Eating out in York just gets better and better. The city has some of the most interesting and exciting chefs around, and great new restaurants are opening all the time. Wonderful cafes abound, from the most traditional tea shop to coffee houses run by world-renowned baristas.
The quality of the produce and the innovation of the chefs is showcased every September. For a fabulously flavoursome fortnight Parliament Street is home to the York Food & Drink Festival, with the emphasis on local and seasonal produce. But you can also dine around the world. Authentic cuisine from every corner of the globe is on offer in the city. Tasty new additions Haunt of supermodels and celebrities, The Ivy in London’s West End is one of Britain’s glitziest nightspots. And in 2017, a sister restaurant opened in York.
The Ivy St Helen’s Square sits opposite the Mansion House, recently-renovated home of the Lord Mayor. Exquisitely decorated and with staff trained to be a cut above, The Ivy has already become a favourite of many residents and visitors alike. Try bespoke cocktail the Mansion House Sling while you’re there…
That opening came only months after a branch of Italian favourite Carluccio’s moved in to a handsome building on the other side of St Helen’s Square. Founded by celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio, he celebrated his 80th birthday at the York restaurant, seven months before he died. Again, no expense has been spared. It is a spacious and beautifully-appointed restaurant with a wonderful people-watching view over the square.
Still with fine dining, a new restaurant opened in York’s only five-star hotel, the Grand on Station Rise in 2017. Inspired by the Edwardian former railway headquarters which houses the hotel, The Rise has dark oak panelling and a pressed tin ceiling. It serves small plates with big flavours, classic afternoon tea and cocktails like the rum-laden Ghosts Of York.
The quality of the produce and the innovation of the chefs is showcased every September. For a fabulously flavoursome fortnight Parliament Street is home to the York Food & Drink Festival, with the emphasis on local and seasonal produce
Contemporary dining experience
Another new arrival in an old setting is Gusto York, which opened in a 15th-century timber building on Stonegate. Featuring an Italian-inspired menu, it blends ancient and modern to create a very contemporary dining experience. But it is not only big names which have brought fresh flavours to York. Some of the more independent additions to the city’s eating out scene are well worth a look.
York’s first Japanese Tea House has opened on Blake Street after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Run by Tatsu Ozaki from Osaka and his partner Frankie, the Ippuku Tea House is the real deal with Japanese food, drink and ceremony. And there’s a garden complete with red parasol to enjoy in summer.
While the tea house is founded on centuries of tradition, Random Encounter on Gillygate is altogether more contemporary. This is York’s first pop culture café, offering video games, board games, books, live sports and films alongside the food and drink.
But if music is more your thing, head to Micklegate. The FortyFive Café serves up light lunches and snacks to a soundtrack of vinyl records – and you can browse and buy old and new albums, too. Fast food lovers won’t want to miss either the Five Guys burger outlet now open on Low Petergate, or the Taco Bell at the out-of-town Monks Cross retail park. Hummus and pita bar Humpit has opened on Church Street, and a TGI Fridays is planned for York’s new community stadium in 2019. City style and sophistication Confirming his position as one of Britain’s chefs to watch, Neil Bentinck saw his Micklegate restaurant Skosh awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide in 2017. Skosh is based around the concept of snacks and small plates – its name comes from the Japanese word ‘Sukoshi’, meaning a small amount.
This is York’s first pop culture café, offering video games, board games, books, live sports and films alongside the food and drink
Unique wine list
Consistently lauded since it opened in 2013, Star Inn The City, situated in a converted waterworks engine house on the banks of the River Ouse, now has a city centre sister. Mr P’s Curious Tavern is found on Low Petergate. Mr P is Andrew Pern, the man behind both the Star Inn The City and its rural forerunner, the Star at Harome. Mr P’s is a quirky, 80-cover restaurant, also serving small plates alongside a unique wine list.
Vaqueiros brought a new concept to York – the Brazilian rodizio. For a set price, a selection of meat or fish is cooked on large skewers and carved at your table. You can keep the food coming by displaying a green disk, or to pause you display a red disk. Vaqueiros is found at the city end of Micklegate. If you are in the mood for modern British food, Cut & Chase, a restaurant and bar run by two brothers on Goodramgate is well worth a try.
