Whenever I told someone I was going to study abroad in London, I often got the sarcastic ‘enjoy the food!’ comment most people get. What many who haven’t visited in a while don’t know is that London has drastically improved its menu across the board. I had to do at least one post about this as I believe in eating my way through every new city. Here are some highlights from London.
This breakfast bistro became famous in London’s SoHo neighborhood, leading to a smaller extension being opened on London’s prestigious High Street in Kensington. A friend and I went there for the first time to celebrate pancake day, and it did not disappoint. They offer a wide variety of breakfast options and add-ons, as well as the recently trendy avocado toast. Jars of homemade jams that are given to you with breakfast are on offer to take home with you when you leave! I highly recommend this as a great start to the day.
Viet Food (featured picture)
Not a very creative name, but you forget all about that as soon as you look at their menu. Located in the heart of London’s China Town, Viet Food offers the menu from one of London’s most famous immigrant chefs, who established this more affordable restaurant before reaching fame and opening much more expensive 5-star restaurants around town. The food is amazing, the environment is lively, and the bill won’t break your heart or your wallet.
Camden Market (Food Section)
Camden, the home of music legend Amy Winehouse, is enjoying its renewed popularity with its well loved Camden Market. There are food stalls scattered throughout the boutiques and vintage shops that now occupy what were historically the Queen’s horse stables, but I would recommend going to the center of the Camden Locke section for the highest concentration and menu variety. Thereis something for everyone, each vendor with a unique offering and twist on traditional street food. Within 300 square feet, you can find Thai noodles, Linguini Alfredo served from the center of a melted cheese wheel, vegan burgers, Moroccan curries, Middle Eastern falafel, fresh Italian gelato, and so much more. This is somewhere I frequent and still have yet to sample all there is.
Staple Chain Restaurants – Nando’s, Franco Manca, Wagamama, Masala Zone
If you can’t get out to Camden, you can still find your favorite food from around the world probably just down the street from you. These food chains are everywhere and you’re bound to find a Brit that loves at least one of them. Nando’s is originally South African, influenced and established by its large Portuguese community and is favored for their use of chicken as a staple in many of their dishes. Franco Manca is a based on a traditional pizza kitchen, and is a far step up from Domino’s or Pizza Hut without the price hike. Their thin crust, specials, and natural (sometimes gourmet) ingredients make it a popular go-to. Wagamama is a mix of noodle dishes from Asia, Thailand, and Vietnam. If you’re in the mood for stir fry you can almost guarantee you are within a half a mile radius from Wagamama satisfaction. Masala Zone aims to embody the culture and food of the large Indian community that call London home. In my opinion, this gem feels far from a chain and much more authentic than many Indian American restaurants.
For the meat-and-potatoes visitor, you can almost never go wrong with eating at a pub. If you’re missing a hot warm meal from home, you can reminisce with a gourmet burger, fish cakes, a rack of ribs, and many other satisfying dishes. Pubs are extremely reasonable in terms of pricing, and date back to when England’s blue collar workers would stop in for dinner and a drink after a long, tiring days work, as sometimes they would come home too late to eat with their families. You’ll feel right at home and part of the history all at the same time.