Eating in London is definitely an international foodie affair, but what really is London food and what should a visitor try when looking for something delicious to eat in the city? I know London has some amazing cuisine so I’ve asked a variety of travel writers, food bloggers and other foodies to share some of their favorite must visit locations and to die for dishes to try when you go to London.
In spite of all the typical English type of dishes, you’ll be surprised with some of the delicious foods and places suggested from all these wonderful food and travel writers contributing to this posts. So bookmark this post on the best foods to eat in London and where to find them and you’ll have an amazing foodie experience in the city.
Must try in London traditional cuisine, street foods or specialty dishes
Uniquely English Foods to try
A truly English classic and typically served on a Sunday roast, the Yorkshire Pudding is typically a baked pudding side dish made of flour, milk or water and eggs. You’ll find Yorkshire Pudding with a roast at most pubs and local restaurants.
Photo Credit by By Féron Benjamin – CC BY-SA 2.0,
You can find Cockles served in traditionally in East end venues where they have been a staple for decades. These small tasty clam like mollusk are sold as a snack food and seasoned with malt vinegar and white pepper. Cockles can also be served pickled or Welsh style with bacon and laver bread.
Hearty Ploughman’s Lunch
Photo credit by By Clothahump
This typical English lunch is actually a cold meal with bread, onions and cheese with garnishes of relish, pickles, apples and even ham. So pretty much like picnic fare. The lunch is associated with rural laborers having a simple meal combined with hearty pints of beer.
Have a crack at a real English breakfast
Photo credit to By Jrv73 – Own work, Public Domain
The English love their hearty breakfast and it is quite real. A typical English breakfast consists of bacon, sausages, eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms and baked beans and black pudding is included. Fried or buttered toast is also included for wiping up all that delicious goodness. You’ll find English breakfast served in hotels and guest houses in London and all around England. Black tea is usually served with this full English breakfast and are a robust compliment to the big meal.
How about some Bangers and Mash
Photo credit By Qwerty Binary – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Another traditional Great Britain dish composed primarily of sausage and mash potatoes. The bangers can be made of pork, lamb or beef and typically served with gravy, fried onions and peas. You’ll find Bangers and Mash offered in pubs all around London as a staple food served.
Pie Mash with Eel Liquor
Pie mash and eel liquor are very much a London creation since the VIctorian time in 19th century. Serving this meal since 1890 by a family run business, Goddards at Greenwich is a traditional pie mash and liquor restaurant located in Greenwich, London. Used to be known as the working class food, pie mash and eel liquor were particularly common (and thus cheap) in London back in those days. Eels were one of very few fish that could survive in the heavily-polluted Thames and other London rivers. Eel liquor is the special part of the meal, which it is made from an eel gravy and is heavily flavoured parsley sauce. Goddards at Greenwich is still making this traditional London meal, with different pie fillings ranging from traditional beef, steak, chicken, lamb or even vegetarian options. If you want to try another traditional English dish, the Jellied Eels, are also available at Goddards. The dish consists of chopped eels boiled in a spiced stock that is cooled to form a jelly.
By Allison Wong with Sassy Urbanite’s Diary
Photo credit by By Parkerman & Christie from San Diego, USA CC BY 2.0
You can’t beat a well prepared fillet of steak mostly beef tenderloin with duxelles and pate mixed into and then covered in a flaky puffed pastry and baked to perfection. This extravagant dish is definitely worth seeking out at fine dining restaurants around London when you find it on the menu and looking for a tasty traditional beef dining experience.
Visiting London markets and specialty dishes
There are so many amazing London foodie markets worth visiting with vendors that offer the most delicious local foods you can imagine from these artisanal to regional purveyors. Check out some of these markets when you visit London with all these wonderful food venues and choices to discover.
Brick Lane – food markets
Even though Brick Lane is filled with many ethnic restaurants including delicious Indian venues, if you’re looking for variety of choices check out the various weekend food markets located in retrofitted warehouses on the street. The most popular foodie markets in the area include Brick Lane food hall at the Boiler House with over 30 food vendors, The Backyard market with mostly finished goods and some food vendors and artisanal products and the Sunday Upmarket serving a variety of ethnic street foods.
