Image Credit: The Dough Boys
Whilst York has eateries galore, it would be a mistake to dismiss the great variety of food that Leeds has to offer. Being only a twenty-minute train ride away, Leeds is an easy and yet unmissable day out. So, if you’re fancying a change of scene, here’s the lowdown on all of Leeds’s finest grub (and alcohol).
Cheap Lunch Spots
You’ve caught your breezy train to Leeds, and a wave of lunchtime hunger hits you. Having bothered to make the journey, you want to try somewhere fresh and independent, instead of caving and heading to Spoons. There's no need to wearily pull out Google Explore, just check out the options below.
Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen
As well as hosting live music, this venue contains both the Dough Boys and Patty and Bun, respectively serving up pizza and burgers. Perhaps a less adventurous cuisine choice, but if you’re going to go for either then it’s got to be done right. Dough Boys serve up probably the best slice of pizza you can find in the city. Plus, they offer half-price slices at lunchtime every day. Two slices will be enough for a decent lunch, costing a grand total of £3.60 – cheaper than a Big Mac Meal. Though their regular slices are incredible, they always run specials that are worth checking out. On two occasions, I’ve had a vegan hoisin duck slice, and it was shockingly realistic (and delicious). Meanwhile, Patty and Bun have a great Sunday offer of getting your second burger for £1. Their cheapest burgers start at £5.95.
Aroy Thai Dee
If like me you can't eat enough Thai green curries, Aroy Thai Dee is the place for you. From the outside, Aroy Thai Dee is unassuming. Their décor inside is adorable, with bunting and fairy lights galore (much like my bedroom, in fact). Their £7 lunch deal is a fantastic deal, which includes a starter and a main from their set menu, which offers plenty of choices. I opted for the vegetable tempura with tofu Thai red curry, and the portions were incredibly generous; the flavours were great. Meanwhile, my partner opted for sweet and sour beef with a side of ribs, which he devoured happily.
Happy Hours and More
What’s a day trip without a few cheeky day time drinks? Leeds has a selection of alternative venues, which pair great cocktails with a quirky atmosphere.
When you’re heading somewhere new for the day, it’s always fun to scope out new activities. And what better way to do this than to head to Junkyard Golf, where you can play mini-golf and enjoy cocktails at the same time? Even better, their happy hour runs all day Sunday to Thursday. Most of their cocktail feature retro treats, making for a brilliantly nostalgic experience. For example, ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ is served topped with a classic Jammy Dodger, and ‘Hotline Ting’ comes with a tonne of popping candy. They also have a limited food menu, including hot dogs and popcorn.
The fun doesn’t have to stop at mini-golf, though. Leeds also boasts two gaming bars. Pixel Bar has gaming consoles which you can book while enjoying their video game-themed cocktails. Particularly notable is their ‘Who’s That Pokémon?’ range. Each flavour of syrup represents a different Pokémon type, and your drink comes with a mystery Pokémon card. Not the most efficient way to catch em’ all, but certainly the most fun.
Roxy Ballroom Arcade
If you’re more the arcade than the video game type, then Roxy Ballroom Arcade would be more your scene. The bar boasts thirty retro gaming machines, as well as beer pong tables. They also have an extensive cocktail menu. However, they don’t offer a happy hour – most of their cocktails cost around £7.50, making this a pricier choice of venue. I opted for a can of Beavertown’s Gamma Ray beer, for the hefty price of £4. Despite the inflated bar prices, I would still highly recommend Roxy Arcade, as the variety of arcade machines they have makes it a great experience. Roxy also serves pizza, with plenty of vegetarian options on offer.
Time for Tea
LIVIN’Italy Dough House
If you’re heading back to the train station, you needn’t go far out of your way for good grub. LIVIN’Italy is an authentic Italian pizzeria located underneath the train station. The chefs here believe in simplicity, in that ‘a great pizza has no one than three toppings!’ as their menu divulges. The restaurant is incredibly cosy and inviting, and the pizza is simply divine. Even if you’re still full of pizza after a stop at Belgrave, you simply must find room for more.
Also worth checking out is their daily Aperitivo Hour, from Monday to Friday from 5pm - 7pm. They describe this as an 'all-Italian ritual, especially Milanese'. Simply rock up and purchase a cocktail, and feast on a complimentary buffet of traditional Italian cuisine.
Step aside, Wagamama’s. Senbon Sakura is a cosy, independent Japanese café that’s just a stone’s throw from St George’s Square. When you step inside, you’re greeted with a colourful mural, and hanging cherry blossom decorations. Their menu is incredibly cheap considering the quality of the food. I opted for the yasai wok dish, which came with seasonal vegetables including sweet potato and cauliflower. Though I’d never thought of adding either to a stir fry, it definitely worked. My dish was only £7.20, while my partner’s pork ramen was £9.40. This does, however, seem to be the type of restaurant that is reluctant to give you a fork over chopsticks. But it’s worth accepting this challenge for a great value, delicious meal.
Yasai wok dish at Senbon Sakura. Image Credits: Annabel Mulliner