From the bright and breezy beaches of Scarborough to the beautiful moors of Brontë country and the buzzing cities of Sheffield and Leeds, Yorkshire is a place of many different and distinct characters. Join us for a journey through this special part of the country and discover some of the best places to stop for lunch along the way.
Devour at the Dyehouse, Thongsbridge
Located in the Holme Valley, the village of Holmfirth gave the world a glimpse into small town Yorkshire life through the TV sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. If you’d like to spend some time getting to know this scenic area but want to avoid the obvious tourist traps when it comes to dining, Devour at the Dyehouse in the neighbouring village of Thongsbridge offers a unique take on Italian cooking that will even impress lifelong foodies. Residing in a sensitively restored old mill, this award-winning restaurant is led by head chef Carl Frost, who crafts each dish using the very best locally-sourced produce. On its à la carte menu, you’ll find a range of inventive antipasto including sauteed queen scallops with slow-braised fennel and Sambuca-infused cream, or velvety goat’s cheese ripple with a beetroot swirl, which is accompanied by fresh herb pangrattato and crispy brittle bread. Among the secondi piatti are pizzas, risotto and simple yet flavourful pasta dishes like a rich spaghetti puttanesca or Sykes House pork belly paired with potato gnocchi. Devour also offers a selection of mouthwatering dolce, or desserts, and on Sundays it serves an excellent Sunday lunch with creative Italian flair.
The Hawthorn, Howarth
The Pennine village of Howarth is perhaps best known for the Brontë sisters, who grew up in the parsonage here. If you fancy taking a wintery stroll through the landscape that inspired their famous novels, a 45 minute walk will take you from Howarth’s Main Street to the Brontë Waterfall, passing over the wily, windy moors on the way. More adventurous hikers can then extend this further by taking a detour up to the abandoned farmhouse Top Withens. Upon your return to Howarth, you can look forward to getting cosy in The Hawthorn. This Georgian gastropub is warm and welcoming with a roaring fire and a wealth of period features. Here, you’ll discover an ever-changing menu of British dishes made using seasonal vegetables, fish from Hartlepool and meat from small local farms. This is cooked on a custom Josper charcoal grill to ensure it is both moist and full of flavour with a distinct chargrilled taste. To start your meal, you can tuck into jerusalem artichoke with baba ganoush, goat’s cheese, toasted pine nuts, pomegranate and coriander, or a sea bream ceviche accompanied by pickled fennel, black caviar, samphire, clementine and smoked salt. Mains include options such as Scottish salmon or Swaledale lamb chops, cooked on the Josper and served with the pub’s own pickled salad and your choice of side and sauce. If you’ve any room left after all that, you can then move on to a dessert like clotted cream ice cream with a gingerbread crumble and cinnamon sugar.
Fish Cottage, Sandsend
If you enjoy eating by the sea, this small but perfectly formed seafood restaurant might just become your new favourite lunch spot. The historic fishing village of Sandsend is said to have its own microclimate, which makes it warmer than many other parts of Yorkshire. In fact, as you follow East Row Beck up from the sandy beach here, passing rows of prettily painted stone cottages, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in Cornwall. Fish Cottage inhabits a charming single story white building with a red pantile roof and a coastal-themed interior. This popular restaurant caters to lovers of classic seaside fare, as well as those who’d prefer to try something new. Its offering includes traditional fish and chips, along with seafood chowder and moules mariniere. You can also splash out on dressed crab, lobster or daily landed seasonal fish, which is cooked to order in a butter of your choice and served with a mixed leaf salad and new potatoes or chips. Another highlight is Fish Cottage’s delicious tacos. These come with three different fillings – fish, crispy king prawns or creamy curried cauliflower – and can be tried individually or served as a trio accompanied by skin-on fries.
Lookout on the Pier, Scarborough
Situated on the West Pier in Scarborough’s South Bay, this waterfront bistro boasts an unbeatable view over the harbour and is just a short walk from the beach, shops and arcades. Winner of a 2022 Travellers’ Choice award from Tripadvisor, The Lookout has a down-to-earth, unpretentious feel. It specialises in seafood, although vegan and vegetarian options and dishes ‘from the land’ are also available. Its menu features fish and chips, scampi and ‘sailor style’ Shetland mussels, as well as pan fried langoustines and Alex’s special seafood chowder. Alternatively, you can treat yourself to a luxurious three-tier ‘Fruits of the Sea’ platter, which comes with two locally caught crabs, a whole Scarborough lobster, four oysters, green lip mussels, smoked salmon, baby shrimp, cockle meat, mussel meat and Greenland prawns. The Lookout’s loaded fries with vegan cheese and pulled jackfruit also make a tasty snack to keep you going while you explore all that Scarborough has to offer.
