London Local Taste Guide for a First Time Tourist: Where & How to Eat

London truly is a melting pot of cultures, and each one brings with it its own culinary delights. As well as that, the traditional British fare and local London food are unique – often copied but never mastered. The streets of London provide one of the finest and most eclectic dining experiences anywhere in the world. That being the case, it would be remiss of HeyTripster not to provide a guide of where to eat and, of course, to focus on what makes British cuisine unique, be it in the local London restaurants, from those who have made London their home from abroad or simple London street food.
There are 40,000 restaurants in London, many of which are open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and supper, so which one do you choose? HeyTripster’s local guide offers you a rundown of some of the best local London restaurants as well as some fun places to eat to really enjoy the full London experience. Why not combine these great places to eat with HeyTripster’s other London trip plans…?

1. Full English Breakfast

The traditional full English breakfast is a tradition going back to the 13th century when it was invented by the gentry as a way of showing off their wealth and the quality of food produced by their estates.
Consisting of eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and toast (it now often includes hash browns, as well), it is a surprisingly satisfying way to start the day – and you often won’t need lunch afterwards!
For the best Full English, you are best off heading for a roadside cafe – or ‘greasy spoon’, as they are known – rather than a restaurant. These can be found all over London apart from right it the centre. Wherever there are houses and traffic, you will find a roadside cafe. They are where the lorry drivers stop for their hearty meals before a day on the road. A good full English breakfast is the perfect way to start your day, especially when you are on HeyTripster’s other London trip plans.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Andrew’s Restaurant

160 Gray’s Inn Road, WC1N
Nearest Underground: Chancery Lane Station – Central Lane (red)
Exit station, walk along Grey’s Inn Road to the corner with Northington Street. 7 minutes.

2. Al’s Cafe

124 Bermondsey Street, SE1
Nearest Underground: London Bridge Station – Jubilee Line (silver), Northern Line (black)
Exit the station onto Borough High Street, turn right at the crossroads opposite Borough Market into St Thomas Street, turn right into Bermondsey Street. 10 minutes.

Opening hours: Cafes are open all day.
Expect to pay: £5 – £10

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2. Fish And Chips

If there’s one thing that nowhere else in the world is able to replicate its English fish and chips. Beautiful white flaky fish deep fried in batter along with softly fried chips is an absolute dining pleasure. Topped with salt and vinegar it is just beautiful.
The tradition originally came to Britain with Jewish immigrants from Holland and it has since become the nation’s favorite. No trip to London is complete with having had fish and chips!
HeyTripster’s local guide tip is to have a side of mushy peas and to eat from a specialty fish and chip shop rather than order them in a restaurant. If you’d like to get more local tips from HeyTripster’s trip designers click here.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Fish Lounge

99 Brixton Hill, SW2
Nearest Underground: Brixton Station – Victoria Line (light blue)
Exit station, turn left along High Street and down Brixton Hill past the park. 10 minutes.

2. Fryer’s Delight

19 Theobalds Road, WC1X
Nearest Underground: Holborn Station – Central Line (red), Piccadilly Line (dark blue)
Exit the station onto High Holborn, walk under the archway at 110, and round the green at Red Lion Square, through the passage by Conway Hall and the chip shop is to the right. 5 minutes.

Opening hours: Fish and chip shops are open all day from lunchtime.
Expect to pay: £10 – £15.

3. Shepherd’s Pie

Ultimately, a very simple recipe but an absolutely delicious one. Pieces of lamb combined with gravy and vegetables topped with roasted mashed potato is a heart warming dish. Lamb is used, hence it is called a Shepherd’s Pie. Another variation, with beef instead of lamb, is called a Cottage Pie.
Originally cooked as a way of using the leftover meat, the Shepherd’s Pie is now a popular dish in its own right and a real favorite, be it on a fine dining menu or in a pub accompanied by a pint of beer. This makes it a perfect lunch option when embarking on other trip plans.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. The Ivy

1-5 West Street, WC2H
Nearest Underground: Leicester Square Station – Northern Line (black), Piccadilly Line (dark blue)
Exit station onto Charing Cross Road, walk past Newport Court, right into Litchfield Street and the Ivy is opposite the St Martin’s Theatre. 2 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 14:30 – 18:00
Expect to pay: Two-course menu £24.50, three-course menu £28.50

2. Windmill Mayfair

6-8 Mill Street, W1S
Nearest Underground: Oxford Circus Station – Bakerloo Line (brown), Central Line (red), Victoria Line (light blue)
Exit the station onto Regent Street, walk past Microsoft, turn right into Conduit Street and right into Mill Street. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 11:30 – 23:00; Sunday 12:00 – 18:00
Expect to pay: £12 – £25.