Video credit to Smart Eatery
A very popular gathering spot in London’s Southbank area, Borough Market is the place to go for fantastic and unique artisanal foods and finished goods along with some amazing wine bars, pubs and restaurants in the immediate vicinity. This the market caters to a hip crowd with amazing food purveyors offering traditional, international and specialty foods including the latest food forward dishes worth experiencing.
Video credit to Love and London
Located in a refurbished covered market that has been in operation for over 350 years, Spitafields Market in the East End of London is a hip gathering spot for foodie lovers but also for visitors looking to find DIY craft and design makers, local clothing designers including a slew of wine bars, restaurants. You’ll find plenty of specialty food venues, artisanal goods and shops for you to discover what’s new, local or trendy in this wonderful foodie marketplace. Also, there’s plenty of live entertainment and events to keep you busy and happy exploring around Spitafields which stays open late into the night in this lively neighborhood.
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Located in Camden Town, this market is comprised of many small markets in the area selling a variety of food, clothing and accessories, art and creative works. The food/dining section is located closer to the River called Kerb and is mostly take away street foods and ethnic foods for sale.
Hours are M-F 10:00-17:00 and weekends 11.00 – 18.00
Whitecross Street Market
Video credit to settime2588
A very popular and considered one of London’s best street food market, you’ll have plenty of choices of food, flavors and cuisine at Whitecross market. This market specializes in a wonderful array of healthy food venues, Vegetarian, delicious artisanal foods, baked goods and desserts, ethnic food stalls, seasonal goods and gourmet sweets and other fast take out foods made with high quality ingredients.
London’s best street foods
The best London Bagels and salt beef
If you’re looking for one of the most iconic dishes to try in London you can’t miss the classic salt beef beigel. A Shoreditch favorite, this sandwich is one of the cheapest and most satisfying meals you can find in London. A chewy, freshly cooked beigel straight out of the oven is cut in half, stuffed with tender corned beef, and garnished with mustard and a dill pickle. It’s eaten still warm, preferably standing up on the street or walking around the city
There are two classic (and rival) establishments: Beigel Bake (white sign) and Beigel Shop (yellow sign). They’re both right next to each other on Brick Lane. I went for Beigel Bake, as it had the longer line and lines don’t often lie when it comes to good food! Despite the line, I was in and out of the shop with a beigel in hand in under 10 minutes, so don’t be afraid to queue up. A delicious salt beef beigel should set you back less than 5 quid, an excellent deal in a city as expensive as London.
Check out Allison’s post on London in 4 days.
Delicious fish and chips place in London
Poppies fish and chips is typically rated as one of the best, if not the best fish and chips spot in all of London. Operating since 1940s, the fish are perfectly done, flakey, fresh and golden and not greasy – they know great fish and chips. Located in a cool retro 50s type of diner, Poppies can be an easy take out or dine in venue in Camden and a pop up at Spitafield’s Market.
London’s must try ethnic cuisine
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The best Indian food in London
Check out Karilyn’s post on the best Indian food in London
Indonesian classic food in London
Check out Kavita’s post on Bang Bang Oriental in Colindale
Excellent Izakaya at Sosharu
Xiao long bao
Photo credit By Eason Lai, CC BY-SA 2.0,
If you have a craving for Xiao long bao or steamed soupy dumplings, head out to Chinatown for these yummy dumplings served at ever popular Dumplings Legends in Chinatown which serves these wonderful dumplings along with a whole array of delicious dim sum to go or dine in.
South African Peri-Peri chicken
Only in London food experiences
Buttery Deviled Kidneys
St.John Restaurant is located in the historic Smithfield Meat Market neighborhood of London. It’s a former smokehouse, painted white on the outside, and tables clothed in the same color inside. Pretty classy joint, but still has a sensibility of toughness. It’s this dichotomy that makes this place such a good time.
A dish that best exemplifies this institution, established by acclaimed chef Fergus Henderson, is the Devilled Kidneys. A part of the animal many discards, or at the least bring one to wince. However, here, this dish is elevated; and upon arriving at the table, looking every bit as splendid as anything I’ve seen put on a plate, it brought me to smile rather than grimace.
The kidneys are from sheep. They seemed to have been pan-fried in lots of butter, and served over the most delicious country bread and poured on top is the reduction which is reminiscent of a thick Worcester Sauce (which I love). As I put my knife through the middle, it cut like the butter in which it was cooked and melted in my mouth.
