Food & Drink

An editor's guide to eating around town

Published On 04/18/2013 Published On 04/18/2013
Thrillist London editor Jason Allen

London is the biggest city in Europe, and has enough top-flight restaurants to make its hungry, hungry denizens the biggest in Europe as well. Luckily, surprisingly svelte Thrillist editor Jason Allen is here to guide you through the chaos, and to only London's finest eateries.

Favourite Restaurant: Obviously a choice like this depends what I'm in the mood for, and, 23hrs of the day, that's steak. So my favourite spot at the moment's Hawksmoor Seven Dials. It has amazing food, some of the city's best cocktails, and you can get a corn flake-milk milkshake with bourbon for dessert

Best Late-Night Eats: Duck & Waffle. Not only can you get an all-day breakfast with foie gras, brioche, and Nutella, but "all-day" includes 4am. Plus, it's on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, so there's that too

Best Cheap Eats: Definitely Flat Iron in Soho, where you can get a tender & delicious steak for just a tenner, or the same price as a single drink in most other places

Best Sandwich: If anybody says anything other than the salt beef at Brick Lane Beigel, then I respect their opinion, but they're wrong, and they have no taste

Best Dish: Roast bone marrow at St John -- this is Anthony Bourdain's favourite dish (ever) for a reason, and that reason is because it tastes like a million angels are massaging your tongue.

Best Italian: For me, it's got to be Bocca Di Lupo. Supremely simple regional dishes, and, holy balls, is the suckling pig delicious

Best Chinese: Bar Shu specializes in Sichuan cooking, which apparently means the chef is on a personal mission is to immolate your tongue with chillis & exotic spices. You can get extremely unusual ingredients (lung, jellyfish, etc.), and if there are four of you, don't miss the opportunity to have a huge bronze hot pot placed in the middle of your table to fondue various cuts of meat in firey broth

Best Mexican: Mexican food has only recently become a thing in the UK, but the top of the pile has to be Death By Burrito. It's in a dive bar (which feels somehow appropriate. Is that wrong?), but the food's anything but run-down, from grilled duck burritos to delicious lobster ceviche

Best Food Truck: As far as food trucks go, it's hard to best the Pizza Pilgrims considering they personally built a stone pizza oven in the back of a Citroen, then drove it around Italy learning how to make the best 'za. They're usually in Soho, and they'll flash-cook a whole sourdough number in 90 seconds for a fiver

Best Burger: Honestly, if you're going to Burger & Lobster and don't order the lobster because you're temporarily paralyzed by the realization that you're basically eating a giant bug, then the burger is worth it. They use a secret chuck/sirloin blend, lay it on house-made brioche, and serve it on a silver platter. A silver platter

Most Gut-Busting Dish: It has to be the Dino Ribs at the Blues Kitchen. Only avail on Mondays, it's 2.5 kilos of meat served with dipping sauce, and by the end of it, you'll be begging for death's sweet kiss while, for some godforsaken reason, still eating

Best Fine Dining: Viajante is run by Nuno Mendes, a real rising star in the culinary world. It's tasting-menus-only, and those menus're loaded with stuff like brill with duck tongues, toasted milk, mushroom floss, and scallop w/ licorice.

Most Romantic: Clos Maggiore -- the only way this place could satisfy a woman any more would be if they plastered the walls with Notebook DVDs

Best for Partying: In addition to good food, Floridita has a rum shack, regular live bands, and a dance floor they can rock

Best for Work: If what you want is good service, good food, and a professional atmosphere, 1 Lombard Street has all that in spades. Oh, and they offer a 14-birds-within-other-birds Tudor Roast. Ya

Best Lunch: Arbutus is the best-value Michelin-starred restaurant in the UK, and you can nab a three-course lunch menu for less than 20 quid, which is almost cheaper than a Pizza Express, for God's sake

Best Brunch: It's all about The Modern Pantry. Where else can you can get eggs Benedict w/ tea-smoked salmon & yuzu hollandaise? Or a sugar-cured prawn omlette? Seriously, if you know, maybe you should be a local editor

Weirdest Food: Until they properly audit a single Tesco hot dog, the wearer of London's "weirdest food" crown is definitely Archipelago. You can get spiced zebra roulade, seared crocodile fillet w/ plum sauce, and a hefty bison steak

Best Donuts: Electric Donuts, by a country mile. Their stuff changes every day, and you can get flavors like maple-bourbon, Mexican chocolate, pistachio glaze... great, now I really want some donuts.