4. Beef Wellington

Named in honour of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington after his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The Beef Wellington is made from a joint of beef coated in pate and wrapped in puff pastry. The whole joint is roasted and served in slices.
Served with a nice creamy helping of mashed potato and thick gravy it can be a hearty dish, particularly on a winter’s day.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Bob Bob Ricard

1 Upper James Street, W1F
Nearest Underground: Piccadilly Circus Station – Piccadilly Line (dark blue)
Exit station by the statue of Eros and cross into Glasshouse Street. Turn into Sherwood Street, walk past the Piccadilly Theatre, cross the road into Lower James Street and walk through to Upper James Street. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday, 17:30 – 00:00, Friday – Sunday 11:00 – 00:00
Expect to pay: £40

2. Holborn Dining Room

Rosewood Hotel, 252 High Holborn, WC1V
Nearest Underground: Holborn Station – Central Line (red), Piccadilly Line (dark blue)
Exit the station onto High Holborn, the Dining Room is in the Rosewood Hotel. 2 minutes.
Opening hours: 07:00 – 22:00 – Wednesday is Beef Wellington day!
Expect to pay: £25 – £40.

5. Sunday Roast

As the name suggests, this is a special Sunday treat. Roasted beef, pork, chicken or lamb with roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and a selection of vegetables – usually carrots, broccoli, peas, cauliflower or cabbage with a nice thick gravy is just perfect for a Sunday afternoon.
A Sunday roast dinner is as English as red buses, cricket on the village green and a nice cup of tea and it is available absolutely everywhere, from fine dining establishments to pubs – if you want a roast dinner on a Sunday you will certainly get one. In fact, if any English restaurant does not do a roast dinner on a Sunday you know to give that place a wide berth!
Suggested Restaurants…

1. The Cow

89 Westbourne Park Road, W2
Nearest Underground: Royal Oak Station – Circle Line (yellow), Hammersmith & City Line (pink)
Exit station and turn left over the bridge. Turn into Westbourne Park Villas, walk to the end and Cow is opposite on the right. 7 minutes.
Opening hours: Sunday 12:00 – 21:30
Expect to pay: £20

2. Smokehouse Islington

63-69 Canonbury Road, N1
Nearest Underground: Highbury & Islington Station – Victoria Line (light blue)
Exit the station and turn right. Walk round Highbury Corner into Canonbury Road. The Smokehouse is on the corner of Canonbury Road and Halton Road. 8 minutes.
Opening hours: Sunday 12:00 – 21:00
Expect to pay: £15 – £25.

6. Pie, Mash, And Liquor

Forget all the fancy fine dining – pie, mash and liquor is what the south and east of London grew up on. Liquor is a sauce made with parsley.
Manze is the oldest surviving pie and mash shop in London, having opened in 1892. The pie shops opened because the working class of the time generally didn’t have the facilities to cook for themselves and they needed cheap food. The pie shops became popular and they are as much a part of London as Tower Bridge and Big Ben. Eat like a local.
HeyTripster’s tip: don’t expect nice restaurants. Pie shops are just that – shops that sell pies with a few tables and chairs for people to sit at. Presentation isn’t a big consideration, but the food is scrummy!
HeyTripster’s tip number two: order a pot of stewed eels, another East End staple. If you’d like to get more local tips from HeyTripster’s trip designers click here.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Manze

87 Tower Bridge Road, SE1
Nearest Underground: Tower Hill – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green)
Exit station and walk down steps past the statue of Emperor Trajan and down to the street. Cross to Tower Of London and cross the River Thames over Tower Bridge. Continue along Tower Bridge Road following signs for Elephant And Castle. 25 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 10:30 – 17:45, Friday 10:00 – 18:45, Saturday 10:00 – 7:45, Sunday 11:00 – 14:45
Expect to pay: £4 – £10

2. Cockney’s Traditional Pie And Mash

314 Portobello Road, W10
Nearest Underground: Ladbroke Grove Station – Circle Line (yellow), Hammersmith & City Line (pink)
Exit the station and turn left under the bridge. Turn right at the crossroads with Chesterton Road and walk to Portobello Road. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11:30 – 17:00
Expect to pay: £4 – £10.

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7. Burgers

Ok, who doesn’t love a good burger? In a bun, on its own, meaty, vegetarian, there are burgers to suit everybody. Even Gordon Ramsey has got in on the act with his Street Burger restaurants. For the best burger in London, check out either Street Burger or Byron Burger. Delicious and not expensive, with a wide variety on either menu. You will not be disappointed!
Of course, you can also pick up a burger pretty much anywhere as street food if you don’t have long to stop when on any of the London trip plans.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Street Burger

17 Upper Cheapside Passage, EC2V
Nearest Underground: St Paul’s Station – Central Line (red)
Exit station onto Cheapside and take the fork to New Change. The restaurant is in the One Change Building. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Wednesday 11:30 – 22:00, Thursday – Saturday 11:30 – 23:00, Sunday 11:30 – 20:00
Expect to pay: £15 – £25

2. Byron Burgers

33-35 Wellington Road, WC2E
Nearest Underground: Covent Garden Station – Piccadilly Line (dark blue)
Exit the station into James Street to Covent Garden and leave at the Russell Street entrance. Turn right into Wellington Street. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Sunday – Thursday 11:30 – 22:00, Friday – Saturday 11:00 – 22:00
Expect to pay: £7 – £20.