The sensation left me wanting more and more. I couldn’t believe that many never think to have this offal. I was glad I decided to order it and with a bottle of their house red wine as a pairing, it made for one of the best dishes I’ve ever had.
Brenda Tolentino with Dish Our Town
English cheese to die for
If you love cheese, a visit to Androuet in Spitalfields Market in the East End of London is a must. They have a fabulous range from around the world, that they buy in season directly for the producers. When I visited I was most interested in their English cheeses and tried three.
Ogleshield is a Somerset cheese made from an unpasturised cows’ milk, that’s been aged for 4 months. It was mild and buttery, and they suggested melting it on toast which sounds dreamy!
Westcomb Cheddar, which has been aged for 16 months in the caves at Cheddar Gorge, had a distinctive earthy flavour.
But my favourite was the Stilton Cropwell Bishop from Nottingham which is aged for just 3 months. It was the creamiest, loveliest Stilton I have ever tasted.
Sorry I don’t know how to make the picture smaller but retain it 900 pixels.
Check out Kathryn’s post on Eating London
Afternoon Tea in London
A London food walking tour
American style BBQ in London
Over the past few years, American BBQ has become a trend in London and there are numerous restaurants giving it a try. Smokestak in the Shoreditch neighborhood is one of the few that absolutely gets it right. Their BBQ is so good it’s hard to resist going back again and again. Their main menu items include pork ribs, beef brisket, and a 30-day dry-aged beef rib, alongside a few lighter items like salt-baked beetroot and sea bream crudo. But for us, the brisket bun is the star of the show. They take a thick slice of melt-in-your-mouth tender brisket and roll it up inside a soft, buttered bakery roll, then top it with pickled red chillis. It’s so tasty, you’ll be disappointed if you don’t order two.
The atmosphere created by the rustic, industrial wooden interior design adds to the experience. It’s always crowded, even in the summer when extra space is opened up by outdoor tables, so it’s wise to make a reservation at least a week in advance.
Mad hatters tea
If there’s one thing that London does exceptionally well, it’s afternoon tea – and, more specifically, the themed afternoon tea. On a recent trip to London, I tried a variety of themed afternoon teas, and decided that the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea offered at the upscale Sanderson hotel in Fitzrovia takes the cake (and tiny finger sandwiches) for the best themed tea in London.
Everything about this Alice in Wonderland-inspired tea is whimsical and on-theme, from the tablewear to the custom tea blends to the menu that’s presented inside of a book. The food served is tasty and includes all the trappings of a traditional afternoon tea – just with an Alice-inspired twist.
You’ll have tea, small sandwiches (the Cornish crab brioche roll with spiced avocado and coriander was my favorite), scones with jam and clotted cream, and sweet treats like a Mad March Hare vanilla pocket watch macaroon, marshmallows shaped like mushrooms, and Alice’s exotic fruits “Drink Me” potion.
The Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea experience runs £48, or £65 if you’d like to add a class of pink Laurent-Perrier Champagne. It’s served in either the The Restaurant or Courtyard Garden at the Sanderson, and you don’t have to dress up – though it’s more fun if you do!
London’s best sweet dishes and desserts
Sticky toffee Pudding
Photo credit By Chalk and Cheese CC BY 2.0
A very traditional English dessert you can find in a variety of gastropubs, cafes and even find dining restaurants. This dessert is basically a sponge cake with finely copped dates mixed in and gooey toffee sauce and then served with either vanilla ice cream or Vanilla custard. If you are a toffee/caramel lover, you definitely have to try this English dessert.
Ice Cream Cloud at Milk Train Cafe
Bread and butter pudding
A very popular English dessert that is a staple and quite delicious when you find this in many eateries with their own spin of this traditional dessert. One of the best places to try the bread and butter pudding delight is at Market Coffee House in a very traditional style restaurant located in East End London.
Photo credit By Angus Fraser Eton Mess, CC BY 2.0,
Another traditional English dessert made with strawberries, broken bits of meringue and lots of whipped cream. The strawberry sauce is sometimes mixed in with different liquors to make it unique to the maker or establishment.