Michelin-starred chef Adam Jackson runs his restaurant, The Park, at Marmadukes Hotel in St Peter’s Grove. You are recommended to linger over the taster menu which has won rave reviews. What was the Royal York Hotel next to the railway station is now The Principal. Its Refectory Kitchen & Terrace is a stunning, light-infused space, and boasts a menu that celebrates all the great tastes of Yorkshire.
Local produce also dominates the menu at the Yorkshire Bar And Grill, found at the DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel on St Maurice’s Road. Just a short walk away, through Monk Bar, is the family-run Little Italy, serving up superb Mediterranean flavours. If it’s something that bit more central you’re looking for, the area south of York Minster is teeming with places to eat and drink. Directly in the shadow of the cathedral is the Dean Court Hotel. Its 2 AA Rosette DCH restaurant serves up a menu of lamb, fish and steak dishes.
For a set price, a selection of meat or fish is cooked on large skewers and carved at your table. You can keep the food coming by displaying a green disk, or to pause you display a red disk
Worth seeking out
If you’re an Italian fan, Lucia Wine Bar & Grill is worth seeking out. Tucked away in a corner of Swinegate, this relaxed, family-run venue offers everything from pizza and pasta to simple nibbles.
Warm, southern Italian hospitality is on offer at L’antica Locanda on Shambles. Rustique’s two restaurants, on Castlegate and Lendal, transport York diners temporarily to Paris, while York also has a branch of popular French chain Côte Brasserie, on Low Petergate. 31 Castlegate is dedicated to bringing a taste of modern European cooking to residents and visitors. Nearby is The Go Down, a friendly bistro serving consistently good food.
The Rattle Owl on Micklegate has established an excellent reputation: its menu cuts down on the food miles with local dishes like rump of Yorkshire lamb. On the same side of town, but further out, is Oxo’s Restaurant at the Mount Royale Hotel, serving British food in beautiful surroundings.
Among the well-known chains to operate in York is Bill’s Restaurant on Coney Street and Nando’s on High Ousegate. Turtle Bay swam into town in 2015, and can be found on Little Stonegate. Fine food on Fossgate – and Walmgate Home to a thriving fish market in medieval times, Fossgate and Walmgate today boast a plethora of great places to eat and drink. One of the most celebrated is Le Cochon Aveugle on Walmgate. One national reviewer said chef Josh Overington’s food “made us grin like eejits”, while another said the French bistro is “excellent on all levels”. Expect a multi-course menu with dishes you’ve never tasted before. Definitely one for the gastronomes.
Rustique’s two restaurants, on Castlegate and Lendal, transport York diners temporarily to Paris, while York also has a branch of popular French chain Côte Brasserie, on Low Petergate
The Loch Fyne fish restaurant, in a building which for many years housed an ironmonger, offers a fine range of seafood. Bengali and tandoori cuisine is the speciality of the Mumbai Lounge, which has a drinks lounge upstairs and private dining downstairs as well as the main dining area.
Hidden away on Franklins Yard, just off Fossgate, is Oshibi Korean Bistro, serving up speciality dishes from the region using locally-sourced ingredients. The award-winning Walmgate Ale House is run by York’s food festival director, and celebrates seasonal food with special events focusing on game, asparagus and lobster. Sister restaurant Meltons, on Scarcroft Road to the south of the city centre, is well-worth a visit, too.
Also on Walmgate is the tiny, undistinguished looking Il Paradiso del Cibo, which serves some fine Italian food in York at very reasonable prices. Close by is Thai bistro Khao San Road, creating wonderful dishes straight from the wok. Fossgate is also home to a number of indie cafés – try Cosy Time for its excellent coffee and cake. Around the world on Goodramgate One of York’s most venerable streets, Goodramgate is home to Lady Row. These are the city’s oldest houses which date back to 1316, and behind them stands the ancient Holy Trinity Church. They are also home to Happy Valley, where you can soak up the history over a Chinese banquet.
