Bored of your run-of-the-mill, go-to eateries? These unusual Leeds restaurants are refreshingly unique.
Whether it’s the food that’s distinctive or it’s the decor that delivers the wow-factor, Leeds has got loads of weird and wonderful restaurants that are a bit different from the rest. We’ve got an experiential DIY Korean barbecue eatery, a pub dedicated to Yorkshire in all its glory and an Insta-famous cafe filled with flowers, all serving delicious eats with gusto. Which will you try first?
The Man Behind The Curtain
Credit: Luke Hannaford
The Man Behind The Curtain has to be one of most unusual restaurants in Leeds. The distinctive name and the unique decor hints at the bold, idiosyncratic menu. There’s a black marble floor, black line drawings on the walls and even black toilet paper. This is where celebrated chef Michael O’Hare makes art through the medium of food. Theatrics and presentation are as important as the flavours themselves – think prawn served on a telephone a lá Salvador Dali and scallops in a black eggshell with lashings of black squid ink.
The Man Behind the Curtain, 68-78 Vicar Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7JH.
Credit: Richard Walker
How’s cooking your own meal on a Korean table-top barbecue for a break from the norm? At Bulgogi Grill, that’s exactly what happens – and it’s super fun. You’re given a range of cuts of meat and fish to cook on the barbecue in front of you, some marinated in Bulgogi’s signature sauce, others brushed with oil and delicately seasoned. We’re talking tender beef, pork and duck, squid, swordfish and even seabass. Once it’s cooked to your liking, wrap it up in lettuce along with some rice and the sauces of your choice for a mouthful of utterly delicious flavours.
Bulgogi Grill, The Arena Quarter, 9 Merrion Way, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8BT.
© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Emma Cooke
Wapentake is an ode to God’s Own County. With a down-to-earth, no frills approach, they source their food and drink locally – keeping it as Yorkshire as possible. On the menu, you’ll find crisp butties (oh, heck yes), glorious Sunday roasts and even Yorkshire pudding burgers served with gravy and wedges. Their breakfast and brunch dishes are the star of the show – even the beans on toast gets a Yorkshire twist with a splash of Henderson’s Relish. They make sure that everything has a veggie and vegan equivalent, so no one goes without.
Wapentake, 92 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.
All you can eat meat? That you don’t even have to leave the table for? Yes please! Fazenda is a rodizio-style restaurant, serving delicious Argentinian and Brazilian dishes. Flip your card to green and servers bring mouthwatering grilled cuts of meat to you, like Picanha (cap of rump), Porco Doce (pork collar with honey) or Presunto & Abacaxi (ham & pineapple). It’s cooked exactly the way you want it too. On top of that, there’s unlimited sides, served table-side. Need a break? Just flip your card to red and you’ll be left alone to enjoy your plate of meaty delights.
Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill, Waterman’s Place, 3 Wharf Approach, Granary Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4GL.
The Swine That Dines
The Swine That Dines is one of the most unusual restaurants in Leeds because it’s a bit of a juxtaposition. You’ve got an unassuming, homely looking dining room, full of cookbook laden shelves, framed art and a mix of dining tables. Then, there’s the food. It’s uncomplicated, but inventive and refined – not what you’d expect from such an informal place. They love changing their menu with the seasons, so you could be tucking into ox tongue, slow-braised and pan-fried until it’s melt-in-the-mouth or pork ribs with corn-on-the-cob, doused in spicy butter.
The Swine That Dines, 58 North Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PN.
If you feel like escaping to Thailand without leaving Leeds, Zaap Thai is the place to go. It’s styled to look like a street food market, with bright colours, stalls, neon signs – even a tuk tuk you can sit in! The menu is massive, ranging from Thai fish cakes and Gang Massaman through to delightful green Pandan pancakes. You could be munching away on delicious Dim Sum or slurping on Tom Yum, there’s just so much choice. They’ve got a great selection for vegans and veggies too, with plant-based meat alternatives for all the most popular dishes.
Zaap Thai, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG & 4 St Anne’s Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3NX.
Credit: Bevan Cockerill
Teppanyaki is a Japanese restaurant that combines cooking with theatre. You sit in front of the hot plate on which all your food is cooked, but this is not regular cooking, oh no. Instead it’s pure flair and drama as food comes to life, with tricks like the iconic flaming onion volcano, where rings of onion are stacked and set alight. When it comes to the food, we’re talking yummy teriyaki duck, tofu with ginger or thinly sliced beef and mushrooms. Served with teppanyaki fried rice and stir-fried veggies, it’s a feast that’ll have you coming back again and again!
Teppanyaki, Belgrave Hall, Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8DD.
Meat Is Dead
Meat is Dead is a fully vegan restaurant, but this one is not only meat free, it’s junk free too. There are no burgers, no nuggets, no deep-fried meat substitutes here. Instead, you’ll find that vegetables are king. The arancini is made with sun-blushed tomatoes and smoky vegan cheese, the parmigiana showcases aubergine in all its glory and the toffee pud makes ginger its hero. The menu changes seasonally and there are always weekly specials to salivate over too. Like a Sunday roast? They’ve got three different plant-based options. Yep, three!
Meat Is Dead, 231-239 Kirkstall Road, Burley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2AS.
FINT is a refined Nordic-inspired restaurant and it’s a bit of a unique place to grab a bite to eat. Not only is it light and airy yet cosy, you can tuck into flavour combinations that err on the side of the unusual. It could be pickled apricot and scallops to start, goats cheese panna cotta for dessert or a spiced orange red rice porridge for breakfast, depending on what time of the day you’re there. You can get more familiar tastes too, like the warming sweet potato and lentil soup. Vegan? Try the gnocchi, served pan-toasted with sauerkraut and pumpkin seed cream.
FINT, 73 Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3BR.
Absolutely the most Instagrammable eatery in Leeds, Fleur has an over-the-top feminine aesthetic and a lively menu of Asian fusion dishes. Everywhere you turn there’s a photo op, whether it’s the entrance, the infamous swing seat or the stairway – the walls are all lined with the most beautiful pink, purple and white flowers. Even the ceiling is decorated with butterflies. There are neon signs too, so there’s no way to miss the hashtag. The food is just as insta-worthy. Pink Cheese Samosas, Masala Tofu, Pretzel Burgers, it all looks beautiful and is delicious to boot!
Fleur Cafe, 8 The Light, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 8TL.
© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Ellie Hodgson
Fancy a refreshing Caipirinha? A spot of Latin American tapas? Somewhere you can salsa the night away? Well, you’re in luck – Casa Leeds can sort you out with all of the above. It’s a Colombian tapas restaurant, serving completely gluten-free goodies. There are empanadas filled with beef, soft tacos stuffed with seafood, arepa topped with prawns – a whole host of incredible eats. There’s a “not tapas” section too, with bigger plates of Latin yumminess to be had. After you’ve eaten, dance your dinner off at one of the many events held at the restaurant.
Casa Leeds, 6 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.