Get your running shoes ready because the Yorkshire Marathon is just around the corner, and it’s not just the athletes who are gearing up for an exciting weekend in this vibrant city. As runners prepare to conquer the course and spectators gather to cheer them on, the city is bustling with energy and excitement. With its timeless charm, rich history, and breathtaking beauty, York is the perfect backdrop for this exhilarating event.
York boasts a vibrant and diverse array of independent enterprises, including cafés, restaurants, boutiques, and shops, that cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. From family-run restaurants to artisanal shops, the city offers a unique and enriching dining and shopping experience for both residents and visitors.
So if you’re visiting the city and in need of a few recommendations, read on. We’ve curated a list of the best independent food places in York, perfect for refuelling and relaxing after running (or cheering) those 26.2 miles.
Carb Load: The Best Pizza in York
Rad Pizza: Spark:York 17-21 Piccadilly, York YO1 9PB
Rad Pizza Shop serves these extraordinary Neapolitan-style wood-fired sourdough pizzas right in the heart of Spark: York. I can’t get enough of their innovative combinations and classic favourites. They top these pizzas generously with San Marzano tomatoes and Fior de Latte cheese, creating a truly authentic Neapolitan pizza experience.
Cresci: 20 Piccadilly, York YO1 9NU
Cresci York is a must-visit independent pizzeria, tucked away in the city centre. They opened their doors in 2020 and quickly became a hidden gem with a remarkable achievement – being the sole pizzeria in York to earn the prestigious ‘True Neapolitan Pizza’ certification from Naples. I recommend giving their pizzas a try. Crafted with precision and cooked to perfection in their majestic wood-fired oven, the experience is truly something to cherish. As they aptly put it, “Trying our pizza is like falling in love for the first time; an experience you will never forget!” Whether you choose to dine in or opt for a takeaway, Cresci York promises an unforgettable Neapolitan pizza experience in the heart of the city.
The Block York: 54 Goodramgate, York YO1 7LF
If you’re in the mood for a chic and contemporary dining experience, I have a personal recommendation: head straight to The Block. This welcoming local spot offers an enticing selection of freshly crafted pizza slices, made daily. At The Block, they take street food pizza to a whole new level, offering slices to cater to every taste – from meat lovers to veggie enthusiasts and even those following a vegan diet. The best part? The flavours change daily, so every visit is a culinary adventure. Whether you’re in the mood for something entirely new or craving a classic favourite, The Block has a pizza slice that’ll delight your taste buds. Trust me; it’s a place you don’t want to miss!
Refuel: The Best Brunch Spots in York
Robinsons Café: 7-9 Bishopthorpe Road York YO23 1NA
After a gruelling marathon, you’ll be craving more than just a leg stretch. My personal recommendation? Head straight to Robinsons Café for brunch. This place, born from the creative minds of the talented duo, Will and Bex, who’ve honed their skills in Michelin-starred restaurants, is a true hidden gem. Robinsons Café is a favourite among Instagrammers for a reason – they serve what many, myself included, consider to be the finest brunch in York. As an independent coffee shop, it exudes a cosy and welcoming vibe that effortlessly lures in both locals and tourists. Tables can be in high demand on a weekend, but the experience is worth the wait.
Dyls: The Motor House, Skeldergate Bridge York YO1 9WJ
If you’re on the hunt for the most beautiful coffee shop in York, make your way to Dyls. It’s a personal favourite of mine, and you’ll see why. Housed in the iconic Motor House on Skeldergate Bridge, the building is nothing short of stunning, complete with four uniquely decorated rooms. But it’s the terrace that steals the show, offering captivating views of the River Ouse and the iconic Clifford’s Tower. If you’re visiting post-marathon, I suggest opting for outdoor seating because the indoor stairs can be a bit narrow and steep!
Dyls goes beyond coffee, serving up a mouthwatering range of breakfast, lunch, and late-night snacks. You’ll discover a diverse menu that includes an array of teas, locally roasted coffee, and homemade cakes. For those who enjoy a tipple, they’ve got you covered with wine, draft beer, and an impressive selection of gins. It’s a place that’s as delightful as it is picturesque – an experience you won’t want to miss.
Partisan: 112 Micklegate York YO1 6JX
As you venture down Micklegate, you’ll encounter Partisan, a dynamic independent coffee shop that’s been a long-cherished dream of its owner, Florencia. Partisan is the place to be, offering a modern and diverse menu that covers your breakfast, brunch, lunch, and afternoon tea needs, every day of the week. And if you’re in the mood for some casual dining, they even extend their hours into the evenings later in the week.
What sets Partisan apart is their commitment to art and community. They frequently host exhibitions for local and national artists, and you’ll find that much of the artwork and furniture on display is available for purchase, creating a unique and artistic atmosphere.
