It’s all hearts, tarts and brilliant beans this December

It’s cold and frosty outside. As much as we’re tempted to pull the warm duvet over our heads and stay in bed until spring, we’ve got to get up and carry on. Thank goodness for comfort food; hearty breakfasts, packed sandwiches on delivery and piles of buttery carbs.

Here are half a dozen things we recommend you eat and enjoy this month.

2019 12 02 Best Dishes Leeds Fazenda Chicken Hearts

Chicken Hearts - Fazenda (part of the £34.50 evening menu)

I adore Fazenda. Being attacked with huge amounts of rare meat until I actually have to submit is basically heaven, the ‘salad bar’ is the best I’ve ever seen, and the Malbec is way too drinkable. But whenever I go, I get to do the attacking once an evening, when I pester the servers for chicken hearts. They’re clearly not that popular but they should be – the texture is so addictive. Kind of chewy, kind of springy, kind of firm, absolutely bursting with flavour (imagine a much darker, richer chicken flavour). I can happily eat a whole skewer of them. Damn the cholesterol; I’m already in Fazenda after all. Simon Richardson

Fazenda, Waterman’s Place, Unit 4-7 Granary Wharf, Leeds LS1 4GL

2019 12 02 Best Dishes Leeds Eataliano Sandwich

Tonno Ciabatta - Eataliano (£4.50) 

It was one of those days where nothing was going my way. The only achievable outcome seemed to be ramming my blotched face into the photocopier to create some kind of avant-garde A4 Rorschach. Despite me looking forward to eating my four day old quinoa, when a colleague offered to pick me up an Eataliano, I couldn’t refuse. These sandwiches are lunchtime legends. Made to order just off Park Row, the concept is simple; choose a bread, (in my case Italian ciabatta), choose your protein; (I go for deep red hunks of fresh of tuna steak), chuck in any salad bits you like, (I let him have free reign on the sun-dried tomatoes, rocket, olives, etc), all finished off with one of their homemade dressings, (pesto mayo, naturally). It arrives wrapped in white greaseproof paper, like a brick at Christmas. It’s longer than my forearm. None of the office in a million years believes that I’ll finish it. But I do. And it was the best thing in the world. Sarah Cotterill

Eataliano, 11 Britannia Street LS1 2DZ

2019 11 29 Best Dishes Leeds Coffee Custard Tart

Coffee Custard Tart – Nordish (£3)

Pastry pervs should get themselves to Nordish in Saltaire, pronto. The menu may be compact – there are just four cake or “fika” options on this mid-morning visit, and one of those is still in the oven – but it is perfectly formed. To go alongside steaming mugs of North Star coffee we set about a slice of sticky Kladdkaka, dark and dense with chocolate, but it’s the Coffee Custard Tart (which, admittedly, sounds less exciting) that just about comes out on top. The short, buttery pastry – sturdy but snappy – is a thing of brilliance in itself. The filling, with its hint of coffee, is reminiscent in texture of that good stuff you can get from a carton but with grown-up flavours. The ratio of former to latter is bang on. A classy pit-stop in the village. Richard Miller

Nordish, 79 Victoria Road, BD18 3JS

2019 12 02 Best Dishes Cantina Jackfruit Wings

BBQ Jackfruit Wings - Cantina @ The Old Red Bus Station (£4.50) 

This month, I joined the collective consternation around the evermore ubiquitous jackfruit. That something so clearly a fruit could have any success in masquerading as a protein as tasty as chicken wings was a stretch I had previously struggled to accept. But then I went to Cantina, The Old Red Bus Station’s vegan food offering. I ordered these incredible, sweet, sticky bites of satisfyingly plant-based goodness, and I understood. Spicy, crispy and drenched in homemade BBQ sauce, try a bowlful with your next pint. Kate Ryrie

Cantina, The Old Red Bus Station, 104 Vicar Ln, Leeds LS2 7NL

2019 12 02 Best Dishes Leeds Laynes Vegan Breakfast

Vegan Breakfast - Laynes (£9)

This month I succumbed to the flu lurgy that has been skulking it’s way around Leeds, which seriously hampered my usual eating habits. However, there are few meals that can wean you back into the world quite like a Laynes vegan breakfast. ‘Sausage’, Mushroom, Tomato and Kale are all present, but it’s the braised beans that are the real life of the party - a mix of cannellini and kidney, they are perfectly smoked with excellent bite - exactly what you need after a week of nothing but soup and Lucozade. Jenessa Williams 

Laynes, 16 New Station St, Leeds LS1 5DL

2019 12 02 Leeds Best Dishes If Cafe Eggs Benedict

If Café - Eggs Benedict (£7)

I’m a sucker for a good breakfast, but since Greedy Pig made its transition to The Swine That Dines I’ve been on the search for a new favourite breakfast spot. After visiting for a breakfast meeting recently, If Cafe may be a strong contender. I chucked for a classic Eggs Benedict. Toasted breakfast muffin is topped with thick cut salty bacon and an unctuous hollandaise sauce. Pea shoots add a little sweet crispiness, and red amaranth brings a hint of mustard warmth. Add to this that they make a cracking coffee, the staff are charming and the setting calm, this is the perfect spot for breakfast with friends. They also have a grab and go spot on the corner of the market serving coffee, cake and bagels. Anja Madhvani  

If Cafe, 43 Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 7BT