London is full of culture, offers some of the best street art I’ve ever seen, hundreds of handsome men in perfectly fitted suits, and known for its Indian food. However, I think London should be known for ALL of its food. I found so many fantastic restaurants, food halls, gorgeous places for a drink, and never wanted to leave. Anyway, the dining experience here pushed me, opened my eyes to new and improved creativity, and brought a smile to my face as I experienced new flavors and ingredients for the first time. Here is a list of the best restaurants and food in London!
- Som Saa–
This regional Thai, comfort spot was one of my favorite meals in London! I love the high-arch, brick walls that separate the main dining room from the bar/cocktail area, as well as the abundant vegetation and palm leaves. It’s fun, trendy, and encompasses knock out food. If you sit in the bar, grab a couple snacks like the Polamai Nahm Pla Wan which is sour fruits with sweet fish sauce. You don’t think you need to order fruit for an appetizer until you have this flavor combo. Always trust the fish sauce! Even though I’m from Texas, I’m not a beef jerky fan but the Whiskey Marinated Beef Jerky with Jaew Dipping Sauce converted me and my dining partner even asked for an extra side of the sauce to save for later. For the main menu, get all over that Beef Cheek Curry with peanuts and thai basil. This is one of the best Thai dishes I’ve ever had. It’s fall off the bone tender, braised perfectly, and the heat and curry spice level is dreamy. The Gai Yaang which is a Thai Style Grilled Chicken Leg with Tamarind Dipping sauce is also a great way to dive into the feast. For your greens, go for the stir fried English and Asian vegetables. For dessert, unless you need another helping of that beef cheek curry, save up for the Salted Palm Sugar Ice Cream (have you seen this anywhere?) with Turmeric Grilled Banana. Put Som Saa on the top of your list! And if you like their tunes, they kindly provide a playlist here.
- Sketch –
This is the only restaurant I had read about over the years in London before I even planned this trip. I saw the pink velvet chairs, zig zag tile floors, and giant wall posters all over instagram, so we went for high-tea at 3 p.m. on a Friday. This place is truly magical. It just reinforces how important design, imagery, and service is as I felt completely transported to another planet. ALSO, I HAD NO IDEA HIGH-TEA INCLUDED AN UNLIMITED CAKE AND SCONES TOWER! Things just kept getting better and better and a bottle of rosé really kicked it off. Back to the tea. The teas are from India and they sell them at a shop next door. You can try as many as you like and they taste like they were legit made right then in front of you. Our first bite was caviar and a creamed egg followed by our tower of tea sandwiches: Curry Chicken, Ham, a Foie Gras Tart, Smoked Salmon and an array of incredible sweet treats: Strawberry Cake, Chocolate Eclair, Cheesecake Parfait, Pear Tart, and some crazy pink Marshmallow Twist. I’ve never felt more giddy when our waitress came over asking what we wanted seconds of. For £59 euros for this experience and not eating all day, you bet I got a second piece of cake, salmon, and even asked if we could get that dairy free chocolate cake the lady with an allergy next to us got. Beat the system ladies! That’s another thing, they are great with allergies if you are gluten free, dairy free, and nut free. So next you get a scone and jam. I think this might have been my favorite bite because it was sweet and savory. Then we got a big piece of strawberry and whipped cream cake to share. Good thing we didn’t eat before this, right? Check out the bathroom pods and colorful windows up there before you leave. It’ll prove you really were transported to space during this experience. Seriously, I’ll never forget this experience, and you shouldn’t skip it!
This no-frills restaurant is also in the Shoreditch/Spitafields hood. It’s pretty bare inside and small enough to get away with it. I came in right when they opened at 5:30 p.m. and sat in the window by myself. I’ve never dined alone but I hadn’t eaten lunch or Indian food yet at this point in the trip, and I was in a situation where I needed it ASAP. It’s interesting dining alone when you eat as much as I do because there are limitations on how much you order so I had to be very strategic. True or false– my server told me to take it down a dish because I ordered to much. True and bless his heart. The situation ended in this: Egg Curry Masala, Chettinad Pulled Duck with Oothappam, and Sigree Grilled Mustard Broccoli (you can get a half). The experience at Gunpowder is so enlightening because of the presentation and the common Indian spices yet you won’t see anything traditional or even naan on the menu. If you aren’t a fan of the creamy Indian dishes, you are safe here. I’ll forever crave that egg curry masala and that pancake that was wrapped around that braised duck. Also, they just launched a cookbook two weeks ago here.
