Eating out while travelling is not always about the food – sometimes a simple sandwich somewhere with a view is enough. Here we’ve tried to find choices which combine good food with a classic London experience – everything from standing in a lane licking salt beef juices off your fingers to sitting down to Michelin starred silver service and linen tablecloths.
1. Pie & mash
For a quintessentially London experience head into East London and try the food of the true Cockney. Minced beef pie with mash potato all smothered in a green parsley liquor. Add salt, pepper and vinegar. Try Cooke's in trendy Broadway Market, Hackney.
There are two three Michelin starred restaurants in London – Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous 45 seater in Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in Park Lane. Or try the one Michelin star lunch at Fera at Claridges for £39 (about $80).
Universally hailed as the first gastropub in London, The Eagle in Farringdon celebrated its 25th anniversary at the start of 2016. There are plenty more now but the original is still as good as ever. Great wine list, good beer, terrific food – and at heart it’s still just a pub.
4. Curry in Brick Lane
Long before bearded hipsters opened a cereal café in Brick Lane it was renowned for its curries. Come in from the Whitechapel end and it’s curry house after curry house and everyone has an opinion as to the best. Try no-frills Sheba and you won’t get far wrong.
5. Beigels in Brick Lane
In the heart of ultra-cool East London, at the other end of Brick Lane from the curry ‘mile’, are two 24-hour beigel shops, a legacy of the former Jewish community. House-made hot salt beef is unceremoniously slapped into a fresh beigel and smeared with mustard. Heaven.
6. Best food market
Pull together a picnic lunch at Borough Market under the railway arches in Southwark. This is a must-do destination for international foodies and non-foodies alike. You’ll find great British meats and cheeses as well as stalls selling artisanal products.
7. For afternoon tea
The Ritz has served terribly British afternoon tea (smoked salmon and ham finger sandwiches, scones and cakes on a tiered cake stand) since 1906. Impeccable service in the elegant Palm Court, frighteningly formal (chaps must wear a jacket and tie) and not cheap (£52 per person) it’s a great experience.
8. Best food market #2
For the full East London bearded hipster experience go to Broadway Market in Hackney on a Saturday morning. It also helps that the market itself is crammed with goodies, lined with great cafes and pubs, and is a short step away from a picnic-friendly lock on the resurgent Regents Canal.
9. Thameside eating
Le Pont de la Tour Restaurant at Butler’s Wharf serves perfectly good French food but it’s the location that makes this a dining destination. Get a table on the terrace just before nightfall and watch the floodlights illuminate the great neo-gothic pile of Tower Bridge.
10. Wish list
You’ll have to plan way ahead to snap up a seat in what is the hottest A-list restaurant ticket in town right now. Sexy Fish in Berkeley Square has a Frank Gehry crocodile on the wall, Damien Hirst murals, seriously good food on the plates and prices to match.