As a foodie city, London isn’t always ranked very high for a few reasons. Many people assume the only food in London is fried, heavy and tasteless. However, for a city with such a bad rep in the cuisine field, there are actually quite a few delicious options in this bustling English hub. If you follow this guide to Britain’s biggest city, you won’t have to eat a single banger or mash while you are there!
From dives to pubs to upscale restaurants, there are a lot of exciting food choices to check out. All we ask is that you go hungry and with plenty of pounds (British money, that is). Plus, those sexy British accents make everything sound more delicious, wouldn’t you say?
Best city breakfast
If there’s one thing Londoners do right, it’s breakfast. There are a few great places that are known for their big English breakfasts (which often include bacon, sausages, eggs, coffee and tea). A local favorite is Becks Cafe on 28 Red Lion St. It may be divey on the outside, but this cheap little eatery has great food and is located right in the heart of London. For just £5.50 ($8.50), you can get a full English breakfast and a coffee or tea; not bad right?
Another favorite (rated 26/30 on Zagat) is the Guildhall restaurant (at the Hawksmoor). They serve a full English breakfast for £15 that comes with plum pudding, sausage, black pudding, fried eggs, hash brown, grilled mushrooms and trotter-baked beans. If you’re nursing a hangover, get your breakfast with a Black Velvet, a mix of Guinness and Champagne or the Grenadier, which is made from spicy tomato juice, lemon juice and an IPA.
Great pubs for grub & brews
Going to London and not visiting a pub is like going to Chicago and not eating a hot dog. If you’re feeling a little homesick but still want to experience the authentic London pub, check out Duke’s Brew & Que located at 33 Downham Road, N1. According to Time Out, Duke’s serves ribs that taste like they were smoked in the deep south of America. Wash down the finger lickin’ main course with a bottle of British beer, like Smog Rocket from Beavertown Brewery in Hackney.
If you’re craving an authentic taste of old school London, head to Princess Louise on High Holborn WC1. You’ll think you stepped back into the high times of 19th century London. The etched glass, old school bar lamps, private drinking spaces and wooden panels attract tourists and locals alike, and the cheap prices (a pint of Old Brewery bitter goes for just £2) keep them coming back. If you’re hungry, you can also grab some traditional English pub food here, like deep-fried fish and chips.
Markets and snacks
If you’d rather eat while you stroll, check out one of the 25 famers markets located in downtown London. The City & Country Farmers Market is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and has 10 markets throughout the city. Here you’ll be sure to find local, fresh produce, meats and cheeses from the countryside of Britain. Get there early to ensure you aren’t stuck waiting in line all day!
If you want to eat while you shop, check out the food options at Fortnum & Mason. This 300-year-old British institution has incredible dining options, like the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, which offers tea and crumpets to shoppers and diners. You also have to check out Fortnum’s famous food hall, which is an entire floor dedicated to gourmet treats, sweets, prepared deli foods, cheeses and fresh charcuterie.
Upscale dinner & cocktail spots
After a day of visiting Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, a girl’s bound to get a little hungry so hit up Orrery in the West End for dinner. This fancy neighborhood restaurant has views of the Marylebone Church Gardens that are almost as spectacular as the food. To ensure you get a taste of everything Michelin star chef Igor Tymchyshyn whips up, opt for a few selections off the dinner a la carte menu [PDF]. We suggest the parfait of foie gras, apple chutney and Poilâne toast and the Melanosporum black truffle risotto served with soft herbs and Parmesan. Start (or end) your meal with some cheeses from the decadent cheese trolley.
Another favorite for a divine meal in London is Gordon Ramsey at Claridges. Although he owns seven restaurants in the city, the eatery at the Claridges hotel is by far the swankiest. The decor is very Art Deco with touches of deep purple, gold and white. The menu is classic European with traditional English (and Gordon Ramsey) touches, like pan-fried monkfish tail with lobster, celery purée, braised lentils and Madeira jus or the English garden peas and broad beans with Dorstone organic goat’s curd and roasted walnuts. If you have seven or more in your party, request the Chef’s Table, so you can sit in the kitchen, talk with the chef and create your own meal.