Hot on the heels of TimeOut listing Sheffield at No.2 in their 18 Best City Breaks in Europe for 2023 earlier this year, The Observer Food Monthly made a point of highlighting "Sheffield’s bar and restaurant scene" as a top pick in their 30 things we love in the world of food right now piece and even called us "the UK's Foodie Hotspot" on their front cover.
The strong showing of Sheffield businesses shortlisted in the 2022 Observer Food Monthly Awards, clearly hadn’t gone unnoticed and follows a particularly fruitful year, where increasing numbers of the city’s restaurants and bars have been steadily turning heads, by delighting food critics and popping up in national listings.
Consumer body Which? is the latest to celebrate the city, listing Sheffield No.2 in their Top UK Cities for Food & Drink, highlighting areas such as Kelham Island, Sharrow Vale and Abbeydale Road as key districts.
BBC Good Food has also been getting in on the action, publishing their ultimate Guide to the Best Restaurants in Sheffield which name-checked a mere 48 establishments in the city. No mean feat, but it didn't stop locals pointing out a tonne of other great places they felt should have been included.
What can we say? We're a city passionate about food and it's this local enthusiasm which is helping to support a thriving independent scene here.
So which Sheffield restaurants and bars are creating this buzz? Read on to see those leading the way, but for more comprehensive listings of fantastic places to eat and drink in Sheffield, head here.
It's in Sheffield's vibrant neighbourhoods where several establishments have not only won over local's hearts (and stomachs), but those of national food critics too...
"A gleaming example of hospitality in the Steel City" is how Times food critic Marina O' Loughlin described this vibrant neighbourhood restaurant and bar, tucked away in a small courtyard, just off Sharrow Vale Road.
Meanwhile, The Observer declared "Every neighbourhood should have a Tonco" when they named Tonoco one of the regional runner-ups in the OFM Best Restaurant category.
"Like a lot of small out-of-the-centre indies, Bench is pitching itself as a 'neighbourhood' restaurant. What is unique is that it might make me consider moving to the neighbourhood" said Critic Tim Hayward, when he visited this Nether Edge hangout for The Financial Times last year.
The Observer too noted the "friendly staff" and proclaimed that "clever small-plates menu with an eye for what is in season make this a near-perfect neighbourhood joint".
"This local joint brings the heat – the South African-inspired menu is cooked on a braai, and the all-SA wine list goes brilliantly with caramelised aubergine and seaweed sambal, Durban curry and peri-peri chicken." The Observer's enticing write-up for The Orange Bird (on Middlewood Road, Hillsborough) when they listed them as a regional runner-up in the OFM Best Restaurant category.
Having recently relocated from Ecclesall Road to Kelham Island, Michelin-listed Juke and Loe are now in the same building that was previously occupied by The Milestone. But before they moved last year, critic Jay Rayner paid a visit on behalf of The Guardian where he was bowled over by the small bistro, run by brothers, Luke and Joseph Grayson and declared "It’s the sort of cookery that makes you pause, mid-conversation, and study the plate ".
Taking plant-based cuisine to the next level! Sheffield’s first fully meat-free licensed restaurant, V or V, got a special mention in The Observer's recent feature on the city's food scene, for their "inventive small plates such as barbecued radish with seaweed bagna cauda, and cumin broccoli with pickled plum sauce".
A hidden gem tucked away on Gibraltar Street between the city centre and Kelham Island, Native is a sister seafood restaurant to acclaimed traditional fishmonger JH Mann on Sharrow Vale Road. Opened by chef Christian Szurko in 2021, they too were highlighted as one of The Observer Food Monthly's top picks in the city.
Having firmly made their mark as one of Kelham Island's favourite foodie spots, authentic Sardinian restaurant & bar, DOMO, came top in the 'Best Italian Restaurant over 50 Seats' category at the Italian Awards in 2022 (UK).
The Sardinian vibes continue at DOMO's sister sky-lounge Kelu, which you'll find on the top level of container complex Krynkl (also home to coveted JÖRO), offering an inviting rooftop cocktail bar to match DOMO's attractive courtyard terrace, both great options on a sunny day in the city. Both DOMO and Kelu got honourable mentions in The Observer Food Monthly's Sheffield highlights.
Since opening in 2016, JÖRO have helped put Sheffield back on the culinary map and are consistently ranked amongst the best restaurants in the country. Most recently they were voted No.30 in the Hardens Top 100 UK Restaurants 2023, awarded another Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide 2023 and achieved a 3-Rosette rating in the AA Guide,
Sheffield's original neighbourhood bistro, Rafter's relaxed 26-seater restaurant is tucked away in the leafy suburb of Nethergreen. A staple of Sheffield's fine dining scene for nearly 30 years now, they too were most recently awarded another Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide 2023 and achieved a 3-Rosette rating in the 2023 AA Rosette Awards.
Since bursting onto the UK Food Hall scene in 2018, Cutlery Works has been one of the major players that has helped revitalise Sheffield's Kelham Island district.
Transforming a decrepit former cutlery factory into the the largest food hall in the North of England, spread out over two floors with a whole mixture of incredible food vendors, it's no wonder they were voted Best Food Hall at the 2022 British Street Food Awards and then listed in National Geographic's 7 Best UK Food Courts.
It's not just delicious dishes that have had critics talking. Aside to Sheffield's already prolific reputation as a beer destination, the city is now being noted for mixology too, with two particular bars at the forefront...
A tiny haven squirrelled away in a former gents’ toilet below Sheffield Town Hall, Public is no stranger to acclaim. Having been named The Best Place to Drink in the country back in 2018, they continue pop up in national listings and were once again shortlisted in the most recent Observer Food Monthly Awards, except this time they weren't alone. Already featured above for their food, Bench was also a runner up in the OFM Awards, with Sheffield claiming 2/3 of the places shortlisted for 'The North' category.
More recently, Public and Bench did the double again as both were featured in the Top 50 Cocktail Bars in the country, while Public's Head Bartender has also been shortlisted in the Top 50 of World Class GB 2023.