In more modern times, Goodramgate has become home to a world of fantastic food. Those with a taste for Indian cooking are particularly spoiled. Long-time favourite the Bengal Brasserie has been recently revamped, while Bombay Spice is an example of the newer breed of Indian restaurant, with modern interiors replacing the traditional décor as they aim to attract a younger crowd.
The award-winning Walmgate Ale House is run by York’s food festival director, and celebrates seasonal food with special events focusing on game, asparagus and lobster
Caesars Pizzeria and Ristorante has been a highly-popular fixture for years. Found on the corner where Goodramgate bends away from the Minster, its informal atmosphere and trustworthy Italian menu makes it a favoured venue for everything from a family night out to a workplace celebration. Another Italian, La Piazza, is in a picturesque timber-framed building which looks like it’s been stolen from the set of a Sunday night costume drama.
Featured ingredients at The Lime House are often from much closer to home – the chef likes to use local produce whenever possible. With this he conjures up a variety of dishes, often with Mediterranean influences, as well as mouth-watering desserts.
Tapas is on the menu at Ambiente, its flavours of Spain often given a twist on a menu featuring generous sharing platters. It has proved so popular that another branch was opened on Fossgate. Wagamama brings a taste of Japan to this old street. And for something completely different, try the Yak And Yeti Gurkha Restaurant.
There’s nothing nicer on a warm summer’s evening than strolling by the River Ouse. Fortunately a number of fine restaurants can be found within splashing distance of a riverside walk. Steak and alehouse The Whippet Inn has a quirky interior and a menu made up of beef and fish dishes. Within a year of opening it was named Best Restaurant in the Visit York awards, so the North Street venue is worth checking out.
There’s nothing nicer on a warm summer’s evening than strolling by the River Ouse. Fortunately a number of fine restaurants can be found within splashing distance of a riverside walk
Vegetarian, vegan and street food
When it comes to Cosmo, the popular help-yourself buffet bar found next to the Ouse off Bridge Street, you decide where in the world you wish to dine. It serves dishes from around the world for a fixed price, so if one of you is in the mood for a curry, another fancies pizza and a third is in the mood for Chinese cuisine, this might be your best bet. Independent cinema City Screen has a café and bar which includes a decked platform overlooking the Ouse. And if you are here in summer and just want a snack, hail Two Hoots – that’s the name of the ice cream boat which sails the Ouse in the warmer months.
Most York restaurants now offer a range of vegetarian dishes. But if you’re looking for a meat-free environment, El Piano on Grape Lane can give you that – and more. Its menu is fully vegan, and nut- and gluten-free too, yet full of variety with dishes including falafels, dhal and croquetas.
Live music and a gallery of original artwork add to the ambience at the Goji Vegetarian Cafe & Deli on Goodramgate. Across the road Wheldrakes, a café highly rated by locals, offers a lot of vegetarian options. Source on Castlegate has an excellent range of veggie and vegan dishes, from beet burgers to pulled barbecue jackfruit.
When it comes to street food, York has been a late developer. But this is changing. The kiosks in Shambles Market serve up some terrifically tasty lunches – Los Moros, serving North African cuisine, actually hit the number one ranking for York restaurants on TripAdvisor. It has been joined by some new foodie businesses serving their wares out of converted horseboxes – including the Aussie-inspired Dark Horse Espresso Bar, and Daft Puddin’ with its range of sweet and savoury Yorkshire puds. York’s café culture Few cities can rival York’s mix of cafés. As eclectic as they are classy, these gems offer every sort of snack and meal to replenish the weary shopper and sightseer.
When it comes to street food, York has been a late developer. But this is changing. The kiosks in Shambles Market serve up some terrifically tasty lunches
Dining in luxury
Perhaps the most unusual venue of all is the Bar Convent, home to the sisters of an ancient religious order. Established as a school for Catholic girls in 1686, the surviving Grade I building dates back to the 1760s and includes a top-notch café. As you might expect, the prevailing atmosphere is peace and quiet, particularly in the beautiful garden, which allows you to fully savour the home-made soups, sandwiches and desserts.
