If you’re going to be eating in London, you’re facing the best of times and the worst of times. London is peppered with some of the hottest, freshest, most exciting food options in world, but it’s also full of soggy pastries, over-priced scones, and sad lettuce sandwiches. Here are our best tips to avoid a disappointing mouthful and find the best things to eat in London.
Hit the markets
Some of the very best eating in London can be found at one of the city’s many markets. Here you’ll not only find delicious fresh produce, amazing baked offerings, and delicious, cheap snacks from many cultures—you can also find pop-up stores from some of London’s top restaurants, as they get in on the market scene.
You’ll often find lots of free samples at top-notch markets like the Borough Market, so if you’re feeling hungry, this is a great option!
Have some traditional British nosh (food)
Look no further than a traditional English pub for some of most quintessentially London morsels. Find yourself a genuine joint rather than a chain—look for somewhere that’s been around a good few decades, and order yourself a traditional Sunday roast, perhaps with a classic pudding (dessert) like jam roly-poly pudding.
If you’re looking to eat in London in style, you definitely can’t beat some hot and crispy fish and chips from one of London’s iconic fish and chip shops. Avoid anything that’s sitting in a pie warmer—you want it freshly fried, splashed with vinegar, and wrapped in paper. Sit by the Thames and throw a few chips to the gulls for a perfect London experience.
Or if you’re after something a bit more classy, dress up in your finest and head to one of London’s iconic hotels for a high tea. You’ll be sipping tea like the Queen in no time, while dining on tender cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and other dainty offerings.
And if you’re serious about traditional British food while eating in London, make sure you try a traditional pork pie or Cornish pasty—and if you’re really brave, you might even try a jellied eel pie!
Gobble down some culture
Some of the best things to eat in London are hidden away in surprising back alleys, as the city is such a melting pot of global cultures (and their cuisines), that you never know where the next delicious bite might hail from. Here’s a few to look out for:
Middle Eastern: London has a huge range of Middle Eastern food options on offer, from the humble (and very inauthentic) “kebab” (in London this refers to carved meat, salad, humus, and sauces, rolled up in a flatbread), right through to top-end restaurant dining. There are so many delicious Turkish places in London, that it’s part of the cultural landscape. Try a chicken shwarma, a fresh melon juice, or a sweet treat like baklava.
Vietnamese: check out Kingsland road for a bevy of delicious Vietnamese eateries, and make sure to order yourself a classic bowl of pho. There are also often some really delicious Vietnamese food options available at market stalls—look for spring rolls, ban xao (crêpes) and banh mi tay (baguette).
Italian: the European influence hasn’t had far to go, and you don’t have to go far in London to find really good, cheap pizza and other Mediterranean delights. Look for thin crust, passionate owner-operators rather than chains, and lines out the door. And don’t forget a glass of Chianti!
Indian: for better or worse (often worse for the great nation of India), British and Indian histories are intertwined. One good outcome of this mixed history, however, is Britain’s unique take on Indian food, known as Anglo-Indian cuisine. One Anglo-Indian classic is good old Vindaloo, although other products of this relationship include chutney, kedgeree, and mulligatawny soup. Try one of these dishes while you’re in London for a slice of cross-cultural history. Or you could head towards Brick Lane for some classic and contemporary Indian flavours.
Chinese: for some of the best flavours of the Far East, check out London’s vibrant and lively Chinatown. Stylish eaters know to head here for authentic restaurants and street food—no oil-drenched fried rice in sight!
Taste the top trends
If you’re a stylish eater, London is the right place for you to be. From over-the-top “freakshakes,” to the latest in incredible burgers, to farm-to-table freshness, to vegan innovation, London restaurants and cafes are on the cutting edge of global food trends.
This includes the dining experience: those wanting a unique experience while eating in London can try things like eating in total darkness, medieval banquet dinners, food tours around the East End, secret supper clubs, endless festivals, or even floating restaurants that travel up and down the Thames!
Something for everyone
London has SO much to offer to the discerning diner—whatever your food dreams are, London can fulfil them. So cleanse your palate, prepare your Instagram skills, and get ready to satisfy your tastebuds like never before.