The food scene in Leeds is the envy of its neighbouring cities, proudly securing a number of Michelin stars in recent years (sorry Manchester, always the bridesmaid, never the bride). As such, you’ll find excellent restaurants of all kinds, from those specialising in traditional locally-sourced fare, to more outlandish fine dining tasting menus, and Indian restaurants with a unique Yorkshire twist.
Leeds is arguably the capital of West Yorkshire, and it is an international city. The background of a Leodensian may be British, Irish, Indian, Pakistani, Kurdish, or Zimbabwean, and the list goes on. Restaurants have a long history in the city, with fish and chip joints going back deep into Victorian times, and a plethora of Italian, Indian and Greek eateries popping up after the second world war. Today, a medley of cultures creates a landscape of foods for the connoisseur.
The Reliance, for example, specialises in up-to-the-minute contemporary dining. Seared duckling hearts with daffodils? They’ve got you covered. Tharavadu meanwhile focuses on the cuisine of Kerala, India, with deliciously spiced squid, prawn, and fish dishes. You won’t get this just anywhere, and it’s far more delicate than your typical restaurant or takeaway fare. Gaucho meanwhile takes the idea of a steak and turns it into an art form. Rump, ribeye, sirloin, fillet – you won’t find a better steak experience in the north.
One of the afore-mentioned Michelin Star restaurants is The Man Behind the Curtain, a mysterious endeavour in which guests are not handed a menu. Instead, proprietor and chef Michael O’Hare decides what precision-designed dishes will be sent over. Ox Club meanwhile is all about down-home wood-fired meat dishes. They earn their star the old-fashioned way.
Romantic dinners for two, food for a group of friends, or a family gathering – whatever you’re looking for, Leeds offers the perfect culinary setting. Here are our favourite restaurants in Leeds.
Here are our picks
Ox Club at Headrow House, 19a The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 6PU - Visit now
Appearing in both the Good Food Guide and Michelin Guide for 2018, Josh Whitehead’s Ox Club is a restaurant for high quality food. In particular, people tend to talk about the cod cheeks, with smoked butter, chervil root and parsley.
The Reliance, 76-78 North St, Leeds, LS2 7PN - Visit now
Seared duck hearts, dandelion, thyme and blood orange. If that gets you interested, The Reliance is the place to be. A fine food restaurant, The Reliance also a features a bar and in-house cinema, where the carefully curated films are accompanied with special food and drink.
Gaucho Leeds, 21-22 Park Row, Leeds, LS1 5JF - Visit now
The Leeds branch of Gaucho is all glittering lights and sparkling chrome fixtures – not to mention cow-hide seat coverings – in case there was any doubt about what kind of food is on offer. Yes, this is all about steaks, easily the best in the city. Steel yourself for a luxurious, opulent evening, packed with meat, meat and more meat.
The Man Behind The Curtain, 68-78 Vicar Ln, Leeds, LS1 7JH - Visit now
Perhaps the most famous restaurant in Leeds, The Man Behind The Curtain was opened in 2014 by celebrated chef Michael O’Hare. This is modernist cuisine, often weird but always wonderful – you don’t get a Michelin star without being reliably brilliant.
Tharavadu Restaurant, 7-8 Mill Hill, Leeds, LS1 5DQ - Visit now
Easily the most popular and celebrated Indian restaurant in Leeds, Tharavadu specialises in cuisine from Kerala, a small coastal area of South-West India with a strong focus on fish dishes. Expect plenty of dishes you haven’t encountered before at this multiple-award-winning restaurant.