It is not the only café found in an unusual location: The Perky Peacock is a coffee shop housed inside a round, medieval tower on the banks of the River Ouse. And you can now enjoy a cuppa atop one of the city’s great fortifications: Gatehouse Coffee is housed in Walmgate Bar, the only gateway still with its own Barbican. Dyl’s Café Bar is also close to the water, found in the Motor House built onto Skeldergate Bridge. It reopened in 2017 after a major refurb.
There’s a real talking point in the Croque Monsieur at Bootham Bar – a glass floor which shows the Roman street and wall beneath. And if you ever wondered what it was like dining in luxury during the golden age of steam locomotion, the Countess Of York is for you. A beautifully-restored railway carriage in the National Railway Museum, it serves up afternoon tea and dinners for pre-booked groups.
A recent addition to York’s foodie scene is the Double Dutch Pancake House, serving sweet and savoury pancakes and other Dutch treats. Shambles Kitchen proves that fast food can be good food, with pulled pork and beef brisket pastrami two regular favourites.
You can now enjoy a cuppa atop one of the city’s great fortifications: Gatehouse Coffee is housed in Walmgate Bar, the only gateway still with its own Barbican
Crumbs, found on beautiful College Street next to the Minster, is no mere café but rather a “cupcakery”. With a choice of classic and deluxe flavours, this is serious treat time – and they also sell their wares from a caravan next to the Minster. The nearby Vanilla Café is a great afternoon tea spot. And a popular shoppers’ retreat is Shirley at The Red House Café, serving home-made food and cake inside the Red House Antique Centre on Duncombe Place.
Gillygate is home to some of York’s finest cafes. Bistro Guy will start your day with the perfect breakfast, although it is worth calling into at any time of day. Café No 8 Bistro has enjoyed rave reviews from locals and earned itself a place in a national newspaper’s list of best cheap eats. An unusual menu, stylish interior and summer garden are three good reasons to go eat at number eight, or try its café inside the Art Gallery.
On the same street Osbornes @ 68 often displays works by local artists on its walls, while Rae & Webb serves coffee, cake and brunch all day. Over on Blake Street, there are two foodie businesses run by passionate locals: Mannion & Co, with fresh bread baked daily, and the York Cocoa House filled with delicious treats.
Many visitors are determined to include a trip to Bettys Café and Tearooms on St Helen’s Square, braving the queues to enjoy the luxury liner interior and a fruity Fat Rascal scone with a pot of Yorkshire tea. In recent years some top notch modern cafés have emerged to complement the traditional fare at Bettys. Among them is Spring Espresso, which began on Fossgate and opened a second branch on Lendal, and The Nook, tucked away on Castlegate, considered by many to be a hidden gem.
Many visitors are determined to include a trip to Bettys Café and Tearooms on St Helen’s Square, braving the queues to enjoy the luxury liner interior and a fruity Fat Rascal scone with a pot of Yorkshire tea
Serious coffee lovers
The Brew And Brownie is a cosy spot on Museum Street offering sandwiches, snacks, light meals – and the two things mentioned in its name of course. Coffee Culture is spread over three rickety floors in an old property on Goodramgate and serves up cafetieres of great guest coffees.
Filmore & Union on Low Petergate underwent a major makeover in 2017. It serves a regularly-changing menu of fresh food in rooms with marvellous views over York Minster. If you’re heading out of the city centre, perhaps on your way to the races, check out the Pig And Pastry, gluten-free café Stanley & Ramona or Sicilian café bar Trinacria on lively Bishopthorpe Road.
The serious coffee lover should seek out The Attic, above Harlequins Café in Kings Square. It won the Beverage Standards Association’s award for best espresso in the UK in 2011 – and is one of only a handful of British venues to get the organisation’s top five-cup rating. And if dairy is more your thing, LICC (aka the Luxury Ice Cream Company) on Back Swinegate serves up superb scoops of ice cream yumminess.
Finally, York has the best chippie in Britain – Millers Fish & Chips in Haxby, to the north of the city centre, took the title of Fish and Chip Shop of the Year in January 2018.
Everything you need to know about York
The best things to do in York
The best shopping in York
The best nightlife in York
Your guide to arts and culture in York