When you think of the UK you might think of a Sunday Roast (hello) or Fish and Chips, but did you know another national dish of England is Chicken Tikka Masala?! As an Indian meal, this popular curry is a perfect example of the way Britain absorbs and adopts delicious influences from around the globe.
With its melting pot of cultures and cuisines, you’ll find it all in London. From quirky food courts and bustling markets to hidden courtyards and streets oozing coffee culture, there are endless spots in London offering up food to suit every mood. After living around London for most of my life, I’ve curated a list of some of my favourite places to grab a bite in the city that provide the essentials: heaps of choice and good vibes.
1. Pavilion Road
As we’re in London, let’s start with the quintessentially British Pavilion Road. Located in the famous borough of Chelsea, this pedestrianised street is hidden away from the hustle and bustle of King’s Road, and you might not find it if you didn’t know it was there. Lined with al fresco cafés, colourful bunting, and boutique shops, it’s the perfect place to people-watch with a coffee (celebs are often sighted here!) or sit down for a bite at one of the many eateries.
Amongst them, you’ll find the Australian Granger and Co renowned for their brunches, the plant-based vegan heaven Wulf and Lamb, or the pastry-fuelled Bread Ahead where you can not only indulge in bread and doughnuts but learn to bake them, too! Whichever you choose, this small street is ideal for settling in at your table and feeling the buzz of backstreet London.
Closest tube station: Sloane Square (5 minute walk)
2. Borough Market
If you love food, Borough Market is an absolute must while you’re in London. As one of the oldest and biggest food markets in the city, it’s famous for its variety, quality, and bustling atmosphere. Meander through the market stalls selling everything from bread, cheese, and wine, to vegetables, fish, and condiments (tip: look out for free samples as you go!) but make your way towards the back to be truly spoilt for choice on mouth-watering street food.
Japanese, Mexican, Thai, Italian, Argentinian, Indian, Israeli, Taiwanese, Persian, (I could go on) stalls await you sharing their countries’ delicacies with locals and tourists alike. If you like pasta, you have to find La Tua Pasta - their black truffle and burrata tortellini with mushroom sauce is RIDICULOUS. Khanom Krok is another great option, serving up authentic Thai street food that’s also gluten and dairy free! The best thing about Borough Market is there’s nothing stopping you from trying two (or three, or four) different stalls if you just can’t decide.
In fact, why not make an activity out of exploring Borough Market? You can do a proper British foodie tour of Borough Market and London's South Bank here.
Closest tube station: London Bridge (5 minute walk)
3. Kingly Court
Nestled down an alleyway in the West End in the midst of Carnaby’s renowned dining culture, Kingly Court is overflowing with options, holding 21 international concept restaurants, bars, and cafés in its vibrant walls. Over three floors centred around a buzzing courtyard, you can choose to dine alfresco right in the action or settle in in one of the many restaurants lining the square.
From classic Pizza Pilgrims and NYC-inspired comfort food and cocktails at Dirty Bones, to fresh Greek cuisine at The Life Goddess and an open-plan Peruvian kitchen at Señor Ceviche, the only downside of eating at Kingly Court is having to choose where to eat. One of my favourites is Oka - their cute restaurant in the corner of the courtyard is the perfect place to stop for delicious sushi washed down with a cocktail or two. And if you’re at Kingly Court in the evening, make sure to check out Cahoots; as soon as you walk down the stairs into this underground themed bar, you’ll be transported to post-war 1940s serving up bespoke cocktails, rationed snacks, and regular entertainment.
Closest tube station: Oxford Street or Piccadilly Circus (5 minute walk)
4. Neal’s Yard
Whilst Neal’s Yard may not offer up as many options as Kingly Court, it definitely makes up for it in the good vibes. This hidden gem is one of my favourite spots in London, and while more and more people are discovering this colourful courtyard, you won’t stumble across it unless you’re looking for it. Tucked down a tiny side street in Covent Garden, Neal’s Yard has to be one of London’s prettiest streets, so you’ll probably spend some time getting that perfect social shot before finding somewhere to eat.
Within the courtyard itself, you’ll find 26 Grains - an ideal brunch spot serving up hearty porridges, avocado toast, and other breakfast delights. For cakes, sourdoughs, and incredible doughnuts there’s St. John’s Bakery, where you can grab both pastries and wine depending on what mood you’re in! Other great wine-drinking spots in the yard are Casanova and Daughters and Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels - pair it with some tasty antipasti, sit back, and watch the world go by.
If you want to visit Neal’s Yard but none of the food options takes your fancy, don’t fret - there are endless places to eat just a stone’s throw away around Covent Garden and Leicester Square.
Closest tube station: Covent Garden (3 minute walk)
5. St. Katharine Docks Marina
There’s just something about being by the water in London. St. Katharine Docks gives you just that, its laid-back marine oasis in the midst of the action yet hidden away from the masses. Just around the corner from Tower Bridge and the River Thames, across the road from the Tower of London, this waterside location is a great place to stop off for a bite while you’re exploring the sights and soak up that London marina atmosphere.
When it comes to food, St. Katharine Docks has menus for every appetite, with a mix of independent restaurants and popular chains. There’s small Basque plates and Spanish cocktails at Bravas Tapas, freshly made pasta at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta, traditional Turkish cuisine at Kilikya, and Chinese dim sum at Ping Pong (one of my absolute fave chains in London!). And that’s just scratching the surface. St. Katharine Docks is ideal if you’re looking for heaps of choice close to the heart of the city, with the picturesque docks for a dining backdrop.
This great spot is also included in a self-guided game that you can play while exploring the docks too.
Closest tube station: Tower Hill (10 minute walk)
6. Buck Street Market Camden
If you’re in North London or exploring the colourful streets of Camden, Buck Street Market is a great place to stop for a quick refuel, with sustainability in mind. Just down the road from the famous Camden Market, Buck Street is formed of vibrant recycled shipping containers to make up the UK’s first dedicated market for the conscious consumer. This quirky spot reflects an eco-conscious future through its zero single-use plastic policy and plant-based products, with heaps of sustainable food options and ethical retail stalls.
When it comes to the food, you’ll find 25 food traders from Latin American street food to English muffins. Choices include delicious Taiwanese bao buns at Bun Co, authentic Mexican street food at Rico Burrito, and mouth-watering slow-roasted pulled duck (drool) at The Duck Shed. Each of the 25 eateries has at least one vegan or vegetarian option on the menu, uses compostable packaging, and makes sure all food waste is composted into energy. Delicious food, great vibes, and planet-conscious - what more do you need?!
Closest tube station: Camden Town (1 minute walk)
It goes without saying that food options in London are endless, but these spots are some of my personal favourites to stop at on a day exploring the city. I love how the range of choices at each of them means you can just show up and choose what you fancy there and then, no planning ahead required. However, if you do have a specific restaurant in mind, it’s always worth ringing ahead to avoid disappointment!