Eight memorable places to have lunch in York

Make a lunch out in York extra special for elderly clients, friends or loved ones by choosing a venue with a difference.

Grabbing a quick bite of lunch at a supermarket café or high street coffee shop is fine when time is short and refuelling is the aim. If, however, you’re wanting to treat someone to a memorable afternoon out, you will need to pick something a little special.

If you are supporting someone who doesn’t get the opportunity to go out very often, it’s important to make their rare outings into a real event. It doesn’t matter if you go for soup and sandwiches or an indulgent gourmet meal, the venue makes all the difference.

Here are ten places to take a Home Instead client, family member or even just yourself out for a memorable lunch in York.

Bettys Café Tea Rooms

Anyone who has ever visited York will have heard of Bettys. It barely needs mentioning here, except as a reminder that it is a Yorkshire institution and well worth re-visiting, even if you’re a lifelong York resident!

The tea rooms opened in the 1930s and still retain their old-fashioned charm to this day. Step back in time and enjoy a traditional haddock in crispy batter or try one of their Swiss-influenced dishes such as chicken schnitzel.

Pick your moment for a visit to Bettys as it’s a wildly popular tourist destination. Do your shopping early and aim to be at the door before midday to avoid the long queues!

Storefront of Betty's Tea & Coffee Merchants with hanging flower baskets and large windows on a brick building. - Home Instead

Grays Court – The Bow Room Restaurant

This is one of the oldest buildings in York and has a fabulous garden overlooking part of the city wall. As you would expect in an old building, there are steps and uneven floors, so maybe phone beforehand to check that the venue is accessible for all your party.

The lunch menu is simple and based on salad ingredients sourced from their own vegetable garden. Their platters lend themselves to slow grazing over fizzy wine, while you take in the scents and sounds of the garden. It’s definitely a place to wear that floaty dress that hasn’t been out of the wardrobe for two years. Maybe even wear a hat? (Booking is essential).

A weathered wooden door with a "Gray's Court" sign and an etched arrow pointing right. - Home Instead

Vertigrow – The Greenhouse Tearoom

Not your standard garden centre tearoom! A professional chef designed the menu and oversees the cooking of exceptional food. The bread and cakes are baked on the premises and, yes. You can have chips with everything. The question is, do you want plain chips or chips with grated parmesan and truffle?

This is a real favourite lunch venue amongst Home Instead staff. The café is quite small but, they have an outdoor courtyard and also a greenhouse with tables – ideal for anyone who prefers not to eat in crowded indoor spaces.

Have a wander around the garden centre, browse in their new gift and antiques shop and aim to arrive at the café at twelve on the dot to be sure of the best table!

Rowntree Park Reading Café.

York is very fortunate to have extensive green spaces. Rowntree Park is located on either side of the River Ouse close to the centre of York, the two sides being joined by the iconic Millennium Bridge. It’s a wonderful place for a brisk walk through the woods or a slow meander around the formal gardens and, when you’ve worked up an appetite, you can get a light lunch at the Reading Café.

The Café is actually run by York Explore, the York library service, and offers a full library service. Renew your library card, choose a book and eat a delicious cheese platter or tuna sandwich on ciabatta bread while taking in views of the park.

A charming archway entrance in a lush garden with a reflecting pool and cloudy sky. - Home Instead

Guy Fawkes Inn

If it’s history you are after, the Guy Fawkes Inn in the centre of York has bucketloads of it. A medieval coaching inn overlooking York Minster, it was the birthplace of Guy Fawkes.

The character and charm of the building has been retained, while the menu has been updated to 21st Century tastes. If you prefer to eat outside there is a super beer garden at the back of the Inn.

If you want more than just a hearty pub lunch and you have good shoes to withstand York’s cobbled streets, the Inn offers a two-hour walking tour exploring the architecture and history of York.

An old brick building with a "Guy Fawkes Inn" sign and string lights hanging outside. - Home Instead

The Shambles Food Court

If street food is your thing, the Shambles Food Court is the best place to eat in York. You can get the usual burgers and fried chicken, but also Moroccan wraps, fish tacos, salads, crepes… You name it!

The Shambles food Court is ideal if your party all want different things to eat. Everyone can order from the stall they fancy and you sit and wait together at one of the tables, watching the vibrant city scene unfold around you. It can be crowded and you may find yourself sharing your table with tourists and students from all over the world – but that’s part of the fun!

A street view shows signs for "SHAMBLES KITCHEN," "FOOD COURT," and nearby shops against a clear sky. - Home Instead

Deans Garden Centre

Situated between Heworth and Stockton on the Forest, Deans is the go-to place for lunch if accessibility is a consideration. You can park directly outside and they provide courtesy wheelchairs for anyone who needs them. The floor is level and the aisles are wide. Seating is mostly indoors but they have an outside area they can open up if the weather is good.

Deans food is the traditional and well-loved garden centre fare – fish and chips, quiche and salad, sandwiches and cakes. Their coffee is certainly up there as best available in any café! Staff are extremely helpful and will do all they can to ensure that customers are comfortable and safe.

On the second Monday each month they host a ‘Companionship Café’ along with Home Instead York, which is a great way for people who are lonely or isolated to meet others in the same position.

Bonus, let’s not forget, there is a huge and well stocked garden centre attached to the lovely café!

Spacious cafe with wooden tables and chairs, large windows, modern lighting, and plants on each table. - Home Instead

The Waterfront Café, York Marina

Situated just six miles outside the York Ring Road at Naburn, on the bank of the River Ouse, The Waterfront Café is an ideal spot for a relaxing lunch. If the weather allows, get a table outside or, on the covered terrace and watch the boats go cruising by.

The menu is varied, with salads, hot dishes and sharing platters. Portions are generous but not overwhelming. Service is efficient and friendly. Booking isn’t required, but it is recommended, especially if you want a good view of the river!

For someone who rarely goes out, or someone who has felt isolated over the past few years, eating out with a supportive companion can be highly significant. It can be a time to relax, chat and reacquaint themselves with the world outside their own four walls.

Home Instead care professionals can help choose venues that suit our clients. They may benefit from a familiar place, an outdoor space or somewhere exciting and new. They may know exactly where they want you to take them for lunch, but if they are up for an adventure, try one of these ideas to stimulate conversation and create memories.

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