Once the largest indoor market in Europe, Leeds Kirkgate Market first opened its doors in 1857 and has been a popular attraction for both tourists and locals ever since. Among the market’s 800 stalls, you’ll find an exciting array of market kitchens and street food sellers offering regional specialities from around the world at affordable prices. Here are some of our favourites to call at for a delicious lunch on the go.

Banh and Mee

Named after the iconic Vietnamese sandwich, Banh and Mee has been bringing the vibrance of Southeast Asian cooking to the streets of Leeds since 2016. This food stall is truly a family affair – it’s run by friendly couple Mylinh and Sengy and the delicious soup noodles served here are made with a secret family broth recipe that’s been passed down over three generations. You’ll find lots of vegan and vegetarian options on Banh and Mee’s menu and their dishes are all made with fresh, nutritious ingredients. Their trademark sandwiches consist of a crusty artisan French baguette, stuffed with pickled veg, herbs and optional spicy sriracha sauce. For the main filling, you can choose from lemongrass chicken, Vietnamese pork patties, Uncle Vinh’s BBQ pork or Mama Tran’s homemade tofu, and, if you would rather avoid bread, these can all be served as a rice box or with fries instead. You can also enjoy bao buns and summer rolls here. If you’re looking for a healthy, flavoursome way to spice up your lunch break, this is the place to come.

Eating Pasta

Inspired by the Sardinian home cooking that their chefs grew up with, Eating Pasta sells authentic Italian street food. You’ll find all kinds of pasta here, served with a choice of sauce. Choose from classics like pesto or carbonara, or try something a little different like ‘Norma’ with aubergines, cherry tomatoes and salted ricotta, or the ‘Aglio & Peperoncino’, which features lashings of olive oil, garlic and spicy chilli. The stall also sells many other Italian favourites, including arancini, polpette and mozzarella in carrozza (‘mozzarella in a carriage’) – essentially a fried mozzarella sandwich. For those with a sweet tooth, their wonderful homemade tiramisu can’t be missed.

Khao Gaeng Thai

Thai street food stall Khao Gaeng offers a tantalising taste of the country’s much-loved cuisine. You can enjoy a full Thai meal here. Start with deep fried tofu, crispy wonton or delicious pork dumplings with a soy and garlic vinaigrette to dip into. Khao Gaeng’s mains include some of the most popular Thai dishes, like Tom Yum – a spicy and sour lemongrass soup with mushrooms – or Pad Thai Boran, stir fried rice noodles with egg, vegetables and peanuts cooked in the restaurant’s ancient Pad Thai sauce. If you’ve never eaten it, you should try Som Tam, a papaya salad made with peanuts, garlic and chilli. If you fancy staying in, or are celebrating a special occasion at home, you can even order Khao Gaeng’s food for delivery through Uber eats.

Firth + Payne

Bakers Firth + Payne sell ‘the finest bread and confections’ from their delightfully old fashioned market stall. Among their tempting selection of sweet treats, including cakes, biscuits and pastries, you’ll find plenty of old favourites as well as some of their own brand new inventions. The bakery offers creatively-iced cakes for special occasions, which are made to order. You can choose a design from their inspiring catalogue, or come up with your own idea. The finished cake will be delivered to your door within three days, so if you need a last minute wedding cake, or want to see your pet cat replicated in cake form, this is the place to go. Firth + Payne’s prices are very reasonable, giving the usual high street bakery chains a run for their money.

Manjit’s Kitchen

Serving up a lunchtime treat for vegans and vegetarians, you won’t find any meat on the menu at Manjit’s. This cafe and bar serves traditional Indian street food to eat at the stall or take away. Their ‘Thali’ is the perfect way to sample the best of what they offer and includes a couple of curries of the day, served with a roti, chutney, cumin rice and slaw. You’ll also find Vada Pau here, a tasty Mumbai sandwich featuring a spiced mashed potato ball in a gram flour batter, with green chutney, tamarind and dry garlic chutney, served on a bread bun. For a warming drink, try their vegan masala chai made with oat milk. A Tripadvisor review says: ‘Manjits is a hidden gem. The restaurant has a brilliant ambience where you can relax and eat really, really good food. It’s cooked with so much passion and love! They have great Covid measures in place [and] staff care and are friendly and interactive. The food is just divine and has so much flavour. I have recommended this independent to many friends and look forward to returning.’

Mr Mackerel

Bringing Turkish street food to Kirkgate market, Mr Mackerel serves a simple menu of halal grilled meats and fish. Choose from roast chicken, grilled fish sandwiches, lamb kofta burgers or chicken shish, with child-friendly meal deals available for the little ones. The stall is run by Karzan, who also owns the nearby Istanbul Bakery. Growing up in Turkey, he learned how to cook the local cuisine at a young age with the help of his mother. After moving to the UK and training at Leeds City College, he finally realised his dream of becoming a professional chef and baker and his stalls are now responsible for some of the many mouth-watering smells wafting around the marketplace.

Istanbul Bakery

Istanbul Bakery is a Turkish kebab stall selling what has been described as the ‘best shawarma in Leeds’. The falafels and meats are served in bread that has been baked on the premises and the pizzas are freshly made here too. The homemade baklava is excellent and makes a great treat to bring home with you after a day of shopping. A Tripadvisor review says: ‘The food is delicious and the bread is freshly made and so light and fluffy. The chicken shawarma sandwich is very good and comes with your choice of salad items…The service is quick and friendly too.’

Sweet Saeeda

Offering a varied menu of hearty dishes, Tunisian salad bar Sweet Saeeda is one of Kirkgate Market’s most popular street food stalls. Order one of their filling Tunisian plates, which feature lightly dressed salad leaves with hummus, Tunisian mechouia salad, Tunisian chopped salad, olives, homemade harissa and a wedge of lemon. Alternatively, try a ‘Brik’ – a deep fried pastry parcel containing marinated meat or tuna, combined with egg, parsley, potatoes, olives, capers, cheese, onion and harissa. A Tripadvisor review says: ‘[I] stumbled across this small cafe inside Kirkgate market and a customer queuing outside recommended I try it – I’m so glad I listened to her. Really tasty wraps made using fresh Turkish bread and stuffed full of fresh ingredients and sauces to the customer’s individual requirements. Excellent value and friendly service. A real find for foodies as this is far superior to the usual lunchtime fayre available in Leeds.’

Photos: Manjits Kitchen, Eating Pasta, Banh and Mee