You’ll often hear people hailing from England’s largest county, Yorkshire, in the north of the country, using the phrase ‘God’s own county’ to describe their home region and, given the sheer diversity and quality of the local produce, the award-winning restaurants, gastropubs and chef innovation found there, you’ll begin to understand why. Here are just a few of the reasons why foodies should put Yorkshire on their destination wish-lists.
Regional specialities and where to taste them
YORKSHIRE PUDDING: a pudding made of eggs, flour and milk and usually served with roast meat and gravy, although it can also be served with jam, syrup or custard as a dessert. The first recorded recipe for the accompanying Yorkshire pudding was in 1737 when it was called ‘A Dripping Pudding’, the dripping coming from spit-roast meat.
Where can I eat it? Pretty much with every Sunday roast dinner served the length and breadth of Britain (such is its popularity) but when in Yorkshire, why not go large? The Crooked Billet in Saxton, north Yorkshire, boasts a dedicated Yorkshire pudding menu! Yes, that’s three courses, each with its own take on the Yorkshire pudding. Award-winning pub The Strines Inn in Bradfield, half an hour’s drive from Sheffield also serves Yorkshire puddings of gigantic proportions.
WENSLEYDALE CHEESE: mild, clean, and slightly sweet, Wensleydale cheese has a subtle flavour, said to have notes of wild honey and a moist but crumbly texture. The Wensleydale Creamery is the only manufacturer of authentic Yorkshire Wensleydale.
Where can I eat it? You’ll find it across cheeseboards in Yorkshire (and beyond) but go straight to the source – the Calvert Restaurant at the Wensleydale Creamery has the Ultimate Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience; three courses all using their finest ingredient. Go along to explore the visitor centre, museum, shop and attend demonstrations and tastings.
PONTEFRACT CAKE: Not, in fact, cake, but liquorice! The Yorkshire city of Pontefract was the furthest north liquorice was ever grown to produce liquorice sweets and is recognised by its stamp of Pontefract Castle.
Where can I eat it? Buy it throughout Yorkshire; for a fun shopping experience, pick some up at the Oldest Sweet Shop in England in Pateley Bridge, near Harrogate in north Yorkshire, housed in a building dating back to 1661. You’ll also be tempted by the other sweets laid out in row upon row of traditional sweet jars – this has been a family run shop since 1827.
FAT RASCAL: similar to a scone or rock cake, Fat Rascals are plump and fruity and based on old regional speciality, turf cake.
Where can I eat it? This fruity bake is one of Betty’s Café Tea Rooms best-known and best-selling products, thanks to the personal touches the company made to the original recipe…so where better to eat one than there! There are six Betty’s establishments across Yorkshire – in Harrogate, York, Ilkley and Northallerton – and you can choose from the tea rooms’ original take on it, decorated with glacé cherries and almonds, or a smaller chocolate and orange variation. All are made by hand to exact Betty’s Fat Rascal specifications.
PARKIN: a gingerbread cake made with oatmeal and treacle that’s been eaten in Yorkshire since the early 18th century.
Where can I eat it? Bakeries and cafés are the place to find parkin; try Lottie Shaw’s Bakery in Brighouse (less than half an hour from Leeds) – all parkin is hand-crafted on site and based on traditional family recipes past down to Lottie by her great grandmother.
FORCED RHUBARB: Yorkshire is home to the Rhubarb Triangle, a nine-square mile area between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell in the west of the county, renowned for producing early forced rhubarb. The season for forced rhubarb is roughly from January to mid-March.
Where can I eat it? Celebrate this regional speciality in style at the annual Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb! The next one takes place 22-24 February 2019 and you’ll find everything from rhubarb gifts, rhubarb-themed dishes and rhubarb trails. Wakefield is around 30 minutes from Leeds.
