Who else was amazed by how fast 2019 went? One minute it was summer, the next minute my mum was asking me what I wanted for Christmas!
This is the 3rd edition of my annual ‘Must Eat in London’ blog post that I write every year that you guys love so much! For the last few months, I have been busy thinking about all of the great places I’ve eaten in London over the last year and more importantly which ones to tell you about! I’ve created the ultimate bucket list for you so you know exactly where you should be eating in London this year and without further ado, here are 20 places in London you must eat in 2020!
Pophams is a beautiful bakery in North London that has become one of London’s most talked-about eateries. They are known for their unique and creative pastries such as their unbelievable maple, bacon swirl or rosemary and sea salt twist – all of which cause busy queues on a Saturday morning. Most recently they have expanded to a stunning second location in East London with a new menu of handmade pasta dishes. Delicate, seasonal, handmade pasta is served Tuesday – Saturday from 6 pm in smaller portions designed to share with the table. Pophams is elegant and chic but not arrogant or stuffy. Whether it’s a 7 am croissant or 9 pm dish of pasta, they have it spot on.
197 – 205 Richmond Rd, London E8 3NJ, https://www.pophamsbakery.com/
Formidable food critic of The Guardian newspaper Grace Dent called Sambal Shiok ‘Pure Joy’, and she isn’t wrong. This small, unassuming restaurant is in a more residential area of London opened by Malaysian born chef Mandy Yin who wanted to bring her authentic laksa bowls to the people of London. Laksa is a Malaysian noodle soup with either a rich, coconut milk or sour assam broth, topped with meat, fish or tofu. Their menu features five signature bowls plus a handful of rice dishes and their famous Malaysian fried chicken. They haven’t toned down the authenticity of the laksa for the Western palate in any way which means it pretty damn spicy and dishes only come in medium and hot – no mild available! The restaurant is no-fuss, no-frills, just tasty, comforting, homemade noodle bowls that have been made a little bit more refined for the London crowd.
171 Holloway Rd, London N7 8LX, https://www.sambalshiok.co.uk/
Calling all cookie lovers – this one if for you! Creme are London’s latest ‘Insta-worthy’ cookie craze. They bake their GIANT American style cookies fresh every day in their super stylish Soho shop. Cookies come in four different flavours and all have a signature gooey centre, much like New York’s famous Levain Bakery! Flavours include classic chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, double chocolate and my personal favourite miso (a salty Asian seasoning) and white chocolate. Creme’s cookies come with a bigger price tag than you’d usually expect to pay for a chocolate chip treat at £4 a pop but add together the gorgeous shop, the prime location and the fact that one cookie will probably be your entire lunch you kinda expect it. There will be a queue at weekends and be aware there are just two seats available in the shop so it’s more of a grab and go cookie.
4 D’Arblay Street, W1F 8DJ, https://creme.london/
If you’re stuck for a brunch idea one weekend I’d recommend you try breakfast in bread. No, that’s not a typo but the name of The Barge House’s famous weekend brunch dish that has put a great big, carb-filled dent in the London breakfast scene. If you’re wondering what the hell breakfast in bread is, imagine a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with all your breakfast favourites and topped with cheese and a runny egg. The Barge House is open for your standard weekday breakfast and an evening dinner menu but their breakfast in bread is only available at weekends. This great brunch spot sits along the picturesque Haggerston Canalside with both inside and alfresco seating. It’s a wonderful place to walk on a crisp winter morning or a balmy summer evening. Believe me – you’ll need a good walk after the breakfast in bread! Get there early or expect to queue.
46a De Beauvoir Cres, De Beauvoir Town, London N1 5RY, http://www.bargehouse.co.uk/
Mamasons Dirty Ice-cream is a great place to get your sweet fix in a really unique way. They are London’s first Filipino dessert parlour and they use a Filipino potato called ube in their menu of traditional Filipino treats. It’s so easy to think that this is place is some kind of Instagram fad because everything is purple and looks really unusual but take my word for it, it’s no fad. Treats on offer include ube hot chocolate, ube brownies, and their famous ube bilog – a grilled milk bun stuffed with ube ice cream … and yes they are all purple. The parlour has two locations, one in a more residential area of North London and a second in bustling Chinatown in Central London. This is a dessert with a difference and they are open til’ late for your evening sugar fix.
