Want a locals guide to eating out in York? Read on…
I spend a lot of time recommending places to eat in York to locals and visitors – we get a lot of emails through this site and enjoy taking up the role of unofficial concierge. Given it’s popularity as a tourist destination, there are too many establishments focused on serving high-margin, low quality food to unsuspecting tourists. As a child growing up in the Centre of York, there were not many options and we used to eat out at country pubs in the surrounding villages. Websites like Trip Advisor have helped to change this, even one-time visitors will happily share their opinions, and looking at York restaurant ratings on Trip Advisor, the ratings don’t wildly differ from the local’s favourites.
Fossgate & Walmgate have more than a handful of very good restaurants, from the award-winning J Bakers to the more informal local’s Italian El Paradisio, and lots of options in between. There are also some out-of-town hidden gems that are worth a venture away from the City Centre for.
As with anywhere, you need to know where you are going to avoid falling in to one fo the tourist traps. We are always happy to make suggestions, so do continue to get in touch, but here is our guide to York’s best restaurants. We have eaten at all the below establishments within the last few months. There are other excellently rated places in York (Meltons, The Blue Bicycle, Rustique) that we haven’t visited recently and therefore are not included in this list. We have tried to cater to varied tastes & cuisines. They are on our list of places to review soon!
All opinions here are our own.
1. Cafe No 8
Cafe No 8 is always top on my list of recommendations. You can read our more detailed review of it here but it offers brilliant breakfasts and brunches, bistro lunch dishes and then turns into a more formal restaurant in the evening. The tiny kitchen turns out spectacular burgers, risottos, and locally sourced fish and meat dishes such as Slow Cooked North African Lamb Meatballs and Pan Fried Halibut with Foamed Hollandaise. All delectable. It has a pretty garden too. Small, but perfectly formed I would highly recommend a visit to York includes a trip here.
Cafe No 8, Gillygate, York. 01904 653074
2. Hotel Du Vin
We invariably end up here when we go out for dinner. Although it’s a chain, it is a small one and it’s only a ten minute stumble from home. The bar is beautiful and opulent, and the courtyard makes it one of the best places for summer drinks al fresco. The Hotel Du Vin certainly isn’t cheap, but it is worth the splurge for a special occasion and they do offer really good mid-week deal where can you can get two courses for two, wine and coffee for £35. Included in this deal is their famous Donald Russell steak which I have to admit is the best steak I have ever eaten – and I have eaten a lot of steak. The sommeliers are knowledgeable and helpful, the menu is well-thought out and the food always delivers.
Hotel Du Vin, The Mount, York
3. Ambiente Tapas, Goodramgate.
I visited here for the first time last week, as I was compiling this list and was absolutely delighted. York has been waiting a long time for somewhere like this. Grown-up without being pretentious, great location, beautiful food, gorgeous and atmospheric setting and faultless services. It’s on the corner of Ogleforth, a lovely hidden street that my parents used to live in and we were very impressed from the start. We enjoyed a pre-prandial drink on their huge, comfy sofas overlooking the street. When food arrives this pretty, it’s a shame to spoil it but we ate ever bit of our tapas selection. From succulent Gambas Al Pil Pil to Chorizo y Patatas to very Moreish Suppli (deep fried risotto balls oozing with mozarella), the meal was perfect from start to finish.
Ambiente Tapas, Goodramgate, York. Telephone 01904 689784
4. The Old Siam
The Old Siam, on Micklegate has been something of a local success story. Run by the lovely Nong and her brother, they transformed an old Cafe into a thriving and popular Thai restaurant over the period of a few years. They serve up Thai favourites like green curry, tord nom pla (mini fish cakes) and a fabulous Penang Curry to happy locals. Nong uses traditional Thai and South-East Asian recipes that haven’t been altered to suit Western Tastes. She offers a fast & reasonable fixed-price lunch menu to cater for locals as well as a take-away service. Very popular so booking advisable.