The Empire Cafe, Leeds
A vibrant metropolis that’s steeped in history, the bustling city of Leeds really does have something for everyone. Whether you’re planning to wander along the banks of the River Aire, watch a band or soak up some culture at a museum or gallery, lunch at the Empire Cafe is a must. This unassuming little cafe has received high praise from food critic Jay Rayner. Tucked away in Fish Street, an alley between Kirkgate and King Edward Street, the building that The Empire inhabits has been a cafe for more than 120 years and once fed traders working on the nearby market. When chef Sam Pullan took over a few years ago, he discovered the cafe’s historic signage hiding behind a more recent frontage and decided to bring back its old name. Nowadays, The Empire’s main draw is its heavenly rotisserie chicken, which is cooked all day long on a ‘wall of flame’ spit. This is served with your choice of crumb and lather, chicken schmaltz potatoes and other optional sides such as a Caesar or French bean salad. Vegans can also tuck into a mixed grill here, which includes coal cooked vegetables, baby aubergine, sweetcorn, pak choi and Yorkshire mushrooms, all of which are licked with flames and served with beer grits. For those with a sweet tooth, The Empire’s desserts include the likes of Cointreau crème brûlée with saffron, chilli and dark chocolate, or coconut and vanilla arancini with caramelised banana.
La Bottega Milanese, Victoria Gate, Leeds
If you’re visiting Leeds to indulge in some retail therapy, the Victoria Quarter is the place to head. Sometimes called the ‘Knightsbridge of the North’, this attractive shopping district brings together Victorian, Edwardian and modern arcades housing many wonderful independent stores as well as all your favourite big names. The quarter’s newest addition, Victoria Gate, arrived in 2016 and if you’d like to take a break for lunch, Leeds’ own Italian coffee brand La Bottega Milanese has just opened its third location inside Allertons hair and beauty salon here. In this new cafe, you can relax with a cup of LBM’s award-winning house blend or fill up on a hearty focaccia sandwich or scrumptious Italian pastries like cannoli or flaky almond croissants. La Bottega’s balcony dining area is great for people watching or, if you’re having an Allertons treatment, whatever you order can be served to your hairdresser’s, barber’s or manicurist’s chair.
Pranzo Italian, Ilkley
Recently named as one of the best places to live in the UK, the old spa town of Ilkley is well worth a day trip. Alongside the famous Ilkley Moor, which is teeming with wildlife and offers great views, Ilkley has a beautiful Victorian shopping arcade that’s now a flourishing social enterprise and the town is particularly photogenic in spring, when bulbs bloom throughout its centre. If you’re wondering where to eat during your visit, Pranzo is a great choice. This smart eatery serves traditional Italian cuisine with plenty of gluten free options and a dedicated vegan menu available too. You can whet your appetite here with alcoholic aperitivos like Pranzo Birra, Aperol Spritz or a Negroni. Starters include seared king scallops in a garlic, lemon and cream sauce with samphire and guanciale crackling, or a warm panzanella salad with burrata, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion and focaccia croutons. You can then choose from homemade pasta dishes like wild mushroom and ricotta ravioli or fresh egg pappardelle with 4-hour braised beef shin ragu. Among the desserts you’ll find creamy tiramisu, or hot chocolate chip panettone bread and butter pudding topped with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon sugar.
Tamper Coffee, Sheffield
A major centre in the production of British steel, the South Yorkshire city of Sheffield has long been associated with kitchenware and cutlery. In the mid-late 1800s, staff at family business John Sellers and Sons toiled away in their workshop on Arundel Street to create pen and pocket knives, razors, cutlery and engravers tools, some of which would make their way to America. Their building, known as ‘Sellers Wheel’, is still standing and in 2013 it became home to a little taste of New Zealand when it was taken over by Natalie and Jon Perry. The pair had travelled together and wanted to bring some authentic Kiwi cafe culture to the streets of Yorkshire. Their barista-led cafe, Tamper Coffee, serves seasonal Australasian-inspired dishes including breakfasts and brunches. You can begin the day here with a breakfast burger or an NZ twist on the classic full English, while later on you can choose from options like a tasty steak sarnie, Okonomiyaki chicken and waffles or creamy polenta mushrooms. Tamper’s fresh coffee is made using beans from fellow Kiwis Ozone Roasters and it also has a fully licensed bar where a range of tempting cocktails can be whipped up. The cafe’s interior has a trendy industrial feel and its location close to the train station makes it a convenient starting point from which to explore the city. Once you’ve finished eating, you can visit the nearby Millenium Gallery or take a monthly tour of Triple Point Brewing.
The Old School Tea Room, Hebden
Residing in the village of Hebden near Grassington, this tea room in a former school house is the perfect place to stop for lunch or afternoon tea while spending time in the Yorkshire Dales. The Old School dates back to 1874 and in 2007 it was purchased by Maggie Eagleton and her family, who set about lovingly transforming it into the business it is today. The cafe has kept mementos from its past, including the old school clock which still chimes every hour. You can dine inside, enjoying a view over the nearby beck and fields, or eat in the large garden, where you might make some new friends in the form of the cafe’s resident pygmy goats, hens and guinea pigs. The Old School has plenty of outdoor seating, including wooden huts and gazebos that are great for groups. A play area for children can also be found next door. The cafe serves breakfasts including a stack of American pancakes with various toppings or a healthy avocado brunch featuring smashed avocado with lime, mushrooms, caramelised onion chutney, maple roast seeds and coriander on malted bloomer toast. Later in the day, you can choose from a range of sandwiches, salads and toasties. There’s also a scrumptious sounding peppered steak and ale pie, made with steak from the local butcher. The Old School bakes its own cakes, which change regularly, and offers a bookable Vintage Afternoon Tea that’s ideal for special occasions.
Images- @tampercoffeesw, @labottegamilanese, @pranzoitalianilkley