Just because you’re on a student budget, it doesn’t mean that you have to suffer daily Pot Noodles and meal deals. Leeds provides notorious value for money, and the culinary side of things is no different. Here are our top picks for bites that won’t break the bank.
Manjit’s Kitchen (Indian)
Leeds’ prolific Kirkgate Market has undergone some drastic changes recently, and introduced a fantastic range of food trucks, all providing fresh takes on classics such as the humble roast dinner (Yorkshire Wrap Company) and fish and chips (Mr Mackerel). You can’t go wrong with any of these options for a delicious cheap lunch, but our personal favourite is Manjit’s Kitchen. Entirely vegan to boot, this slice of Indian culinary paradise serves up a variety of gorgeous curries that change each day- you can get a thali (a silver dish with curries, naan and chutneys) with two to three curries for around £7! With a solid lineup of craft beers featuring alongside the food, Manjit’s has proven itself an instant classic.
Mommy Thai (Thai)
Leeds is great for Thai Food, with a host of quality options available (see Zaap Thai, Sukothai). Our favourite, though, is Mommy Thai, which in our humble opinion provides the best pad thai in Leeds at very reasonable prices. With an intimate interior, a lovely location near Call Lane and HiFi, friendly service and an authentic all-round experience, make sure to stop off at Mommy Thai next time you’re in town.
Kuala Lumpur Cafe (Malaysian)
A relatively new establishment, Kuala Lumpur Cafe caught the Fledge team’s collective eyes when it appeared last year, tucked away in a peaceful Headingley side street. We were shocked at the quality and range of the Malaysian food served at this restaurant. Two can eat plenty- we had to take home half of our food (!)- for around £25. Couple this with fantastic service (we made great conversation with the owners who are delightful) and a winning location near the student hubs of Leeds, and Kuala Lumpur Cafe is onto a winner.
Chichini’s (Full English Breakfast)
Possibly the odd one out on this list, Chichini’s isn’t trying especially hard to be anything, because it really doesn’t need to. You won’t find a spectacular curry here, a mouthwatering sushi board, or anything of the sort. What you will find, though, is a reliable full English breakfast that can cure nearly any hangover (but don’t treat that as medical advice), and it’s location on Hyde Park corner means it’s optimally placed for the post-night-out walk. Why does it make this list, then? Chichini’s is impossibly cheap, beating the competition comfortably. You can fill up on sausages, beans, hash browns, toast, mushrooms and more for around £3.50 (or less). Popina’s nearly made this list too due to it’s remarkable all-you-can-eat challenge (not that we recommend it)- if you’re on Brudenell Road and need a pick-me-up, check that out too,
If you’re craving a slightly more up-market breakfast, head over the road to LS6. Serving classier food and cocktails than your average Hyde Park joint, LS6 provides a sometimes much-needed escape from the usual student vibe. Coupled with jazz in the evenings, board games galore and a killer bloody mary, LS6 is local, reasonably priced, and delightfully peaceful in an otherwise hectic part of town.
You can’t write a list about cheap food for students and not include this university-adjacent library-session fuelling institution. The bustling crowd that fills its cosy interior at lunchtime each and every day is testament to its enormous popularity- but don’t let the queues put you off. Bakery 164 serves up an enormous range of delicious hot and cold sandwiches with unique filling and sauces (our personal favourite is the barbecue jerk meatball toastie). At around £3.50 for a hot sandwich, next time you edge towards Tesco for the usual meal deal, consider heading up the hill for a 164 instead.
Santorini Bar and Grill
One of the relatively fancier eateries on this list, Santorini Bar and Grill makes a great date or birthday spot, or a place to take the parents when they visit. The folks over here have really nailed Greek cuisine, with deep and flavourful falafel, juicy chicken and an eye-watering range of dips and sides. Located in Headingley, keep this joint in mind next time you have a big meal planned and don’t want to end up at Akmal’s yet again.