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1. Hawksmoor Seven Dials 11 Langley St , London, WC2H 9JG (Covent Garden)

It isn't the cheapest steakhouse you'll ever visit, but unless you make a living by recycling tin cans, it won't be the priciest, either. It's renowned for its collection of steaks and you'll always find the perfect pairing on the wine list.

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2. 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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3. Flat Iron 17 Beak St, London, W1F 9RW (Soho)

This first-come, first-served steak resto and butchery has got awesome plates of red meat in a rustic setting.

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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. Bar Shu Restaurant 28 Frith Street, London, W1D 5LF (Bloomsbury)

Bar Shu dishes out Sichuan fare, which can render your tongue impotent and draped outside of your mouth like a golden retriever. But don't worry if you're faint of heart and jowl, not all their plates will test your manhood.

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8. Death By Burrito 22 Kingsland Rd, London, E2 8DA (Shoreditch)

Death By Burrito, a Shoreditch mainstay located inside Catch Bar, is the kingpin of London's burrito scene, a particularly generous one. A beef short rib & sweet potato burrito is salivating enough to make you clutch at your chest Redd Foxx-style.

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9. Burger & Lobster 29 Clarges St, London, W1J 7EF (Mayfair)

The flagship location of the Burger & Lobster empire hasn’t let its success go to its head: high quality eats come first and foremost here. It’s a Mayfair hotspot with a steady flow of regulars who come back for the addictive house garlic butter, heavenly lobster rolls, and flavor-rich, gratuitously portioned burgers. The snug, trendy space is consistently packed for dinner, so consider making a reservation in order to get your fill.

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10. The Blues Kitchen 111-113 Camden High St, London, NW1 7JN (Camden)

The Blues Kitchen, located in London's Camden neighborhood, serves a combination of classic stateside comfort food with an excellent selection of sides: regional brew, bourbon, wine, and bubbly. Rib Mondays also ensures that you'll be crawling home, happy.

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11. Viajante Patriot Square, London, E2 9NF (Shoreditch)

Located in London's East End, Viajante is wildly adventurous molecular gastronomy restaurant that'll turn skepticism into gastro-happiness.

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12. Clos Maggiore 33 King Street, London, WC2E 8JD

This upscale French resto has won more awards for its sexiness and romanticism than Ryan Gosling ever could. Just Drive your lady there and it'll only be a matter of time before you get some Crazy, Stupid, Love.

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13. Floridita London 100 Wardour St, SoHo, W1F 0TN (Soho)

When you're mentioned in an Ernest Hemingway novel, you've got to be interesting, and that distinction goes to London's Floridita. Originally launched in Cuba over a century ago, Floridita features world-class live music and limitless Latin-inspired cocktails.

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14. 1 Lombard Street 1 Lombard St, London, EC3V 9AA (The City)

If you are dining at 1 Lombard Street, chances are you are entertaining a guest at dinner or brokering a deal at this lunch hotspot. The magnificent Pietro Agostini-designed dome centered above the bar is worth the trip alone.

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15. Arbutus 63-64 Frith St, London, W1D 3JW (Soho)

Sweetly situated in London's SoHo neighborhood amongst a thriving theatre district, Arbutus is a fine dining restaurant with a diverse menu with a bevy of choice wines served by the carafe (third of a bottle).

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17. Electric Donut 191 Portobello Road, London, W11 2ED (Notting Hill)

Electric Donut, based in London's Notting Hill neighborhood, and in one of they city's oldest cinemas, sell a freshly baked variety of donuts each morning (Wednesday to Sunday) until they are sold out. One of these four distinct flavors is Birthday Cake. It's ok, follow your instincts.

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18. Pizza Pilgrims 11-12 Dean St, London, W1D 3RP (Soho)

The Pizza Pilgrims have traveled across the globe to gather the knowledge to bring you the best pizza imaginable in Soho. They love what they do, and you will too.

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19. The Modern Pantry 48 St John's Sq, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4JJ (Clerkenwell)

TMP has a Sunday roast that will exceed your standards... which for brunch, are probably pretty low. Regardless, cocktails are above-average and their roast is stellar.