In keeping with its colourful history, York boasts an eclectic array of restaurants that range from traditional tea rooms to globally-inspired fine-dining destinations. Each of the city’s ‘gates’ come with their own distinctive food offering. Castlegate is where to head for touristy bistros right next to the castle (a can’t-miss thing to do in York), casual lunch options abound on Fossgate and Walmgate, and Gillygate offers a slew of brilliant low-key cafés largely free of the tourist hordes. Spark:York and the Shambles markets are burgeoning street food hubs, while Micklegate has been revitalised as York’s most exciting area if you’re into your independent eateries. Just as the city’s bars and pubs go big on diversity, there really is something to suit every taste in our pick of the best restaurants in York.
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Best restaurants in York
What is it? Take a seat at the swish stainless steel bar (if there’s space) and watch as the chefs create dishes incorporating influences from all over the world. From the Middle East to Spain, Japan to the US, this place takes global cuisine and runs with it. Our top tip? Skosh is most famous for its glorious buttermilk fried chicken thighs with aerated hollandaise, so we recommend ordering two portions.
Why go? For a small-plates restaurant making a big impact.
What is it? There’s no menu here, per se – just tell the restaurant any dietary requirements you have and then enjoy as you’re served an impressive four- or eight-course meal. Menus change according to the season, but the black pudding macaron is their signature. If you’re thirsty, sister venue and natural wine bar Cave du Cochon, down the road, is just as classy.
Why go? If you like surprises.
What is it? Run by chef Michael Hjort and wife Lucy, Melton’s is an intimate restaurant serving high-end European food. Hjort trained with the Rouxs, so his cooking is refined yet down-to-earth. If you get menu panic when faced with too many delish options, go for the five-course tasting menu.
Why go? Birthday? Date night? Just because? Find any reason you can to visit York’s renowned restaurant.
What is it? Lovingly restored with glass ceilings and the remains of a Roman road in the cellar, Rattle Owl is a charming neighbourhood restaurant. Head chef Jamie Hall is Michelin-trained and plates food complete with everyone’s favourite aesthetic foodie phenomenon – edible flowers. The seasonal menu features Yorkshire asparagus and east coast crab.
Why go? To treat your date to dinner in a grade II-listed building.
What is it? Run by Argentinian Florencia Clifford and her farmer husband Hugo, Partisan serves international food like ceviche, Persian breakfast eggs and beef bibimbap. It’s furnished by an antiques dealer and everything you see is for sale, which means the décor changes subtly each visit. Dinner is served three nights a week.
Why go? For an elegant lunch spot with good coffee and gorgeous interiors.
What is it? You’ll make new friends around the communal table at this four-course feast that takes place three times a month in Sara’s beautiful Victorian house, just a napkin’s throw from York Minster. Sara is a chef, cookery teacher and 2011 ‘MasterChef’ finalist who makes simple, elegant Italian food.
Why go? To experience Sara Danesin’s Italian supper club surrounded by locals.
What is it? Excellent bistro-style food is the name of the game at this tiny restaurant on Gillygate next to York Minster. Fill your boots with a pre-tourist-trail fry-up, including bubble and squeak, or recover from your day’s sightseeing with a dinner of confit duck leg or gnocchi.
Why go? To eat with the locals at one of York’s most popular lunch spots.
What is it? Behind a traditional lattice window you’ll find this funky café with wooden interiors and epic trays of pulled pork and beef brisket on the tables. Source’s menu covers American-style cornbread, nachos and fried chicken, as well as lentil salads and risottos. Don’t miss out on the bread from Bluebird Bakery.
Why go? To meet friends and stuff yourself with nachos in a popular local restaurant.
What is it? York’s historic market is crammed with arts, crafts and – most importantly – food. Los Moros is the one with the queues. Sole trader Tarik serves Levantine street food, including handmade merguez sausages, Persian saffron chicken wraps and Yorkshire halloumi with chermoula. And there’s free mint tea with every meal.
Why go? For post-shopping food at Shambles Market.
What is it? Two Tapas restaurants by York’s Fossgate and Goodramgate serving a fantastic array of dishes ranging from almond-stuffed dates wrapped in serrano ham to great big piles of fried seafood. Pair your plates with one of many top-notch beers or a glass of wine.
Why go? To get your fill of bite-sized Spanish treats.
What is it? Originally a fruit and veg shop, Mannion’s is now a no-reservations café and deli with queues out the door. Portions are generous so order one of the ginormous platters to share. All bread is made in house and the Welsh rarebit is a cheesy revelation.
Why go? To rest your feet in a rustic-chic café with French- and Italian-inspired food.
What is it? Pairings is a relaxed wine bar with impressive sharing boards, charcuterie platters and small plates to match the accessible wine flights and list. The tapas include whole basil burrata, Iberico Bellota ham and a cheeseboard. Save room for the chocolate and wine pairing for dessert.
Why go? For the wine. And the food.
What is it? Just around the corner from The Shambles on Castlegate, Rustique is the York’s finest French restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner every day, this heaving spot makes for the perfect mid-sightseeing break. Expect everything from crêpes to steak frites.
Why go? French classics done right.
What is it? Famous for its afternoon tea, Betty’s on Stonegate has a cute shop selling loose-leaf tea and gift cakes on antique dressers on the ground floor and a cosy dining room up the winding stairs. Perfect for a round of classic English sandwiches.
Why go? Because it’s not a trip to York without a trip to Betty’s.
What is it? Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, this colourful restaurant on Walmgate has a distinctly Italian feel with homemade pasta, feta-stuffed romero peppers and chicken or vegetarian cacciatore. If you order food, don’t forget to use your free token on the vinyl jukebox.
Why go? For Italian delights at a friendly café and restaurant.