I think we are getting nostalgic.
Our time in London is coming to a close. Soon, we will head to London City Airport, bound for the beginning of our two month road trip through Italy and the Balkans. How has it been three years already?
In our reflections, we’ve been reminiscing about our best meals, and best dishes, in London. Hundreds of meals, thousands of dishes, it’s a virtual treasure trove of culinary memories.
Bloggers that we are, our memories have turned into a succinct list of the 50 best dishes in London…after careful editing of course!
What makes these dishes unique is how memorable they are. We can literally rattle off this bite and that one, because they’ve stuck with us. We don’t just really like them, we love them.
Sour Cherry Ricotta Ice Cream – Gelupo, SoHo
Sour cherry and ricotta are not flavors most people queue for. But at Gelupo, it is their top seller for a reason. You will be blown away by the unexpected combination.
Crispy Aubergine – Morito, Exmouth Market
At Morito, anything fried or crispy is a good bet. The Crispy Aubergine is remarkably crunchy and not oily, especially for a vegetable that tends to be difficult to fry. The drizzle of pomegranate molasses and whipped feta sends it over the top.
Shrimp Bun – Yum Bun, Dalston Street Feast
We are total suckers for anything in a steamed bao bun. Yum Bun has a variety of options, but the Shrimp Bun is our fave, packed with crispy chili prawns, gochujang mayo, pickled red onion, coriander, and lettuce.
Pork Ribs – SmokeStak, Dalston Street Feast
Two massive, perfectly tender, meaty smoked pork ribs, with a lacquer of barbecue sauce, served on a paper towel. Just look at the picture above – need we say anything more about our obsession with SmokeStak?
Dirty Fried Mejadrah – Berber and Q, Haggerston
This dish ended up on our table purely from the recommendation of the server at Berber and Q. Thank you, sir. A fatty, rich mixture of rice, lentils, sumac, onions, and barberries served in a mini cast iron skillet. We were tempted to order another one, it was that good.
Yuca Frita – Petare, Dalston Street Feast
Who knew fried cassava could be so delicious? Petare, that’s who. These crispy treats are essentially the crispiest french fry you’ve ever had, topped with whipped feta and an avocado and coriander sauce.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee – Ca Phe, Broadway Market
We have mentioned our love for Broadway Market many times, and the first item we always buy is a Vietnamese iced coffee at Ca Phe, the perfect blend of coffee and sweetened condensed milk. Technically not a perfect bite, but we don’t care. It’s our list.
Coconut Macaroon – Violet Bakery, Hackney
We have sampled almost everything that Violet Bakery makes. A relatively recent discovery, the coconut macaroon (naturally gluten-free!) is without a doubt, the best coconut macaroon we’ve ever had. Tender, delicious, and tons of toasted coconut flavor.
Just Cheese – Deeney’s, Broadway Market
Julie is a grilled cheese fiend, so when the craving hits her, we head to Deeney’s at Broadway Market for their Just Cheese, a mixture of cheddar, caramelized onions, and arugula/rocket.
Pork Bahn Mi – Bahn Mi 11, Broadway Market
We have a passion for bahn mi, the Vietnamese sandwich, and Bahn Mi 11 makes one of the best. The grilled, marinated pork topped with mayo, chili sauce, pickled carrots and daikon radish, is served on a squishy Vietnamese baguette. Add as much chili as you dare.
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie – Comptoir Gourmand, Borough Market
I am a chocolate chip cookie lover, and the massive dark chocolate variety at Comptoir Gourmand is the best in London. They look almost too flat to be notable, but they somehow manage to be both chewy and crispy at the same time.
Grilled Cheese – Kappacasein, Borough Market
My favorite grilled cheese is no stranger to accolades, served by the fine people at Kappacasein. They use a blend of Montgomery Cheddar and Ogleshield, along with onions, leeks, and garlic on slices of Poilâne sourdough. Don’t let the long queue deter you.
Seared Beef – Lima Floral, Covent Garden
Lima Floral is one of the best Peruvian restaurants in London, and its sister location Lima, even has a Michelin star. We prefer the more casual Lima Floral, especially due to the seared beef starter, consisting of a chili marinated beef loin, seared, sliced, and served cold with algarrobo tree syrup and huancaina sauce. We don’t know what either of those things are, but they are tasty, rest assured.
Filled Doughnuts – Bread Ahead, Borough Market
We dare you to walk by the Bread Ahead stall at Borough Market and not order one of their filled doughnuts. The flavors change frequently, from seasonal jams to decadent custard, and they are always super fresh, thanks to the bakery’s location just a short stroll away.
Jerk Chicken – Fish, Wings & Tings, Brixton
There are two dishes contending for a top spot at Fish, Wings & Tings – the jerk chicken or the reggae wings. It’s a tight race but the jerk chicken is the ultimate winner. Well spiced, and slathered in sweet and spicy tamarind sauce, the chicken remains lovely and juicy. Don’t miss out on the incredibly spicy and fruity hot sauce if you like the heat.