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea at One Aldwych
An afternoon tea is a quintessential London treat, but why have any old afternoon tea when you can have a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea? This wonderful experience at One Aldwych was voted the best afternoon tea in London by Bookatable in 2017, and it isn’t hard to see why. We selected our choice of tea from a specially designed menu, each decorated with a family from Roald Dahl’s wonderful book. The feast began with a selection of savouries, including delicate sandwiches and a cheddar scone with bacon jam. Then came the sweets. And they had really gone all out on the presentation. A red stand held a bottle of chocolate caramel milk, candy floss, a golden chocolate egg filled with a creamy lemon cheesecake mouse, a chocolate cake pop and bubble gum flavour mousse. We also had a basket of cakes with raspberry jam and lemon curd to drizzle on top. And if that wasn’t enough, you could also order more of anything, and different flavours of tea too. The service was excellent, and even the hotel was right next to the Lyceum Theatre where we went to watch the Lion King after our meal. Perfect!
Eating at Native
Check out Suze’s post of newly opened restaurants in London with Luxury Columnist
London’s fine dining establishments
London has become one of the hottest go to cities for fine dining. In fact the annual top 50 restaurants survey of the world typically garners some of the most acclaimed restaurants in London worth visiting. This years top 50 restaurant guide includes three magnificent restaurants that stand out and are must visit food destinations while visiting the city.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
In medieval England the art of trompe d’oeil was popular. Fruit that was not really fruit at all but savoury dishes date back to 13th-15th Century Europe. The iconic Meat Fruit was created by the executive chef of Dinner, Ashley Palmer-Watts using a parfait developed for sister restaurant, the Fat Duck. This delicate chicken liver and foie gras mixture is then coated in a mandarin jelly made with mandarin puree, essential oil, paprika extra, bronze leaf gelatine and glucose. A ‘peel’ effect is created by dipping the fruit several times and the whole thing is then topped with a stem and leaf.
The dish is served with grilled sourdough bread made with campaillou flour – a cross between a brioche and sour dough.
Dinner by Heston prides itself on a menu based on historic British recipes, updated for the palates of today. The Meat Fruit must be one of it’s best loved dishes along with snail porridge and a tipsy cake with spit roast pineapple. Definitely worth a visit if you are London and want to understand the origins of British food.
Fiona with London – Unattached.com
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Refinement is achieved in a relatively new restaurant James Lowe and John Ogier at their austere Shoreditch London restaurant. Chef excels at presenting exceptional authentic and modern English cuisine that utilize wonderful ingredients like nettles, pigs cheek, chard ramps and alliums. The city’s hottest supper club offers a set dinner menu of four courses that is simple, inventive and elegant to experience. Or you can order a la cart (Lunch menu only) from the menu popular choices like chilled courgette soup with milk curds, smoked eel with roast potatoes or a simple Dover sole dish.
Lamb ribs & parsley, green strawberry @lyleslondon . . @top_london_restaurants @lyleslondon @jks_restaurants @restaurantstimelondon @timeoutlondon #toplondonrestaurants #lyleslondon #nordicrestaurant #onestarmichelin #starredrestaurant #michelinrestaurant #jksrestaurants #foodies londonfoodies #foodiegram #foodiesofinstagram #foodieslondon #foodpics #foodhunt #foodlover #foodporn #foodphotography #foodbloggers #foodpics
The third restaurant making the top 50 list is Ledbury with chef Bret Graham uses the most fabulous English ingredients primarily in season produce and wild game to create the most spectacular iconic dishes like the delicious pigeon entree above, or perhaps a flame grilled mackerel with smoked eel, smoked bone marrow or how about trying the impressive 6 course to 8 course tasting menu offered from Friday to Sunday night at Ledbury and just be wowed!
Video credit to EliteTravelerTV
Three star dining at Core Restaurant
Heading by London’s only female chef garnering three Michelin stars, Clare Smith opened Core restaurant that has been a hit ever since it’s opening in 2017. Featuring contemporary British and European cuisine, Core offers and exceptional dining experience with impeccable food, precision service and helpful staff. The large tasting menu with wine pairings is an unforgettable dining experience that features dishes like potato with trout and herring roe, skate with bay shrimp, Foie gras pate and Madeira, crispy burnt smoked duck wing with burnt orange and spices and Scottish venison as part of this elaborate menu. The emphasis is on local and sustainable food from UK farms food producers
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