London has multi-cultural taste sensations, as well as beautiful home-style cooking, around every corner. You can dress to the nines for a Michelin-starred restaurant one night. The next, you can wear jeans and savor street food beneath an overpass decorated with graffiti. Here’s a list of cuisines, from Eritrean to Jamaican, that will keep every foodie sated and happy on a London vacation.
Raz’s Kebab & Café
Sometimes, when you’re juggling food options, it’s best to keep it simple. In the outer London suburbs, you’ll find Raz’s Kebab & Café in leafy Claygate. Uncomplicated shish kebab is at the top of the menu in this take-out and café, specializing in Turkish cuisine. It’s located next to Platform 3, the smallest pub in Surrey, connected to Brightwater Brewery. This is a great place to savor unfussy London food.
There’s a good a selection of fine London restaurants, including Petek, at Finsbury Park. It’s decorated with beautiful old photos of Istanbul, during the time when it was Constantinople. The open kitchen, with steam rising, is a hive of talk and the sounds of cooking. It’s an exciting sense of movement and aroma. Mood lighting is provided by colorful lamps and the service is impeccable. (The köfte main is served with yoghurt to take the edge off those chilis mixed into minced lamb.) If you’re looking for a cocktail or after-dinner drink, cross the road to Faltering Fullback, an Irish pub with a lovely garden on leafy Perth Road.
Asmara offers an exuberant Eritrean cuisine—Eritrea is located on the Horn of Africa—and a cozy atmosphere softened by the scents of stews. This restaurant is as intimate as it gets in the London world of food. (Meals are served with a bowl of salty popcorn.) Large pancakes are torn into pieces so you can scoop up the food—no silverware here. Asmara is welcoming, authentic, and friendly. The light from inside shines happily out onto the streets, just outside Brixton Village.
Located in a peaceful corner of Covent Garden, Dishoom is known for mastering the art of serving large groups. This Bombay brasserie is low-lit and comfortable, decorated with a fun, post-colonial style, and it offers a menu styled for an old-school café. There’s everything from birianis to pau bhaji, and all the sweet varieties of naan anyone could ever desire.
Comptoir Libanais is another one for those who favor simple pleasures. This Lebanese restaurant is distinguished by its colorful, counter-style. The meze, mint tea, and patterned crockery are just a few of the reasons it’s a delight. Located on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, close to the Natural History Museum, it’s very handy! If the sun is shining, eat outside, even if it’s cold. Huddle under the heaters and indulge in some of the finest people-watching London has to offer.
Inspired by the Golden Age of transatlantic travel, the Sea Containers is at the Mondrian London, with wonderful views of the River Thames. Specializing in a mixture of American and British cuisine, this Southbank restaurant is the finer end of dining. The copper-clad décor, reflecting the hull of a ship, open-plan kitchen, wood-fired oven, and stainless-steel diner bar all create a unique culinary experience. The crab is next door to heaven.
The Breakfast Club
In 2005, The Breakfast Club first appeared in Soho on D’Arblay Street. (Its eye-catching interior is created by walls wrapped in polaroid photos.) At your table, you’ll find friendly notes scrawled on napkins and postcards from around the world. It’s best for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. They make a great waffle, and the pancakes are incomparable. They make so many pancakes each year that the stack would be taller than the London Shard.
The Beigel Shop
Deep within Brick Lane is the much-loved Beigel Shop, home to rainbow bagels. This is London’s original bagel bakery, established in 1855. This family-run business caters to both retail and wholesale customers, online and in-store. The cream cheese and smoked salmon is tops. Prepare for a surprising selection. This is fast-paced, delicious London food at its best.