The British are known for a few really cool things, like being extremely posh, the Queen, and tea. They are not, however, known for their delicacies and local fare. But in reality, there are a few dishes in London that are better here than in any other part of the world. While it’s true that most of them are typically eaten in a pub, doesn’t that make them even better?
Traditional pub grub in London
London is known for its cozy pubs serving fried foods and cool ales, which can be seen on almost every street corner in the city. Head into one for lunch, dinner or evening drinks with friends and they are always serving.
Fish and Chips— It’s as classic as Big Ben and should be every tourist and study abroad student’s first meal in London. Head to your local pub (it shouldn’t be far) and ask for this London delicacy commonly made from battered cod or haddock. Try to find a pub that batters the fish with its own brew, such as Horniman at Hays, a pub that batters their fish and chips in their own Nicholson’s brew.
Steak and Ale Pie— This is a London favorite among locals and tourists because it is so delicious. A pastry puff pie shell is filled with delicious beef and gravy that, when cut into, spills onto the mashed potatoes and other vegetables served on the plate. One of the best pies I ever had was at St. Stephen’s Tavern, just feet from Big Ben. They used their own Tanglefoot Ale in their pie and I was tempted to order a second when my plate was cleared.
Indian Food—Look no further than London for some of the best curry in the world–outside of India, of course. With a huge –and growing- Indian population in London, curry is becoming just as popular as London’s “traditional” dishes. While great curry houses can be found all over the city, head to Brick Lane for some competitive prices and a guaranteed delicious meal. My favorite so far is Sheraz; they helped me pick out the taste base and spiciness that I wanted so that I completely enjoyed my meal.
English Breakfast–While it’s not exactly dinner food, a proper “full English” is as popular as the dinner options. The Brits like to eat, so an English breakfast will usually consist of bacon, eggs, sausage and a few side dishes like toast and other carbs, and always served with their beloved tea. This is a better breakfast than you’ll get in all of Europe, which is known for its small and not very filling breakfasts. Check out Regency Café on Regency Street for a meal that will fill you up without putting a strain on your wallet.
Tea and Cake— Despite that this technically is not a meal, it is still traditional food beloved by Londoners. When offered in a proper tea house, this afternoon delight comes with a pot of tea and a slice of cake from a usually wide selection. My favorite spot is the Tea House Theatre where I get whichever black tea the ladies recommend and a slice of carrot cake. A few cozy and comfortable hours can easily be spent reading, chatting and relaxing there.
Best budget eats in London
London, with its prices and its currency–the Pound Sterling– are not conducive to spending your money without care. For a dinner out, the pubs –and the meals mentioned above- may not be a bad idea. Those meals usually run for £10 or less. If you’re looking to deviate from the pub grub life, there are some other options.
Honest Burger is a chain of burger joints, but rest assured, it is not a fast food restaurant. They serve a great burger and chips for under £10 and they can be found all over London.
Beigel Bake on Brick Lane is the only place I have discovered in London to get a delicious bagel that is as good as one from New York. If you’re looking for breakfast or lunch (or midnight snack, since they’re open late!) then look no further than this shop on Brick Lane. A bagel with cream cheese will only set you back £1 and you can add salmon and other add-ons for a few pence more.
Comptoir Libanais in South Kensington can satisfy your wallet and you Lebanese craving, should you get one. They have delicious plates, like the lamb burger, that won’t set you back more than £10 for a main and a drink. Stop here after a day at the museums, as it’s a stone’s throw from museum row.