Food & Drink

50 Things You Need to Eat in London Before You Die

Haley Forest Published On 09/15/2015 Published On 09/15/2015

At the risk of beating a still-very-much-alive horse, London’s food scene is fantastic these days -- and is getting better at an astounding rate. Sadly though, you only have a finite amount of time to take it all in before you head to the big brunch in the sky (or leave town), so here are the 50 essential dishes you need to inhale before that happens…

Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle

Address and Info

The City

Since this is the signature dish, it’s a damn good thing they nailed it. Taking the humble sweet & savory mash up to new heights, it’s made even better with a side of the best view in town, and is accessible 24 hours a day.

Custard donut

St. John Bar & Restaurant

Address and Info

Bermondsey

For years people have journeyed down to the St. John Bakery on Saturday mornings with the flicker of hope they won't be sold out, and frequently met with disappointment and thoughts of “well maybe next time.” Yeah, these guys are that good. Luckily, now they’re available in other locations, but of course they’re gone pretty quick.

Flickr/Michal Sänger

Beef ribs & bone marrow mash

Pitt Cue Co.

Address and Info

SoHo

These guys set the bar for Southern BBQ, with huge queues and tiny dining rooms when it opened a couple years back. But what kept drawing people in? Juicy beef ribs and bone marrow mash. Bone. Marrow. Mash.

Crab donuts

Chiltern Firehouse

Address and Info

Marylebone

Actually more like a mini brioche bun stuffed with crab, they are the palm-sized balls that people keep clamoring over, when they can peel their eyes away from the celebs trying to hide in the dining room.

Rinkoffs Bakery

The Crodough

Rinkoffs Bakery

Address and Info

Whitechapel

When the world went batsh*t insane for the Cronut, this family bakery responded with the London edition, the Crodough. They're flaky, puffy, sweet, and loaded with flavours from custard to toffee apple to Oreo cheesecake to s’mores. Make the pilgrimage first thing in the AM to get one before they sell out (... or just order them online).

Soy chicken wings

Rita’s

Address and Info

Hackney

Literally finger-lickin’ good -- you’ll have to tongue-bathe your fingers to dislodge every last droplet of that sticky, sweet, and hot soy and garlic sauce. We won’t judge if you try licking the wrapper as well.

Bone Daddies

Tonkatsu ramen

Bone Daddies

Address and Info

SoHo

This is the ramen dreams are made of, with a 20-hour pork bone broth loaded with silky noodles, chashu pork, and Clarence Court eggs.

Monkey Fingers

MEATmission

Address and Info

Hoxton

All of the best bits of its Bingo Wings without having to fight for your food. Fried bits of chicken and that tangy sauce and no bones. Why has no one thought of this before?!?!

Poppies Fish And Chips

Fish & chips

Poppies

Address and Info

Spitalfields & Camden

Having been in the F&C game since the mid 1940s, it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing. Fresh, flaky, and perfectly golden, this is the real deal.

Lobster macaroni with truffle

34

Address and Info

Mayfair

This is a dish that holds zero punches and offers a distinct lack of apologies for being incredibly decedent. But you know what? It doesn’t have to, because it’s just that good.

Leong's Legend

Xiao long bao

Venue Name

Address and Info

Chinatown

These little soupy parcels of joy have burned many of tongues as over-eager eaters rush to get these in their mouths. Painful? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

Posh Madame

Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels

Address and Info

Covent Garden

This is the croque madame you never knew you were missing. Not content to just have normal ham and a regular egg (how mundane!) they’ve naturally upgraded to truffle ham and quails eggs.

Flickr/Ewan Munro

Meat Fruit

Dinner by Heston

Address and Info

Knightsbridge

It’s a Manderine! No, it's parfait! No, it's the Meat Fruit! The dish that launched a thousand Instagram pictures is still as insane as it was the time it first launched, causing confusion and theatric wonder until you get the damn thing in your mouth.

House black daal

Dishoom

Address and Info

Various Locations

Black, rich, and intensely flavorsome, this signature dish goes through a 24-hour process to become the beautiful thing you’ll be happily shoveling into your mouth. The only question is: to naan up or just go straight for a spoon?

The Clove Club

Buttermilk fried chicken

The Clove Club

Address and Info

Shoreditch

As pretentious as the presentation might sound, once you get a fried morsel in your mouth you’re not going to care if the pine boughs were locally foraged or watered with virgin tears. Light, crispy, and everything you could dream of in a fried chicken. We suggest ordering in multiples.

