From meat pies to secret doors.
Spring travel season approaches, and London is a great destination to consider. It's shoulder season still for one, meaning it can be a more affordable time of year to visit, and secondly, it's quite a pretty time as well with flowers and trees in bloom. I imagine Kew Gardens is lovely in springtime.
If this grand city is calling to you, you can check out my post covering my London vacation last autumn that includes a bit of an overview, where I stayed and why it was a convenient home base, getting around the city, and places worth visiting.
But let's talk about food. London has such a wide, diverse array of restaurants that any notion you'll be hard pressed to find something to eat is severely outdated. There's something for everyone, down to the pickiest eater. The culinary scene has been thriving in recent years and admittedly, one of my favorite things about visiting new places is the food.
Here's a few places I whole-heartedly recommend from my trip.
Bocca di Lupo: On the much quieter Archer Street right near Piccadilly Circus, this restaurant's focus is on incredible tasting regional Italian cuisine, with dishes you might not normally find in most places. It's quite popular, so I suggest making reservations and if you're a party of two they seat you at the kitchen counter where you get the added bonus of watching the cooks make your meal. It's definitely worth making dinner plans here, and they own a gelateria that's right across the street if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth. This place is a bit on the pricier end, but not outrageously so.
Recommended dish: buffalo mozzarella bocconcini appetizer, think a mozarrella stick amped to 11
Evans and Peel Detective Agency: This Earls Court speakeasy has quite the fun concept; you make a reservation by coming up with a fictional case that you want the detectives to take on. The door is pretty inconspicuous, so if you're not familiar with the area refer to GPS or map. Once to get the door, you press the buzzer and state your name, where a "detective" greets you into the office and you go over your case details and then are led into the restaurant itself behind a secret door. It's a bit of fun farce, and well worth it because this is actually a pretty nice bar/restaurant with a solid drink list and a British take on American comfort food. I'm pretty certain they were playing Postmodern Jukebox music and the like when we were there. I'd say it was about mid-range as cost for food goes in London.
Recommended dish: the mac and cheese, ooey gooey and oh so satisfying
Pret A Manger: Ah, Pret. Ubiquitous, convenient, and affordable. Turn the corner and they're there, that red star a beacon of caffeination and breakfast sandwiches. When you're on the go, Pret's such an efficient, tasty option and ended up being our go to because there was one literally on the way to anywhere we were visiting.
Recommended dish: Bacon & Egg brioche and Flat White coffee. Flat Whites are such a lovely alternative to a regular latte or cappuccino.
Hawksmoor: Do you like steak? Then this is the place to go. Billed as the finest steaks in London, we ate at the Knightsbridge location a hop skip away from Harrod's. This location's decor reminded us of a posh mid-century eatery. My boyfriend had the filet while I tucked myself into the Sunday Roast dinner. This is definitely a bit on the pricier end, but also worth visiting once if you it in your budget.
Recommended dish: Sunday Roast dinner. It's a classic for a reason!
Zizzi: There was a location right near Hampton Court and, as it turns out, right down the street from out hotel by Notting Hill Gate, so this ended up being a bit of a right place, right time restaurant we found both times. It's no-fuss Italian fare at a good price with some tasty starter plates like Jewelled Gnocchi fried and served with a tomatopepperonata dipping sauce, really good garlic bread puffs, and solid food options.
Recommended dish: Pulled beef and venison strozzapreti. I was hesitant to try venison, but this was so tasty it ended up being a total win for me.
Hummingbird Bakery: I discovered this place through one of Tanya Burr's vlogs, and the cupcakes looked so good I had to see for myself. They are indeed good cupcakes and Hummingbird makes a great pitstop if you're visiting the Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill.
Borough Market: Saving the best for last, if you only visit one of the places I mention here for food, let it be Borough Market. This centuries old bustling farmer's market has a little of everything, and vendors are more than happy to give you samples if you ask nicely. From fresh pressed juices, to olives, to amazing cheeses and wonderful pastries, there's a little bit of everything here and it was one of my favorite places to visit in London. And not just because of the Sangria to Go or mulled wine; I really liked how surprisingly charming it was to sit and watch everything with a cup of coffee and enjoy the bustling environment.
You can easily grab a few things to take to go and have a picnic in one of the many green parks or by the Thames, or you can stop at one (or a few) of the many food stalls for a bite to eat.
Recommended dish: EVERYTHING, but short of that, a savory pie from Pieminister or the fresh pasta special at La Tua Pasta.
I hope you find these recommendations handy and drool-worthy if you plan on visiting soon.
What are your favorite places to eat at in London? Leave your recommendations in the comments!