You don’t need much of an excuse to visit the historical city of York. It is one of the UK’s most beautiful cities and visitors are spoilt for choice with activities to fill their day. You might choose to look around the stunning York Minster, take a stroll down the River Ouse, or take a step back in time and walk down the cobbled streets of the Shambles.
Another great attraction of York is its large and diverse collection of pubs and bars. For those seeking refreshment, two of the best areas to visit are Fossgate and Walmgate. They are home to some of York’s finest drinking establishments. Here are our top choices for places to drink, eat, and be merry. So enjoy our Fossgate and Walmgate guide to the best food & drink.
To be a part of York’s history – The Blue Bell
The Blue Bell is a must-visit for pub lovers, ale drinkers and anyone who has an interest in history and tradition. Established in 1798, it holds the title of York’s smallest pub. It contains two rooms, the main taproom and snug which are connected by a long corridor.
The present layout and interior design date from 1903 and have been lovingly maintained meaning it has kept the wonderful Edwardian feel. That and the age of the building gained it the status of a Grade II listed building. Despite the small size of the pub, its distinctive red brick exterior really catches the eye as you stroll down Fossgate.
To keep the authenticity of the pub, there are no TVs, music or games machines, but the friendly and lively atmosphere generated by the patrons and the staff means that such modern technological aids to conviviality are not missed. There are a few historic pub rules in place: no swearing, no large groups and no children. These rules have been in place for over 100 years.
The landlord is an award-winning Master Cellarman and offers a fine selection of cask ales from blondes, milds, IPAs to bitters. Ale not your tipple? Then there’s the extensive wine list, spirits and soft drinks to choose from.
On your next visit to York, take a step back in time and enjoy a drink at The Blue Bell.
For live music – The Hop
Pizza, real ale and live music: what more do you need for a great night out? Well, The Hop has got all three under one roof.
The interior of the pub is rather grand and offers a bar area that leads down to a seating area where there is a stage and a pizzeria.
The award-winning ales are supplied by the Osset brewery and include ‘Yorkshire Blonde‘, ‘Silver King‘ and ‘Excelsius’. Keep your eye out for ales from guest breweries that are regularly on offer.
Then there’s the food! They offer delicious, freshly stone-baked pizza straight from the kitchen. If you don’t fancy pizza, there’s a selection of sharing boards and meat platters to enjoy.
As you sip on your tasty ale and food, you can enjoy the many highly talented local acoustic artists and bands who grace Hop’s stage. The music creates a jovial atmosphere and crowd singalongs are a regular occurrence. The Hop is perfect for a fun date night or for a group of friends. Be sure to visit for a night of merriment and high-quality food and drink.
If you’re looking for a place with a group of friends to enjoy top beer and pizza, this is a great one on our Fossgate and Walmgate guide.
For a relaxed vibe – Fossgate Social
Fancy something a little more relaxed? If so, Fossgate Social is the place for you. It mixes the chilled coffee shop vibe with the vibrancy of a beer and cocktail bar.
Some fun and unique beers are on offer such as ‘CLWB Tropicana‘ from the Tiny Rebel Brewery and ‘Charlie Don’t Surf‘ from ABC Taproom. Cocktails are aplenty with classics such as Pornstar Martini, Negroni and Espresso Martini whipped up at the bar.
There are also plenty of non-alcoholic options on the menu. You can enjoy a delicious coffee sourced from local Yorkshire brands North Star Roast and Forest Espresso. Other options include two signature iced teas, ‘Tropical‘ with green tea, fresh mango and passionfruit, and ‘Raspberry Madting‘ with black tea, both perfect for cooling down on a hot day.
If you get peckish during your visit, there are plenty of scrumptious savoury pies, cakes, and meals that suit all tastes and preferences.
A big bonus for all you canine lovers out there: Fossgate Social is dog-friendly so your pooches can enjoy themselves alongside you. There is an outside area that is perfect for a warm evening which, when darkness hits, is illuminated with multicoloured lights.
Fossgate Social has something for everyone so be sure to pop in when you’re next in York.
For the ultimate beer experience – Brew York
Fancy drinking in an actual working brewery? Brew York is the place for all you beer lovers.
The building is very spacious and is split up into several rooms. The taproom is open plan so you can enjoy your pint within touching distance of the fermenting tanks and the brewers at work.
The taproom also has a cosy beer garden with stunning views of the River Foss and Rowntree Wharf. At the weekends, they open the brewer’s yard at the front of the brewery, perfect for a summer’s day. Occasionally, there is delicious street food available in the yard for patrons to enjoy.
Next is the large beer hall which provides plenty of seating and is quite the spectacle with its unique wall art. Most importantly, with its 40 taps, the hall boasts the largest selection of beers, lagers and ciders in the York area.
With so much on offer, there is something for everyone’s tastes, from ‘Golden Eagle‘, a classic Czech-style pilsner, to the citrus ‘Hoperator Error‘ New England IPA, to the vegan-friendly ‘Ripple Twister‘ raspberry ripple oat milk pale.
For the ultimate experience, get yourself booked on a brewery tour that takes place at the weekends. You will be guided through the brewing process and enjoy some beer samples along the way. Be sure to visit Brew York for a unique and ultimate beer experience
For a memorable continental experience – Cave du Cochon
If you are feeling a little continental then Cave du Cochon is the place for you. This Parisian-style wine bar is the second venture of award-winning chef Josh Overington who also owns restaurant Le Cochon Aveugle, which was named in both Harden’s and Estrella Damm’s top 100 UK restaurants.
It combines two of life’s greatest pleasures, wine and pizza. The restaurant itself boasts it has created a ‘holy grail’ for both. The sourdough pizzas come with a range of appetizing toppings such as home-cured meats, wild garlic kimchi, and mussels.
As well as mouth-watering pizzas, they also serve smaller snacks such as a selection of cheeses from acclaimed UK-based cheesemongers, ‘The Courtyard Daily‘, and charcuterie platters.
Their extensive selection of wines is specially sourced from smaller, independent producers from across the world. Whether you like red or prefer white, you will be spoilt for choice. The restaurant staff will be on hand to offer guidance on the best wine for your pallet.
Cave du Cochon is perfect for a quick stop-off for a glass of wine and a snack, a romantic evening with a partner, or dinner with friends.
It’s one of our favourites on our Fossgate and Walmgate guide, so make sure you pop in for a memorable continental experience in the heart of York city centre.