But the real star of the show is their coffee. Partisan proudly serves the best, using beans from the renowned London coffee roaster, Monmouth. And for all the sweet tooths out there, make sure not to leave without trying their selection of homemade cakes on the counter.
Brew and Brownie: 5 Museum Street York YO1 7DT
This spot is a true haven for coffee aficionados and brunch enthusiasts alike. Brew & Brownie is famous for its delectable pancakes, and array of sweet and savoury delights. The popularity of this restaurant makes it difficult to get a table. I recommend arriving early to secure your spot or prepare for a bit of a wait.
They’ve expanded to a second location next door called the B&B Bakeshop. You can grab the same fantastic coffee, cakes, and a selection of pre-made foods – perfect for dining in or grabbing something for takeout. Trust me; this is a duo of delightful spots you won’t want to miss
Rehydrate: The Best Coffee in York
Wheldrakes: 5C Goodramgate, York YO1 7LJ
This independent coffee shop and tearoom is an absolute treasure. Ranked as the number one choice in York, Wheldrakes on Goodramgate is the place to go. Here, you can indulge in an array of homebaked cakes, mouthwatering brunch options, excellent coffee, and much more. The temptation of their delightful window display may prove irresistible – I guarantee you won’t be able to walk by without being drawn in. The staff at Wheldrakes are welcoming and super friendly and add a personal touch to your experience that truly sets this place apart. You’re in for a real treat here.
Dark Horse Coffee: 5 Silver Street, Shambles Market, York YO1 8RY
If you’re in search of great coffee in York, look no further! You’ll find the Dark Horse Espresso Bar housed in a distinctive horsebox within the Shambles Market. Besides their excellent coffee, their menu boasts fantastic toasties. In fact, it’s become so popular that they recently opened a second cafe on Bishy Road, so you know they’re onto something special.
Spring Espresso: 45 Fossgate, York YO1 9TF and 21 Lendal, York YO1 8AQ
Artisan coffee from award-winning baristas! With two locations in York, Lendal and Fossgate, there’s double the chance to grab some great coffee and good food. Exceptional coffee in the heart of the city. Spring Espresso has truly mastered the art of crafting the perfect brew, and the result is exceptional coffee right in the heart of the city. The warm and welcoming atmosphere just adds to the charm of the place. Spring Espresso is the go-to spot for an unforgettable coffee experience in York.
North South York: 25 Bootham, York YO30 7BW
Step inside this cosy spot, and you’ll discover a world of great coffee and a menu filled with delightful artisanal treats. It’s the perfect haven to unwind, where you can truly savour the essence of York’s vibrant cafe culture. North South York is a must-visit for a genuine taste of what makes this city’s coffee scene so special.
Celebrate: The Best Indie Bars in York
Dusk: 8 New St, York YO1 8RA
Dusk is an Independent Bar that serves up exquisite cocktails, a diverse range of music, handpicked wines, and they keep the pizzas coming until 9. Gather with friends, sing along, and enjoy live music and open mic nights. You might even spot a few famous faces (on occasion). Like Glastonbury but without the wellies!
Fossgate Social: 25 Fossgate, York YO1 9TA
Here’s a personal recommendation that’s right up my alley – Fossgate Social. This charming spot is a hidden gem, offering a delightful mix of coffee drinks, cafe eats, and a full bar. You’ll feel right at home with the comfy seating and the added bonus of an outdoor patio.
Fossgate Social is a small but perfectly formed bar serving speciality coffee, cocktails, and craft beer sourced from the very best breweries. They even have their own ice cream factory brewery – how cool is that? It’s nestled right on Fossgate, which is, in my opinion, the best street in York for food and drink.
Evil Eye Lounge: 42 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS
The Evil Eye is truly one-of-a-kind and holds a remarkable world record: they have a staggering 1,028 different gins in stock (at least, as of my last update)! Even if gin isn’t your thing, The Evil Eye has an extensive cocktail menu that offers classic concoctions guaranteed to lift your spirits.
You can enjoy your drink in the graffiti-splashed downstairs bar or lounge on Roman-style loungers upstairs. The Evil Eye is a place that’s not to be missed, and it’s one of my top recommendations for a good time in York. Rumour has it it is also Johnny Depp’s favourite bar – cheers!
…and finally, saving my favourite York hotspot until last
SPARK: York CIC: 17-21 Piccadilly, York YO1 9PB
Spark: York CIC is not just a place; it’s my absolute favourite spot in York, and it’s where all of us “cool kids” hang out. With its inviting atmosphere, eclectic offerings, and vibrant energy, it encapsulates the essence of the city. With a combination of craft beers, rich coffee, and an ever-changing array of street food options, Spark: York CIC is nothing short of a foodie’s paradise. The vibe here is always fantastic, whether you’re sipping a cold brew or indulging in a gourmet burger. I love the ever-evolving nature of Spark: York, with its pop-up shops and events throughout the year. It is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the city, don’t miss the chance to experience it for yourself.