York is one of Britain’s prettiest and most popular cities, with its rich history and culture drawing in millions of tourists every year. Whether you are going for a stroll along the river, visiting York Minster or just taking in the medieval architecture, here’s the top restaurants to visit while exploring the city.
Located nearby the York Dungeon and in the shadow of Clifford’s Tower, 31 Castlegate brings modern European cuisine to York’s medieval heart. The restaurant is fantastic for those looking to experience fine-dining, with head chef Nick Julius having trained at Marco Pierre White’s L’Escargot and all dishes being created using only fresh, local ingredients. The Grade II listed building was built in 1825 as the home of Georgian architect George Townsend Andrews, and still retains its 19th century features, décor and artwork.
Café No8 Bistro prides itself on being one of York’s best neighbourhood restaurant. It is conveniently located close to several of York’s most popular tourist destinations, including York Minster and the museum. With reasonable prices and locally sourced produce, it makes for a relaxing stopping point during a day of sightseeing. The menu changes frequently and with dishes that use only local suppliers: Fine Foods of Heslington, Fowlers of York, and Sykes House Farm for their vegetables, fish and meat respectively. The restaurant has recently been expanded to include an extra 20 covers and also includes a garden at the rear which affords a beautiful view over the York walls.
Winner of the coveted 2AA Rosette award for several consecutive years, D.C.H The Restaurant offers unparalleled views of York Minster from several tables and is often fully-booked. As with many restaurants in York’s centre, D.C.H specialises in British dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients, including York blue cheese and fresh fish from Whitby. The contemporary design, which includes digitally printed wallpaper, deco-style lighting and high ceilings, provides a stylish setting for dinner and a pleasant contrast to the antiquated, charming views outside.
The Blue Bicycle specialises in British dishes, particularly fresh fish. From the bar, you can enjoy views of the River Foss or take in the historic surroundings over dinner. At the beginning of the 20th century, the cellar was a ‘brothel of some repute’. Photographs of some of the old employees of the cellar can still be found downstairs and this certainly makes The Blue Bicycle a restaurant with a more colourful history than most. It is also a favourite local spot for romantic meals, offering private vaulted booths for special occasions.
A small, funky, vegan and gluten-free restaurant, El Piano is modern dining in the centre of traditional York. From the outside, El Piano may not scream ‘York’ but its ethos of fresh food and friendly service makes it seem right at home in this part of England. The restaurant was founded in 1997, long before vegan and gluten-free diets started gaining momentum. Since its inception, the team have also branched out to lend their expertise in the form of cookbooks, cooking schools and in creating cooking kits. The interior features warm, Mediterranean colours and the food is served on colourful earthenware. All food is homemade and has earned awards from Visit Yorkshire, Tripadvisor and the Vegetarian Society.
Restaurant, Gastropub, Bar, Pub, Pub Grub, Vegetarian, $$$
The food is one of the biggest draws to the House of the Trembling Madness. It serves up traditional and delicious pub fare such as stews, hunter platters and sausage and mash, as well as priding itself on its large beer selection, all for a reasonable price and sourced from local producers. This is locally considered to be one of the best places to try ‘pub food’ in York. The name is taken from the old term ‘Delirium Tremens’, and its medieval hall, the original building dating back to 1180, is decked out as a 12th century drinking den. It is likely not as bawdy as days past, but this interesting backdrop of mounted animal heads, timber beams and the building’s original features make for one of the most historic and fun restaurants in York.
Found in all major food guides, including the prestigious Michelin guide, Melton’s is one of the best fine-dining establishments to be found in York. Head chef Michael trained with Roux Restaurants, returning to York in the early 1990s to open Melton’s, which has retained its popularity for 20 years. Melton’s is a family run restaurant that firmly prides itself on its Yorkshire roots, providing exemplary British food created with locally sourced ingredients. The large mural is eye-catching, with the simply laid tables giving an informal and relaxed atmosphere in this otherwise top quality restaurant. It is, without a doubt, worth the small trip out of town.
Winner of Opentable and Tripadvisor awards, Nineteen is a firm favourite among locals. It is located close to York Minster and is lapped by several ghost walks during the evenings, with the surrounding alleys supposedly considered to be fruitful ground for the supernatural. The building was once a banana warehouse, situated in the area previously used for prostitution in the middle ages. Grape Lane, where Nineteen sits, got its name from its old colloquial nickname: Grope Lane. The charming building has plenty of character, although tall diners should watch their heads on the traditional low ceilings. Specialising in local British cuisine for reasonable prices, Nineteen offers relaxed and traditional dining in York’s old quarter.
As the name suggests, Rustique serves rustic French food. While situated in the heart of York, close to the Minster, Clifford’s Tower and the main shopping district, this restaurant states that it is a classic French restaurant, transporting visitors away from the charming old buildings and into rural France. Designed in the style of a French bistro, the restaurant features wooden chairs and tables with countryside print on the walls and a vibrant European décor. Expect traditional rustic dishes such as moules marinieres, steak, and of course plenty of French bread and a fine selection of wine.
Whether or not you are a fan of wordplay, The Star Inn The City offers a classic Yorkshire eating experience that ‘brings the countryside to town.’ The restaurant is situated in the Old Engine House beside the Yorkshire Museum and Gardens, overlooking the river close to the historic Lendal Bridge. While nestled in a historic setting, The Star Inn The City has a vibrant, modern interior amidst the historic and tranquil exteriors. The restaurant’s specialty is Yorkshire game and fish, with daily specials featuring an expertly prepared catch-of-the-day. The food has gained the restaurant a place in the 2015 Good Food Guide, with the cuisine, coupled with the hospitality, giving diners a taste of modern Yorkshire.