What to Eat in London: 13 Treats You Should Not Miss
Whatever you like to eat, you can find it in London. The British capital is a true world city with a palate that reflects its cosmopolitan nature. Almost every regional cuisine in the world is represented in this city, so it's not hard to find delicious food anywhere you go.
And if you're looking for traditional British food, you can most definitely find it here. British food hasn't always had the best reputation, but the traditional cuisine of the UK has some delicious dishes to offer, and you can find them all in London.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in London, and get ready for a culinary adventure. Whether you want to try the best street food in London from the city's many street food stalls and trucks or treat your taste buds to a tasting menu from a high-end restaurant, you can do it all here. Plus, herbivores are well catered for at the best vegetarian restaurants in London, so you don't have to worry about what you'll eat, even if you have dietary restrictions.
There are so many delicious things to eat in London that it's hard to know where to start. But track down some of the items on this list, and you're practically guaranteed some memorable meals in the British capital.
London Food: Fish and chips
Probably the most famous British dish of all, fish and chips remains a staple on the UK culinary scene. And this seemingly simple dish is endlessly adaptable. You can try fresh-caught Atlantic cod and hand-cut chips at fine dining restaurants in London, or for a more authentic and down-to-earth version, you can get a takeaway from any of the thousands of chip shops spread across the city.
Fish and chips has traditionally been a working-class staple, designed to fill people up after a hard day in a factory or down a mine. Today, fish and chip shops offer other items like pies, sausages, and sandwiches, and while they aren't the healthiest places to eat, they are about as authentic as it gets.
London Food: Sunday Roast
Another dish that has become a British institution is the Sunday roast. This is a meal that is typically served with roast beef, pork, lamb, or chicken, as well as potatoes, carrots, peas, green beans, and Yorkshire pudding.
The origins of the Sunday roast are a bit unclear, but it's thought to date back to medieval times when people would cook a large joint of meat on a spit over an open fire. This would be cooked all day long so that it would be ready to eat by the time Sunday dinner came around.
Today, the Sunday roast is still a popular meal in the UK, although it's more likely to be served at the home than in a restaurant. That said, there are plenty of restaurants in London that serve up a mean Sunday roast, so if you're looking for a traditional British meal, this is definitely one to try.
London Food: Shepherd's Pie
A dish that is often served as part of a Sunday roast is shepherd's pie. This dish typically consists of ground lamb or mutton (shepherd's pie is traditionally made with lamb while cottage pie is made with beef), peas, carrots, and onions, all topped with a creamy mashed potato.
The first recorded recipe for shepherd's pie dates back to 1791, and it was originally designed as a way to use up leftover meat and vegetables. Today, it remains a popular dish in the UK, and you can find it on the menu of many pubs and restaurants across London.
London Food: Bangers and Mash
Another dish that sometimes makes up part of a Sunday roast is bangers and mash. This dish consists of sausages (the bangers) and mashed potatoes (the mash), and it's usually served with onions and gravy.
Bangers and mash is thought to date back to the early 20th century when sausages were first mass-produced in the UK. The dish became popular during World War II when meat was rationed, as it was a cheap and easy way to get some protein. Today, it remains a popular pub food in the UK, and you can find it on the menu of many pubs in London. If you're lucky, you might even find an innovative take on this British classic at a street food stall or food truck somewhere in central London.
London Food: Full English Breakfast
If you're looking for a hearty breakfast to start your day, look no further than the full English breakfast. This dish includes eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, baked beans, toast, and mushrooms, and it's usually served with a cup of tea or coffee.
The full English breakfast has its origins in the 19th century when it was first served in hotels and cafés to workers who needed a filling meal before starting their shift. Today, it's still a popular breakfast option in the UK, and you can find it on the menu of many cafés and restaurants across London. It's found everywhere, from your local pub to a high-end hotel restaurant, and it remains a popular item on London's dining scene. Just be warned – it's not for the faint-hearted!
London Food: Indian Cuisine
It's no secret that Indian food has become a big part of British cuisine, and London may be one of the best places in the world to eat Indian food other than India itself. There are literally thousands of Indian restaurants across the city, and they run the gamut from cheap and cheerful hole-in-the-wall type places and street food stalls to exquisite and expensive fine dining establishments. In fact, there are so many Indian restaurants in London that you'll probably have a hard time choosing which ones to visit. Indian restaurants are an indelible part of the British food scene and are a great way to sample some absolutely delicious food.
