For me London has been the death of supermarket shopping and eating right. If I buy a courgette it will live in the fridge for a week, shrivelling beyond recognition before being thrown out. Wasteful, I know. Environmentally conscious me is doing all she can by eating out more often than her bank account really allows for, but it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I would stand in Lidl tossing up between loaves of bread and buying the cheaper one so I could get an extra packet of noodles. Those were dark days, so once I had a job that paid a living wage I made the most of being able to sample some of the wonderful cuisine London has to offer. Below are my absolute favourite dining experiences I’ve had to date:
213 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 7TG
Vibe: Basic canteen style dining but always full of people. Reminds me of being in Asia.
I love this place the way Sir-Mix-Alot likes big butts. When I lived in Tooting I would go every other week and anyone who has stayed with me would almost certainly have been dragged along. I had a BYO birthday dinner in the upstairs room and Mr Hassan (the owner) once gave me a bottle of wine so you know it’s near and dear to my heart. It’s BYO only so stop by the Sainsbury’s in Tooting Broadway before you arrive.
This is the place where I graduated from the NZ style creamy Korma to proper tasty dry curries that aren’t drowning in orange sauce. I usually order onion bhaji, seekh kebab, methi gosht or the haleem. For 15 quid you can have a fabulous spread and be left to enjoy your cheap off licence wine in peace.
2. Elephant – Pakistani *BYO ALERT*
55 Granville Arcade, Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8PS
Vibe: Eclectic furniture in the alley of Brixton market. Stainless steel dishes and super simple menu.
This place is basically run out of a hole in the wall in Brixton market. The menu is minimal but that doesn’t matter, just pick a Thali and roll with it because it’s all delicious. The only downside to a kitchen the size of a shoebox is that the bread isn’t made fresh but I can forgive them that for the magic they serve up on a stainless steel plate. Wear your warm clothing because you are essentially eating outside but they do have blankets for you to put on your knee.
Top Floor, Kingly Court, Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1B 5PW
Vibe: Instagrammable fancy kebabs. Marble tables and rose gold accents.
I’ve previously mentioned Kingly Court in my post about how to avoid tourist traps and this is one of my favourite restaurants in the complex. It’s about as far away from the greasy 3am kebab as you can get. Truly a taste sensation, unreal hummus and some excellent vegetarian options as well.
If you’re looking for a hearty meal this isn’t the place. Portions are the right size for a starter and a main and you won’t have that ‘I regret this’ overfull feeling afterwards. I like to order a different kebab to my dining-mate and then swap half, because unlike Joey, Bella does share food.
4. Santa Maria Pizzeria – Italian
94 Waterford Rd, Fulham, London SW6 2HA or 15 St Mary’s Rd, Ealing, London W5 5RA
Vibe: Authentic Neapolitan style pizza in stylish modern surroundings.
I LOVE pizza. Really really love it with a capital L, so much so that I even considered creating a blog devoted to it but instead you got my travel related ramblings (lucky you). This is my absolute favourite pizza place in London, my heart broke a little bit when I moved out of their Deliveroo area. The restaurant interior is lovely, service is great and the pizza is just awesome. The perfect, puffy, chewy dough that I love with a vast array of toppings. If you can’t make it out to Chelsea then try a Franco Manca for a very similar style in more accessible locations.
5. Maltby Street Market – Anything and Everything
Ropewalk, London SE1 3PA
Vibe: My favourite London market for freshly prepared food. A cornucopia of delectability.
Again this place got a mention in my tourist trap post because it’s a lesser known market that mostly caters to food that is freshly prepared on the spot, rather than produce to buy and take away. It’s an awesome place to go on a weekend around lunchtime (they’re closed during the week).
Take cash and then walk the length of the market to check out what is on offer. Don’t eat breakfast before you come because you’re likely gonna want to eat everything. Herman ze German (featured below) has a stall here and I love the Brazilian steak wraps. There is also a South African burger joint that always has a line snaking its way out of the market. The options are pretty much endless.
