With this year’s Oliver Awards attracting more interest than ever before, with over 350 individual category entries, here’s our guide to some of the best places to eat in and around Leeds, with something to suit everyone and every occasion.
Whether it’s a no holds barred night out or dining on a budget...
Malmaison - if you’re looking to impress someone, then this is the place to do it. Service is second-to-none, the food is unquestionably a cut above. You don’t have to spend a fortune here but if you want to push the boat out, you can and while you’re out to impress, why not?
Gaucho - it’s dark, it’s down some steps, it’s a little bit mysterious when you first walk in and see actual cow hides on the walls but if you’ve never had steak here, you’re missing out. Gaucho should be on every self-respecting meat eater’s bucket list. From the moment they bring out the raw cuts of beef for you to salivate over, all you want to do is eat. Steak like you’ve never had before. Amazing but (word to the wise) keep an eye on the bill.
Sukhothai - authentic Asian food in a fine dining setting, with exceptional service and an atmosphere to rival any upmarket restaurant around
Gusto - it’s out in the sticks a bit, so you’ll have to drive beyond Lawnswood Roundabout and out toward Cookridge to find this place on the Old Otley Road but it’s well worth the drive, serving top quality food with exceptional service. It’s also a great place to take the family, as they do kids ‘make your own’ pizzas, plus they get a free chef’s hat into the bargain. Who doesn’t want a free chef’s hat?
Salvos, Headingley - you will struggle to find anywhere locally with more passion, more sense of history and purpose than Salvos, which has been part of the Headingley dining scene now for the last three decades. The food is home cooked, the atmosphere as Italian as you can get this side of the Vatican.
BIG NIGHT OUT
Bibis - it’s glitz, it’s glamour, there’s glitter balls everywhere and half the time you feel as though the cast of Goodfellas are about to walk in, as you sit at the bar sampling strange but delicious cocktails, before sitting down to your meal.
Divino - it might not look posh on the outside but looks can be decieving, especially on a cold December evening. We liked the steak and the wine here, the service was good too and while it might be a touch on the pricey side, it’s well worth it as the food is excellent.
The Man Behind the Curtain - Michael O’Hare seemed to appear from nowhere and all of a sudden was on everyone’s lips (and televisions). The charismatic head chef was one of the winners of the Great British Menu and his restaurant, on the top floor of the Flannels building on Vicar Lane, scooped Leeds its first Michelin Star in 10 years. Some of his dishes resemble works of are even presented on canvas.
Fazenda - it’s meat. And lots of it. In fact, so much meat you can’t even shake a stick at it, because most of the time it comes on one. Carved straight from the skewer by one of the dozen or so waiters (or ‘passadores’) who are constantly passing your table. They use the Tom Cruise ‘red light, green light’ cards, which you flip to indicate whether you are able to gobble more meat. Help yourself to salad from the bar if you have any room.
CHILL OUT AND RELAX
Bundobust - they didn’t just shatter the mould when they made Bundobust, they melted it down and made an entirely new one. The concept is simple: great, cutting edge Indian food and craft beer. It’s sounds like the perfect combination for a good night in but it’s also a great night out, thanks to aromatic food, broad range of drinks and comfortable social settings.
Ephesus, Rodley - it’s Mediterranean food done well and a great addition to Rodley, plus it’s within walking distance of two pubs, The Owl and The Barge, so what are you waiting for?
Blackhouse - right in the city centre, it feels like being in New York, with its laid bak vibe. The atmosphere is great and so is the food and drink. A great all rounder and if you like people watching, this is the place to be.
QUICK AND EASY
Oliver and Feta - Farsley might not be the first place you’d expect to find a gem of a restaurant and it’s not the biggest either. But this intimate little boutique restaurant turns out some quality dishes.
Gallery FortyOne - situated on Kirkstall Road just around the corner from Morrisons, it’s full of Italian passion, the food is good and it feels like a home from home.
Gallery FortyOne - situated in Kirkstall, this unassuming restaurant has a lot to offer, including personal service and great food at a good price. It’s one of those places that, once you’ve discovered it, you will return to again and again.
The Box Tree -run by husband and wife team Simon and Rena Gueller, they offer some of the best food available in Yorkshire and have a Michelin Star to prove it. Open Tuesday-Saturday for dinner, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday lunch. Chef Michael O’Hare calls their Sunday lunch “exceptional”.
Crafthouse - he restaurant brings a touch of class to Leeds city centre, raising the bar for others in terms of its food, atmosphere and service. The restaurant prides itself on sourcing local food and making it dance off the plate and into your tummy.
Malmaison: 0113 426 0047
Gaucho: 0113 246 1777
Sukhothai: 0113 278 1234
Gusto: 0113 278 1234
Salvos: 0113 275 5017
Bibis: 0113 243 0905
Divno: 0113 230 0600
The Man Behind the Curtain: 0113 243 2376
Fazenda: 0113 247 1182
Ephesus: 0113 256 1668
Blackhouse: 0113 246 0669
Oliver and Feta: 0113 219 5759
Gallery FortyOne: 0113 274 0041
The Box Tree: 01943 608484
Crafthouse: 0113 897 0444