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Photograph: Black Market Leeds

The 24 best restaurants in Leeds you need to try

Looking for something great to eat? These are the best restaurants in Leeds for curry, dumplings, tacos, small plates and more

Daniel Dylan Wray
Written by
Time Out editors
Daniel Dylan Wray

Leeds is one of the UK’s most vibrant cities to visit. Aside from the array of brilliant things to do, it is also a city that is home to an exciting and eclectic food scene. Whether you’re after cheap eats or Michelin-star fine dining, Leeds has you covered. If you’re looking to grab a quick drink pre or post-meal – be it some of the best cocktails in the entire country to a local ale – then you’re also in luck because Leeds is teeming with great bars and pubs. But, as for the main event – the food – here’s our ultimate guide to the best restaurants in Leeds, including everything from a seven-seat sushi bar to a hotel restaurant that claims to fry up the finest steaks in the entire city. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Leeds

Best restaurants in Leeds

  • 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 12-course dégustation that really shines: not cheap, but worth every penny. 

Sushi Bar Hanamatsuri
Photograph: Sushi Bar Hanamatsuri

2. Sushi Bar Hanamatsuri

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.  

Photograph: Home

3. Home

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 ten-course tasting menu.

Black Market
Photograph: Black Market Leeds

4. Black Market

What is it? A modern British bistro with killer cocktails. 

Why go? Whether it’s for brunch, sunday lunch or small plates in the evening, Black Market has an excellent – and reasonably priced – menu to accommodate. Food that the Michelin Guide recommended as ‘honest and full of flavour’.

Time Out tip: Swing by for one of the best Sunday lunches in the city as they spin vinyl records. 

Photograph: Bundobust

5. Bundobust

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 and brilliant for vegans, and the small dishes approach means you can sample a variety of dishes 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.

  • 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, one of the finest resides in Leeds, and it’s the award-winning Prashad. This veggie Gujarati spot is in the suburb of Drighlinton, and boasts a menu jam-packed with traditional regional dishes.

Time Out tip: Check out their tasting menus for a whistlestop tour.

Photograph: Tharavadu

7. Tharavadu

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, excellent fried lentil doughnuts and toffee-filled steamed rice cake.

Photograph: Crafthouse

8. Crafthouse

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 pan-seared halibut, are particularly good.

OX Club
Photograph: Ox Club / Reece Leung

9. OX Club

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: Sore head? Tuck into the phenomenal American-style brunch served on weekends. 

  • 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: Veggie? The first week of every month the menu here is purely plant-based. 

  • Restaurants

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

Why go? This modern British pub-restaurant has a slightly awkward location, but the top-notch, high-end plates totally make up for it. That’s not to say The Reliance is overly formal – its relaxed, essentially pub-like feel is probably a huge part of its success.

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
  • 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 and chilli and lemon, or the risotto alla Boscaiola, which comes with truffled woodland and roasted oyster mushrooms.

Time Out tip: The early bird menu is good value at £14.50 for two courses, or £17.50 for three. 

Photograph: Sukhothai

13. Sukhothai

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 cookery, 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? If you like your meat. 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 tempura avocado with apple, wasabi and yuzu – all served up in an especially sleek dining room. You could always stay the night too. 

Time Out tip: If your wallet can stretch to it, then there’s some gut-busting steaks to devour.

Friends of Ham
Photograph: Christopher Nunn

15. Friends of Ham

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? Ask staff for a train beer and it’ll still be cold by the time you board at the nearby railway station.

  • 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 all exceptional, and delivered in a stylish environment. 

Time Out tip: Don’t be afraid to order the chicken hearts. 

  • 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 food that draws punters in.

Time Out tip: It’s a good alternative to your usual Sunday lunch spot, too. 

Photograph: Aagrah

19. Aagrah

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 to a public still suspicious of South Asian cuisine. Of course, those attitudes are long done, and Aagrah is a perennial favourite among Yorkshire diners.

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

Photograph: Wen’s

20. Wen’s

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 dishes seldom seen on Chinese menus: the shredded potatoes with homemade chill oil, marinated jellyfish and dry-fried sweet corns with pine nut. The silky dumplings and Xiao Long Bao are homemade by Mrs Wen. 

Time Out tip: You might not see any Chinese-Anglo classics on the menu, but the kitchen will still cook them up for you. Just ask.

Corner Café
Photograph: Corner Cafe

21. Corner Café

What is it? A much-loved, family-run Indian. 

Why go? Run by Kate and Karim, whose father opened the original restaurant in 1976, Corner Café is one of the oldest Indians in Leeds with an extremely loyal following. Its charm is not only down to the food, which is reliably delicious, but also the warm and attentive service (pre-Covid, plenty of orders were accompanied by hugs). The menu is extensive but well thought out. Rather than listing curries by name, here you pick your meat or veg then decide how hot you want it. Most dishes can be made into kormas for a small added charge. The result: curry to warm the soul. 

Time Out tip: Kate’s delicious homemade kulfi comes in 25 flavours. If you can’t manage it after your meal, buy a tub to take home. 

  • 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 tinsel tied along the walls – 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. Dishes pile out of the kitchen steaming and headily fragranced. 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. The place has a loyal following, so it’s best to book in advance. And ultimately the no-frills surroundings only add to the feeling that you’ve happened upon a hidden gem. 

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

  • 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 handmade tamales, 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! 

Thai Sabai
Photograph: Thai Sabai

24. Thai Sabai

What is it? A laidback atmosphere and top-notch Thai food.

Why go? This local favourite is out in the Headingley ’burbs, but it’s worth the trek. From the outside it looks like a takeaway, but don’t be fooled. Inside you’ll find a few rows of tables, Thai wood carvings and low lighting – a fuss-free environment that allows the food to shine.

Time Out tip: The classics, like pad see ew and tom yum soup are worth dipping into. 

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