York restaurants

By David Cawley, your York expert

I write for Britain Magazine, Heritage Magazine, Ninemsn, South .... Read more

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Bettys York

Price guide: Budget
#6/20
expert-rated restaurants in York
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

It would almost seem sacrilegious to miss a visit at Bettys during time in York.

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La Place Verte

Price guide: Budget
#9/20
expert-rated restaurants in York
Best for Families -
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

A great little Belgian coffee shop serving the best D.I.Y hot chocolate in town.

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Grays Court

Price guide: Budget
#10/20
expert-rated restaurants in York
Best for Outdoor dining -
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

Even by York’s historic standards this for me is one of the most beguiling settings for tea.

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The Hairy Fig

Price guide: Budget
#11/20
expert-rated restaurants in York
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

One part cafe, three parts deli this is an absolute treasure trove of artisan ‘fine fodder.’

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House of Avalon

Price guide: Budget
#16/20
expert-rated restaurants in York
Best for Cheap eats -
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

York has plenty of tea shops, but only one comes with vintage couture shopping and old movies.

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For a place this size, York should be proud of the quantity and quality of its places to eat. Not only with the creativity of its chefs but with the surrounding county, abundant in quality produce swimming in its rivers and seas, chomping on its verdant pastures and growing from its rich soil. Local cheese, meat, vegetables, fruit, seafood, beer, even Yorkshire wine all contribute to the alchemy taking place in York’s kitchens. Look out for the deliciouslyyorkshire logos to confirm dedication to quality and local produce. 

York has pretty much got all the local, national and global bases covered when it comes to looking for somewhere to eat. Elegant fine dining, stylish bistros, gastro and traditional pubs, cafés, coffee shops and trendy bars are all represented in the city.

Like the rest of the UK, lunch service in restaurants is generally between noon and 2.30pm with the dinner menus (traditionally Britain’s main meal of the day) brought out between 6pm and 10pm. Many international places (especially Indian, Chinese, Thai and the like) will stay open a bit later.

Look out for lunch and early evening specials. These can be an affordable way to get a sample of pricey places to eat and some will even throw in a glass of wine or two. Like hotel rates, better set menu deals can also be had between Sunday and Thursday when the city is quieter.

Restaurants in the city can get booked up fairly quickly so I always find it worth making a reservation well in advance.

Tips are usually discretionary, but do check your bill to see if a service charge has been added to the total. You don’t have to pay this and it can be deducted without a fuss, moreover and most importantly, staff often never actually get see any of it and it instead goes straight into the owner's coffers. If you want to tip the waiting-on staff it’s always best to give them cash directly. Usually 10 per cent of the bill should cover it.

Though specifically for attractions, the Yorkshire Pass offers a number of discount vouchers at selected places to eat and drink. See my York insider tips for details on the whys and hows of getting one.

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While not pretending to be a food critic, I like to think that as a former restaurant owner and my experiences eating my way across the world, I do have some knowledge of food and expectations of all that goes with it. I’ve drawn on this experience, my years of eating out in the city and quite simply my tastes in food to compile my list of recommended restaurants in York.

I admit not all my choices are perfect in every way, but they do all have that certain something that has gotten me hooked. It’s a subjective thing and I expect to raise a few local hackles with some of my inclusions and the places passed I’ve over. So click through and you’ll find my current top 20 places to nibble, graze and gorge covering every budget; an array characters and moods and the representatives of quite a few nations. Good eating.