Truffled egg toast

Spuntino

Address and Info

Soho

It has crunchy toast on the outside, is soft and fluffy on the inside, is loaded with cheese, and has runny eggs and truffle. Perfect.

The Wolseley

Eggs Benedict

The Wolseley

Address and Info

Mayfair

Described as the “Marilyn Monroe of Breakfast,”  this is how to start your day off right. The classic Benedict is just that, and consuming one in the grand style of The Wolseley will make you feel like a king.

Bockwurst

Herman ze German

Address and Info

Various locations

Specially made in the Black Forest in Germany, this is the real deal. Smoky, smooth, and begging to be loaded up with excellent sauces.

Tayyabs

Lamb chops

Tayyabs

Address and Info

Whitechapel

Soft, juicy, rich, spicy, and unlike any lamb chop in London. We hope you brought toothpicks, because you’ll be gnawing on the bone to finish. Trust.

Classic tortilla

Barrafina

Address and Info

Various locations

While it might be considered everyday eats in Spain, here people queue up for ages to get their hands on this thing. It looks simple on the outside but inside is a treat, like a Kinder Surprise… only with eggs, potato, and cheese.

Burger & Lobster

Lobster

Burger & Lobster

Address and Info

Various locations

Yes, an affordable, delicious lobster. Available in roll form if you’re feeling frisky.

Avocado toast

Caravan King's Cross

Address and Info

King's Cross

So basic and yet, there is magic on this toast. Maybe it’s the mountain of perfectly ripe avocado highlighted by the perfect amount of lemon or the chili. Perfect.

Kappacasein’s Toasted Cheese Sandwich

Toasted cheese sandwich

Kappacasein

Address and Info

Borough Market

Three types of melted cheese, five kinds of onion, and sourdough bread; there is nothing subtle about this toasty. Work your way through the madness of the crowds at the Market and be rewarded with melted, crispy gold.

Heaven and Earth

Hix

Address and Info

SoHo

To call this just spiced black pudding and mash with apple mixed in is to do this dish a severe insult. It's better than just the sum of its parts -- heavenly is just how to describe this gorgeous mix of seasoning, texture, and flavour.

Flickr/Edward Kimber

Salt beef bagel

Brick Lane Beigel Bake

Address and Info

Brick Lane

Known by late-night and early morning party kids out east for years, this beast of a bagel is way more then just boozy fodder. This ring of doughy joy is one of the best in the world, and then they take it over the top with so much salt beef and mustard.

Seven Samurai lobster roll

Smack

Address and Info

SoHo

No longer is lobster solely a treat to the ridiculously wealthy. Now the masses have come to know, love, and happily afford lobster rolls at small spots across town with the Seven Samurai as the crown jewel. It's loaded with cucumber, white cabbage, pickled ginger, spring onions, and togarashi spice, but the tail still shines through.

Hawksmoor

A steak

Hawksmoor

Address and Info

Various Locations

Whether or not Hawksmoor has the best steaks in town (and it probably does), the experience here is so much more than just the amazing beef. Just ask the cocktail you’re going to wash this down with.

Octopus carpaccio

Scott's

Address and Info

Mayfair

Octopus can either be amazing or horrendous, with a very fine line separating the two. Scott’s plate of paper-thin tentacle cross sections is leaps and bounds across that line and securely in a place of greatness.

Bocca di Lupo

Radish salad

Bocca di Lupo

Address and Info

SoHo

While the rest of the menu at BDL changes frequently, this Jacob Kenedy original is a constant. The few times it has been swapped out, the guest outcry brought it back pretty quickly for fear of an outside revolt. It's walking that balance between salty (pecorino) and sweet (pomegranate), but has that drop of decadence (truffle), so it's a showstopper.  

Beef-dripping candle

Restaurant Story

Address and Info

Bermondsey

At first you think it’s just mood lighting and then you realize... that’s beef fat, not wax. And the fresh bread sitting next to it is going to soak up every melted drop.

English breakfast udon

Koya Bar

Address and Info

SoHo

It's the lovechild of your mouth's favorites: udon noodles and a full English breakfast. Fat noodles, a fried egg, bacon, and shiitake mushrooms show the way to have breakfast all day while warming your way through with perfect broth.

Dayoung Chung

Spinach, Parmesan & soft egg pizzette

Polpo

Address and Info

Various Locations

Loaded with spinach and cheese, the egg is begging to dip folded corners of crispy pizzette into. Wash it down with a Negroni.

The Ari Gold

Patty & Bun

Address and Info

Various Locations

This is how burgers are supposed to be: simple, cooked to perfection, smothered in cheese (and of course you added bacon), and so juicy it’s dripping.

