If you’re expecting London to be full of sad fried eggs, rubbery roast beef and vinegar-soaked fish and chips, you’re approximately 30 years out. Increasingly referred to as the world’s foodie capital, the city is brimming with dynamic and varied dining options. With hipster and old-school food markets, iconic and new food halls, artisan and East-End bakers, small- and big-eats openings and supper clubs, the offering can feel endless, which is why we’ve picked out some of our favourite bites.
Securing a table at the busy, Michelin-starred Sabor can involve queuing but it’s worth the wait with some of the UK’s best Spanish food on offer. Sit at the ground-floor bar and tapas counter and watch chefs prepare cuttlefish pappardelle, salted cod tortilla and braised oxtail.
With a splendid interior that sits somewhere between cozy Italian trattoria and decadent, designer extravaganza, Shoreditch’s newest dining heavyweight Gloria has successfully slid itself into influencer and celebrity hearts. Every inch of it is adorned with slabs of marble, loud floral carpets, ornate fabrics and greenery bursting from terracotta pots. The food, with a clear emphasis on high-quality produce, isn’t bad either.
When the sun is out in London, we can’t think of a place we’d rather be than sitting at a table outside Bright. The food is challenging, inventive and meticulously executed. Expect the likes of fresh turbot with mussels or porcini and black truffle tagliolini.
Styled after traditional Bombay brasseries, Dishoom is vibrant, spicy and, perhaps most importantly, reliable. With outposts in almost every corner of central London, a meal at this trusty eatery never fails to disappoint. Focusing more on its chaats and grills than the archetypal Brit curries, Dishoom doesn’t compare to a traditional (dare one say average?) curry house and nor does it wish to.
St. John has become something of a London institution over the past two decades. It pioneered the concept of nose-to-tail cooking, bringing offal right back on trend whilst foreshadowing what has become a ubiquitous movement in minimizing food waste. Expect the likes of smoked eel, lamb sweetbreads and snails.
Based in trendy Shoredtich, Som Saa is noisy, difficult to get a table at and likely to offer you Thai cuisine that will leave your lips tingling well beyond bedtime. Whilst the menu isn’t embarrassed to feature classics like Thai green curry, its vibrant and fresh herb-loaded food will more often than not feel excitingly unfamiliar.
MOST BEAUTIFUL RESTAURANTS
Located beside the River Thames, in a former storage facility, River Café is perhaps London’s most iconic restaurant where you can expect flawless, produce-led Italian cooking and a hefty bill to match the lovely time you are likely to have had.
Situated in the shadow of the Shard, Duddell’s occupies a Grade II-listed church building, sporting stain glass windows, high-arched ceilings and cutting mid-century interior design. It specialises in Cantonese cooking with a touch of fusion. As is to be expected, lunch times are dedicated to dim sum.
Spring, in the New Wing of Somerset House, bears an impressive dining room that’s all pools of light, mirrors, pastel colours and marble surfaces. Serving seasonal produce only, the focus is also on sustainability; we love the idea of its reduced-rate menu during the early evening hours, created entirely from the previous night’s leftovers.
If you’re looking for hipster buzz mixed with top-notch artisanal produce, look no further than Broadway Market that’s conveniently nestled in between Regent’s Canal and London Fields. Highlights include vegan scotch eggs, fresh French oysters and hot Turkish gözleme.
Borough Market is the place to visit if you’re looking for anything from Calabrian cured meats to Russian patisserie. Grab a coffee from the Monmouth Coffee Company on your way out.
For a proper dose of East-End food history head to Billingsgate Market, the UK’s largest inland fish market, where you’ll rub shoulders with restaurant traders, haggle with wholesale fishmongers and even come up close to an irrigated chest of drawers filled with live,
Brick Lane Market has countless stalls of street-food vendors selling freshly squeezed juices, Jamaican curries, steaming noodle stir-fries and Japanese dumplings.
WHERE TO STAY
With five stars to its name, The Dorchester has long established itself as one of the world’s most prestigious places not only to sleep, but also to eat. The most famous of its five restaurants, Alain Ducasse, has been awarded three Michelin stars, an accolade shared only by three other
The Ned, which is part of the Soho House group, occupies the Georgian Midland Bank building. It’s home to nine bars and restaurants. Our favourites are Malibu, serving Californian fare (think poke) or the Asian-Pacific inspired Kaia.
Having recently launched a London Landmarks Afternoon Tea, where better for foodie travellers to head than Town House at the Kensington. Indulge in a gourmet tour of the capital’s architectural feats and culinary traditions, with tributes to London’s most famed structures.
London based Palestinian chef and cookbook author Joudie Kalla shares three of her top restaurants...
“I love small restaurants that pay attention to detail and their customers. Dinings has the most spectacular menu that is refined and just beautifully varied. The restaurant is quaint, and they have a secret garden that is perfect in the summer. Go for the sushi: they have the best o toro and wagyu nigiri in town, already dressed with just the right amount of sauces and toppings.
Chicama is a gorgeous Peruvian fish restaurant based in Chelsea. My absolute favourite is the tuna taco with spicy avocado jalapeño sauce and the miso aubergines with a spicy coleslaw, but I adore the sea bass with all three sauces, too. It’s the perfect end to a meal. Well perhaps after the sweet potato pie!
Scalini has been in my life since I can remember. Is it possible the staff have been the same since I’ve known it for nearly 35 years? Although louder than most places I like to visit, the food at this Italian restaurant is divine. The veal chop is incredible and buttery, the penne arrabiata is out of this world and the fried calamari is dreamy.”
Follow Joudie on Instagram @Palestineonaplate or check out palestineonaplate.com