York may be a city best known for its crumbling walls and exquisite Minster but those who know it a little better know it for its food too. For a city of its size, it’s punching well above its weight for choice of independent restaurants, cafes and bars.
York is a must stop on your UK itinerary, whether you are into chocolate, sweeties, English ales or Yorkshire puddings. To make sure you get the most out of it, take a look at our foodie guide for York.
Best for coffee: The Perky Peacock
If you’re looking for a caffeine pick-me-up before you start exploring, The Perky Peacock is handily situated between the railway station and the city centre. Even better, it’s taken up residence in a stone tower by the river, so you can get a side of true York charm with your latte. It’s a small venue, so if the weather’s on your side, it’s best to take your drink out and enjoy it by the river. Cake, paninis and breakfast are also available.
The Perky Peacock, Lendal Bridge (with another branch on Gillygate)
Best for sweet treats: LICC (Luxury Ice Cream Co.)
LICC is a sugar lover’s paradise – retro sweets, delicious cakes and most importantly, ice cream. 24 flavours of homemade ice cream are available at any one time, from the regular (chocolate, strawberry) to the unusual (Custard Cream, anyone?).
The Instagram-able décor is also a bonus – but be prepared to queue around the block on hot days.
LICC, 20 Back Swinegate, York, YO1 8AD
Best for snacks: Oscars
If you need something savoury to soak up all that sugar, head across the road to Oscar’s Bistro. Don’t even bother with the menu – get straight in there and order the nachos (vegetarian option available). The portions will easily fill two people, offering a perfect combination of crunchy tortilla chips, melted cheese and tasty chilli that’ll keep you well-fuelled for a day of exploring.
Oscar’s Wine Bar & Bistro, 27 Swinegate, York, YO1 8AZ
Best for cocktails: Evil Eye
Evil Eye is rumoured to be Johnny Depp’s favourite drinking den in York, and it’s not hard to see why.
Walking down Stonegate, you’ll smell it before you see it, the sweet scent of years of booze ingrained in the walls. Don’t let the entrance put you off – enter the dimly lit bottle shop and head straight through to the bar behind, a place that manages to be dark and colourful simultaneously.
Once your eyes have adjusted to the shadows, the middle-eastern style décor becomes apparent. Wooden carved benches and colourful cushions adorn the length of the bar (plus the two further floors) but the centrepiece here is the bar itself – or more specifically, the spirits wall behind the bar.
Every spirit you’ve ever heard of – and at least 100 more you haven’t – line up, waiting their turn to be picked from the gargantuan cocktail list. Absinthe’s the speciality around here, but that’s not to say that Evil Eye’s a one-trick pony; if you come in the daytime (weekends are busy, weekdays much quieter), indulge in something from the hot drinks menu. The Candy Swamp – a hot chocolate with Maltesers, Galaxy Minstrels, marshmallows and cream — is worth lingering over.
Evil Eye Lounge, 42 Stonegate, York, YO1 8AS
Best for carbs: The Graduate
When you find yourself in need of carbs – and fast – head for The Graduate. It’s popular with the city’s students and it’s easy to see why. A sizeable (and affordable) menu offers burgers, burritos, salads, meat and fish dishes. The Cookie Cup dessert is worth leaving room for.
A separate lunch menu specialises in lighter wraps and jacket potatoes, and breakfast is served until noon. Part restaurant, part bar, cocktails are high on the drinks menu, and it’s a great place to start a night out.
The Graduate, 6-12 Lendal, York, YO1 8AA
Best for beer: Pivni
York’s known for its olde worlde pubs, but it’s got a decent beer and craft ale scene too. Nestled in a timber building down a back alley just off the market is Pivni, a specialist craft beer bar offering tipples from all over the world.
If you’ve got time for a swift half on arriving or leaving York, York Tap is a craft beer pub in the station.
Pivni, 6 Patrick Pool, York, YO1 8BB
Secret gem: VJ’s
Down a narrow alleyway off the city’s main square is VJ’s, a hip bar furnished with comfy leather chairs, with exposed brickwork and wooden floors keeping it on the right side of trendy.
It’s big enough that there’s always a table free, yet it still manages to feel intimate, as if you’ve stumbled across a secret.
Food-wise, you’re covered for pretty much any meal, from light snacks including wraps and bowls of olives to brunch, burgers and steaks. The dessert menu is extremely tempting – just try resisting the chocolate fudge cake once you’ve had a whiff of someone else’s. To top it off, there’s a decent drinks menu with coffees, a decent cocktail selection and your usual beers, wines and spirits to boot.
VJ’s, 1a Finkle Street, York, YO1 8RW – http://www.vjsartbar.co.uk/
Have you ever been to York? What was your favourite food or drinks experience? Let us know in the comments below!
This is a guest post by Laura Reynolds.
Laura is a journalist and freelance travel writer and photographer, based in London. By day, she specialises in all things London; by night she can usually be found planning her next travel adventure. She graduated from the University of York with a degree in English language and linguistics in 2012. Other interests include wildlife photography, conservation and cake. Visit her blog to read more about her travel adventures or follow her on Instagram @scribbling_lau and Twitter @