'Nduja pizza

Pizza Pilgrims

Address and Info

SoHo

It’s crazy to think these amazing pizzas started life out of the back of a tiny van on Berwick St. PP now has a couple brick & mortars around, and its pizzas are still outstanding, with this classic 'nduja remaining the menu favourite.

St. JOHN

Bone marrow and parsley

St. John

Address and Info

Spitalfields

St. John was the pioneer of nose-to-tail cooking, and this is the standout dish. It's soft, rich, and melts in your mouth, so good luck ordering just one.

The Full Monty

The Breakfast Club

Address and Info

Aldgate

A proper full English should be all-inclusive, from the black pudding to the mushrooms, both sausage AND bacon, beans, eggs, and all the tomatoes. It's named after that first meal of the day, so it’s no surprise these folks do it justice.

Scotchtails

Scotch eggs

cotchtails

Address and Info

London Bridge

Taking the humble service station snack to new levels of greatness, these are not the Scotch eggs you remember. Scotchtails has upgraded the components, bringing this round ball of greatness to the modern era.

A Sunday roast

The Marksman

Address and Info

Hackney

Spot-on meat, massive yorkies, and all the fixings in a revamped (but still charming) pub. This is how it should be every Sunday.

Korrito UK

Bulgogi beef burrito

Korrito

Address and Info

Shoreditch

Korrito is bringing a little Seoul to Boxpark -- kimchi, marinades, and some heavy spices make this far from an ordinary lunch.

Gorgonzola custard

8 Hoxton Square

Address and Info

Hoxton

Somewhere between a creme brulee, a soufflé, and a custard, this dish is creamy with a good amount of cheese mixed through. We dare you to not finger-clean the dish to get every last dollop.

Dip & Flip

Dip & Flip Burger

Dip & Flip

Address and Info

Battersea & Wimbledon

This is so much more than just a burger. It's a meaty, cheesy, gravy-y invitation to get messy with and receives the full approval of the staff/your taste buds.

Bao buns

BAO

Address and Info

SoHo

Light, yet filling, these are the most authentic buns you’ll find this side of Taiwan.  

Gelupo

Mint stracciatella gelato

Gelupo

Address and Info

SoHo

We all know the classic mint-chip ice cream, and trust us, this is so far beyond that. Fresh with flakes of dark bittersweet chocolate throughout, this will knock your tongue’s socks off.

A Prairie Oyster

69 Colebrook Row

Address and Info

Islington

Technically a drink, but balancing on that line -- this is essentially a mini snack. It's like a Bloody Mary in literally bite-sized form, so there is simply nothing else like it.

Flickr/Rachel Clarke

Omakase

Sushi Tetsu

Address and Info

Clerkenwell

This tiny and rather reclusive sushi den has some of the best Japanese eats in London, if not most of Europe. If you’re lucky enough to get a rezzie, be wise and order an omakase, placing your mouth blindly into its chefs' very capable hands.

Sushisamba

Kobe beef ishiyaki

Sushisamba

Address and Info

The City

This 1kg beast of a dish is served with a hot stone, so you can cook it at the table to your exact liking. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most, and worth every penny.

Randall & Aubin Restaurant - Soho

Plats de fruits de mer

Randall & Aubin

Address and Info

SoHo

With ridiculously fresh seafood and a particular love for Champagne, this where to go when you’re after some top-shelf crustaceans.

Melt Room

The Classic Melt

Melt Room

Address and Info

SoHo

There is very little better in life than a really good cheese toastie: the crisp caramelization of sourdough bread and the ooze of perfectly melted cheese (not running, but warm and gooey). A bite is a time machine of nostalgia bringing you back to the easy days when everything tasted this good.

Ceviche UK

Don Ceviche

Ceviche

Address and Info

SoHo & Old Street

This is gateway ceviche. The first bite seems innocent, but you instantly know this could turn into a full-blown obsession. Fresh sea bass w/ sweet potato chunks and its signature tiger’s milk makes this simple dish a dangerous temptation.

Lobster Bar London

Spicy crab croquette

Lobster Bar

Address and Info

Hackney

Spicy, with a soft texture, the crab here comes through light and true. This is how all croquettes should be, but unfortunately rarely are.

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Haley Forest is a London-based writer who has eaten many of these items a worrying amount of times. Follow her delicious adventures on Twitter.

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1. Duck & Waffle Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY (The City)

If you're not good with heights, you might want to request a table away from the windows. This classy establishment offers an incredible view of London, 40 stories above the ground in the Heron Tower. And regardless of when your hunger pangs pop up, Duck & Waffle has you covered 24/7.

