Food & Drink Muse

Our top places to eat in York

Patrick Walker talks through his favourite places to eat in York with something for every occasion

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Image Credit: Joseph Silke - The Cat's Whiskers

As a city with a wealth of culture and history, York’s got an incredible independent food scene, from smaller cafes, to Michelin-starred culinary behemoths serving the best food in the county. Whatever food, at whatever price point, York probably has it: here are my top seven places to go for the best grub in the city.

Best for cheap dinners out: Ambiente Fossgate
This Spanish tapas chain is a great option for large groups looking to eat cheaply in a rush. Not only do they do a ten-pound deal, allowing you to sample a variety of dishes for a low price, they also have a huge selection of food that’ll keep everyone in your party happy. The menu ranges from meatballs and black pudding, to satisfying vegan and vegetarian dishes.

Best for great coffee: Spring Espresso
Look, we’re not going to pretend that this isn’t quite a packed field in a city like York, but everyone has their favourite, and Spring Espresso is ours. The cafe uses beans from a small local roster, complete with latte art and a wide-ranging menu. It also features light and airy decor with plenty of tables to work at. This recommendation does come with a ‘no Wifi’ warning, but the place more than makes up for it with its standout food, including salads and great blueberry, pecan, and maple syrup pancakes. If you’re looking for something a little meatier, Spring Espresso also has the best damn bacon sandwich in York: tomato relish and thickly sliced bacon between two slices of lightly-spiced tomato bread: it has to be tasted to be believed...

Best for tea and cake with a twist: The Cat’s Whiskers
York’s first cat cafe opened last term to much celebration from the city’s feline friends,(we even did a story on it in our last edition.) Since then, Nouse has been back many times to enjoy the great cake and cats. We think the cake is excellent, but the cats are the real stars, creating a relaxing, tranquil atmosphere, especially in such a busy area of the city. Almost all of the cats are up for adoption, and there’s even a guide to them on their website if you’re interested. The cafe requires you to book early, so make sure you plan your visit in advance.

Best for vegan food: Once Across the Garden
These guys typically do catering for public events and normally turn out to the Shambles street market on Sundays. Thankfully for York’s food scene, they’ve recently opened a permanent outlet just off York’s high street that does stand-out imitation food, including their take on vegan fish and chips, and vegan fried chicken, both of which are juicy and tasty enough to make even the most hardened carnivore salivate with envy.

Best for sandwiches: Brown’s
Browns are changing the cold sandwich game with filling, creative options like Mexican chicken, or a classic yorkshire beef roast, all packed inside their large freshly baked rolls. They’re only about 10 minutes walk away from campus in Heslington village, and offer a wide selection of pre-made options for three quid each. Their TripAdvisor page says they do “probably the best sandwiches in York”. We agree. Nouse recommends grabbing one for lazy Saturdays in, or for day trips away. They also do a small selection of pies and hot options for very reasonable prices. We can’t recommend this enough if you’re looking for a healthy and cheap lunch.

Best for variety: Spark
Spark: York sits inside 23 shipping containers that were renovated in 2015 to create a great street market. There are plenty of outlets, from fried chicken at Clucking Oinks, to a great international dinner club and lunch outlet in Cardamon and Dill. A personal favourite is Shori, which serves great Asian-inspired dishes, where the ramen is a standout. Nouse did an article earlier this year interviewing some of the producers from Spark: we love the location for its diversity and interesting food concepts. The burger place, Sloppy Burgers, actually delivers, and might just be the best thing we’ve ever found on Just Eat...

Best for graduation dinners: Le Cochon Aveugle
If you love fine dining, you’re in for a treat. This tiny bistro on Walmgate serves up a delicious eight-course tasting menu throughout the week. Its dishes are inspired by European and french technique, using local British ingredients. Like all good French restaurants, it also has a large wine menu to sample, taken from its sister wine bar, Le Cave du Cochon. Le Cochon Aveugle has finally received a Michelin plate in recognition of its excellence. It’s perfect if you’re looking for somewhere unique to bring the parents: its high prices exclude most students from going alone.

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