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8. Ploughman’s Lunch

As the name might suggest, this was a meal originally taken by farm workers into the fields as they would not have had time to return home for lunch. They would have bread, cheese and pickle as a hearty meal to keep them going for the afternoon. Local pubs would also serve a ‘Ploughman’s Luncheon’ as a cheap affordable meal.
Today, the Ploughman’s Lunch is still a popular offering and, even though it is very simple, it is surprisingly satisfying. Again, the local HeyTripster tip is to order this in a pub as it is unlikely to be on a restaurant’s menu. If you’d like to get more local tips from HeyTripster’s trip designers click here.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

145 Fleet Street, EC4A
Nearest Underground: St Paul’s Station – Central Line (red)
Exit station and walk down Panyer Alley into St Paul’s Churchyard past St Paul’s Cathedral to Ludgate Hill. Turn right and follow the road into Fleet Street. 10 minutes.
Opening hours: Every day 12:00 – 23:00
Expect to pay: £7 – £20

2. The Admiralty Pub

Trafalgar Square, WC2N
Nearest Underground: Charing Cross Station – Bakerloo Line (brown), Northern Line (black)
Exit the station onto The Strand and walk towards Trafalgar Square. The pub is opposite the Square near Uganda House. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Every day 12:00 – 23:00
Expect to pay: £7 – £20.

9. Sticky Toffee Pudding

Oh…my…days! A good sticky toffee pudding is just SO good! A moist cake filled with finely chopped dates and covered in a sticky toffee sauce, Sticky Toffee Pudding was voted Britain’s favourite dessert in 2020. And once you have had one you will know exactly why. Usually accompanied with a scoop of ice cream or a generous dash of cream, it will be found on menus in fancy restaurants as well as pub grub. The exact origins of this pudding are unknown but whoever invented the dish deserves their place in history. Please, please try one…!
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Bread Street Kitchen

10 Bread Street, EC4M
Nearest Underground: St Paul’s Station – Central Line (red)
Exit station onto Cheapside into New Change. Turn left into Watling Street and Bread Street is in front of you. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 07:30 – 24:00, Saturday 11:00 – 01:00, Sunday 11:00 – 21:00
Expect to pay: £8.50

2. Hawksmoor Seven Dials

11 Langley Street, WC2H
Nearest Underground: Covent Garden Station – Piccadilly Line (dark blue)
Exit the station onto Longacre and turn right into Langley Street. 2 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 17:00 – 21:30, Saturday 12:00 – 21:00, Sunday 12:00 – 20:00
Expect to pay: £8.50.

10. Afternoon Tea

A peculiarly English thing. Taking afternoon tea originated with the wealthy social classes in the 1840s, with its invention being credited to the Duchess of Bedford. Taking afternoon tea was a sign of class and developed into a social occasion with the intention of impressing friends and society. This HeyTripster trip plan is what you are looking for if you’d like to have a day in London where you can feel like a royal.
Sandwiches with the bread crust removed, cakes and pastries with pots of tea – how English do you want to get? Nowadays, the best afternoon teas are offered by either specialist tea shops or in certain London hotels and tourist attractions such as the Ritz and the Shard. For these, you will need to book with the restaurant beforehand. Be warned – they can be on the expensive side, but as well as the food you pay for the ambiance and the experience.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Brown’s Covent Garden

82 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N
Nearest Underground: Leicester Square Station – Northern Line (black), Piccadilly Line (dark blue).
Exit station into Cranbourne Street at the turn into St Martin’s Lane at the Agatha Christie statue. 2 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 15:00 – 17:00
Expect to pay: £20 – £30

2. The Wolseley

160 Piccadilly, W1J
Nearest Underground: Green Park Station – Jubilee Line (silver), Piccadilly Line (dark blue), Victoria Line (light blue).
Exit the station and walk past The Ritz Hotel along Piccadilly. The Wolseley is next door to the Ritz. 2 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 15:00 – 18:30, Saturday & Sunday 15:30 – 18:30
Expect to pay: £13 – £40

