Image Credit: Christine Matthews
Finding places to eat when you have dietary requirements or allergies can be both difficult and stressful, especially when you are trying to make new friends and find your way around a new place at the same time. I’m hoping these recommendations will help you in your first few weeks at York.
Somewhere for everyone -SPARK
Every student I have spoken to at York absolutely loves SPARK. It is an outdoor (don’t worry, it has heaters and covered seating) box park which houses numerous independent food stalls, bars and businesses. Most dietary requirements are catered for across SPARK and most food stalls have vegetarian, vegan or gluten free options, but it is definitely worth trying Dog’s Nose Taqueria which is 100 percent plant based and most of the menu can be made gluten free - I have never had tofu so good! There are also gluten free and vegan beers available at the Piccadilly Tap.
A friend of mine has recommended Ambiente Tapas as being very clear regarding allergies and dietary requirements. She did say that you have to be on the same page as the person you are sharing tapas with though. I absolutely love Doner Summer which is an all-vegan restaurant just outside the city walls. It has amazing food and a lovely garden in the back, even my non-vegan friends recommend it as being a favourite of theirs.
If you fancy drinks somewhere quieter than one of the clubs, Cosy Club or Las Iguanas are the places to go. Both have numerous food options for various dietary requirements and have extensive drinks menus. They come highly recommended by those with allergies as the waiters and waitresses will take you through the menus and answer any questions or concerns.
Honestly, I could go on about cafes in York forever! My aim is to try as many as possible before I finish my degree. York has an incredible range of independent cafes and most will cater to a range of dietary needs. Melk is a personal favourite, it started in SPARK and has since expanded to have its own coffee shop on Clifford Street. It serves a range of treats including biscuit brownies and ice cream. Gron has both vegan and gluten free options and has a lovely upstairs seating area in the centre of York which is a quiet place to study or people watch. Goji is a vegetarian cafe which has a range of vegan, dairy-free and gluten free options. These are just a few of the numerous independent cafes in York to get you started!
Lunch with your parents is something you want to nail when they come to visit or after they have helped you lug boxes up to your third floor room (sorry Dad!) A favourite in my family is the Deramore Arms. It is in Heslington village outside Campus West, just down the road from the infamous Charles XII. It has loads of vegan options as well as gluten free options and a small garden which is nice in the summer. The traditional ‘take your parents’ place in York is Betty’s and it lives up to its reputation. It does both vegan and gluten free afternoon teas and has a range of options on their main menu. If the queue is too long to get inside, then the shop is just as good and is excellent for Christmas and Birthday presents!
To treat yourself -Doe Bakehouse
Possibly the most important category in this article! Doe Bakehouse is a favourite amongst my friends and I. It sells a range of doughnuts and the menu changes every month so there is always something new to enjoy. There aren’t any gluten free doughnuts just yet, but there is always a range of incredible hot drinks to enjoy - they do rose and sapphire coffees! Half the menu is always vegan and they do veganuary every year. They have also just introduced ‘doesties’ which are savoury toasted doughnuts. I am yet to try one so the verdict is still out, but make sure to buy a sweet doughnut to treat yourself.
For future recommendations
When I was trying to find places to eat when I moved to York I found Instagram and Facebook recommendations to be really helpful. My favourite page is the @VegansofYork Instagram page (there is also a Facebook page for those who prefer that platform). It posts recommendations and is especially useful when finding out when places add a new vegan option to their menu. If you are gluten free, the Coeliac and Gluten free York group on Facebook looks especially helpful too.