Sarah Cotterill finds the best bites for your budget
Sometimes, when you’re out and about on a quick lunch break or looking for a speedy re-fuel, a WH Smith’s meal deal just won’t cut it. You want quality food, something tasty and interesting, with little dicking about and change from a fiver - this can be harder to find than you think.
But worry not, because we’ve legged it around Leeds collecting a few of our favourites together to tell you about. So whether you’re in the city centre, near the Uni or down The Calls, you'll know where to go for a satisfying super cheap eat.
First, a few rules:
- No big chains or supermarkets, just independent spots using fresh ingredients.
- It's got to be £4 or under - getting change from a fiver is just so satisfying.
- You've got to be able to eat it on the move, with your hands - who's got time to sit down?
- Say no to Greggs... just no.
Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Summer Rolls)
Where? NOM Deli, 77 Great George St, Leeds LS1 3BR
How Much? £3.95
Open between 11am - 6pm, NOM Deli does a ton of takeaway trade to students, doctors and staff from Leeds General Infirmary opposite. Originally from Hanoi, this family cafe offers value for money and healthy, homemade Vietnamese dishes using traditional recipes. For £3.95 you get two rice paper cuốn rolls, which are soaked and filled in front of you, with crunchy carrot, kohlrabi pickles, lettuce, vermicelli and fresh herbs, plus your choice of prawn, BBQ pork, or tofu and mushroom. There’s a spicy dipping sauce too, all packaged up in a neat box which means no spills on your way out the door.
Where? La Bottega Milanese, either at The Light, The Headrow, LS1 8TL, or 2 Bond St, LS1 2JZ
How Much? £3.65
These are the business; simple flatbreads, typically from Romagna, are Italy’s answer to the quesadilla. LBM have three choices to work through: pesto, fontina cheese and tomato; caramelised onion, smoked cheese and spinata salami; or mortadella and asiago. Back in the day these were cooked between terracotta plates, but at LBM they’ll grill them to order, so you get an oozy folded cone that’s surprisingly filling.
Tofu Rosso and Cream Cheese Sandwich
Where? Out Of This World, 20 New Market St, Leeds LS1 6DG
How Much? £2.69
You might have walked past Out Of This World thinking it was just a whole-food haven, but their fast food cabinet is not to be scoffed at in terms of quality and value if you’re after a quick snack. Loaded with bhajis, wraps, burritos and quiches, there’s something for everyone whether you’re gluten free, vegan or just hungry. We tried the sun-dried tomato tofu sandwich on rye, which ticked the all the texture and flavour boxes, while making us feel pretty cool.
Where? Caravanserai, 1 Crown St, Leeds LS2 7DA
How Much? £2.50
This pretty painted corner serves authentic North African street food at an absolute pinch. For under £4.00 you can try most of the menu; Lebanese bread wraps, smoked paprika chips, hot and cold mezze. It’s the place to go to line your stomach before a night on the town, as it serves until 11pm. The Palestinian salad is a welcome change from your average Caesar, a little mound of chopped tomatoes, spring onion, fresh mint and parsley, swimming in a drinkable tahini sauce. It comes in a sealed box, but if you can’t wait till your desk, maybe tuck the napkin into your collar for this one.
Where? Cafe Moor, Kirkgate Market, 34 George St, Leeds LS2 7HY
How Much? £3.50
Kirkgate Market is a winner if you are watching the pennies but want a delicious feed. It’s hard to get past the entrance without smelling the spices drifting from Cafe Moor’s colourful stall. Serving souk-style since 2013, founder Kada Bendaha uses only the finest ingredients to transport you to warmer places, and there’s a piping hot glass of mint tea while you wait. The Falafel Shwarma, which is as long as your forearm, is wrapped up in paper for any busy traveller to devour en route.
Where? Mr Mackerel, Kirkgate Market, 34 George St, Leeds LS2 7HY
How much? £3
Whilst in Kirkgate Market, you may as well mosey over to Mr Mackerel, who not only boasts the best name in the market, but also the best fish sarnie in Leeds. For only £3 this Istanbul street food stall will serve you an authentic Balik Ekmek (grilled mackerel sandwich) with slithers of peeled carrot, some red cabbage, lettuce and tomato inside a doughy baguette. Simple fare done very well. Not into fish? Then try their chicken shish kebab or lamb kofta - also £3 a pop.
Where? Simpatico, 16 Queens Arcade, Leeds LS1 6LF
How Much? £3.50
These egg-shaped beauties are best eaten hot, when the mozzarella forms stringy junctions between the San Marzano sauce and it’s risotto casing. You can pop it in the oven at home, or if you want a break from the bustle of Briggate, there are high tables out in the bright arcade plus seating upstairs. Simpatico are known for their pizza by the slice, which also comes in at a steal, but you’ll have to act quick as it’s usually gone by dinner. Check out their homemade mozzarella sticks too, four cheesy fingers will set you back just £3.00.
Where: Bundobust, 61 Piccadilly, M1 2AG
How much? £3.50
The okra fries at this vegetarian restaurant, renowned for selling top quality Gujerat-inspired street food alongside excellent craft beer, have become a bit of a cult snack in Leeds (and now over in Manchester too). Bundobust have managed to turn this divisive and sometimes slimy vegetable into something crispy, crunchy and moreish. Their lady’s fingers are coated in chickpea batter and fried before being dusted with black salt and mango powder.
And one to grab on the way to work...
Where? If-Coffee Bar, 43 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BT
How Much? £3.50
If-Coffee have a stellar selection of grab and go fare; pastries, bagels, baps and proper Scotch eggs, but the top of the lot is their homemade granola (their chef does something to pecans that’s like Christmas came early). A generous handful is sprinkled on the creamiest greek yoghurt and a sweet blueberry compote. One spoonful, and you’ll be hooked. For an extra £1.00 you get a coffee as well between 8am -10am.