5 must-do food and drink experiences
Michelin-style cooking: The Cookery School, Swinton Park is perched on the edge of the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park, surrounded by a 17th-century castle and parkland, and it’s here you can learn to create a traditional afternoon tea, take a beginners' baking class or spend a weekend cooking modern British cuisine with chef Kevin Hughes. You’ll use the seasonal ingredients from the hotel’s walled garden as well as venison, rabbit, game and trout from the wider Estate. Housed in the converted Georgian stable wing of four-star Swinton Park hotel, the school offers a range of hands-on two-day, one day and half-day cookery classes for adults, teenagers and children, aged six to nine.
Wine: While many vineyards are based in the south and east of England (the soil and climate make ideal vine-growing conditions), England’s most northerly vineyard is found in Yorkshire. The Ryedale Vineyard is located just a half-hour drive from the ancient city of York and offers bed and breakfast accommodation in its Grade II-listed farmhouse, which dates back to around 1630. The vineyard holds tours as well as pizza and wine evenings, where the pizza is cooked on its outdoor clay oven.
Whisky: Whisky? From Yorkshire? That’s correct – the Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery in Hunmanby, north of the county, is creating Yorkshire’s first single malt whisky. When the project was first conceived, the team brought in the late, respected whisky expert Dr Jim Swan as a consultant and now the whole process is overseen by the distillery team, from field-to-bottle; all the barley and spring water used is grown and sourced on its family farm. Join in the Distilling Experience, where you’ll get the lowdown on the distillery's ethos and process, as well as the chance to try some of its maturing Malt.
Artisan food: The town of Malton, half an hour’s drive from York, has been described as Yorkshire’s Food Capital – and it certainly lives up to that title thanks to its vast range of incredible local produce and restaurants; in fact, there’s a ‘Made in Malton’ brand, a group of artisan food and drink producers in the town. Many of these can be visited and the Malton Cookery School offers walking ‘artisan produce’ tours, taking in bakeries, breweries, pie shops and coffee roasteries. One new tour earmarked to launch later this year (9 November) is the ‘Malton Food Tour – Gin O’Clock, designed for people ‘with a sweet tooth who love their gin’. You’ll sample six different gins, a selection of Made in Malton producers and tour Malton’s new Gin Distillery.
Afternoon tea: Not just one afternoon tea to linger over (although you can book this option too), but a whole tour of them! Tours in a Dish take you on a 3.5-hour guided tour of York, to the best places for tea, to take part in a tea and cheese pairing workshop, and to visit three unique venues and two top tea retailers and importers.
Hot restaurants you have to visit
The Pipe and Glass Inn, Beverley
Set in a former coaching inn in the beautiful surroundings of the Dalton Estate, this elegant inn has retained its Michelin star (and other major foodie awards) for the last eight years. Owners James and Kate Mackenzie play a huge part in that, with James in the kitchen, Kate in front of house and the gorgeous gardens at the back (which grow produce for its menus) only add to the relaxed ambience. Food-wise, expect enticing meals such as barbequed rump of Yorkshire lamb with barley, beer and broad bean risotto and sweet treats such as ginger burnt cream, poached garden rhubarb and East Yorkshire sugar cakes.
The Black Swan, Oldstead
It may be situated in a small village 45 minutes’ drive from York, but it’s this restaurant with rooms TripAdvisor users voted as the world’s best in 2017. A well-deserved accolade thanks to its Michelin star and its one creative menu – the Tasting Menu – that’s been inspired by local ingredients the restaurant either forages for or grows itself; think langoustine with salted strawberry or raw deer with wild garlic. The Black Swan is also making a name for itself with its experimental drinks menu; its ‘Oldstead cocktails’ menu comprises beautifully named concoctions such as Rubus Fruiticolitan and Forced Fizz (made with rhubarb schnapps).
This Michelin-listed/2 AA Rosettes eaterie offers three alternative menus; a classic menu, offering three courses, its Experience One – the Classic menu but enhanced further – and Experience Two, its unique tasting menu (with vegetarian options for each). For the latter, a sample menu may include BBQ line-caught mackerel, Cornish turbot or fresh curd agnolotti, all served in a stylish and comfortable city restaurant.
