Where would you think the food capital of Yorkshire to be? Leeds, with its metropolitan, cosmopolitan array of restaurants? Or York, with its traditional home-cooked charm? Perhaps the emerging Sheffield or the exclusive Harrogate have an outside chance? Well, amongst such lofty competition, it may surprise you to learn that the title is actually awarded to a tiny market town between the city and the moors: Malton.

Situated within easy reach of York, there is every reason to take the short journey here. An 18 mile drive north east along the A64 will land you there in minutes, and parking can be found short stay at Market Place or long stay on Water Lane. Alternatively, the 843 Coastliner stops at Malton bus station, or a 25 minute direct train is perfect for those wanting to enjoy a drink along with the capital’s food.

Of which there is much to get stuck into. Breakfast and lunch can be switched between The Patisserie Malton and Deli of Malton. Both showcase fresh local produce in winning dishes. The patisserie is a homely joy, with crowd-pleasing sandwiches and afternoon teas amongst their satisfying menu. The deli moves from similar daytime delights into early evening bourguignons and entrecotes, plus pride themselves on great Yorkshire cheeses, including indulgent raclettes.

La Pizzeria Malton is another marvellous teatime choice that does exactly what its name explains. Here, the pizzas are oozing Italian goodness, using fresh mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes for Neapolitan authenticity. Toppings range from the simple to the extravagant and are all cooked up in a traditional wood fired oven. This on-trend yet unpretentious restaurant is a marvellous Malton addition for all-comers. Florios on Yorkersgate is also a popular option for delicious pizzas.

For more inventively named eateries in town, check out The Groovy Moo and The Purple Carrot. The former is an ice-cream parlour that serves up fresh artisan gelato in an array of flavours – from masterful vanilla through naughty salted caramel to unique bakewell tart – which all taste divine. The latter is a vegan and vegetarian café that has moved from a popular market stall to a permanent fixture here. The plant-based dishes are full of fabulous flavours and the vibe is all welcoming fun which everybody can enjoy.

To celebrate Malton’s reputation as a foodie heaven, the town’s market square hosts Malton Monthly Food Market on the second Saturday of every month, where 35 stalls display their produce and street food. Malton Food Lovers’ Festival ramps it up further, at an annual extravaganza held over three days on the late May bank holiday. Now in its 12th year, this vibrant and friendly event is lovingly known as Yorkshire’s Foodie Glastonbury!

If that’s not enough, Malton is also a dream for drinkers. Beertown celebrates this by turning the town into ‘a theatre of beer’ for three May days at the Milton Rooms. In amongst dozens of great craft beers are Malton’s own breweries, including Bad Seed Brewery, Malton Brewery and Brass Castle Brewery who also have a taproom that’s well worth a visit all year round.

But a visit to Malton needn’t all be about stuffing our faces; there’s plenty more to do besides. The aforementioned Milton Rooms is a cultural hub that showcases Malton’s heritage and attracts art exhibitions, dance classes and music concerts. In July, Malton has its very own music festival, Meadowfest, at Talboy Inn on the town’s outskirts. The setting besides river and meadow is beautiful and the atmosphere is lovely for all ages to enjoy the sounds of ska, funk and blues. More entertainment can be found at the Palace Cinema, a charming art deco theatre that puts on both fine film screenings and impressive live stage shows.

It’s also nice to see that this is a town with high streets filled with unique independent shops. Kemps is an emporium of the beautiful and the unusual for everyone. Hare & Wilde sell a splendid selection of homeware with impeccable taste. Ralph Yates & Sons is a long serving department store which stocks all sorts, from country clothing to white goods. Northern Ride is a specialist bike shop for all levels to buy, fix or customise. And bringing all back to food, Scoops is a charming little ingredient shop with a lot of quality ethical produce to devour.

Malton really is a town full of character and life, whether sauntering along the pretty Market Street or exploring the quaint Shambles. Other landmarks include Castle Howard and Scampston Hall, an estate which has remained in the same Leygard family for over 300 years and who now open the hall, park and vast gardens to the public. And another unique sight is the Yorkshire Pudding recipe mural on the side of the building on Greengate, dedicated to the 18th century chef Hannah Glass, who paved the way with the very first Yorkshire Pudding recipe. Rather fitting for Yorkshire’s food capital.