Time is often a big problem for me and particularly my distinct lack of it. Too often I find myself running drastically late for work with precious little time to grab a decent bite en route. Perhaps like me you also find yourself having to settle for that unsatisfying supermarket sandwich, crisp and drink deal or unwisely overdosing on additional toppings at the Subway counter (during that all too embarrassing exchange where the server asks “salad and peppers?” and you reply “everything, go crazy!”) just to substitute quantity for quality. With this in mind I have taken it upon myself to seek out the best in what could be described as fast food in Leeds.
Generally I think that people associate fast food with junk food, but the gradually expanding ‘Wokon’ Noodle Bar empire proves that fast doesn’t necessarily mean junk. Although clearly showing the beneficial contrast of serving take away oriental food instead of more time consuming Indian cuisine, ‘Wokon’ manages to do exactly what ‘Mumtaz’ spin off ‘Jaldi Jaldi’ fails to do by specialising in serving fresh food cooked fast and prepared right in front of you in under five minutes. ‘Jaldi Jaldi’s method of having the honour of picking which pre-cooked tray your server will microwave in front of you is wasted on me. I could do that at home, or even at work. ‘Wokon’ is good value, filling, very much vegetarian friendly and the boxes are indeed very cool. You can find one in town at either 156 Briggate, 4 New Station Street or in Headingley at 93 Otley Road.
I love fish and chips, who doesn’t? But it’s 2012 and in keeping with Leeds’ innovative foodie scene comes the concept of fish and chips with a twist. ‘Fish&’ is essentially a fish and chip van which specialises in gourmet fish and chips. They can be found most days on Commercial Street in the centre of town. Swing by and treat yourself to a mackerel bap with lemon and horseradish mayonnaise or some gorgeous calamari fried in lemon, lime and chilli butter.
Head down to the Corn Exchange and you’ll find a taste of America. Having just won the Oliver Award for Best Fast Food in the Yorkshire Evening Post, ‘Primos’ gourmet hot dogs are perhaps what you might expect from a restaurant that specialises in America’s favourite sausage. Whilst surely not the healthiest option for fast food in Leeds with a selection of dogs to rival a particularly messy episode of ‘Man vs Food’ they’re big, tasty and not bad value at all. Head down on a Thursday to embrace ‘The Dog Pound’ deal whereby if you buy one hotdog and drink you get another hotdog for just £1 extra. Their Nutella Cappuccino and Banana Latte need to be tried too.
For students in a hurry for lunch just opposite the university on Woodhouse lane you should sample the sandwich delights of ‘Bakery 164’. The folk here serve up a variety of distinctive and un-mainstream sandwiches with a mixture of Italian and Middle Eastern influences on ciabatta or focaccia bread hand crafted and baked in their in shop bakery. Expect sundried tomato, mozzarella, humous, chorizo, pesto and a lot more.
In the quest for the best cup of coffee in Leeds, you’ll be hard pushed to beat ‘Out of the Woods’ located in both Granary Wharf or on Water Lane. You’ll always be greeted with a warm friendly welcome in either shop and as well as the coffee’s their breakfast smoothies are the stuff of Leeds legend. Enjoy within the comfort of the cosy venues with some sweet cinnamon toast or explore just what exactly a Brazilian Breakfast entails. Their freshly prepared vast lunchtime sandwich menu is well worth a try if you need to take away too!