Recently opened, Skosh is a cosy, casual, small plates restaurant that’s fast making a name for itself in the historic city, thanks to the creativity of chef Neil Bentinck, who’s worked at several Yorkshire’s best restaurants and brings the influences of his Asia travels to his dishes. You can watch the innovation at play – described as ‘British cooking with an international influence’ – with a seat overlooking the open kitchen. Try small plates of cod’s roe eclairs or crispy guinea hen wontons or larger plates such as whole roast Norfolk quail with spiced lentils.
Magpie Café, Whitby
Whitby in north Yorkshire has some of the best fish and chips in Britain – light, crispy and served piping hot from the deep fat fryer. The Magpie Café, close to the harbour in Whitby, a 90-minute drive from the city of York, is known throughout Yorkshire for its tasty fish and chips and seafood chowder; the long queues outside is testament to its popularity. Monster-size haddock comes from its own fishmongers, which also supplies fish to the locals of Whitby.
Yorke Arms, Nidderdale
Surrounded by the tranquil rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, the Yorke Arms is a former 18th-century coaching inn that has been carefully converted into a Michelin-starred restaurant, with a clutch of sumptuously comfortable bedrooms. Co-owned and run by Michelin-starred chef Frances Atkins, the restaurant serves up the best of Yorkshire produce, from Whitby crab to Wensleydale soufflé and local beef. The whole building has recently reopened following refurbishment, with its accompanying bedrooms and suites due to reopen this summer.
Matt Healy x The Foundry, Leeds
This Leeds institution has recently been relaunched, with Yorkshire-born chef, Matt Healy (runner-up in BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals series) at the helm, with the interiors and exteriors redesigned and rebranded as Matt Healy x The Foundry. He’s concentrating on a menu of simple British dishes that may only have up to five ingredients; a sample menu may include baby chicken ‘kiev’, wild garlic and duck fat potato or pollock, charred leeks and potatoes with Romesco sauce. It’s fast becoming one of the hottest restaurants in Leeds.
The Angel Inn, Hetton
A country pub and restaurant with rooms that’s won just about every regional and national foodie award going, the Angel Inn also has the fortune of being surrounded by acres of countryside in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, around a 45-minute drive from Harrogate. The food is a quirky blend of “modern British with French Yorkshire nuances”, which translates local ingredients into delightful morsels like courgette and beetroot meringue pie and its famous feuille de brick parcel of fish on lobster sauce.
Yorkshire’s Insta-worthy food
The YorkyPud™: Created by the York Roast Co, which has two locations in historic York, this is a contemporary twist on a Yorkshire classic.
Bundobust: Delicious Indian street food and craft beers make this one of Leeds’ go-to places for easy, tasty cuisine.
The Man Behind The Curtain: This Leeds-based restaurant is a culinary eye-opener; its Permanent collection is served as a set tasting menu of between 10 and 14 courses – presenting plenty of Instagram opportunities.
York Chocolate Story: Unwrap the history of the families who made Yorkshire one of the greatest exporters of chocolate, and then enjoy its very pretty and delicious Chocolate Afternoon Tea.
A 48-hour foodie itinerary
The whole of Yorkshire is filled with incredible food destinations – here are suggestions for just one area, between the two National Parks in the county; starting in Whitby in the North York Moors National Park, heading via York, and ending at the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
09:00 Make breakfast a vintage one! You start your itinerary in the coastal town of Whitby and enjoy breakfast treats in the lovely courtyard or the quirkily decorated rooms of Rusty Shears Vintage Tea Shop.
10:00 Learn to cook the Yorkshire way…with fresh, seasonal and local produce at the Arches Cookery School, just half an hour’s drive from Whitby. Chef and teacher Sarah Muir (who’s catered for rock royalty in the past) can guide you through a range of courses, from Whitby Fish to Farm to Fork, celebrating all the fantastic meat and produce from local farmers.