32 Newport Ct, London WC2H 7PQ , https://www.dirtyicecream.co.uk/
91 Kentish Town Road, London NW1 8NY
Hawksmoor is my favourite place to eat in London. They are a top-quality steak restaurant with effortless service and a special but not stuffy atmosphere that’s always second to none. It’s not very widely known but Hawksmoor do breakfast at their Guildhall location and it’s a quintessentially British experience everyone should try when they visit London. Breakfast includes steak and eggs, bubble and squeak, kippers and bacon sandwiches – dishes us Brit’s love! To get the full Hawkmsoor experience, I’d recommend you go for the sharing English breakfast for two which comes with 10 different items including grilled bone marrow, trotter baked beans, unlimited toast and a whole bacon chop. Breakfast available Monday – Friday only and booking is essential. If you can’t make breakfast you won’t be disappointed by their lunch or dinner. Plus they do a great value pre-theatre menu.
10 Basinghall St, London EC2V 5BQ, https://thehawksmoor.com/locations/guildhall/
2019 was the year of the food court in London. Three major food outlets opened around the city that hosts some of the best restaurants in London all under one roof. Arcade Food Theatre is one of the newest and more high-end venues that is a short walk away from London’s famous shopping street, Oxford Street. Inside has seven open kitchens of cuisines from around the world, one cafe and three bars. The concept works where each outlet has it’s own counter seating or you can take a seat in any of the open communal space. It’s an easy place to meet with friends if you all have different tastes and a great pre-theatre option.
103-105 New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1DB, https://www.arcade-london.com
Brunswick East is a super trendy Australian cafe with a creative brunch menu you won’t find in most other regular cafes. It was opened in 2015 by two sisters who wanted to bring the very best of Australian brunch culture to London and instead of the full English breakfast and bacon sandwiches us Brits are used to you’ll find things like smashed beets on toast, courgette pancakes and omurice (a Japanese style omelette). They even have their own bakery where they bake their bread fresh every day. Inside has an industrial, minimalist look and the crowd is mostly 30 something’s meeting friends for a catch-up. The cafe is hidden away in a courtyard in an East London industrial estate which is not the prettiest or easiest of areas to get to but it has bags of character.
Stamford Works, 3D, Gillett St, London N16 8JH, https://www.brunswickeast.london/
Bubala is a newbie to the London food scene opened in September 2019 in Shoreditch, one of London’s coolest areas. The restaurant offers exclusively vegetarian middle eastern food created by two established London restauranteurs who have worked at other successful eateries of similar Isreali eateries. Dishes are really creative and it’s best to get a few to share with the table so you can taste as much as possible. Some of my personal favourites are the aubergine with date syrup, the deep-fried potato latkes and the burnt butter hummus with flatbread to dip. Inside the vibe is effortlessly cool but it’s still cosy enough for a Saturday night date. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for somewhere a bit alternative to eat.
65 Commercial St, Spitalfields, London E1 6BD, https://www.bubala.co.uk/
I Will Kill Again is the cafe for you if you like places that are unusual, quirky and have bags of personality. This little gem is hidden under a railway arch and you’d never walk past it if you weren’t looking for it. They are a vegan-friendly cafe with so many exciting vegan breakfast dishes to offer and HUGE portions at that. Never fear, for anyone not vegan, they do a few meaty dishes if you prefer but I would highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and try something like their vegan Bollywood melt (a banging ‘cheese’ on toast) or the breakfast quesadilla with black beans and avocado cream. Your caffeine fix is supplied by the inhouse team who created their own brand of coffee called ‘Dark Arts Coffee’, and I am told it is a great choice. Inside has mismatched decor and a friendly, communal living room vibe that may have you sharing a table with another hipster couple or group. Service is pay at the counter which keeps it nice and casual. A great hidden gem.
