Best Restaurants and Cafes in York  - Beautiful Escapes

Best Restaurants and Cafes in York 

30th October 2023

After a few hours of pounding the cobbles, meandering the lanes and climbing the city walls, you’ll inevitably work up an appetite. But the restaurant and cafe options can be overwhelming. For those with limited time or seeking an extra special meal, it can be helpful to have some recommendations on hand to get the very most out of your experience. With this in mind, we’re sharing some of our favourite places to wine, dine, brunch and lunch in the city of York. 

Places to eat in York city centre

The Star Inn the City

Located along the picturesque River Ouse, The Star Inn the City is an AA Rosette-awarded brasserie with a seasonal menu and views of the passing boats. Sit outside on the expansive terrace (where dogs are welcome) and soak up some northern sunshine, or book a romantic dinner in the elegant dining room. The Star Inn the City also serves a hearty roast on Sundays, with some quintessential Yorkshire puds.


Awarded the coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand, this pan-Asian on-trend eatery provides a sense of immersion as you take a seat at the counter to watch the small plates being prepared. Its name is derived from a Japanese word meaning ‘small amount’, with diners encouraged to sample between three and four per person.


This fine-dining venue with two AA Rosettes is well-suited to a special night out. Meltons is a firm York favourite having been open since 1990. You’ll find it just outside of the Bar Walls off Bishopthorpe Road.

The Bow Room at Grays Court

Close to Meltons is The Bow Room at Grays Court. The tasting menus here are nothing short of exquisite, with ingredients from the venue’s own kitchen garden and optional premium wine pairings. It has three AA Rosettes and Head Chef Ian Doyle has a Michelin Star. A meal at The Bow Room is a leisurely affair, so do allow plenty of time and make a full evening of it. A lunch menu is served in the Jacobean Long Gallery.

Best restaurants and cafes in York for lunch

Brew and Brownie

A walk-in venue for a spot of brunch or a cuppa and a home-baked cake, this cafe is in the tourist quarter on Museum Street. It’s committed to using local suppliers including Raydale Preserves of Stalling Busk, Johnson’s free-range eggs, Bishy Road’s M & K butchers and Haxby Bakehouse; so you can be sure of a taste of Yorkshire. There are plenty of vegan and gluten-free items on the menu and the staff are super friendly.

The Blue Barbakan

Every dish is made onsite at The Blue Barbakan, whose menu revolves around classic Polish/Eastern European flavours and wines. This is ideal for those seeking something out of the ordinary, such as pork dripping on sourdough with dill pickles; sour rye soup with white sausage, crispy poached egg and mashed potatoes; and pierogis (filled dumplings).


Neo-Victorian rooms accented by art and antiques (many of which are for sale) are the setting for Partisan, a relaxed and bohemian cafe spot. Open till 3pm, it serves a range of diverse daytime dishes and photogenic sweet treats. For an evening meal with a similar vibe, you can check out Brancusi, Partisan’s new sister restaurant, three doors along.

Hidden gem restaurants in York

The Ackhorne

Although central, this one can be easy to miss. The 18th-century public house is tucked along a quiet, almost ghostly alley off the Micklegate. The Ackhorne provides a traditional and earthy ambience, with real ales, a weekly quiz night and a fantastic Sunday lunch.

Brew York

One for the craft beer lovers, this industrial-style taproom (ground floor) and beer hall (first floor) conceals one of the city’s best-kept secrets in terms of alfresco options; a part-covered riverside garden. You can tuck into a menu of Japanese street food by Yuzu, sample brews from cask and keg and then take a tour of the brewery itself. Brew York is on Walmgate, south-east of the historic centre.

The Golden Ball 

Located in Bishophill, this community co-operative pub (the first of its kind in the city) provides an escape from the tourist masses and interaction with locals. The Victorian building is Grade II listed, with a tiled bar and features in CAMRA’s national inventory of historic pub interiors. In addition to The Golden Ball’s hand-pulled cask ales, Yorkshire pies, Scotch eggs, savoury nuts and snacks are served.

Quirky restaurants in York

Dyls Cafe Bar

Another waterside option, Dyls’ is homed in a former bridge motor house. Take a seat outdoors, or find a nook via the winding staircase within the historic building. Original period features like leaden windows and curved stone walls are contrasted with a funky, colourful decor. Open all day, the one-of-a-kind venue is family-run, serving pizza wraps, fries, international brunch items, unique cocktails, artisan spirits and more.

Los Moros 

While Yorkshire food is an integral part of the culinary scene, the city also has plenty of enticing international options. This one began life as a humble street food stall in The Shambles (which is still there), before expanding to a dine-in venue on Grape Lane. And, although the dishes are inspired by the recipes of North Africa, the team uses lots of local suppliers to make them. The kitchen prepares all of its own pickles, preserved lemons, chermoula, falafel and hummus, ensuring the freshest authentic fare. Take a table in the courtyard of the pretty blue-painted and pink roof-tiled building, or in the Mediterranean-style interior.


A multi-use creative space set in shipping containers, Spark has an eclectic range of pop-up bars, bistros and street food kiosks offering flavours from across the globe. Bring your fur baby, bring your friends, bring your family; it’s open from noon till late every day except Monday, with year-round outdoor seating.


Whether you embark on a comprehensive tour of these eateries or select just a couple of gems, York’s epicurean haunts will enhance your experience of the city’s cultural landscape. 

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