Foreign travel has been challenging this past year, to say the least, but with a fantastic choice of restaurants in Leicester offering food from every corner of the globe, at least your taste buds can take a break.

Channelling French style

Before you pack your suitcase and head across the Channel to France, whet your appetite at Bistrot Pierre in the city centre. With French style incorporated into dishes including boeuf bourguignon, salmon niçoise and crème brûlée, as well as the décor, it’s hard to believe you’re not on the Côte d'Azur!

Spain on a (small) plate

Queens Road has been dishing up a taste of Spain, with a little bit of Cuba thrown in, for more than 30 years now. Bar Dos Hermanos serves up small plates with your beer, wine or cocktails, while Barceloneta, which is due to reopen soon, takes diners on a trip through Spain, North Africa and the whole of the Med with its huge tapas menu.

Dishing up la dolce vita

From chains to independent restaurants, there’s plenty of choice in Leicester if Italy is your idea of food heaven. In fact the city can boast an A to Z – from authentic Italian Altro Mondo, to modern, contemporary Zizzi – where you can feast on pasta, pizza, risotto and more, just like mama used to make.

Open since the 1980s and secreted behind a little green door on Albion Street, Casa Romana feels just like home to its army of loyal diners. Other mainstays of the city include San Carlo, on Granby Street, where you’ll also find Marco’s New York Italian in the Mercure Hotel, and trattoria-style Roma Café Bar and Restaurant on Halford Street.

Showcasing Italian elegance and style, Stoneygate’s Timo has added tapas to it menus, and Veeno in St Martins gives diners the chance to enjoy food and wine pairing experiences and vino produced in the family’s own Sicilian vineyard.

Smoke gets in your eyes

Lebanese wine is on the menu at Cedars on Braunstone Gate, along with local specialities of chicken shish and tabouleh. East also meets West in a selection of Turkish eateries, with the mouth-watering aromas from Efes Mangal, Istanbul and Antalya turning the West End into one big barbecue whatever the weather.

Get into the Latin spirit

If a trip to South America is on your bucket list, why not familiarise yourself with the cuisine of Argentina at Sonrisa, whose vibe will transport you to the buzzing streets of Bueno Aires. Also inspired by the spirit of Latin America, the menus at Bodega Cantina and Las Iguanas feature Mexican favourites burritos, nachos and enchiladas, and cocktails laced with Brazilian rum Cachaca.

Here’s one Pho the kids

If your travel plans to the Far East were put on hold this year that doesn’t mean the flavours of Asia are out of reach too. Pho, on High Street, which serves up healthy and aromatic Vietnamese street food, is also healthy on the pocket if you take the kids during the summer holidays. Under-12s get to eat free Monday to Friday, but hurry, it’s nearly back-to-school time.

Try Thai or choose Chinese

Choose to try Thai and you’ll find a serene setting, friendly service, stir fries, curries and noodles at Giggling Squid in St Martin’s Square. And for Chinese food fans, there are so many options. From buffets to banquets, sweet and sour to Szechuan, prawns to pork, get your chopsticks at the ready and make a beeline for the city centre. On and around High Street you’ll find popular restaurants Shanghai Moon, Chinese Snack Box, Spicy Temptations and Terra Cotta, with Red China on London Road and Yum Sing in Oadby also getting rave reviews.

Singing restaurant’s praises

Checking reviews before choosing a restaurant is a good idea, and Leicester singer/songwriter Mahalia has been quoted in the press as saying that everyone should try a samosa from Bobby’s restaurant. She is, of course, correct, and the restaurant is not alone in serving amazing authentic Indian food – much of it ‘pure vegetarian’ – on Leicester’s famous Golden Mile. Running the length of Belgrave Road, it’s crammed with jewellery shops, saree boutiques and an almost mind-boggling array of restaurants, many opened in the 1970s by a new community forced to flee East Africa.

Try a Gujarati samosa at Sharmilee, feast on authentic South Indian dishes at Dakshin, or choose between Gujarati and Indo-Chinese specialities at 4 Seasons Chaat House. Wherever you go, it will be no ordinary curry!

Fine dining to Diwali

Back in the city centre, run-of-the-mill Indian food is also most definitely not on the menu. If you want an excuse to get dressed up, book a table at Chutney Ivy, Lilu or Shimla Pinks, where a more fine-dining experience will make your evening extra special. If contemporary and modern is more your thing, Tamatanga and Mowgli will be right up your street. Both serve up authentic Indian dishes, which come out as they’re cooked, and a vibrant atmosphere. Mowgli’s swinging seats are also worth trying, alongside their treacle tamarind fries and Himalayan cheese toast.

So, although your trip to India may have been delayed this year, a taste of its spicy, fragrant cuisine is yours for the taking all over the city. And with the Golden Mile putting on the largest Diwali celebrations outside India, staying at home might not be so disappointing after all.




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