Years ago, when you thought of a food-centric city, you probably wouldn’t have thought of London. Rome, Paris and New York City, sure, but London? The food scene in the Big Smoke has admittedly sneaked up on us in recent years, and is now booming with an array of awesome restaurants lead by avant-garde chefs. Just as it always has been, the culinary landscape in London is driven by the melting pot of cultures, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a city with a better blend of cuisines like Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern. To help you navigate the impressive restaurant offerings, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 can’t-miss eateries in London right now.
It turns out, you don’t have to travel to Sri Lanka to enjoy the island nation’s amazing food. Pop into Hoppers, either in SoHo or Marylebone (St. Christopher’s Place), and sop up their divine chutneys and rich caramelized relishes with a dosa in hand. Hoppers’ chicken curry might just be the best in the city, boasting rich, spicy flavors without being too hot to handle. The Lamb Kothu Roti, a signature dish, is the stuff dreams are made of and a beautiful medley of lamb, fried eggs, scallions, cabbage and little chewy bread bites that are beyond satisfying. With a lively yet casual ambiance, Hoppers is the perfect place to meet friends for lunch and enjoy some of the most dynamic culinary creations in town. Don’t leave without trying the Bone Marrow Varuval—that’s a must-order, too!
Head to Farm Girl in the spring or summer seasons, and you’ll be delighted to find the white-washed facade draped in gorgeous lavender-colored wisteria. This Notting Hill lunch spot is ideal for a quick-but-delicious bite. Dine on healthy sandwiches, avocado toast and fresh-squeezed juices at this photogenic, laid-back café off beloved Portobello Road. Afterwards, step out the door and continue down this famous stretch of boutique shops and antique stores. If Notting Hill isn’t on your agenda, visit Farm Girl in SoHo or Chelsea. In fact, the Chelsea location is the only one to serve food all day. You’re sure to leave this health-conscious eatery with a smile on your face.
Tucked into an adorable side street in London’s Covent Garden area, Barbary is dominating the city’s foodie scene with its tasty North African cuisine and bar-only seating. They take only a handful of reservations at noon and 5pm each day; otherwise you’ll have to test your luck at walking in. Start your meal with the naan bread which comes with an array of sides and spreads, like halloumi or Ashkenzi chicken liver. Embracing the flavors and spices of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, you’ll dine on dynamic dishes from the land (Pata Negra Neck), sea (Octopus Mashawsha), and earth (Carpaccio Tapuz Dam). Since all the seats are at the bar, you’ll get to watch the flames kiss the grilling meats, sauces bubbling in pots and plates getting prepared by talented chefs.
When you get to Xu, do yourself a favor and start with a cocktail. The Tamshui with Asian pear, butter, Chinese basil and champagne is the perfect way to kick off a fun dining experience here. The dimly lit interior exudes an almost mystical feel and the cool upstairs bar area reflects a throwback to 1930s-era Taipei. After a fancy cocktail, order some shareable bites like the Xian Bing (pan-fried aged pork pancake with vinegar and chili oil), the Taro Dumplings (served with kow choi chili dressing), and the Beef Pancake (short rib and bone marrow with pickles, spring onion and potato crumb). Nestled between two equally buzzing neighborhoods, Chinatown and SoHo, Xu is an ideal dinner spot for a night out on the town with friends.
The Hillgate Pub
This quintessential English pub lies on a quiet corner in charming Notting Hill. Surrounded by colorful facades and storybook-like streets, the setting at The Hillgate couldn’t be more picturesque. Luckily for the patrons, this pub also serves up some surprisingly excellent pub fare with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients. Enjoy all the pub favorites with an elevated twist. Both their traditional Scotch egg and fish & chips are battered to perfection, but don’t be afraid to get a little fancy with plates like the superb Welsh rarebit with Guinness and Keens cheddar or slow-cooked lamb salad with baba ganoush, yogurt and tahini dressing. While pub food hasn’t always had the best reputation, The Hillgate will change any skeptic’s mind. If the weather is nice (lucky you!) snag an outdoor table, sip rosé and feast on tasty eats while basking in the rare but glorious London sunshine.
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