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Eating Out: The Best Places to Dine in York

We reveal the best places to eat in York, whether you're in the mood for something French or want a meal that won't break the bank

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Best For Pub Food - Charles XII


Situated in Heslington, just a short walk from campus, the Charles XII is perfect for those times when you're craving hearty food without any fuss. Its special offers (all deserts are 2 for 1 and you can get two mains for just £7.95) make it great value for money, especially when you take into account the generous size of the Charles' portions. A great place for catching up with friends. A.W.

Best For French Food - Rustique

rustique 2

Rustique is a restaurant with a well-deserved reputation in York. Located just a stone's throw away from Clifford's tower, Rustique create beautifully-cooked food, and if you go at an off-peak time, then the set menu is only £15.95 for three courses - not bad for a menu which includes dishes like steak and sea bass.

The staff make you feel at home and the food is so tasty and varied. It's pretty good value for what you get - so you can get some nice drinks as well. It's very popular though so make sure you book a table! H.L.

Best For Vegans/ People with Dietary Restrictions - El Piano

El Piano

El Piano serves a diverse mix of Mexican, Spanish and Asian style food, including dahl, mole and tofu. None of the items on the menu contain any meat, gluten or dairy products, but carnivores and diners with non-restricted diets need not worry as they're still sure to find something to satisfy their tastebuds - the falafel is particularly flavoursome, while El Piano's dill onion mayo provides a welcome kick to their potato salad, a dish often in danger of being too bland. If you're not quite sure what you fancy, the taster trays are great for sharing and ensures everyone gets to try a bit of everything - just make sure you leave room for the deliciously light deserts!

El Piano also has a wide range of both hot and cold drinks, including Curiosity Cola and their granada chai, which comes in a lovely ornate silver teapot. And if you're hoping to impress your housemates with your culinary skills, the restaurant holds cookery classes too. A.W.

Best For Mexican Food - Fiesta Latina

fiesta latina

When writing about restaurants in York, it would be wrong of us not to mention this place. Fiesta does a huge range of Mexican dishes - and all in huge portion sizes. When we first started going here, they used to do 50% off for students on Tuesdays and Sundays. Since it's been changed, this discount has been sorely missed but you can still get 25% off if you bring your student card with you. The restaurant is often filled with big groups of students wearing sombreros (which they'll provide you with) and it's a great place to go with a group of friends for a lively atmosphere.

The service here is really good too - we were there on a student night once and had to wait quite a while for our food, so they gave us a free round of cocktails. A piece of advice though - it's worth not eating for at least eight hours before you go here - otherwise you won't finish your meal! H.L.

Best For Asian Food - Evil Eye

Photo credit: Darcie Tanner

Evil Eye is perhaps better known for its dazzling array of cocktails, but its food is just as good and is packed full of flavour (although if you're not a fan of spicy foods, it's best to play it safe when using the menu's spice ratings). Inspired by Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian street food, highlights include the Thai sticky rice and the Japanese gyozas. They even do an Evil Roast on Sundays.

Sadly, although their hot chocolates are wonderfully indulgent, Evil Eye don't do deserts. However, Wagmama have a brilliant range of fusion deserts, including chocolate fudge cake with chocolate wasabi sauce and mochi ice cream (ice cream wrapped in rice). Having said that, it's unlikely you'll have room for pudding after eating at Evil Eye as the food is very, very filling! A.W.

Best For Payday - La Vecchia Scuola

La Vecchia Scuola 49 edited

'Vecchia Scuola' is Italian for 'old school', so-called because it is contained by the building that was once York College for Girls. The building is on Low Petergate, right in the heart of the city near the Minster. They serve reasonably-priced Italian food (The pizza and pasta are about the same price as you would get anywhere else) but the meat-based dishes creep up towards the £20 mark, which makes it a little tricky on a student budget. But the excellent food and great service makes it worth splashing out a little for a special occasion.

The building bears a special significance to me because my grandmother taught there during the Second World War, and they've kept a lot of the things left over from the school as well as a huge collection of photographs. The building itself is beautifully grand and steeped in history; very fitting for a city so historical as York. H.L.

Best for cheap and easy lunches - Stonegate Yard

Photo credit: Within the Walls

Stumbling upon this restaurant during my first week of university with my fellow house mates was - foodwise - one of the best things we could have done. Stonegate Yard is situated on the small and, in the day, rather quiet street of Little Stonegate and is the ideal place for a lunch break after a hard day of shopping!

Stonegate Yard offers a lunch deal between Monday and Friday which is perfect for students and an ideal way to get to know your housemates better. This deal offers a range of sandwiches from a simple ham and mustard to bacon, brie and onion chutney, all served with salad and chips and a choice of tea, coffee, soft drinks, fruit juice, lager or house wine for just £5.50.

However, if you're looking for a bigger lunch time or evening meal then Stonegate Yard can also accommodate this with a range of delicious starters, mains and desserts to satisfy your appetite. H.K.

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