A Guide to London Dining

Written by Katie Parla on March 5, 2011

Noodles with lamb at Silk Road in Camberwell.

Over the past couple of years, I have spent quite a bit of time in London. My boyfriend was based there until recently, so I would go for visits pretty frequently. It took some time to get used to the city, its size, transport and weather, but eventually London grew on me and I came to really love my time there. I spent three weeks in London in February, a trip that was meant to be about helping my boyfriend pack and tie up loose ends before heading to his new home in Istanbul. Predictably, it became about me eating everything in sight, capitalizing on the ridiculous volume of restaurants and their fabulous diversity. What follows is a round up of my favorite foods, beverages, and places do dine and drink.

My favorite places to eat

Silk Road: Amazing Xi’an cuisine in Camberwell. It is well worth a trip to SE London for fried dumplings, cold tripe salad, and hand pulled noodles with lamb. Inexpensive.

Cafe East: fantastic steamed and fried rolls, pho tai and bun bo xao in Surrey Quays. Inexpensive.

Hunan: Chinese cooking with Taiwanese inspiration brought to you by the inimitable Chef Peng. His son sees to the excellent wine list. Moderate.

Brawn: The sister restaurant to Terroir in Covent Garden, Brawn serves tapas sized portions of French-inspired food on Columbia Road in East London. Check out London Eater for a complete review.

Spatchcock’d Quail, Pomegranate & Pistachio at Brawn, LondonSpatchcock’d Quail, Pomegranate and Pistachio at Brawn

Leila’s Shop: amazing breakfast in Shoreditch. Leila also sells her Polish sausages and pickled vegetables at the Maltby Street Market on Saturdays. Inexpensive.

Barrafina: A 23-seat bar in Soho serving top-notch Spanish tapas. Moderate.

Goodman: An American style steakhouse serving huge USDA beef burgers and steaks in Mayfair. Expensive.

Antepliler: Turkish mezes, lahmacun, and kebabs are served in the main dining area and next door, there is offal and künefe. Inexpensive.

The Wells: A gastropub in Hampstead serving good burgers and excellent British food, including roasts and game. Moderate.

Mien Tay: Excellent southwestern Vietnamese food in Battersea (there is another location in Shoreditch but it’s not as good). It is one of those few places on earth where everything is great. Don’t miss the stir-fried goat with galangal and chargrilled quail. The wine selection is small, well chosen, and affordable. Inexpensive.

Dinner at Mien Tay, London
Fried tofu at Mien Tay

Franco Manca: A Neapolitan pizzeria serving pretty close to the real thing in the Brixton Market. Inexpensive.

Fernandez & Wells: Three Soho locations (a food and wine bar, a cafe’ and an espresso bar), each serving high quality food and drink that changes with the seasons. Inexpensive.

Taqueria: London’s best Mexican restaurant. Moderate.

Greenwich Union: The brewery tap for the Meantime Brewing Company, serving great fish and chips, excellent Angus burgers, and a nice Sunday roast in the heart of Greenwich. Moderate.

Three Turkish restaurants in Dalston: Mangal Pide & Lahmacun Salonu, Mangal 1, and Mangal 2. Inexpensive.

Chicken Tikka at Lahore Kebab House, LondonChicken Tikka at Lahore Kebab House

Lahore Kebab House: A no-nonsense Pakistani kebab house in East London known for its succulent seekh kebab, spiced lamb chops and fiery curries. Inexpensive.

Tayyabs: Great Pakistani food (if you can bear the queues) in Whitechapel. Inexpensive.

Galvin La Chapelle: Meticulously prepared French food served in an extravagant building next to the Old Spitalfields Market. Expensive.

L’Anima: Chef Francesco Mazzei’s contemporary Italian restaurant in the heart of the City. Expensive.

My favorite things to eat and drink

Some helpful posts from my contributions to Scatti di Gusto

For more on dining in London, check out Dino Joannides’ blog The Daily Epicurian with great roundups like “10 Best Pasta Dishes” and “20 Truly Great Dishes”.

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