13:00 Take a scenic drive for under an hour through the centre of the North York Moors National Park to the Michelin starred/2 AA Rosette restaurant The Star Inn at Harome. This award-winning gastropub with rooms – charmingly set within a 14th-century thatched inn – sources seasonally from the moors and the nearby sea for its creative menu described as ‘modern Yorkshire style’. Depending on the season, that might include John Dory or lobster with squid ink cracker.
15:00 Make like a local chef and forage the wonderful wild greens, herbs and berries that grow in abundance in Yorkshire. Taste the Wild offers a huge range of foraging courses, as well as ones such as Cooking with Fire and Cider Making. These are mainly full-day courses, so you may want to stay on an extra day to experience one.
17:00 As you head into the historic city of York, stock up on some wonderful Yorkshire foodie souvenirs to take home with you. Henshelwoods Delicatessen is packed with tasty treats ranging from Yorkshire parkin and homemade preserves to more than 70 cheeses.
19:30 Stop by The Rattle Owl for dinner – not only will you find innovative dishes such as east coast crab with tomato consommé or roast pigeon with wild mushroom, barley, pancetta and blackberry but you’ll be dining within a Grade II-listed, 17th-century building. The restaurant also has the Owlet Food & Wine, a microshop stocking organic wine and local beers.
09:00 Head to a café that’s all about using local and seasonal ingredients – and one that’s featured in The Guardian’s ‘50 Best Breakfasts in the UK’ and Buzzfeed’s ‘21 things you must eat in York’. You’ll find a lot to love about The Pig & Pastry’s breakfast sandwiches; bacon or sausage, Shroomalloumi – that’s halloumi and mushrooms – and a breakfast burger of dry cured bacon, fried egg, avocado, cheddar, smoky mayo and relish.
11:30 Less than an hour from York is the elegant spa town of Harrogate – but it’s not just natural spring waters it’s famed for, its foodie scene is also worth exploring. The three-hour Yorkshire Appetite food tour takes you to explore some of the best eateries in town and taste locally sourced produce, as well as teach you a thing or two about Harrogate’s rich history.
14:30 After a substantial feast on the food tour, set off for a pleasant stroll in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the edge of which is less than half an hour from Harrogate. Alternatively, travel an hour from the town and stop off for a creamy, indulgent ice cream from Brymor Dairy Ice Cream Parlour, made from the whole milk sourced from the farm’s herd of Guernsey cows. The only difficult choice you’ll have to make is which of its 25 flavours to have.
16:00 Ten minutes from your ice cream destination is another fabulous local produce to try; beer and ale from the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham. A family run brewery, you can take a tour of its traditional brewhouse before heading to the bar to try out a few of its award-winning beers, such as its cult classic cask ale, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and its strong dark Yorkshire ale Riggwelter.
20:00 While you’re in the Yorkshire Dales take the opportunity to dine at Britain’s highest public house – the Tan Hill Inn. At 1,732 feet (528m) above sea level, this historic 17th-century pub is all exposed beams, stone-flagged floors, a roaring fire in the cooler months and a menu of satisfying pub favourites including Whitby scampi and chips or Yorkshire pudding topped with local Swaledale sausages, all which can be washed down with beers from local breweries. You can also stay overnight in its en-suite rooms and camp site.
Food festivals in Yorkshire 2018/2019
21-22 July: Yorkshire Dales Food & Drink Festival
8 September: Malton Harvest Food Festival
21-30 September: York Food Festival
29-30 September: Holmfirth Food Festival
2019 (dates TBC)
23-25 February: Festival of Food, Drink & Rhubarb
April: York Chocolate Festival
May: Malton Food Lovers Festival
May: Great British Food Festival @ Harewood House
June: Dales Festival of Food and Drink
June: Yorkshire Vegan Festival
July: Pontefract Liquorice Festival
Fly into Yorkshire’s Leeds Bradford international airport or easily travel to its cities and towns from the rest of the UK via train. Leeds is just over two hours from London, around an hour from Manchester; York is just under two hours from London, 1.5 hours from Manchester; Sheffield is almost 2.5 hours from London, less than one hour from Manchester.