Railway Arch 216 Ponsford Street, London E9 6JU , https://www.darkartscoffee.co.uk
Afternoon Tea is a quintessentially British experience everyone has to do once in their life. One piece of advice I always give to people who are visiting London is that it’s worth splashing out a proper afternoon tea at an extra special place rather than paying a little less for somewhere that’s a bit average. Somewhere special I would recommend is The Savoy – a 5* hotel in central London with a top reputation for its classic tea time tradition since the 1920s. As well as the stunning handmade cakes, perfect finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones at The Savoy you pay for the stunning surroundings and extra special treatment when you’re dining. Not to mention the luxurious hand cream in the bathroom! At £75 per head, it is a considered purchase but it’s totally worth saving up for an extra month or two.
Strand, London WC2R 0EZ, https://www.thesavoylondon.com/experience/afternoon-tea-london/
Gunpowder is Indian food but not as you know it. In the UK, in particular, we are used to a certain type of Indian restaurant experience which usually involves digging into your standard chicken tikka masala curry, rice and naan bread on the side. At Gunpowder that kind of order is long gone and they’ve created an almost Indian tapas experience with the idea being you order multiple dishes and share the food with the table. Not only is the experience different but food-wise you will find more unusual items than you would expect for an Indian eatery – things like whole soft shell crab, venison and vermicelli savoury doughnut and their famous lamb chops. The restaurant is a short walk away from London’s famous Tower Bridge which makes it a great destination for a before or after dinner explore. Gunpowder is one of the pricer restaurants on this list but the good thing is you can make your experience as extravagant or as minimal as you like with how many plates you order. Although, it’ll be hard to not get carried away.
4 Duchess Walk, London SE1 2SD, https://www.gunpowderlondon.com/tower-bridge/
Seven Dials Market is a new addition to London’s already brilliant market scene. Built inside a former banana warehouse, food giant KERB has built a space for talented food entrepreneurs by housing some of the cities top food talent under one roof. In the centre of the food hall is a large communal space for people to order and take an informal seat on their own or with a group of friends. Food outlets include Japanese soul food from Nanban, vegan Mexican dishes at Club Mexicana and London’s first cheese conveyor belt – just like when you go for sushi … but with cheese! Its in such a great location in Covent Garden and has so many options for large groups, picky eaters or if you need something more casual but still fun! Also a great place to grab a bite to eat if you’re going to see a show at a nearby theatre.
35 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LD, https://www.sevendialsmarket.com/
Barrafina features on most ‘best restaurant in London’ lists and any time you pass it has a long queue of people eager to see what the fuss is about. They are a high-end Spanish restaurant that does unbelievably good tapas plates and they deserve every bit of credit they get. You could say the menu is a little intimidating because of its Spanish authenticity and if you’re like me you may have to Google translate a few things but in all honesty, I don’t think you can go wrong in whatever you order. If you do need a little direction, however, I’d recommend the ‘pan con tomate’ (tomato bread), their famous oozing Spanish tortilla and the crema Catalana (a Spanish creme brulee) . All of the 4 locations have got counter seating which means you can sit in the middle of the cooking action like front row seats to a great theatre show. Barrafina is not your everyday restaurant but instead, one for a real ‘treat yourself’ lunch or dinner. It is luxurious but not in pompous way. Also, it’s a great option for any solo diners out there.
Multiple Locations, https://www.barrafina.co.uk/
What kind of Londoner would I be if I didn’t put a pub on this list? We love a good ol’ pub and we love a good ol’ pub meal even more. However, there are different types of pub that you need to understand first. You have your ‘old skool’ local pubs which have a sticky floor and the same older crowd that have been hanging out for years. Then you have your regular chain pubs that do beer and easy pub staples like fish and chips, burgers, that kind of thing. Then you have a gastro-pub which is a more polished version of a pub where the food is usually of higher quality and higher value. The Royal Oak is a gastropub. Inside they have kept a classic pub feel but made it a little bit more refined. Dishes include posh scotch eggs, glazed pork cheek with pear and even beef tartare (fancy!) It wouldn’t be great pub food without a traditional dessert like sticky toffee pudding which they have aplenty! If you’re visiting London from abroad and want a great pub experience this if your place!