The Old Siam, 126 Micklegate. Telephone: 01904 635162
5. La Bottegha Del Lange, Peasholme Green
Don’t be put off by their website. Le Langhe is a real foodies favourite. It bases itself around a traditional Italian ‘Osteria’. The downstairs shop & Cafe has outside tables and serves up delicious, simple pasta & risotto lunch dishes using local ingredients as well as imported Italian specialities to a mixed crowd of local workers and those in-the-know. Come the evening, the restaurant serves sophisticated and quality food as well as offering a special tasting menu for £35 a head. This is really worth it – you get six small plates of their beautiful food, based around the menu that evening. We were a group of 8 and had a mix of sea-bass, homemade pasta, a rich rabbit stew and some artfully created puddings. You need to book well in advance, and the restaurant only opens Friday & Saturday evenings.
Le Langhe, Peasholme Green, York. Telephone: 01904 622584
6. Lal Quila, Bishopthorpe Road.
Lal Quila on Bishopthorpe Road is a little out of town, but only a ten minute walk away from the centre of York. It’s always packed, and always serves up a consistently good selection of North Indian dishes. It has been under the same ownership since 1990. Their shashlik and tandoori dishes are particularly good. It definitely has my vote for best place for a curry in York.
Lal Quila 17 Bishopthorpe Road. Telephone: Tel: 01904 670684
7. El Gaucho Steakhouse Argentino, Walmgate
Towards the lower end of York’s ‘restaurant street’ sits El Gaucho. It’s a ten-minute walk from the City Centre but it’s worth the walk down this pretty street and over the Rover Foss. You will be rewarded handsomley with beautiful steaks and other Argentinian fare. Sample the delicious Empenadas for a starter; fried pasties stuffed with mince or corn & cheese and the Grilled Provolone is another treat. This will definitely get you in the mood for the star of the show – their Argentine pampas-grass fed beef. Of course, there are other main options & vegetarians would do well with a mix of their sides, but the beef is the real deal. We had sirloin, washed down with a bottle of red wine and dreamed of staying in an estancia one day.
El Gaucho Steakhouse Argentino, 48 Walmgate, York. Telephone: 01904 674848
8. De’Clare’s, Peter Lane, York
De Clare’s is a growing little empire that York should be proud of. This Peter Lane site is their second Cafe & is a beautifully sunny room decorated in a white minimalist style with pretty chandliers. The Cafe is tucked away and offers waiter-service throughout the day. The menu changes throughout the day. We have happily brunched on scrambled eggs with chorizo and bacon sandwiches. At lunchtime they offer salads, beautiful tarts and specials such as Lamb & Feta Burger, as well as Platters and beautiful sandwiches. They also serve exquisite home-made cakes and sweets and have a small but well-thought out wine list. A perfect retreat from the crowds.
De ‘Clare Peter Lane, York. Telephone: 01904 652920
9. The Lam & Lion, High Petergate
If you love a good pub lunch then you can’t do better in York than the Lamb & Lion. It is a stones throw from York Minster, has one of the best beer gardens in the City, has a nice labriynth of rooms to make it feel snug and historic and ‘pubby’ as well as good quality pub classics like ham & eggs, pie & mash and fish & chips.
The Lamb & Lion, 2-4 High Petergate, York. Telephone: 01904 612078
10. Pizza Express, Museum Street
Space is at premium in York and as a result it can be a nightmare for buggys. Again, I’m including a chain because I genuinely love Pizza Express and this one boasts excellent river views, al fresco dining over two terraces g in the summer, crayons and paper to occupy the children and a view of the chefs pizza-making which keeps everybody happy. The Pizza Express menu continues to evolve, perhaps a secret to it-s long-standing popularity. It is always busy, happy to cater for groups and serves the classic pizzas, pastas, salads and more that keeps people (including us) coming back for more!
Pizza Express, Museum Street, York. Telephone: 01904 672904
You can also read about our favourite Cafe’s in York here.