From the Otley Run to the midweek drinking options to the sheer number of folk that flock to the city to undertake their studies, there should be little doubt that Leeds is the undisputed Student Capital of the UK, if not the world.
With great numbers come great facilities, and let’s face it, even cash-strapped students have to eat more than beans on toast every now and again.
Take a stroll through just 20 of the fine student-friendly eateries our fine city has to offer.
Credit: Thai Sabai
Set in the heartland of Headingley studentville, Thai Sabai is a perfect little Thai restaurant that serves up really top drawer tucker at reasonable prices. Their Pad Thai is something to savour, as are their stay chicken sticks. Arrive before 7 and you’ll have the option of their student loan friendly two-course £7.95 early bird menu.
Thai Sabai, North Lane, LS6 3HP – more info
A little further towards town in Hyde Park sits Oranaise Cafe, a tidy little Moroccan eatery that offers good value and wholesome grub in equal measure. There are vegan and vegetarian options aplenty, and a range of special events sittings for those first dates on a budget.
Oranaise Cafe, 1 The Crescent, LS6 2NW – more info
Archie’s Bar & Kitchen
Regular student offers, decent tunes and top tucker combine to make Archie’s a firm favourite of the Leeds student population, set down in Granary Wharf. Their Friday night £10 burger and drink combo is a particularly popular offering.
Archie’s Bar & Kitchen, Arches V-W, The Dark Arches, Granary Wharf, LS1 4BR – more info
Another city centre pig-out well worth a visit is American diner extraordinaire Ira B’s: a fun, friendly independent joint that serves up some of the finest sandwiches in our fair town. The salt beef sandwich and chuck soup combo is the stuff of legend among those in the know, which is the point – this is still a little-known Leeds gem.
Ira B’s, 27A Chelwood Dr, LS8 2AT – more info
A hop into the Leeds suburbs brings you to Horsforth, which is packed with a number of reasonably priced, high quality restaurants. One of the very finest is Istanbul Grill, an authentic Turkish eatery that offers a stunning £11.95 two course meal during the evening, a price that drops to £6.95 for lunch.
Istanbul Grill, 194A New Road Side, Horsforth, LS18 4DP – more info
Wandering around the city centre and developing a quick-fix hunger? Middle Eastern street food joint Caravanserai should be high on your list. Born out of the hugely successful Cafe Moor in Kirkgate Market and tucked in behind the Corn Exchange, you can’t miss it – it’s all served from a beautiful, twenty five foot gypsy caravan.
Caravanserai, 1 Crown St, LS2 7DA – more info
Who doesn’t love a good, hearty plate of pie? Pieminister has brought the art of top piemanship to the high street, offering up all the side orders you’d expect, from their creamy mash to their range of gravys. It’s all reasonably priced and well worth a pop in.
Pieminister, 15-17 Duncan St, LS1 6DQ – more info
Boasting what they consider to be the best pizza in Leeds (not that they’re biased), Ecco is a slick Headingley Italian restaurant that is all class. Lunch offers are on constant supply, and it really is top drawer pizza.
Ecco Pizzeria, 93 Otley Rd, LS6 3PS – more info
Bird & Beast
Naming no names, we know that some big name chicken restaurants are hugely popular with the nation’s leagues of hungry students, but what if we told you there was a far more independent chicken eatery well worth your attention, right here in the middle of the city centre? That’s the case at Bird & Beast, which prides itself as ‘the home of chicken in Leeds’.
Bird & Beast, Central Arcade, Central Rd, LS1 6DX – more info
Leeds is awash with excellent Thai food options, but one or two stand out. Zaap, one of the many fine eateries to pop up in Leeds last Summer, is one of those, offering a fun, bustling atmosphere and serving awesome, authentic scran.
Zaap Thai, 22 Grand Arcade, LS1 6PG – more info
A good, friendly and authentic family Italian restaurant – what’s not to love? La Besi has been a staple for Hyde Park students for years, paying testament to all that and more, including good prices and some of the very best food in town. They do takeaways, too, which are always hugely popular.
La Besi, 211 Clarendon Rd, LS2 9DT – more info
The very mothership of Headingley student activity, The Arc has been one of the most popular watering and drinking holes in Leeds for a decade. It serves up underrated food, too, straddling the gap between pub grub and diner scran – all in one of the most vibrant atmospheres you could hope for. Check out their Mexican Mondays.
The Arc, 19 Ash Rd, LS6 3JJ – more info
One for the early stages of your student loan or when the parents come to visit, this. Salvo’s really is one of the finer Italians in Leeds, but it’s not exactly a cheap eat. Based in the student heartland of Headingley, their special nights are the stuff of legend across the city.
Salvo’s, 115 & 107 Otley Rd, LS6 3PX – more info
The Corner Cafe
All about Indian? We all know curry is a huge part of any student diet (or at least it should be). The Corner Cafe is one of Leeds’ most revered spots for a cracking curry, and set up on Burley Road, it’s not too far from the majority of the student lot.
The Corner Cafe, 104 Burley Rd, LS3 1JP – more info
Credit: Roxy Ballroom
One city centre eatery that is immensely popular with students and young professionals alike is Roxy Ballroom, whose careful combination of decent drinks, top tucker and table tennis make it a no brainer for this list. Their pizzas are top drawer, and for a tasty challenge, grab yourself one of their burgers.
Roxy Ballroom, 58 Boar Ln, LS1 6HW – more info
Love a pig out? Just a hop, skip and a jump from Leeds and you’ll find Huckleberry’s, now one of the most famous big eat joints around. It’s one to check out with the housemates – nothing beats a bit of healthy (or unhealthy) competition. Loser does the dishes for a week?
Huckleberry’s, 3-5 High St, LS19 7ZX – more info
The Cat’s Pyjamas
Indian street food, craft ale and a relaxed, hip atmosphere – it’s made for the student hordes of Headingley. It’s soon become one of the suburb’s favourite spots for a refuel, offering a wide range of scran at a range of prices to suit any budget.
The Cat’s Pyjamas, 53 Otley Rd, LS6 3AB – more info
Another Hyde Park haven, Boss Burgers does exactly what it says on the tin. It doesn’t look much from the outside, but rest assured it’s well worth popping in for a try, blessed with only the freshest ingredients, whipped up to create some of the very best burgers in town. There’s one each out in Chapel Allerton and Harrogate, too, for those eager for a road trip.
Boss Burgers, 75 Brudnell Grove, LS6 1HR – more info
The Belgrave Music Hall
Set up at the top of Leeds, The Belgrave Music Hall is a student haven, with a constant stream of live events, great bands, drinks and yes, affordable food courtesy of indy street food vendors Dough Boys and Patty Smiths.
The Belgrave Music Hall, 1-1A Cross Belgrave St, LS2 8JP – more info
A skip into Woodhouse will take you to Balti King, one of the old favourite curry houses of Leeds students. Offering student prices and genuinely good food, Balti King is one of the top drawer and authentic restaurants to hit up. Oh, and they do world class takeaways, too.
Balti King, 69 Raglan Rd, LS2 9DZ – more info
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Main image: Roxy Ballroom