- Ottolenghi -This was the one restaurant I was most hyped for. After discovering this Israeli- British chef in my cookbook club earlier this year, I knew if the eggplant I made tickled my tongue for days, that eating it straight from the source was going to be even more incredible! He has six restaurants in London and I somehow found myself wondering into Spitafileds location TWICE in just three days. When you know you know? The gorgeous baked goods displayed perfectly in the window and side by side with the vibrant and delicate vegetables won my cravings over. At lunch get three salads for £16.50 or make it four at £18.50. The portions are large enough to share a plate of four for an afternoon snack or three makes a big lunch for one. I LOVED the Crushed Peas and Edamame with Wasabi and Cucumber so much that I went back just for this guy. Ottolenghi has a way with vegetables that they encompass crunch, spice, nuts raisins, and herbs in way that you actually won’t crave meat or dessert at the end of your meal. I also enjoyed the Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Red Onion Jam, Goat Cheese, and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds; Hawaij Cauliflower with preserved lemon yogurt, raisins, pistachio and dill. Sweep over the dessert table after for a decadent chocolate cake, berry cheesecake, bundt cake, chocolate chip cookie, or strawberry cake.
- Old Spitafields Market -This airy, outdoor yet covered market right in Shoreditch is clean, modern and full of food, art, photographs, hats, clothes, and even Chanel and Rag & Bone. It’s fun to be able to shop and eat at the same time. Grab a Mango, Banana, Passionfruit smoothie at Pink Grapefruit and then head to Ottolenghi for a proper meal. Or try out some hummus, a donut, naan, dumplings, pizza— whatever you want. The market is open 7 days a week.
- Hix Soho
Like art, oysters, steak, cocktails, and a dark basement bar to enjoy a nightcap after dinner? Then, Hix is the spot for you. A floating Damien Hirst fish mobile, Angus Fairhust overdone pinkish wallpaper corner, Steve Claydon hanging bricks, and a Harland Miller water color that says “Hard as Fuck” graces the walls and ceilings of this masterpiece of a restaurant. They serve delicious buttered soda bread and sausage with their oysters that are juicy as can be. Another thing about bread is that their homemade sourdough bread is warm, crusty, and you should definitely accept it. Don’t miss the steak tartare either. P.S. it comes with salty, crunchy, fries (sigh!). I love how large the Dorset Blue Lobster selection is. Choose from Lobster Soup, Lobster Chicory Salad, Lobster Roll, or just Whole. Hix offers traditional fish and chips, but we went for the Dover Sole which they debone table side. Get this! The large steak selection includes: Extra-Aged Club Steak on the Bone, Fillet Steak, Porterhouse for two or Three.
- Harrod’s Food Hall
Talk about overwhelming! Yeah, the designer purse selection is truly fantastic and then turn a corner into the food hall entrance and you are surrounded by chocolate bars and candy tins galore. The hall is truly one of a kind with one room full of ready to go items in a glass case ranging from sushi, Mediterranean food, Indian food, salad bar, quiches and then a second room encompasses individual sit-down counters where you can order a meal from a menu. Well, I walked through all the rooms twice and you know what I settled on, a freaking chocolate bar made in Amsterdam!! The STACH bar I got was Peanut Butter Cookie Crunch and some of the softest, creamiest chocolate I’ve ever had. My lunch that day couldn’t have gotten any better until I walked out of Harrod’s and grabbed two sushi pieces at Wasabi. That place is hilarious and yes, it’s in NYC, too. Who knew you could toss a couple bites of sushi into your mouth while walking down the streets of London?
- Borough Market
This big city has markets and food halls all over the place. Borough Market might be the most impressive market I’ve ever seen in my life (I do love Las Ramblas in Barca). I mean you want paella, massive oysters, Ethiopian food, Egyptian Koshari, stuffed donuts from Bread Ahead Bakery, cheese, fruit, freshly baked bread, brownies, specialty meats, etc. This place is unbelievable.
This is every American’s favorite London spot and I know from proof based on how many people responded to my instagram story saying “THE BEST” (be sure to check out my highlights by the way). With locations in Kensington, Covent Garden, Shoreditch, Carnaby, and Edinburgh, you’ll be bound to snag a seat. We went for lunch and I loved the vacation vibe it puts out. Hanging plants outside, very airy, and a fun, quirky, brass inside. Now listen to me here: GET THE CHEESY NAAN. It’s like a quesadilla and then you must dip it into your Chicken Ruby. I wasn’t a big fan of the famous house black daal, sorry, folks, the chicken just over shined. Get a bowl of Greens if you need some veg as the dressing over the broccoli, snow peas, and spinach is a tad sweet. Another plus here is that they have a vegan menu, so everyone is welcome! Tap out with a Mango Kulfi which is a milky popsicle.
As you can see I found most of my favorite restaurants in Shoreditch. Here are some other recommendations I didn’t make it to but will check out next time I’m there.
*Balthazaar if you need a French inspired NYC fix!
*Black Axe Mangal