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2. Pitt Cue Co. 1 Newburgh St, London, W1F 7RB (Soho)

Previously a BBQ joint on wheels, Pitt Cue Co. is a brick and mortar loaded with the same quality barbeque from the mobile version, plus 30 seats to enjoy the Southern & Midwestern American smoked fare. On the menu you can expect epic slow-smoked meat and perfect sides like loaded skins, crispy, pickled shiitakes, and venison sausages.

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3. Chiltern Firehouse 1 Chiltern St, London, W1U 7PA (Marylebone)

Located in a building that was originally a firehouse (obviously), CF is a modern American restaurant/hotel from André Balazs that does an upscale menu of USA fare with a classy uptick, like crab-stuffed donuts, short rib with hazelnut purée, and more.

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4. Rinkoff's Bakery 224 Jubilee St, Stepney, E1 3BS (Whitechapel)

Rinkoff's is making a rendition of the famed Cronut... and other delicious treats that you need to try!

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5. Rita's 33-35 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 8BJ (Hackney)

Here to mercilessly taunt the entire influx of diet-whipped athletes coming to East London, newly opened Dalston popup Rita's is frying, BBQ-ing, and meatifying pretty much everything on its menu, serving it all up in a concrete space where exposed pipes & lightbulbs play off festiveness both fearlessly silly (polka-dot tablecloths) and '80s-inspired (stark neon strips on the wall).

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6. Bone Daddies Ramen Bar 31 Peter St, Soho, W1F 0AR (Soho)

Bone Daddies is a modern Japanese ramen bar with snacks like fried chicken and soft shell crab served with a stocked selection of sakes that even includes sparkling.

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7. MEATmission 14-15 Hoxton Market, Hoxton, London, N1 6HG (Shoreditch)

Hidden just off Hoxton Square, this cult-inducing church of meat is the kind of place where no one will judge you for scarfing down your food. From the decor—classical architecture and a huge stained glass window covering the ceiling—you can see the restaurant’s name is a play on Christian mission buildings. While the burgers are always delicious, chili cheese fries and monkey fingers (like buffalo wings, but with no bones to get in the way) steal the show from time to time. Feeling competitive? Ask about the fan favorite Triple Chili Challenge -- it’s not for the faint of heart. This Hoxton post is from the vegetarians (kidding, of course) who brought you The MEATwagon, #MEATeasy, MEATliquor and MEATmarket.

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8. 34 Restaurant 34 Grosvenor Sq, London, W1K 2HD (Mayfair)

While a little more in the posh nosh category, sometimes that's just what you need to get up and at ‘em. White table clothes, brown leather booths, and an open kitchen mean you can sit back, relax, and watch the chefs do their magic. The waffles and cream is something a few shades of decedent, but you only live once.

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9. Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels 8-10 Neal's Yard, London, WC2H 9DP (Covent Garden)

Covent Garden -- not always the most fun for non-tourists. But this little wine bar, tucked downstairs at Neal's Yard, is worth braving the crowds. The wine list won't disappoint, offering everything from well known, respected favorites, to up & coming stars, with a few unique options that fall somewhere in the middle

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10. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA (Knightsbridge)

Brought to you by Heston Blumenthal and Executive Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, this classy Knightsbridge resto opened in 2011 and is considered one of the best on Earth, serving exquisite British dishes like their signature Meat Fruit (mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread), which earned it two Michelin stars.

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11. The Clove Club 380 Old St, , London, EC1V 9LT (Shoreditch)

Set within set within Shoreditch Town Hall the Clove Club pulls off an elegant, rustic vibe with high ceilings, large windows, and an open kitchen in the back, serving up brilliantly crafted British fare and exquisite cocktails. The reservation system is a bit different—you buy tickets like you would for a show—because the name of the game here is a tasting menu; Block off a good chunk of time to get acquainted with Michelin star British cuisine like Cornish mackerel and Yorkshire suckling pig. Or, the bar menu features plenty of fantastic drinks and snacks—light and crispy buttermilk fried chicken is a must-try—you’ll wish you could order by the bucketful.

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12. Spuntino 61 Rupert St, Soho, W1D 7PW (Soho)

Spuntino boasts New York-style flavors in Soho, such as a variety of sliders, mac & cheese, and steak & eggs, with diner-style seating.

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13. Tayyabs 83-89 Fieldgate St, Poplar, E1 1JU (Whitechapel)

This popular Indian joint is BYOB and has great, manly lamb chops.