11. Tea

Yes, that’s right, tea. A cup of tea. There is nowhere in the world that does tea like the British. It is the nation’s favourite drink, it is what built an empire, it is the first thing you are offered when you visit anybody’s house.
A cup of tea is not just a cup of tea. There are innumerable different brands and flavours and everybody has their favourite. If you haven’t visited a tea shop when in London then you haven’t been to London!
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Twinings

216 The Strand, WC2R
Nearest Underground: Temple Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green).
Exit station and walk up Arundel Street. Turn right into The Strand and Twinings is opposite the Royal Courts Of Justice. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday, 08:30 – 19:30, Saturday & Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
Expect to pay: £2 – £30

2. Tea And Tattle

41 Great Russell Street, WC1B
Nearest Underground: Tottenham Court Road Station – Central Line (red), Northern Line (black).
Exit the station and walk past The Dominion Theatre. Turn right into Great Russell Street and Tea And Tattle is just before Coptic Street. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 13:00 – 17:30
Expect to pay: £4 – £20

12. Sushi

Of course, being such a hot spot of cultures, London’s best restaurants are not limited to traditional English food. Where would you go for London’s best sushi? The best Greek restaurants in London? The best Chinese? Etc.
Let’s begin with sushi and Japanese restaurants. Traditionally made with white rice and often seafood such as salmon or crab, sushi is now one of the world’s most popular foreign foods. London has numerous Japanese restaurants that excel in producing the finest sushi anywhere outside of Japan.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Ohisama Sushi

39 Paddington Street, W1U
Nearest Underground: Baker Street Station – Bakerloo Line (brown), Circle Line (yellow), Jubilee Line (silver), Hammersmith & City Line (pink), and Metropolitan Line (purple). Exit station onto Marylebone Road and turn into Baker Street at the crossroads by The Globe Pub. The restaurant is on the corner of Paddington Street. 5 minutes.
Opening hours: Every day 11:00 – 15:30 and 17:30 – 22:30
Expect to pay: £10 – £25

2. Sushi Atelier

114 Great Portland Street, W1W
Nearest Underground: Great Portland Street Station – Circle Line (yellow), Jubilee Line (silver), Hammersmith & City Line (pink), and Metropolitan Line (purple).
Exit the station and walk down Great Portland Street past The Albany Pub. 7 minutes.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 12:00 – 15:00 and 18:00 – 23:00
Expect to pay: £4 – £25.

13. Chinese Food

London’s Chinatown is a great place to eat, assuming you like Chinese food, of course! So many restaurants to choose from, each serving an extensive range of delicious Chinese dishes. Right in the heart of London, HeyTripster’s local guide’s tip is to find a restaurant that is full of Chinese rather than English people, then you know you are getting the best authentic meal you can. If you’d like to get more local tips from HeyTripster’s trip designers click here. Also, spend a little time just walking around Chinatown – it has a really good atmosphere and is right next to Leicester Square.
Suggested Restaurants…

1. Joy Luck

39 Paddington Street, W1U
Nearest Underground: Leicester Square Station – Northern Line (black), Piccadilly Line (dark blue). Exit station onto Charing Cross Road and walk into Little Newport Street opposite the station. Turn into Gerard Street opposite The Hippodrome. 2 minutes.
Opening hours: Every day 11:30 – 23:00
Expect to pay: £10 – £30

2. Jinli Restaurant

4 Leicester Square, WC2H
Nearest Underground: Leicester Square Station – Northern Line (black), Piccadilly Line (dark blue).
Exit the station and enter Cranbourne Street by The Hippodrome Casino into Leicester Square. 2 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 12:00 – 23:30, Sunday 12:00 – 22:30
Expect to pay: £10 – £40.

14. Greek Food

London has long had many Greek residents and, of course, they brought their cuisine with them. From the salads, through meze, to the lamb, rice, mousaka, baklava, etc. There are many Greek restaurants throughout London (indeed, the whole of the UK) and, quite frankly, what is there not to like…?
Suggested Restaurants…

1. The Real Greek

Bankside, SE1
Nearest Underground: Cannon Street Station – Circle Line (yellow), District Line (green). Exit station into Dowgate Hill. Turn right into Little College Lane and left into Queen Street Place at Five Kings House. Cross the River Thames over Southwark Bridge and climb down the steps to Bankside. (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is just a little further along Bankside from the restaurant).
Opening hours: Sunday – Thursday 12:00 – 22:00, Friday & Saturday 12:00 – 23:00
Expect to pay: £5 – £40

2. Aphrodite Taverna

15 Hereford Road, W2
Nearest Underground: Queensway Station – Central Line (red).
Exit the station and turn right at the park on Bayswater Road (the park contains the Princess Diana Memorial Playground). Turn into St Petersburgh Street then left into Prince’s Square and right into Hereford Road. 10 minutes.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 12:00 – 24:00
Expect to pay: £10 – £25.

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