Our friends over the channel and further afield may have had al fresco dining nailed for a while now but over here in the UK it’s only something that’s started to have mass appeal more recently. Sure, everyone’s always been a fan of the odd drink in a beer garden or a summery outdoor meal when the weather allows it, but people are now happier than ever to brave the elements all year round. This is certainly the case in Leeds, where restaurants all over the city now offer outdoor dining. Now, we know that the north of England isn’t exactly famed for its warm weather but worry not, as many of Leeds’ best restaurants have invested in heaters and covers to keep diners cosy even in the most dire conditions.
Leeds’ food scene is undoubtably one of the most exciting in the UK with new restaurants opening every day and an abundance of impressive young chefs eager to make their mark. And with many of the city’s best restaurants now offering outdoor seating, it only gives you a better chance of securing a table at one of the must-try spots. From city centre beer gardens offering good old-school pub grub to fancier restaurants with stunning terraces, there are al fresco dining options for all tastes and budgets in Leeds.
Given the number of outdoor restaurants there are to choose from in Leeds, it can be a tricky task deciding which one you want to visit. That’s why we’ve put together a guide below to the best al fresco dining spots the city has to offer. We’ve included restaurants of all different styles along with information about their outdoor dining areas. So next time you feel like dining continental-style in Leeds, be sure to head to one of these fantastic restaurants.
What: Boasting stunning rooftop views of the city, the terrace at Angelica, which sits six floors up in the Trinity Shopping Centre, is one of Leeds' most popular al fresco dining destinations. It might be known predominantly as a bar but the food menu here certainly isn't to be sniffed at. Head here on weekends for a memorable outdoor brunch or treat yourself to a three-course dinner in the evening, with indulgent dishes such as lobster and chips on offer.
Where: Level 6, Trinity Centre, 70 Boar Lane, LS1 6HW
What: Taking its inspiration from the New York nightlife, you'll feel like you've teleported to a Manhattan rooftop when stepping out onto the terrace at East 59th. Contemporary American dishes including burgers and prawns cooked on the BBQ are accompanied by creative cocktails, which can be enjoyed late into the night. Saturday nights see DJs take to the decks on the terrace, making it a particularly great place to come with friends.
Where: 3rd Floor Rooftop, Victoria Gate, George Street, LS2 7AU
What: It may not have the biggest outdoor area around but legendary Leeds boozer The Reliance does have a few tables out front which can be booked in advance. Food here comes in the form of small international plates such as duck ragu papardelle, mussels, and asparagus with a poached egg. We suggest getting a selection of dishes to share with the whole table while soaking up some rare Leeds sunchine (if you're lucky with the weather that is).
Where: 76-78 North Street, LS2 7PN
What: Outdoor dining doesn’t come much more stylish that at Leeds’ Issho which has a stylish decked terrace lined with greenery and full of plush garden furniture. The contemporary izakaya-style menu on offer features everything from sushi and bao buns to meat cooked on the robata grill and is best enjoyed alongside a Japanese-inspired cocktail or two.
Where: 3rd Floor Rooftop, Victoria Gate, George Street, LS2 7AU
A Nation of Shopkeepers
What: This popular spot right in the city centre has become somewhat of a hub for art, music, food and drinks, and its lovely court yard is right at the centre of all that. The decked area at A Nation of Shopkeepers has covered booths, long sharing tables, cosy corners and most importantly a delicious food menu to boot. Choose from burgers, pizzas, chicken wings and more, while an impressive selection of craft beers completes the offering.
Where: 26-27 Cookridge Street, LS2 3AG
The Restaurant Bar & Grill
What: Based inside what used to be an old post office, the Leeds outpost of The Restaurant Bar & Grill has a real sense of grandeur to it and that includes the huge outdoor area, which is surrounded by stone columns. Tables are spread out and covered by umbrellas and the many heat lamps ensure it’ll never be a chilly affair here. Head here for a light lunch with a glass of wine or an al fresco bottomless brunch on the weekend.
Where: The Old Post Office, 3 City Square, LS1 2AN
What: One of Leeds’ oldest pubs, Whitelock’s has been around hundreds of years and so has its long outdoor area, which can now be booked for food and drinks. Featuring benches galore and heaters to keep you warm on the coldest Northern days, it’s the perfect place to tuck yourself away and get stuck into a crowd-pleasing food menu of classic British pub grub.
Where: Turk's Head Yard, LS1 6HB
The Alchemist Trinity
What: The Alchemist may be predominantly known for its creative cocktails, but there's plenty to choose from food-wise at this Trinity Centre oupost too with everything from sharing plates like popcorn chicken and calamari to burgers and steaks to choose from. What's more, this popular first floor spot also has a fantastic wrap-around terrace area where you can head for either a couple of drinks or a full-on dinner.
Where: Level 1, Trinity Centre, 70 Boar Lane, LS1 6HW
Water Lane Boathouse
What: If you don't mind drifting out of the city centre a bit and over the river, Water Lane Boathouse is well worth the walk. Sitting right on the waterfront in Holbeck, it's home to one of Leeds' biggest beer gardens and serves a number of different craft beers from various local breweries. If the idyllic location and drinks menu wasn't enough already, there's also a mouthwatering pizza and burger menu on offer her.
Where: Canal Wharf, Holbeck, LS11 5PS
The Lamb & Flag
What: There aren't many places in Leeds with a choice of outdoor areas but The Lamb & Flag has just that. You can either sit up on the small private terrace area or find a table in the sprawling courtyard. What the both have in common however, is wonderful views of Leeds Minster which sits directly opposite the pub. The reasonably priced food menu includes pies, bangers and mash, fish and chips and more.
Where: 1 Church Row, LS2 7HD
What: Another restaurant located in Leeds' old post office building, Banyan is a wonderful spot for all occasions, whether you're looking for a bottomless brunch at the weekend, a quick lunch, or an evening filled with cocktails. Its outdoor area overlooks the square and comes complete with umbrellas and heaters. Highlights on the menu include the alpine chicken schnitzel and bang bang chicken salad.
Where: The Old Post Office, 2 City Square, LS1 2ES
The Lost & Found Greek Street
What: This avant-garde restaurant and cocktail bar on the buzzy Greek street may not have a huge amount of outdoor seating but if you do manage to grab one of the tables out front, you won't be disappointed. There's a real buzz at The Lost & Found particularly during the evening, which makes the perfect setting to enjoy seasonal dishes such as glazed duck breast with pineapple ketchup, alongside a house cocktail or three.
What: Punchy Mexican street food is the name of the game at Neon Cactus on Call Lane. This cool, contemporary joint has plenty of attitude and now has a small outdoor area out front meaning that you can enjoy your tacos, tortillas and burritos al fresco. Be sure to sample the vast range of tequilas on offer here and finish things off with a Mexican-inspired cocktail.
Where: 35 Call Lane, LS1 7BT
The Midnight Bell
What: The courtyard at The Midnight Bell, found in Holbeck's Urban Village, is so picturesque that you'd be forgiven for thinking you were out the back of a country pub. Soaked in sun during the daytime, and packed with atmosphere during the evenings, you can order food throughout the day to accompany your cool pints. Vegans and vegetarians are particularly well looked after here, with plenty of plant-based dishes on offer.
Where: 101 Water Lane, Holbeck, LS11 5QN
Don't mind whether you're indoors or outdoors? Check our list of the best restaurants in Leeds