Don’t fancy a chain restaurant? Leeds is top of the leaderboard for independents!
You can go anywhere you want in the country, and if you walk up the high street you will still be able to go to the standard chain restaurants – Frankie and Benny’s, Nandos, Bella Italia, Five Guys etc etc. You will always get the same standard of food, the same decors, the same level of service and your favourite menu items. That’s all great, but it’s also great to get a true taste of the city you are in by finding small independent places to eat. Where I would expect to hold the record for independent restaurant growth would be the likes London or Manchester, even Liverpool. But I would be wrong! Tied with Newcastle, Leeds is the place holding that highest growth title.
Not to say that it has the most, or the densest cluster of restaurants, but with the costs to operate in other cities on the rise, Leeds is now being seen as quite an attractive venture for new business owners. The ‘Leeds-list’ provides a lengthy list of the fantastic eateries, however, some stood out for particular reasons. I love Mexican food, however I had never considered tortilla soup – what a fantastic idea! Potentially with some melted cheese and chorizo ‘queso fundido’ (look it up, it looks delicious). Both of these intriguing dishes can be found in Lupe’s Cantina, Burley, where you can wash it all down with a nice big margarita – Saturday night sorted.
If Mexican isn’t your thing, there are a range of other restaurants that boast full menus and hearty meals from a variety of different cuisines. Dish, a locally famous restaurant, serves well loved dishes with Caribbean twists, with jerk chicken burgers being just one of their choices. Maybe tapas with a twist will take your fancy, found in the centre of the city in Pintura, where a Spanish black pudding has caught local media attention, along with their belly bacon. All of this makes my mouth water, but sometimes you can’t beat a good old American burger or hot dog. Or a hot dog served with bacon, onions, Jack Daniel’s honey sauce and mustard, to be exact, served up at Primo’s Gourmet Dogs in the Corn Exchange.
Unlike some parts of the country, where cheese and onion quiche with mash is still the only option for a Vegetarian, Leeds is catering for all. Time Out magazine gives Roots and Fruits five stars, citing its halloumi salad as the ‘star of the menu’, never mind the vegan cakes and seasonal crumbles that can make ‘grown men cry’. I’ve never cried over a crumble myself, however I am extremely partial to a slice. Theres even a family run Vegetarian curry house named Prashad that has grown from local fanfare to city wide attention, offering a range of cold and hot dishes, in addition to a takeaway. Having scoured the menu myself, I was immediately interested by the ‘Massala Dosa’, consisting of a lentil and rice flour crepe and potato and onion curry served with lentil broth and coconut chutney. Now you don’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate that!
This limited list barely provides a glimpse of what Leeds independent eateries have to offer. From gluten free to Vietnamese, scones to pie and chips, theres something for everyone. Leeds is already famed for its music events and nightlife, but maybe this will broaden the scope for Leeds. So, research the local haunts, and the next time you’re in Leeds consider a North African lamb tagine from Oranaise in Hyde Park, rather than the prawn skewers from Chiquito’s.
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