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14. Caravan King's Cross Granary Building, 1 Granary Sq, , London, N1C 4AA (Kings Cross)

Caravan is home to a number of different reasons to go there, including their own coffee roastery, a menu loaded with small plates and pizzas, and cocktails and beer made with said roasted coffee.

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15. Kappacasein Stoney Street, London, SE1 1TL (Southwark)

This dairy shop and sandwich-slinging joint has been around and serving the hungry people of Southwark for decades. Get one of their toasty, melty, bready wonders and rejoice that they're not going anywhere, anytime soon.

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16. Brick Lane Beigel Bake 159 Brick Ln, London, E1 6SB (Shoreditch)

Perhaps you're a bagel-for-breakfast-only person and that's ok. But when bagels are made into sandwiches this delicious 24hrs a day, you'll either change your philosophy or redefine "breakfast" to get as many of these wondrous creations as possible.

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17. Smack Deli 26-28 Binney St, London, W1K 5BN (Mayfair)

A sister spot to the Burger & Lobster restaurants, they took the whole lobster roll thing and went running. With five types of Lobster rolls, from the California with cucumber, avocado and lime; to the Mexican with smoked chipotle and jalapeños, it's a different way to stuff your face with yummy shellfish.

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18. Bocca Di Lupo 12 Archer St, London, W1D 7BB (Soho)

Its name translates to "the wolf's mouth", which could be somewhat frightening considering what you'd normally find in a wolf's mouth (teeth, rodents, etc.). But fortunately, you'll only find a limited number of tables, an amazing wine list and superior regional Italian food fit for man, not beast.

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19. Restaurant Story 201 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2UE (Borough)

Located in a former toilet, Restaurant Story is the first restaurant from Per Se and Noma alumnus Tom Sellers, who's serving crazy eats like beef-dripping candles and... dill ash(?).

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20. Koya Bar 50 Frith St, London, W1D 4SQ (Soho)

Located in Soho, Koya Bar serves Japanese fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is open from 830am until late at night.

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22. St. John Bar and Restaurant 26 St. John St, London, EC1M 4AY

If you're looking for world-class traditional British recipes, St. John is a no-brainer in Smithfield. This resto is consistently voted one of the best in the WORLD and it's a favorite of star chef Anthony Bourdain.

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23. The Breakfast Club 12-16 Artillery Ln, London, E1 7LS (Spitalfields)

One of a number of Breakfast Club locations around the city, this Spitalfields spot dishes out quality meals (read: breakfast) like all the rest, including a banging full English breakfast.

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24. 8 Hoxton Square 8 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU (Shoreditch)

This joint in Shoreditch serves bold, delicious British and Mediterranean fare. With a laid-back vibe and a regularly changing menu, it’s the kind of spot you’ll want to visit repeatedly (and with these prices, you can afford to). Eight Hoxton is the second restaurant from chef Cameron Emirali (his first— Ten Greek Street—is also named after its address). The decor is simplistic and industrial with a few white-painted bricks and trademarked inbuilt-cutlery tables.

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25. Gelupo 7 Archer St, , London, W1D 7AU (Soho)

From the chef and owner of the acclaimed rustic-Italian restaurant, Boca Di Lupo, Gelupo is a gelateria and espresso bar located just across the street. Set in a sleeve-like space simply outfitted with blue-tiled walls, wooden floors, and a bar stool-abetted marble countertop, all the freshly made Italian ice cream here is wonderful.

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26. Sushi Tetsu 12 Jerusalem Passage, , London, EC1V 4JP (Clerkenwell)

Unless you're Gwyneth Paltrow's head, seven is the luckiest number, which is good news for the husband-wife behind Sushi Tetsu, whose tiny, thoroughly traditional Clerkenwell nook serves only that many at a time.

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27. Lobster Bar Unit 2, London, E8 3NJ

Enjoy their fresh seafood menu in their bright and airy restaurant.

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28. Randall & Aubin 14-16 Brewer St., Soho, W1R 3FS (Soho)

With ridiculously fresh seafood and a particular love for Champagne, this where to go when you’re after some top-shelf crustaceans.

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29. Bao 53 Lexington St, London, W1F 9AS (Soho)

Some of the best Chinese food in London.

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30. Korrito 2-10 Bethnal Green Rd, London, E1 6GY (Shoreditch)

Korrito is bringing a little Seoul to Boxpark -- kimchi, marinades, and some heavy spices make this far from an ordinary lunch.

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31. Scotchtails 8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL (Borough)

Serving up artisanal scotch eggs at Borough Market every Monday to Wednesday.

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