The Hot List: 10 must-visit restaurants in Leeds

They’re eclectic, they’re generous on the skyline views, and they’re among the best in the North. Whether you’re local or just visiting, here are ten Leeds restaurants you need to try.

Crafthouse is British fine dining but with a few (welcome) digressions. Think butter roasted turbot, beer-braised pork cheeks, and truffled orzo pasta with mascarpone and spinach. It all takes place on the fifth floor of Trinity – yes, the views are as captivating as the menu. ‘Leeds needs these posh haunts just as much as it needs its independents,’ says Yorkshire Evening Post, and it seems the locals agree.

The Man Behind the Curtain
Let’s be honest. When thinking of Leeds, this is probably the first restaurant that comes to mind. Wild almost to the point of absurdity, TMBTC is performance cuisine – any preconceptions of long tasting menus are left at that: mere assumptions. Dinner here is, quite simply, fun, exciting, creative, and unexpected.

In Issho, contemporary Japanese cuisine is brought to Leeds by D&D, the same people behind Crafthouse (Issho also happens to be on a rooftop). Cocktails play delightfully on the Japanese theme (try their twist on the Bellini with ginger and lychee), as does the afternoon tea where pork bao buns, matcha chocolate delice, and green tea take the place of the usual suspects.

Kendell’s Bistro
Kendell’s is a French bistro taking things back to basics. Having done his time in Paris, chef-owner Steve Kendell more than knows his way round a duck confit and beef bourguignon. This is, in other words, a celebration of the dishes French families have been happily tucking into for centuries.

There’s no doubt about it – Tattu is well-tuned for Instagram. But for more than its cherry blossomed-interior, go for dim sum, crispy duck, and black cod – the kind of modern Chinese cooking that saw the restaurant featured on our Fit for Foodies list in 2019.

Friends of Ham
Both hardcore and part-time beer, cheese, and cured meat enthusiasts are in good hands at Friends of Ham. Each part of this delicious tripod comes in various guises – there’s hot-smoked pig cheeks, Ogleshield raclette, and chorizo croque monsieurs, alongside classic cheese and meat boards. Ask a bartender and they’ll dig out a beer from the extensive cellar list to match.

Ox Club
Ox Club has been around since 2016 and, in that short time, it’s become a real local favourite. The set-up is casual but erudite – it may have its fair share of blackboards and exposed brick, but the food is cleverly designed, committed to balance, and a pleasure to look at.

Stuzzi is an Italian deli-café in Harrogate. In 2019, the team behind it set up a restaurant in Leeds city centre. Expect a daily changing selection of freshly made pasta and reasonably priced sharing dishes, from beef and mortadella meatballs to fritto misto with caper and herb aioli.

HOME’s £75 ten-course tasting menu has emerged as a great way to splash the cash for those special occasions. Bringing together home-like hospitality with expertly cooked British produce, HOME also has a perfect pairing in the two chefs running the show – Mark Owens, who honed his art at Le Gavroche and The Star at Harome, and former MasterChef contestant Elizabeth Cottam.

Bulgogi Grill
Korean BBQ goes DIY at Bulgogi. Kick things off with sushi and dumplings, before searing meat (beef, pork, duck) and seabass on the grill. Once it’s cooked, enjoy it the traditional Korean way – wrapped in lettuce with rice and spicy dips.

Visit OpenTable to discover more great restaurants in Leeds.

This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.