The Royal Oak, 74-76 York St, Marylebone, London W1H 1QN, https://www.theroyaloakmarylebone.co.uk/
Japanese souffle pancakes were one of 2019’s biggest Instagram crazes because of their photogenic appearance and unusual ability to wiggle and jiggle. Say, what?? Fuwa Fuwa answered all our pancakes prayers and brought them to London to their dedicated pancake cafe. These extraordinary creations are a labour of love and take around 20 minutes to cook until they have a firm outside, a light, foamy inside and their signature wibble and wobble. You can choose from lots of different toppings including cheesecake, Nutella or my personal favourite honeycomb butter. These are like no other pancakes you’ll ever eat and you have to pay them a visit for an unusual and indulgent breakfast or evening treat.
Unit 8, Brunswick Centre, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1AE, https://www.instagram.com/fuwafuwalondon/
If there was an award for the prettiest, most extravagant restaurant in London it would have to go to Big Mamma. They are a group of Italian restaurants with locations in France, Italy and now two in London, Circolo Popolare and Gloria. Of course, the food is the most important part of any meal but if people are honest with themselves it’s the beautiful interior that draws them here … plus the epic wall of 20,000 bottles of alcohol! The menu is incredibly decadent with rich truffle pasta, lemon meringue pie taller than ever you’ve seen before and probably their most famous dish, spaghetti mixed in a giant wheel of cheese. They also do a great brunch! This is the perfect place if you want somewhere to impress that is extra special. Plus, it’s super romantic.
54-56 Great Eastern St, Hackney, London EC2A 3QR
40-41 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1HX https://www.bigmammagroup.com/en/accueil
Hoppers transports you to the back streets of Sri Lanka without ever leaving London. If you haven’t eaten Sri Lankan food before you could say it is very close to Indian cuisine with lots of rich curries and bread to dip. They are named after their signature ‘hopper’ dish which is a fluffy bowl-shaped pancake with an egg in the middle which can be ordered alongside hot butter paneer, lamb shank and traditional Sri Lankan kari’s and kothu’s. Hoppers have two locations, both super cool and really edgy. The Soho location is walk-in only most times but has a small number of slots for reservations. You can book anytime at the St Christopher location.
49 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4SG, https://www.hopperslondon.com/
77 Wigmore St, Marylebone, London W1U 1QE
Milk Beach is one of London’s gorgeous gems. The beautiful, minimalist cafe was created by Eliot Milne who worked in Ethiopia with the Bill Gates Foundation and helped set up a coffee initiative project working with coffee farmers for better business prospects. Milk Beach’s bespoke coffee is served alongside an Aussie inspired menu of grandma’s banana bread, organic yoghurt and their superb coddled eggs in a jar which are an unusual but must-have choice. Inside has sleek wood and marble tables that feels worlds away from its home in a hidden industrial street in North London and feels more like a beachfront on Bondi.
19 Lonsdale Road Queen’s Park NW6 6RA, https://www.milkbeach.com/
Neal’s Yard is one of my favourite places in London. If you haven’t heard of it because it’s a small, colourful courtyard with a handful of great cafes and restaurants. Jacob The Angel is a tiny coffee shop inside the yard that does freshly baked cakes, toasts, hot drinks and small lunch items. Both Neal’s Yard and Jacob The Angel get very busy and as it only has room for around 12 people I’d recommend heading there early, preferably for an almond croissant (the best in London in my opinion), plus a coffee and a spot of people watching to start off the morning in the best way. Neal’s Yard is not new to my ‘must-eats of the year’ list as I featured London’s first porridge cafe, 26 Grains on last years edition. See that here.
16A Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP, https://jacobtheangel.co.uk/
Wait! Before you go…
Don’t forget to check out last year’s ‘must eat’s of 2019’ blog post. Even though we’re one year on, there are still plenty of places on there that I still love and recommend you visit!