You’ve covered the Buckingham Palace, walked up to the whispering walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral and combed through some hidden gems at Camden Market. What else is there to do in London?
London is a melting pot and that extends to its dining scene. You can have the best of both worlds — from quaint cafes and bars away from the high streets to the most exquisite afternoon teas that require you to dress in your finest.
But be especially careful because you don’t want to fall into any tourist traps that will leave your experience boring and unexciting. While there’s always a place to follow the cult, it is better to spend your days in London eating, drinking and visiting places like the locals do.
Here’s where you can spend for at least half a day out dining, drinking and immersing in culture, especially when the weather is bright and sunny in London.
Repurposed shipping containers and upcycled materials make up the unique experience at Pop Brixton which is a really cool hipster paradise the heart of Brixton. Whether you’re a fashion geek or an ardent foodie, there’s something for everyone. Check out local labels and then pop a bottle of craft beer from any of the hidden bars in the complex. Order anything from the various kiosks, especially Mama’s Jerk for its Caribbean-style jerk chicken wings and wraps (it’s halal-certified too in case you’re wondering).
Brixtonites enjoy the best of east and west at Booma, where you’ll enjoy North Indian sharing plates with an extensive list of craft ales, ciders and stouts. Order house specials like the tandoor-charred lamb chops, paneer tikka and the rich black dhal. And instead of rasam, grab a glass of the sweet Belgian red ale to pair.
If you’re craving for fish and chips from a local chippy, Fish Lounge is a local’s secret that maintains its standards by consistently getting everything right — fish is lightly battered, chips are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, extra tangy tartare sauce and of course, mushy peas. Eat in or takeaway, you’ll find every element made to order to ensure tiptop quality at all times. p/s: every Monday is gluten-free day.
An excellent pitstop for coffee, the Shoreditch Grind is where you can let time slip away people-watching, especially in one of London’s most hipster neighbourhood that’s laden in street culture. The circular coffee shop, bar and cafe is decked in 1950s decor and with an all-black facade that’s really hard to miss. Come here for the English breakfast.
Serving coffee by London roasters Square Mile, you’ll find great coffee paired with a cosy atmosphere at this in-house cafe in Ace Hotel, Shoreditch. This neighbourhood joint is known not only for its amazing caffeine fix but also a delectable spread of pastries, cakes and gourmet sandwiches. The speakeasy interior vibes add on to the charm of the place too.
Housed in Shoreditch’s famous Tea Building is Lyle’s that shares the same address with some of the neighbourhood’s coolest restaurants and cafes. There’s a good mix of food items for everything — from individual oysters to main courses featuring monkfish, Jerusalem artichokes, and eel. Save some space for Lyle’s signature ice creams.
An ideal spot for brunch, this farm-to-table restaurant attracts the health-conscious crowd especially for its chia bowls and fresh yoghurt from its creamery in Gloucestershire. There’s also a grocery, deli and bakery on the ground floor where you can pick up fresh produce and some of your favourite snacks to refuel along the way.
This quaint coffee shop is located along Portobello Road, and is where locals flock on weekends for its freshly brewed coffee, homemade granola and lavender shortbread. Try also the avocado on toasts with poached eggs that come highly recommended. The cafe boasts a rustic interior with a homey atmosphere to make you feel right at home.
With a plethora of colourful and tantalising cakes and pastries on display, walking past Maison Puget can be very hard for serious foodies and those with a sweet tooth. Everything you’ve wished for in a bakery is available — from baguettes to croquet monsieur, berry-filled tarts to baskets of madelines, gourmet sandwiches and even flaky croissants. Locals queue up for its loafs and sourdoughs, but you can stop here for a quick coffee fix, enjoy a warm bowl of soup and nibble on the best French pastries it has to offer.
It may be tricky to find this place (it’s hidden among the shoe shops at the end of Neal Street) but the little labyrinthine leading to Pix Pintxos allows you to walk into one of London’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Sit outside and enjoy people-watching, grab a bottle of beer and sample an ever-changing array of creative Basque-style tapas. Don’t forget to order some Spanish wine if you’re up for something to drink.
A new kid in town, Pick & Cheese is London’s first cheese bar on a 40-metre conveyor belt. As for now, there are 25 different British cheeses with a unique pairing ingredient like roasted pineapple, tomato pate and gherkins. (Photo: Nic Crilly-Hargrave)
This industrial steak house is a local’s favourite. If you’re a looking at a carnivorous feast, you’re at the right place. Flat Iron on Denmark Street is a local’s favourite serving great steak at a bargain, especially if you’re on a £10 budget. Enjoy your ribeye with cream cabbage and bacon or the delicious creamy spinach. Make a booking or arrive early because queues can be quite long especially on weekends.
If it’s your first time here, hop over to Kingly Court to experience London’s hospitality in this three-storey complex. The alfresco-style gastro address is home to 21 international concept restaurants, bars and cafes — so you get a good mix of everything you’re craving for under one roof. Some of our favourites include Pizza Pilgrims for pizzas and its ragu-stuffed Arancini, Señor Ceviche for Peruvian food, The Good Egg for its hearty Jewish-style all-day breakfast menu, Chai by Mira for its spiced lattes and Two Floors for its tiki-inspired cocktail den.
Jinjuu’s menu has strong Korean roots. The sharing plates gravitate towards comfort food that pairs well with a selection of beers. Try its Kimchi Disco Fries, Korean Tacos as well as the must-have Korean Fried Chicken that is an instant crowd-pleaser. Head here on Fridays and Saturdays to enjoy house and R&B tunes from its in-house DJ deck.
Antitode doubles as a wine bar and wine shop, offering a good selection of only organic and biodynamic wines from artisans in France and other countries. This place has been pleasing palates for over 15 years, with a menu that highlights seasonal produce — so you always have something new to try. Go during non-peak hours to truly enjoy the wines and talk to the friendly staff about your preferred tipple.