Steak Frites – The Beeftsteaks, Maltby Market
At £6, this is one of the cheapest and best steak dishes in all of London. Beefsteaks grills and thinly slices strips of hanger steak, and serves it on top of triple-cooked french fries. You have a choice of sauces, but the chimichurri is our pick.
Lamb Chops – Tayyabs, Whitechapel
A starter of sizzling, spice encrusted lamb chops cannot be missed during a meal at Tayyabs. Truly special and a London classic.
Salt Beef Beigel – Beigel Bake, Brick Lane
Anyone who has ever been drunk in Shoreditch late at night has probably stood in line at Beigel Bake. We’ve been there too, and can join the chorus heralding the amazingness that is their salt beef beigel. The meat is fall apart tender, and the beigel is delicious even for these hardened New Yorkers.
Loaded Nachos – Club Mexicana, Hawker House
I don’t know how they do it, but these loaded nachos, smothered in gooey cheese with salted chilies, guacamole, and sour cream, are 100% vegan. Club Mexicana – how do you make melty vegan cheese that tastes this, well, cheesy?
Fried Chicken – Foxlow, Stoke Newington
Foxlow is known mostly for great steaks, but for us, the fried chicken is the star of the show. Super crispy skin, paired with juicy meat, it hits all the beats necessary for a Top 50 dish. It also shows up on the menu in a sandwich, and on the brunch menu with eggs and a croissant waffle.
Classic Bao – Bao, SoHo
Bao has been packed since it opened, and the whole menu is fantastic. But if we had to order only one thing, it would be the Classic Bao, a steamed bun filled with braised pork, peanut powder, fermented greens, and coriander. The crowds are completely right on this one.
Ceviche Clásico – Andina, Shoreditch
We are ceviche fiends, and Andina always delivers. The Ceviche Clásico is our normal order, consisting of sea bass, lime, tiger’s milk, coriander, limo chili, sweet potato and choclo corn.
Hot Butter Devilled Shrimps – Hoppers, SoHo
Sri Lankan cuisine doesn’t normally get much press, but Hoppers has been hopping (haha!) since its doors swung open this year. The namesake hopper dishes are an obvious order, but the Hot Butter Devilled Shrimps starter is the dish we’ve been talking about ever since.
Suckling Pig Vindaloo – Gymkhana, Mayfair
This trendy, upscale Indian restaurant in Mayfair took us by surprise. I figured the vindaloo, one of the hottest Indian curries, would be toned down a notch for the posh crowds. Not so much. The suckling pig was tender and porky, and the vindaloo packed a major punch, forcing me to shed a few tears at the table.
Classic Tortilla – Barrafina, SoHo
Tortillas are found on every single Spanish tapas restaurant menu, and the layered potatoes and eggs are classic but usually underwhelming. Not so at Barrafina, where they are made to order in single-serve pans, still runny on the inside. There are lots of options, but the Classic Tortilla is perfection in its simplest form.
Santa Caterina – Santa Maria Pizzeria, Ealing
For quintessential Neapolitan-style pizza, Santa Maria is the place to go, with that distinctive chewy, thin crust. The Santa Caterina, lightly covered in tomato sauce with mozzarella, salami, olive oil, parmesan and basil, is a popular choice for us.
Flavor of the Month – Udderlicious, Islington
Udderlicious is our neighborhood ice cream shop, an almost weekly post-dinner destination. The flavors are fun, and the ice cream is cream of the crop. Their flavor of the month, selected by Udderlicious staff from customer suggestions, is always unique, from jam doughnut to toffee popcorn. We’ve never won the contest but we like to come here at the start of the month to taste the latest winner.
Original Ramen – Kanada-ya, St. Giles
We’ll say it: Kanada-ya makes the best ramen in London. The Original Ramen, with its 18-hour pork bone broth, hand pulled noodles, pork, nori, and spring onions is ramen perfection. They even offer a choice of firmness for the noodles. We always select firm.
Roast Bone Marrow – St John, Smithfield
Fergus Henderson at St. John put this dish on his menu years ago, and it has inspired a whole generation of chefs to appreciate the virtues of the unctuous and humble bone marrow. The marrow here is as good as ever especially slathered on St. John bread with tart caper and parsley salad.
Grilled Lamb Leg – Hill and Szrok, Hackney
This butcher-shop-by-day, restaurant-by-night knows its meat. The lamb leg, served medium rare with a mustard sauce, is simple yet flawless. The quality of meat is superlative, and even paired with a few side dishes, it won’t break the bank. If you are feeling frisky, add a fried egg on top.
Shakshuka – Ottolenghi, Islington
The now legendary Ottlogenhi is still packing in the crowds (I dare you to try to book a 7pm dinner on a Friday!), and our favorite dish, shakshuka, is the highlight of the menu. Served only at brunch, the Turkish baked egg dish comes with peppers, tomatoes, labneh, and toasted focaccia for dipping. Savory and spicy, it’s transporting.
Kale Pizza – Caravan, King’s Cross
Caravan has an eclectic menu, but the kale pizza, which is almost always on the menu in some form or another, is perfect. The crust is thin and crispy, with just the right amount of char, and the kale gets nice and crunchy. Plus, the kale makes eating a mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta covered pie almost healthy.
