York is a city to both travel to and travel through. Its attractive lure for visitors and habitants alike is widely recognised, but as a transport hub for business folk and leisure seekers, it is a much connected path which perhaps isn’t taken advantage of enough. Whether on a twenty minute trip from Leeds, a jaunt to the coast, a ride from Edinburgh or a visit to London, York represents an opportunity for travellers up and down the country to stop off and enjoy some short stay relief.
For those with a brief interlude in between changing trains, the station itself offers some splendid solace. Of course there are omnipresent chains such as Starbucks and Burger King here, but there are also a handful of interesting alternatives. If you’re after a champion sit down Yorkshire meal, the Refectory Kitchen and Terrace is a hearty and refined showcase, with the adjoining Chapterhouse bar also serving cocktails and wine. Still without leaving the station confines, you can sup countless corking craft beers to make that journey go a little quicker, or even forget about it completely; York Tap is a terrific boozer in its own right, and makes for a remarkable change from the overpriced guff of a stereotypical train station pub. For a less alcoholic option, Filmore and Union elevate the standard station fare with organic coffees, natural smoothies and healthy snacks, whilst AMT keep the vibe ethical with fast fairtrade offerings.
A short step outside and the immediate surroundings provide plenty more choices to eat well and drink better. Within a 5 minute stroll you can be at an array of bars, cafes and restaurant in both directions. On the one side, Delrio’s signals the start, and its Italian charm could also make it the end of your search for fine food too. For drink, make it past the nearby Wetherspoons and to The Micklegate Social for a cool and cosy stop off that you won’t want to leave. The street from which it takes its name hosts more delights, from big beer boys Brewdog and York Brewery, through characterful cafes Partisan and Gulp & Grace, to terrific restaurants Skosh and The Old Siam. And if you’re here for later entertainment, legendary music venue Fibbers is sure to have a show on, or head back past the Subways, KFCs and Costas into the wonderfully reformed social club cum gig space The Crescent.
Whilst there’s more than enough to occupy the inquisitive traveller in the short distance above, that is not even the most frequented route into York city centre. Walking the other way, towards Lendal Bridge, will first encounter traditional ale house The Maltings, and on the city walls a great quirky coffee shop The Perky Peacock. Across the water, amongst the immediate central sights of Pizza Express and McDonalds, are little gems to discover. Straight away there’s the recent second instalment of York’s favourite bonkers bar, House of Trembling Madness, complete with an underground bottle shop too. A few minutes further on is another inviting pub, this time from the 16th century, as Pivni enhances the building’s olde worked charm with snug seating and a relaxed atmosphere. And on the other side of Museum Gardens is a restaurant to impress, the quite rightly highly acclaimed Roots.
If you’re staying slightly longer or wandering marginally further, as well as York’s famous go-to attractions like the Minster, Jorvik and The Shambles to visit, there are also notorious streets filled with fabulous independents to seek out, notably Fossgate, Walmgate, Shambles Market, Gillygate and Bishopthorpe Road. Upon these you’ll find, respectively, tiny art house coffee shop Kiosk, tempting tapas at Ambiente, street food feasts Nukkad and Los Moros, an inviting outdoors at Bistro Guy, and quality cafes The Pig & Pastry and Robinson’s. Between them and the aforementioned hotspots, they offer some of the best cafes in York, best bars in York, and best restaurants in York city centre, for locals and for tourists, and within a saunter of the station, for passing travellers too.