London reminds me a lot of NYC, which I consider my home a lot more than Texas. Whenever someone asks from recommendations of places to eat in NY, I am confronted with the difficulty to suggest places due to overwhelming options, categories, cuisines, prices and I end up either naming one of two favorites or just too many places.For some cities, it is just to hard to make a “best of” list. London is exactly like that, and for that reason this guide is not a “Best of” London list, but rather an introduction to some British Specialities and where to get them, as well as, a sampling of what London has to offer.

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British Specialities / The London Pub

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as
by a good tavern or inn” – Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
To foreigners “The Pub” is synonymous with British cuisine. Drinking a pint and grabbing a bite at a pub is a tourist activity, but still an activity that true locals partake in, sometimes even daily. I explore the notion of British cuisine in more detail below, but the pub is an integral aspect of not only British cuisine, but British culture. British pubs have been important throughout history either as places of gatherings, some social, political, or even revolutionary, but also, interestingly enough, served as the first banks (Lloyd’s Bank, a commonly seen bank in the city, was one of these Pub + Banks). Interesting fact: Pub signage comes from an uneducated majority from the Ye Olde Days that couldn’t read, but could recognize animals and symbols, and thus pubs embraced these types of imagery of their names.
Most of the below items should be available in pubs around the city, but quality of will depend, so I have included restaurants that specialize in these items. I just would stray away from pubs in touristy locations.

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British Specialities to Look Out For

  • Fish n Chips – Poppies / The Golden Hind for traditional versions; in Soho there are many shops that have new versions
  • Scotch Egg + Cockles + Other Delicacies – Borough Market
  • Sunday Roast – Hawksmoor / most local pubs
  • Pie and Mash – Pieminister (get the Mothership)
  • Bangers and Mash – MotherMash
  • English Breakfast / Tea – Various
  • Dessert: Sticky Toffee, Eton Mess

Other Cuisines

In reality, the dishes above represent what I would call “British Food” but not “British Cuisine” (very similar to my thoughts on “American Food” vs. “American Cuisine”). Being an international city, immigrants from the globe have come to this city and have brought their cuisines with them. While you might be able to scour authentic restaurants, I believe that “Authentic” itself should be left to the native country. Instead, embrace how a cuisine traveled to the new country and evolved to match tastes and utilize new ingredients.
The best example of this evolution is Indian Food, that has not only evolved, but has become a staple of the culinary scene in London. This evolution is evident in restaurants such as Dishooom, a “Bombay Cafe” style chain where the cuisine isn’t “authentic” but has evolved into a brilliant mix of cultures, while still respecting and paying homage to where it came from.
Other than indian food, walking down the street you are bound to run into countless different cuisines from the hole in the wall streets kebab shops to the trendy Japanese restaurants. The food markets–literally at least one everyday is some part–also offer an opportunity to explore the food that this city has to offer.

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International

  • Indian – Dishoom / Brick Lane
  • Taiwanese – Bao
  • Kebabs – Helen
  • Shoreditch Area + Box Park – a variety of evolved cuisines (albeit, a bit fad, overly trendy)
  • Sourdough Pizza – Franco Manca

Markets

Here are all the markets and their timings, bolded are the recommend ones.

  • Borough (Full Market is W-Sa, 10-5)
  • Brixton (M-Sa, 8-6)
  • Billingsgate Fish Market (T-Sa, 4-9.30)
  • Maltby Street (Sa-S, 11-4pm)
  • Broadway (Sa, 9-5pm)
  • Camden (10-6pm)
  • White Cross (M-F, 10-5pm)
  • Real Food (W-F, 12-7pm)
  • Leather Lane (M-F, 10-3pm)
  • Greenwich (10-5.30pm)
  • Partridges (8-10pm)
  • Dalston/Ridley Road (M-Th 6-6pm, F-SA 6-7pm)
  • Berwick (M-Sa, 9-6pm)
  • Chatsworth Road (S, 11-3pm)
  • Brockley (Sa, 10-2pm)
  • Southbank Centre (F-M, 12-6pm)
  • Netil Market (W-Sa, 11-7pm)
  • Brick Lane (Sa-S, 11-5pm)