London’s not all fish and chips and Scotch eggs. Its culinary scene may have you questioning if you’re even touring the UK capital. Boasting a perfect blend of international flavors and traditional British staples, food in London is from every corner of the planet. So, bring an empty stomach for this essential guide of what to eat in London.
Where to try the can’t-miss staples
If you don’t grab a cuppa, did you really go to London? Over a million cups of tea are drank in the UK every day. Joining in on a traditional afternoon tea is one of the best things to do in London. But traditional afternoon tea is really less about the tea and more about the food. Clotted cream and scones, crustless sandwiches, and sweet pastries are the main attractions.
Looking for an afternoon tea spot? You don’t have to look very hard! Almost all high-end hotels and restaurants have one. If you’re feeling a little bougie, head over to the Shangri-La hotel to attend their Luxury Afternoon Tea. Indulge in delicious treats, a selection of over 30 teas, and a view that’s a feast for the eyes. Or, head over to The Wolseley for a mix of class and sophistication that’s easy on the wallet.
A hearty meal that encapsulates the spirit of British tradition, Sunday roasts have been around since the 15th century. During the reign of King Henry VII, every Sunday after church the royal guards would enjoy a ritual of freshly roasted beef. The key to a great Sunday roast is to come hungry. The center piece is a slice of roasted meat (pork belly, prime rib beef, chicken, etc.), flanked with Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes, and vegetables.
Pop in just about any pub in London to enjoy a plate. Blacklock is known for its award-winning, just-as-good-as-Mum’s Sunday roasts. All portions are family-sized so bring your lads (and your appetite!). If you visit London on a Sunday, this is a can’t-miss British classic.
Pronounced “bye-gull,” beigels came to England in the mid-19th century thanks to Jewish immigrants from Poland. What makes them so tasty? They’re still made the old-school way—boiled first for that soft, chewy texture. Beigel Bake on Brick Lane is one of the most famous places to eat in London, and their salt beef beigel with mustard and pickles is the A-list celebrity. Don’t let the long line scare you away—they churn em’ out quick (and it’s open 24/7!). These fresh, handmade treats won’t break the bank, but your tastebuds will treasure them.
Try these staples on our tours to London
Where to try the top international food
Anything and everything from Borough Market
Borough Market is a foodie playground and one of the best markets in the city. Home to some of the best food in London, its more than 100 food stalls have been serving rumbling stomachs for over 1,000 years. You name it—Borough Market has it. Its international cuisine allows you to globetrot on our London tours without leaving the market.
From mouthwatering British staples to Caribbean dishes compared to authentic family recipes, you won’t go hungry here. You can easily spend an entire afternoon trying everything that catches your eye. Maybe it’s a soft, puffy jelly-filled doughnut from Bread Ahead, or a bao bun from BAO Bourgh. The foodie floodgates are open for whatever floats your boat.
London boasts Indian food so authentic you’ll be mistaking the River Thames for the shores of Mumbai. Indian food became popularized in the UK during Queen Victoria’s reign. The Queen was served curry, fell in love with it (naturally), and requested it most days of the week. Once word got out from the castle walls, Londoners got hooked. Brick Lane is lined with traditional options, but Dishoom is one of the best places to eat in London. Dishoom pays homage to the food of all Mumbai. They not only serve amazing Indian food, but it may be the best you’ve ever had.
Start the day off right with the bacon naan for breakfast or go for the house black daal and lamb samosas for lunch or dinner. The cozy atmosphere is also the perfect spot to wind down with a cup of steamy, specially brewed chai. Dishoom has multiple locations across the city, so you’ll be able to enjoy it without venturing too far. Indian is a must-try food in London, plain and simple.
Middle Eastern food
You don’t have to go all the way to Tel Aviv to tickle your tastebuds. Middle Eastern cuisine has become some of the most popular food in London over the last few years. Whether you’re salivating for shawarma or killing for a kebab, London’s got it all. And if you think you know what a good pita is, you’re sorely mistaken until you try SHUK in Borough Market. SHUK specializes in Tel-Aviv-style hot pitas with a family recipe. Pillowy soft and stuffed with lamb sofrito and pickled red cabbage, beef brisket and kimchee, or fish tagine and amba tahini—you might just have to try them all!