There are plenty of ‘British-Italian’ restaurants that do the typical spag bol and runny carbonara, which is fine, but if you want regional and authentic, check out Zucco in Meanwood, or the legendary Salvo’s in Headingley. Zucco is a small-plate restaurant serving Venetian dishes designed to be shared. The Frito Misto, deep fried things from the sea, is one of the stand-outs. Salvo’s has an extensive menu of pasta, pizza and ‘secondi’. One of my top ten dishes of all time is the Calzone Kiev, a folded pizza of pulled chicken, garlic, and shoulder ham. Owner Gip claims to have invented the dish way back in the 80s. For wood fired Neapolitan pizza, go to Pizza Fella.
Finally, Leeds is getting a decent Polish restaurant. SMAK! Have been selling Pierogis and smoked Kielbasa sausages at street food festivals around the city for the last couple of years. They are just opening their bricks and mortar site on Kirkstall Road; I’ll be a regular, for sure. If you’re after East European goods to eat at home, KARPATY on York Road is a superstore selling the biggest selection of Slavic goodies in the city.
GREEK / TURKISH
Souvlaki is the place to go for Greek. Grab some pals and order the mixed meze, a feast of salads, olives, stifado, moussaka, souvlaki, fresh breads, cured meats and more. If you’re looking for a Kebab in Leeds, head to Venus Supermarket, where they have a concession selling authentic donner. In the Market, there is Mr Mackerel, which I used to think was a chippy, but in fact he does a banging sheesh styled kebab in the freshest bread. His Mackerel is super tasty too.
MIDDLE EASTERN / NORTH AFRICAN
was told by a cabby that the best hummus can be found at Haftsin. He wasn’t wrong. The Persian restaurant on Burley Road specialises in stews and grills. Try the whole sea bass with its delicate spicing. In town, Safran on Kirkgate is a particular favourite of mine. Local legend Kada Bendaha has two North African places in the city. Get to Carevanserai for breakfast shakshuka or late night Ottoman BBQ, and Cafe Moor in the market for schawarma. Also in the market is Sweet Saeeda. Their Tunisian soup is unreal. If you’re in a rush, grab a falafel wrap from Humpit in the Corn Exchange or from the Falafel Guys, whose trailer can be found on Briggate.
Leeds has two stand out Ethiopian restaurants. Abyssinia in Harehills and Piassa on Roundhay Road. Typical Ethiopian food consists of injera, a large sourdough-risen flatbread that doubles up as a plate with stews, salads & other bits piled up on top. The spongy texture of the injera soaks up the juices of the stews like a sponge and is eaten last when all the toppings have disappeared.
The diverse cuisine of South Asia is represented well here in Leeds. Tharavadu is known for its delicately spiced Keralan fish dishes and curries. Gujarati inspired Bundobust and Prashad do wonders with veg. For Kashmiri cooking, Shabab underneath the train station does the best Chicken Karahi in the city. The lamb chops are pretty good too, as are the other grilled items on the menu. Akbars is always reliable, and Tasty’s is great for a simple, no thrills curry. Nazma Tandoori does banging Bengali grub. And for a more traditional curry house experience, get to Bengal Brasserie
Home is the most authentic Chinese restaurant I’ve been to and attracts a lot of Asian students from the neighbouring uni. Order the hotpot to get the full experience. Dipping meats and veg in boiling broth and letting them cook is a fun, but messy, way to eat. Red Chilli in town is good for Beijing and Sichuan style dishes. There are plenty of options for Thai. Mommy Thai is my favourite. You know its legit when you walk in and the chef is eating a fish head for his staff lunch. Thai A Roy Dee seems to be a favourite with local foodies, and it’s BYOB, which makes for a cheap night. Gino’s is always worth a visit if you’re in Headingley. For Vietnamese, head to Viet Guy or Bahn & Mee in the market. Viet Guy do a next level lamb curry Pho, which a waitress once explained was not Vietnamese at all but they put it on the menu to cater for Britain’s love of spicy food. Senbon Sakura, Fuji Hiro and Sushi Waka are my favourite spots for Japanese Ramen. For a treat, Hana Matsuri does the best Sushi in Leeds.
If you’re after a flavour of the United Plates of America, then get to REDS for BBQ, Fat Annies for Hot Dogs, Meat Liquor for juicy burgers and Ira B’s for New York Jewish. South of the border, down Mexico way, Lupe’s Cantina is a welcoming and vibrant roadside styled shack serving tacos and more. If you like meat, and lots of it, Fazenda is a Brazilian eat as much as you can kind of place. Maureen’s on Roundhay Road is the city’s best loved Caribbean restaurant. Visit for her famous curry goat and jerk chicken.