We understand the pressure you’re under: London is home to some of the best food in the world and you need to eat it all. And with such an incredible amount of delicious menu-fillers out there, we thought the humane thing to do would be to run down 10 of the best individual ones the city has to offer. So without further ado, and in no particular order...
Barrafina (address and info)
If you grew up in the Basque region of Spain, this dish would be like home on a plate. Kind of like an omelet's far cooler older brother, this eggy/potato-y combination is exactly why Barrafina can't stop people from giving it awards. It's simple, just a little sweet, and deeply nourishing.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (address and info)
Combining all the things that made Heston one of the world's finest & most innovative chefs, Meat Fruit shows of theatricality (It looks exactly like a mandarin. Why? Because the restaurant is in the Mandarin Oriental.), taste (it's the best chicken liver parfait you've ever had, no question), and history (the recipe, believe it or not, is from c.1500) -- all in all, it's a combination that will make you go weak at the knees.
Salt beef bagel
Brick Lane Beigel Bake (address and info)
If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. This East End institution has been in the beigel (or bagel, whatever) game for decades now, providing some of the best salt beef in the city (world?) on fresh rings of doughy joy (they make 7k a day) and with just that right amount of shockingly hot mustard. It just hits the spot perfectly every time.
Foie Gras Crème Brûlée
Duck & Waffle (address and info)
Pretty much all this one had to do to be an incredible dish was to live up to its name. And we can thankfully report that it tastes exactly as amazing as Foie Gras Crème Brûlée sounds like it should. And just in case it didn’t sound quite decadent enough, it’s topped off with buttered lobster and served with fresh brioche. If you happen to come up for air, be sure to take in the view, as well.
Ox Cheek French Dip
Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar (address and info)
It comes as no surprise that Hawksmoor does meat well, but it might be a surpriser to discover that its finest menu-filler isn't steak. Down in the bar at its Spitalfields spot, its special menu has a serious heavy hitter on it: slow-braised ox cheek, covered in melted cheese on a brioche roll and a jug of jus to dip it in.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Pine Salt
The Clove Club (address and info)
Once you get past the slightly eyebrow-raising presentation (“locally foraged pine boughs”... oh-kaaay), and pop one in your mouth, the light, crispy, bite of chicken-y goodness will make everything else fade into the background. Shame it doesn't do them by the bucket.
Chargrilled Octopus & Chorizo
PortSide Parlour (address and info)
Octopus can go one of two ways: like eating an old tire, or like eating a soft, melt-in-your-mouth buttery cloud. Considering the care and attention that goes into its drinks, it’s no surprise that its octopus dish falls into the later category, especially when it's added chorizo and a Pedro Ximénez reduction. You’ll be licking that thing clean and then ordering a second one.
Bone Daddies Ramen Bar (address and info)
The sound of good food is happy silence. Upon eating the Tonkotsu ramen at Bone Daddies, this silence is only broken by the breathless mantra of “This is sooo good.” It starts with a 20-hour pork bone broth, then those ridiculously tasty eggs, and then the Chashu pork, and then the actual ramen itself.
Polpo (address and info)
Sure, the menu changes every couple of months at this stalwart of small plates, but there is always some kind of bruschetta, and it's always the standout. On a base of light, fluffy focaccia, there are combinations like quince, chestnut & goat cheese; ricotta, broadbean & mint; or the classic goat cheese, roasted grape, and walnut. Ask if they're available, even if you don't see them on the menu...
Caravan King's Cross (address and info)
Avocado, chilli, lemon, olive oil, and some bread. It sounds too simple. It sounds like the kind of thing you can just as easily make at home. Yet, when you actually try it, it becomes clear that, whether it's the sheer volume of perfectly ripe avocado, the soft gorgeous bread, and the perfectly rationed lemon & chili -- or whatever witchcraft they use to put it together, it's so, so much more than that.
Sign up here for our daily London email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the city.
1. Barrafina54 Frith St, London
2. Dinner by Heston BlumenthalMandarin Oriental Hotel, 66 Knightsbridge, London
3. Brick Lane Beigel Bake159 Brick Ln, London
4. Duck & WaffleHeron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London
5. Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar157B Commercial St, London
6. The Clove Club380 Old St, , London
7. PortSide Parlour14 Rivington St, London
8. Bone Daddies Ramen Bar31 Peter St, Soho
9. Polpo126-128 Notting Hill Gate, London
10. Caravan King's CrossGranary Building, 1 Granary Sq, , London
Barrafina brings hearty, upscale Spanish cuisine to Soho. Expect a wait, but it's well worth it. Barrafina does all the traditional tapas well, and for reasonable prices (around £8 per dish).
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.
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.
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.
Nestled in the basement of the Hawksmoor restaurant in Shoreditch, Spitalfields Bar serves up award-winning cocktails and bar fare. From old staples like Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew (gin, ginger, lemon, and London Pride) to more recent highlights like the Sunset Sazerac (strawberry cognac, coconut bourbon, pineapple bitters and absinthe), these impeccably mixed drinks don’t disappoint. Sip while you savor delicious snacks (short rib nuggets, anyone?), and enjoy the sultry coziness evoked by glazed brick walls, intimate alcove booths, and Art Deco-inspired copper countertops.
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.
What started as a pop-up under Broadway Market has turned into a fully fledged cocktail bar on the lower stretch of Rivington Street. PortSide knows a thing or two about concocting quality cocktails, with new ones popping up all the time. With a vaguely nautical theme and a banging soundtrack, the Parlour's a place to pop in for one drink and end up staying all night (well, until midnight, when it closes). Into rum? So are they -- their collection is pretty spot-on.
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.
One of the restos in Russell Norman's empire, this Notting Hill spot dishes out small Venetian plates with all the Aperol Spritzes and Italian wine you can handle.
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.