Few cities can rival York for character and hidden gems located within the compact cobbled streets inside the Historic City Walls.
The city is alive year round, and is filled with incredible things to see and do. Notably, plenty of unique and welcoming bars, pubs and bistros with famous menus, interesting cocktails and local Yorkshire ales.
As a York resident and self-professed lover of the city, I want to share with you my favourite places to unwind and enjoy a drink or two over nibbles with friends.
Living minimally has reset my priorities and ensured that I spend my time making memories, and doing the things I love most. Therefore I frequently visit the places in the list below to share good times with friends and family!
So in no particular order, the best bars in York are:
Pairings Wine Bar
Pairings Wine Bar on Castlegate in York is my favourite new discovery, and you’ll regularly find me perched on a bench in here on a Friday enjoying a light and refreshing wine flight.
The two owners are incredibly knowledgeable about their wine, and are on hand to give you advice and recommendations about their carefully selected menus.
My personal favourite wine that is currently on their menu is the Rag & Bone Riesling. It is honestly one of the best white wines I have ever tasted, and I am so thankful that they introduced me to it!
The bar is very tastefully decorated and often filled to the brim so get there early for a good seat.
If you are going to go, enjoy one of their bespoke wine flights (I personally recommend the Meaty Morsals Flight) or indulge in a Whisky flight – the Japanese Whisky at the end is particular good for lovers of a good malt. Oh, and at the end you get to take away the handwritten tasting notes provided with each glass.
It’s little touches like this that make Pairings one of the must visit bars in York.
The Judge’s Lodging
Just around the corner from York Minister, The Judge’s Lodging is a maze of an Inn. There’s a lovely and hidden outside sun terrace to the very back of the bar, and a cosy cellar to enjoy the colder winter nights within. If you explore hard enough, you’ll also find a lesser known cask ale bar hidden within the walls – if you hit the sun terrace you’ve gone too far!
I love The Judge’s Lodging in York because of the character of the Inn, the friendly staff, great food and the way you can snuggle by the rustic ceilings inside in the winter, or enjoy a gin and tonic on the sun terrace in summer. It is the perfect year round bar, and great to enjoy with close friends.
Oh, and the food is incredible. If you haven’t eaten yet and enjoy a drink on the terrace, be prepared to get very hungry as you can smell the delicious scents from the kitchen as they breeze over you. I would recommend one of the sharing boards, they are incredible and very more-ish.
Sutlers is a relatively new bar on Fossgate (open for just over a year) is one of my all time favourite places to enjoy a drink with friends. Again, this bar is very much like a maze with various rooms and corners where you can hide away and enjoy your evenings with a well-crafted cocktail in hand.
If you head upstairs you’ll find a variety of different rooms, one even with a fire and comfy sofas, where you can relax in private with friends or as a two.
The cocktails are fantastic, and they always have good local ales on tap. If you have time, you should try out their menu. It’s filled with the classic British comfort foods including Corned Beef Hash, Lamb Shank Pie and Spam Fritters (which are amazing!)
If you head over at lunchtime, there’s great deals and I manage to regularly get a meal and drink under £10.
Go back in time and visit Sutlers today for great music, drinks and food you’ve long forgotten about but never knew you missed.
Hands down, Evil Eye is one of the coolest bars in York. Hidden behind an off-license, there’s a three story unique bar with the tastiest food in York.
Their cocktails are legendary amongst locals and tourists, and the food is incredible. I would totally recommend the Thai Red Curry or Beef Rendang, but whatever you do make sure you also make room to sample their famous Evil Chips!
I think Evil Eye is one of my favourite places as it has one of my favourite beers (Zywiec) available and serves some damn good cocktails for reasonable prices.
You can sit on a table downstairs and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this cool bar, or head upstairs and relax on one of the four poster beds within the bar (yes you read that right).
Evil Eye is a bar that needs to be experienced and enjoyed, and is that popular on a summer weekend that people often queue for others to leave before they can go in.
I would wholly recommend you make a date with this bar for some Thai food and cocktails to remember.
If a bar has a pizza oven, large open bricked seating area, and amazing local ales on tap it’s automatically guaranteed to be good. The Hop has good food, good beer and live music playing most evenings so it is a great place to relax and unwind after a long week.
The food is also really reasonably priced which means you can grab a delicious bite to eat before settling down for the night to watch some great local bands and enjoy a pint of the Cornish Pilsner that my husband swears is the best drink available.
Top tip, arrive early as it can get seriously busy and I don’t think you can reserve a table!
The Fossgate Social
There seems to be a trend with the bars on this list being located on or near Fossgate, and there’s a good reason for this. The final bar on my list, The Fossgate Social, is a cosy place to retreat for drinks and chatting with friends late on a evening. The place is small but this just makes it more unique, with impressive antler chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and delicious food and drink menus.
The music is always guaranteed to be good, and the atmosphere is great. You need to go here to really experience a unique and interesting night out in York.
I’ve yet to experience the food here, but it is on my list, so when I do I will be reporting back!
So there you have it, my top bars to visit in York. What are yours? Have I missed anywhere amazing? Let me know in the comments below…