Chicken Makhani – Delhi Grill, Islington
Who doesn’t love butter chicken? Delhi Grill, our local Indian restaurant, does one of the best renditions in London, perfect with garlic naan. Not exactly heart healthy, but always worth the caloric splurge.
Beef Pho #136 – Sông Quê Café, Hoxton
Pho is our favorite soup in the world, the ideal dish to compinsate for a crazy weekend when your body is craving warmth. The #136 at Sông Quê Café has rare-sliced steak, well done flank, and beef tendon but we know it’s all about the broth and here, it’s fantastic.
Chili Dog – Meat Liquor, Islington
Meat Liquor is where diets go to die. Hamburgers, fried pickles, onion rings, pints of beer and pitchers of liquor grace the menu. The humble chili dog, often overlooked, is one of the best dogs in all of London. The smoked beef frank is smothered in chili with cheddar cheese, jalapeños, onions, and mustard. And it’s huge.
Huevos Rancheros – Sunday, Barnsbury
The brunch menu at Sunday is the type of menu that makes narrowing down the choices almost impossible. When I feel overwhelmed by all of the options, I order the Huevos Rancheros, with poached eggs over corn tortillas, black beans, chorizo, and avocado.
Avocado and Poached Egg – The Breakfast Club, Angel
We know that avocado toast is trendy (search for avocado toast on Pinterest, it’s crazy), but it is still tasty. At The Breakfast Club, the smashed avocado is served on toast with sliced chiles, lemon juice, and pumpkin seeds. A well executed poached egg on top doesn’t hurt either.
Fried Goat Cheese – José, Bermondsey
We love cheese. We love fried things. So it is no surprise that we adore this dish from José, which features fried battered goat cheese, drizzled liberally with honey. Not sure if it is more dessert or starter, but we don’t care.
Smoked Bone Marrow Butter – The Dairy, Clapham
Our favorite bite at this Clapham institution is completely free. The Dairy is one of our most beloved restaurants, with a menu full of winners, but their rustic sourdough bread, slathered with smoked bone marrow butter, is a foolproof way to the start the meal.
Afternoon Tea – The Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell
We love a good afternoon tea, and The Modern Pantry does a more modern twist on this British classic. The best creations on the tiered tray are the savory ones, like a caramelized onion and blue cheese scone, or a roast chicken finger sandwich with wild garlic pesto.
Sarma Lamb Beyti – Hala, Haringey
For authentic Turkish food in London, Haringey is the epicenter. Of all of the Turkish joints there, Hala stands out, especially its Sarma Lamb Beyti dish. It contains spiced ground lamb wrapped in lavas bread and cooked with butter, tomatoes and served with yogurt.
Apple Tart Tartin – Bistrot de Luxe, Marylebone
This posh French bistro is worth visiting simply for this dessert. The cooked-to-order apple tart tartin comes out perfectly caramelized, topped with creme fraiche to cut the sugary richness. Every meal should end like this.
Duck and Waffle – Duck and Waffle, The City
It is hard not to order the Duck and Waffle at Duck and Waffle. The crispy fried duck leg, fried duck egg, and mustard maple syrup for the waffle is worth the eponymous title.
Bacon Naan – Dishoom, Covent Garden
Dishoom is a hugely popular Indian restaurant, but it’s the breakfast menu, with bacon naan, that is our pick. The freshly baked naan is rolled around in smoked, streaky bacon and slathered with cream cheese and a tomato chili jam. Certainly not authentic, but delicious nevertheless.
Pappardelle with Beef Shin Ragu – Trullo, Highbury
Trullo has always excelled at pasta, and the pappardelle with beef shin ragu has been on the menu for years. The pasta isn’t over-sauced, and beef shin ragu is just the right amount of rich.
Tinned Fish – Taberna do Mercado, Spitalfields
The Portuguese are known for high quality tinned fish, and at Taberna do Mercado, they house-cure several fish in their own clever tins. The Dorset char, marinated with lemon juice and fennel, is tinned fish at its best.
Royale wit Cheese – Lucky Chip, Dalston
Burger joints are popping up everywhere around London, but Lucky Chip is our favorite, with their dry-aged ground beef. The Royale wit Cheese (sic), which comes with bacon, American cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, ketchup, mustard, and special sauce is pure burger bliss.
Sunday Roast – Smokehouse, Islington
Sunday roasts are a dime a dozen around town, but finding a great Sunday roast is a challenge. For us, the roast at Smokehouse nails it with slow smoked lamb shoulder, served with all of the trimmings.
Roti Canai – Roti King, Euston
One of the best budget eats in all of London, we love this basement joint with the incorrect signage. All of the Malaysian dishes on the menu are strong, but the buttery, flakey roti, accompanied by a lamb or chicken curry for dipping, is the best.
Spicy Shrimp Burger – Vintage Salt, Islington
Vintage Salt may be known for fish and chips, but the Spicy Shrimp Burger is what’s on our list. The thick patty, packed with shrimp, is coated in bread crumbs and fried. The accompanying spicy tartare sauce is actually the best part of the whole thing, and we can never eat it in moderation.