Guest post by Dakota Murphey
London is renowned as one of the top culinary destinations in the world, offering an incredibly diverse and vibrant food scene. From Michelin-starred restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs to tiny holes-in-the-wall serving authentic ethnic fare, there is truly something for every taste and budget. The city’s dynamic food culture is driven by its large and diverse populations, who have introduced their native ingredients and cooking techniques. If you’re travelling to London soon, here’s where to head first for the best food to try in London.
Classic British fare
No trip to London would be complete without sampling some traditional British cuisine. Fortunately, amidst the flood of trendy new openings, there are still plenty of restaurants serving up quintessential English dishes and dining experiences. For a luxurious take on European cafe culture, The Wolseley in Mayfair offers a grand 1920s setting and elegantly prepared British classics like potted shrimp, Scotch eggs and steak and kidney pie. Meanwhile, Rules, London’s oldest restaurant, has been serving patrons in Covent Garden since 1798. Expect impeccable service, rich interiors and hearty British dishes like roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
Those looking for a more casual and affordable meal can head to The Breakfast Club. With locations across the city, this mini-chain has perfected the full English breakfast, dishing up fluffy eggs, crispy bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms and tomatoes. It’s the perfect hangover cure and a taste of home for Brits.
From upscale to cheap eats, London offers plenty of spots to sample England’s culinary heritage. Visitors can indulge in a traditional Sunday roast, fish and chips or full English breakfast and immerse themselves in the local flavour that Londoners have been enjoying for centuries. For those travelling from overseas, the opportunity to experience some of Britain’s most famous dishes is a must.
Bakeries and Delis
London’s bakeries and delis offer a tasty glimpse into the city’s diverse culinary landscape, and they’re a great place to stop for a quick bite as you’re venturing around London’s different landmarks and attractions. Whether it’s brick oven-baked bread, sweet French pastries or imported charcuterie, these speciality food shops provide locals and visitors alike with simple yet sublime foods.
In Hammersmith, Patisserie Sainte Anne transports diners to Paris with its melt-in-your-mouth apple chaussons and other French baked goods. Over in Hackney, hipsters line up for the fresh sourdough loaves at e5 Bakehouse, while the flatbreads at East London’s Ararat Bread pay homage to the area’s Turkish immigrant community.
The delis here also showcase London’s international flair. Why not pop into Valentina Deli & Kitchen for Italian deli favourites like prosciutto, olives and panettone, for your own taste of Italy in the heart of London? From simple baguettes to elaborate layer cakes, London’s bakeries and delis provide a tasty education in both local and global flavours. Food lovers will enjoy exploring the city one breadcrumb at a time.
London is a true melting pot of global cuisines, with immigrants from around the world bringing their native ingredients and cooking techniques to the city. For a taste of India, head to Dishoom in Covent Garden for Bombay-style street food like black dal, chicken ruby and naan bread. In Shoreditch, Morito serves up an inventive take on traditional tapas with pinchos and small plates bursting with the flavours of Spain.
Fancy some Peranakan cuisine for a taste of Singapore? Book a table at Sambal Shiok near Holloway Road tube station for some spicy curry laksa and chilli crab. Or for regional Chinese, book a table at Silk Road in Camberwell for hand-pulled noodles and Chinese dumplings. London’s Chinatown is an internationally renowned enclave of Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets and souvenir shops in the very heart of the city, with some restaurants that have barely changed in nearly 100 years.
From Turkish kebabs to Ghanaian stews, Colombian arepas to Vietnamese pho, Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to world cuisine. Dining your way through the neighbourhoods offers flavours from around the globe without even needing a passport. It’s a food lover’s paradise.
Markets and Food Halls
One of the best ways to experience London’s amazing food scene is by visiting its markets and food halls. For an incredible array of artisan food and drink under one Victorian roof, Borough Market near London Bridge simply can’t be beaten. Chat with vendors and graze your way through this foodie paradise trying chorizo rolls, cheese samples and brownies.
For a more gritty, hipster vibe, head to Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey, where you’ll find funky food stalls inside old railway arches serving up kombucha cocktails, beef brisket sandwiches and salted caramel brownies. Arrive hungry and be ready to graze — you won’t be disappointed by what you find here.
Looking for gourmet ingredients to take home? Pop into one of the city’s deluxe food halls like Harrods Food Hall or Fortnum & Mason for fine-dining delights. Browse the butcher counters overflowing with dry-aged beef, pick up jars of artisanal condiments or throw a block of the best English cheddar in your basket. From street food treats to opulent food temples, London’s markets offer an incredible bounty of local and global flavours. They encapsulate the city’s dynamic food culture like no other.
London has cemented itself as one of the globe’s top food destinations. From the city’s classic British institutions to the explosion of ethnic cuisines and avant-garde dining concepts, it offers incredible diversity when it comes to food experiences. Visitors can indulge in a full English breakfast at a café, graze on cheese and charcuterie at a market, feast on fiery curry at an Indian restaurant, or book a table at a Michelin-starred modern European spot. Street food assemblages offer bites from around the world, while luxury food halls like Harrods overflow with gourmet delicacies.
Each neighbourhood across London possesses its own unique food identity. Spending time exploring the city through its food allows you to experience London at its most dynamic. From impeccable white tablecloth dining to grab-and-go street eats, London’s extraordinary food culture appeals to all tastes and budgets. For food lovers, it is simply one of the most exciting cities in the world to explore. The diversity of flavours and dining experiences on offer is unparalleled.
Those are our top picks for the best food to try in London. Check out our gorgeous apartments in London to call home during your stay, or browse the whole portfolios of homes around the world on Oliver’s Travels. What’s more, our friendly concierge team is on hand to advise to best to spend your stay, share local knowledge and book restaurants and experiences on your behalf.