London Food: Afternoon Tea
No visit to London would be complete without indulging in a spot of afternoon tea. This quintessentially British tradition dates back to the early 19th century, when Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, is said to have started the trend of eating a light meal in the late afternoon to stave off hunger until dinner.
Today, afternoon tea is still a popular tradition in the UK, and you can find it being served up in hotels and restaurants across London. Afternoon tea usually consists of small plates like finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and pastries or cake, all washed down with a pot of tea. It's the perfect way to take a break from sightseeing and refuel before heading out for dinner with friends or family.
London Food: Chinese Cuisine
Another type of food you have to try is some of the city's famous Chinese food. There are hundreds of Chinese restaurants across London, ranging from cheap and cheerful takeaways to high-end fine dining establishments. And while Chinese food hasn't become part of mainstream British culinary culture in the same way Indian food has, it's not far behind.
London's Chinatown is the perfect place to start your culinary journey, and you'll find everything from traditional Cantonese cuisine to more modern fusion dishes. Everything from Taiwanese fried chicken to crispy pork belly to excellent seafood dishes is on offer here. If you're looking for something a little bit different, you can also try one of the many Taiwanese or Sichuan restaurants that have popped up in recent years.
Of course, a lot of Asian food lends itself very well to being street food, and chances are good, you'll find an excellent Asian-inspired street food stall or two in famous street food locations like Flat Iron Square and Maltby Street Market. Check out these areas to try something exciting on your culinary trip around London.
London Food: Pie and mash
If you're looking for something more characteristically British, it doesn't get much more London than pie and mash. This dish has been a staple of the city's diet since the 19th century and is typically made with minced beef or pork pies, mashed potatoes, and a thick green parsley sauce called liquor. It's hearty, filling, and delicious, and you can find it being served up in traditional pie and mash shops all over London.
If you really want to be adventurous, try an eel pie, which you can still find in a few old-fashioned chip shops and pie shops around the city. This is a specifically London treat that may not be as popular as it used to be but is part of the history of food in the capital nonetheless.
London Food: Cockles
Another dish that is a big part of traditional London cuisine is cockles. This is a small, edible sea creature that is usually served as part of a dish called Cockles and Laverbread. Laverbread is a type of seaweed paste that is popular in Wales and, when combined with cockles, makes for a delicious and unique dish. You can find it being served up in Welsh restaurants around London or even at some traditional fish and chips shops. Borough Market is also a great place to track down this traditional but slightly obscure dish, but you might also find it on the menu of a few London restaurants dedicated to preserving the city's old food traditions.
London Food: Bubble and squeak
Bubble and squeak is a dish made from leftovers, specifically the leftover vegetables from a traditional Sunday roast. It's usually made with potatoes, cabbage, and carrots but can also include other vegetables like Brussels sprouts or green beans. The vegetables are fried together until they're nice and crispy and then served with a dollop of brown sauce. It's a simple dish, but one that is incredibly comforting and satisfying. You'll find it being served up in pubs all over London, particularly on Sundays when it's the perfect hangover cure.
London Food: Black pudding
Black pudding is a type of sausage made from blood, fat, and oats and is popular in many parts of Europe as well as the UK. It's often served as part of a traditional English breakfast but can also be found in other dishes like the Lancashire Hotpot. This dish is a stew made with lamb, onions, potatoes, and of course, black pudding. It's hearty and filling and perfect for a cold winter's day. You can find it in pubs all over London, particularly in the north of the city.
London Food: Spotted dick
Spotted dick is a dessert that is very popular in the UK, specifically in London. It's made with suet (beef or mutton fat), flour, breadcrumbs, currants, and sometimes citrus peel. The mixture is formed into a cylindrical shape and then steamed until it's cooked through. It's usually served with custard and is a rich and indulgent dessert that's perfect to end any meal
There's no disputing that London is an exceptional food city. With every cuisine of the world represented here, as well as classic British dishes, it's easy to find something great to eat. Take a wander through street food locations like Borough Market, and you'll encounter some of the most exciting street food and fusion cuisine in the city. Alternatively, if you want to dine in a luxury restaurant with a view of London Bridge and the River Thames, you'll be able to do that too. Whether your tastes lean toward classic British food or world cuisine, you'll find something to satisfy here.
With so much incredible food to sample, it's important to ensure you get enough exercise. Check out some of the best hikes in London to make sure you don't return home carrying more extra pounds than you wanted to. And don't forget to drop your bags off at a Bounce luggage storage to make your culinary tour of London that much easier.