where Stu serves up a set three-course menu of whatever he fancies that day.  

  • Restaurants
  • Italian

What is it? A charming Italian restaurant that’s been serving peckish Leeds folk since 1976.

Why go? The menu is pretty fierce in its dedication to Italy and diners are encouraged to follow the four-course Italian act (antipasti, pasta, secondi and dessert). But whether you can manage that amount of grub or not, there are some unmissable items on the menu — the gamberoni abruzzese for instance, with its grilled king prawns, chilli and lemon — as well as extensive vegan and gluten-free options.

Time Out tip: Between 12pm and 2pm, Monday to Friday, the £10 lunch deal offers excellent value.


What is it? Generous portions of traditional Thai food. 

Why go? This mini-chain is clearly doing something right: it has branches in the city centre and in the up-and-coming areas of Headingley and Chapel Allerton, as well as out in Harrogate. The Sukhothai ethos combines high-quality South-East Asian cooking, impeccable service and generous plates that ensure all patrons leave full and with smiles on their faces.

Time Out tip: If street food’s more your bag, check out Sukothai’s sister restaurant Zaap. 

What is it? A hotel restaurant that claims to serve the best steak in Leeds. 

Why go? Steaks are a speciality here – expect prime cuts sourced from traditionally reared, grass-fed cattle from British farms. That said, you won’t be left out if you’re veggie or vegan either, with multiple options from herb gnocchi with wild mushrooms, parmesan and spinach to avocado salad with apple, wasabi and yuzu – all served up in an especially sleek dining room. You could always stay the night too. 

Time Out tip: Plan a aperitif or digestif into your booking; Dakota also offers a lovely well-stocked cocktail bar.


What is it? A charcuterie-based range of, yes, chiefly pork-based bites in a popular casual dining spot.

Why go? Friends of Ham opened in 2012 and in the years since has become a must-visit for any foodie passing through. It serves a wide range of meats and cheese, alongside an impressive list of craft beers and wine. Their platters are a tip-top sharing option.

Time Out tips: Hopping on the train after your meal? Buy a beer to go and it’ll still be cold by the time you board at the nearby railway station.

  • Restaurants

What is it? Sophisticated seasonal plates at a slightly off-the-beaten-track location. 

Why go? Previously beloved as The Reliance, new owners Three’s A Crowd have kept the spirit of the venue; top-notch, high-end plates with a friendly, pub-like atmosphere. For special occasions, the back room can be hired for private dining.

Time Out tip: It’s always worth checking the daily-changing specials board here, and asking staff for a look at the extensive natural wine list.

  • Restaurants

What is it? Zingy, shareable Italian small plates – perfect for a cosy meal with your other half. 

Why go? This small-plates spot is a little out of town, but is a resoundingly successful suburban neighbourhood restaurant. The menu has plenty of classics, but also varies according to the seasons. It’s broken down into bocconi (mouthfuls), such as olives, white anchovy crostini or pizzette, and slightly bigger plates of cold meat, fish and pasta. Naturally, this is a place where you want to order a good spread and share with pals.

Time Out tip: If you want a taste of Zucco at home, pick up one of their treat-filled hampers. 

  • Restaurants

What is it? Endless plates of sizzling, rodizio-style skewered meat at a cheerful South American spot. 

Why go? On paper, the Fazenda format sounds a little tacky: a Brazilian-influenced restaurant that does all-you-can-eat plates of skewers. But even if it does sound all a bit ‘Man v. Food’ (and a one-way ticket to the meat sweats) it’s also incredibly tasty, and delivered in a stylish environment.  

Time Out tip: Save some room for the Chimichurri potatoes; almost as good as the meat. 

  • Restaurants

What is it? Homely, great-value French dishes.

Why go? Fancy enjoying a slice of Paris right in the middle of Leeds? Head to this bistro, which serves quality French cooking in a high-brow location (it counts BBC Leeds and the Northern Ballet among its neighbours). Cute touches like candles in wax-drenched bottles add to the Gallic charm, but above all it’s the consistently excellent, rich food that draws punters in.

Time Out tip: Let the staff know if it’s a special occasion; their service is ideal for birthdays or romantic anniversaries.

  • Restaurants
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? A family-run restaurant proving Mexican food is more than tacos and tortillas. 

Why go? It’s incredibly hard to find truly authentic Mexican food in the UK, but under the care of Rudy, the head chef and owner of Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana who was born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico, the kitchen serves up traditional dishes you won’t find at your neighbourhood Tex Mex. Here the flavours are big and the colours bold. Specials include grilled cactus salad and various ceviche dishes using epazote, an ancient South American herb.

Time Out tip: Order the mussels in chipotle sauce. Just do it! 


What is it? First-rate Kashmiri dishes at a legendary curry house.  

Why go? Aagrah has got its formula down to a tee: the Shipley-based chain now has locations across the North. Its roots lie in the late ’70s, when the family-run restaurant served their curries and other dishes at both public and private events. The community spirit remains, with a vast dining room and a generous Sunday and Monday evening buffet, where children under four eat free. 

Time out tip: Order the phenomenal mild-to-medium hyderabadi chicken.

What is it? Home-cooked Chinese cuisine with plenty of surprises on the menu. 

Why go? When Hansa’s, a much-loved Indian restaurant, closed in 2019 after three decades, whoever took over the site had huge shoes to fill. Luckily, Wen’s is more than up to the task and continues the tradition of family-led, homemade cooking. You’ll find delicious authentic dishes seldom seen on Anglicised-Chinese menus: the shredded potatoes with homemade chilli oil, marinated jellyfish and dry-fried sweet corn with pine nuts. The silky dumplings and Xiao Long Bao are homemade by Mrs Wen. 

Time Out tip: The crispy lean pork in sweet and sour sauce is surely among Leeds’s most addictive starters, as is the cubed beef soup.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai

What is it? No-frills Thai food at super-affordable prices. 

Why go? Thai Aroy Dee might not be much of a looker - a shabby frontage leads into a canteen-style dining room with industrial pipes and a low-key bar – but it’s what’s in your bowl that counts, and when it comes to authentic Thai food, this is about as good as it gets. They’re not afraid to go heavy on the spice, and dishes like Sea Bass Shu Shi and the Tom Saep are truly immersive experiences. Ultimately, the no-frills surroundings only add to the feeling that you’ve happened upon a fuss-free gem. 

Time Out tip: Book a table between 12 noon and 5pm for their happy hour deal: £7.95 for two courses is an absolute bargain.

What is it? Friendly spot with a sustainable focus.

Why go? Greengrocers by day and restaurant by night, Eat Your Greens offers a fun and vibrant market pantry, where you can stock up on ingredients and gifting items from cool brands and local suppliers. Though their name leans heavily towards their reputation for great veggie and vegan dishes (don’t miss the beetroot pastrami), they also make a great showing of sustainably sourced meat, including polish breaded pork cutlet served with potato salad and sauerkraut.  

Time out tip: To round out your night, head next door to Outlaws Yacht Club for great late-night cocktails and vibey music.

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