6. Bob Bob Ricard – Modern European
1 Upper James St, Soho, London W1F 9DF
Vibe: Fabulous Art Deco style with modern European/Russian fare
I’ve actually only eaten here once…I might have a real job but I still can’t afford to eat in a place that has a dedicated champagne button at the table. As part of our reward for being MVPs of the quarter our company took us out and spent more money on chilled vodka in crystal glasses than I was making in a month.
I had the beef wellington with all the accoutrements I could order and it was just perfect. I love a dining experience with that level of service where you have everything you ever need without noticing that your drink is always topped up. It’s actually not exorbitantly priced if you were just going for a main meal, but if you’re doing it properly with vodka, champagne and caviar you could drop a good chunk of dough that would be totally worth it.
Various Central London locations
Vibe: Super speedy sausage and schnitzel diner style.
If you’re after a quick meal post theatre or to set yourself up for a night in Soho then this is a great option. They have a range of sausage and schnitzel in various guises, I usually opt for the Wurst Deal and add sauerkraut, crispy onions and pickles for a taste sensation. The food is served super quickly if you’re in a hurry and you can get German beer to transport you back to Oktoberfest. This place is the best fast food around.
8. Andover Arms – Classic Pub Fare – *SUNDAY ROAST ALERT*
57 Aldensley Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 0DL
Vibe: Neighbourhood pub that absolutely nails classic pub food.
If you’re looking for a killer Sunday roast this place is the bee’s knees, the cat’s pyjamas if you will. You will want to book because this is a neighbourhood pub that lots of people know about and you might be disappointed if you try for a walk in. For hearty, winter warming, comfort food this place hits it out of the park. It’s a little bit of a hike from the station but well worth the effort.
9. Khan’s – Indian *BYO ALERT*
24 Brixton Water Ln, Lambeth, London SW2 1PE
Vibe: Moulded wall tiles and plastic menus but great service, tasty curry and the fluffiest naan bread.
I love the fact that when it comes to Indian restaurants, the interior design has absolutely no bearing on the quality of the food. Khan’s is fairly non-descript with questionable design choices but the curry is so top notch I’m sad I didn’t discover this place earlier. They even let me customise my food, I said I liked fenugreek and they said ‘we’ll chuck some methi on your palak’ GOOD GUYS! Their naan is so fresh and fluffy and the aubergine pakora is awesome. This is a solid choice for a BYO night out.
10. M1LK – Brunch
20 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9RG
Vibe: Funky hipster brunch place for breakfast and a good coffee.
When I lived in Tooting I would come here to wait in line for brunch. Waiting in line for food is something I have grown used to in London with the proliferation of the no-res restaurant. M1LK was worth waiting for, a tasty Australian/Kiwi style brunch and excellent coffee and cake. They are now open in the evenings but I’ve never been, I can only attest to the fact that they do a mean corn fritter.
11. The Tommyfield – Gastro Pub *TASTECARD ALERT*
185 Kennington Ln, London SE11 4EZ
Vibe: Popular Gastropub serving good food and occasionally frequented by comedians.
This pub was right around the corner from my house in Kennington and also accepted Tastecard which meant I got 50% off all food, that equates to a fillet steak for 10 quid and a happy Bella. I love a bargain and Tastecard was one of my favourite ways to snag a discount. It’s only 1 pound for three months and then 30 pounds for the year following that. If you eat out mid-week and can be bothered to make a reservation ahead of time then it truly will save you a lot of coin.
Besides that the Tommyfield also does really good food. The steak was always perfectly cooked, and as someone who usually orders it rare because medium-rare always ends up closer to medium, I appreciated that. I also saw Greg Davies from The Inbetweeners here so that’s kinda cool.
King’s Cross, Clerkenwell and Notting Hill
Vibe: Like being inside a Deliciously Ella cookbook kitted out by Zara Home.
If you’re into your chia seeds and #eatclean then this is a great option, hardly a refined carbohydrate in sight. In saying that, the food is also really good! Tasty and wholesome while still being interesting and only very slightly pretentious.
So there you have it, some of my absolute favourites in London. Let me know your favourites.
Featured Image by: Daria Nepriakhina