ETC's Favorite London Restaurants

Over the past few years, the Euro Travel Coach team has collectively spent quite a bit of time exploring (read: eating our way through) London. London has come a long way from the days of bad pub food and westernized curry houses. It’s a vibrant, international city with an incredible food scene - one of the best in the world! We get frequent requests for restaurant recommendations in the city, so we thought we would put together a list of some of our favorites:

40 Maltby Street

This fantastic natural wine bar, located in Bermondsey near Tower Bridge, showcases small terroir-driven wine-makers. You can purchase bottles for takeaway, but you would be remiss not to enjoy at least a few glasses at the bar, where you can pair your wine with creative dishes from the ever-changing chalkboard menu. On a recent visit we enjoyed homemade charcuterie, crispy pork schnitzel with rhubarb, plaice with saffron aioli, and a delicious bottle of Marie et Vincent Tricot 'les Milans' Rouge – a vibrant pinot noir from the little known Auvergne region of France. The vibe here is warm and inviting and the staff are more than happy to give recommendations and help you decipher the wine list.  

 A. Wong’s custard buns

A. Wong’s custard buns

A. Wong

This Michelin starred Chinese restaurant is located in an area that doesn’t have much else going for it in the culinary realm, making it an oasis for those exploring the Westminster area or seeing a show at the Victoria Palace or Apollo Victoria theatres. The menu features reimagined regional Chinese specialties that are a delicious departure from the westernized Cantonese dishes that most of us are used to. At lunch you can order dim sum by the piece (don’t miss the xiao long bao, moo shu pork, and the custard bun) or visit at dinner time for sharing dishes or the 13 course “Taste of China” menu. Service is warm and genuine and includes great recommendations. This restaurant is wonderful any time of year, but we find it particularly perfect in the winter, when it’s a great escape from London’s cold, grey weather.

 Delicious bao buns and a tasty cocktail at Bao Soho

Delicious bao buns and a tasty cocktail at Bao Soho

Bao Soho

There’s no reservations at the popular Taiwanese eatery, so we’d recommend going for a late lunch or early dinner to avoid long queues. Once inside, you’ll be treated to pillow-y steamed milk buns stuffed with delicious savory fillings (some traditional and some creative), as well as a variety of small plates. Tasty cocktails and an outstanding fried Horlicks ice cream bao for dessert round out the menu. Most of the seating within the restaurant is on stools around a bar plus a few small tables tucked into the corners. It’s not exactly comfortable, but the food is so delicious that you won’t even care.

 Bacon naan and chai at Dishoom

Bacon naan and chai at Dishoom

Dishoom

There are several Dishoom locations dotted around London, which is convenient for visitors to the city as you’ll find excellent options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at these Bombay-style cafés. I recently stopped by the Covent Garden location for breakfast, and I am still dreaming about the bacon naan I had, which was filled with a smear of cream cheese, spiced tomato jam and Ramsay of Carluke’s smoked streaky bacon. I was also delighted to discover that they offered free refills of the Chai – lucky for them, the weather was nice that day, otherwise I would have gladly sat there for hours drinking the sweet and spicy tea.

 Xiao Long Bao from Dumplings Legend

Xiao Long Bao from Dumplings Legend

Dumplings Legend

The service at this Chinatown restaurant is just as perfunctory as all the online reviews will lead you to believe, but, once they plonk down an order of xiao long bao on your table, you’ll gladly look past the staffs’ grim demeanor. As you enter the restaurant, you can see the cooks hard at work wrapping these and other tasty steamed dumplings. In case you’re unfamiliar, xiao long bao are a style of steamed dumpling typically associated with Shanghai. They are filled with pork and a rich broth (which can be scalding hot - be sure to check out this article on the proper way to enjoy them). They are delicious and addictive – in fact, as I’m writing this, I’m wishing I could get my hands on some (despite the fact that I just ate lunch). In addition to the dumplings, Dumplings Legend has a lengthy menu of Chinese dishes, some of which, such as the three cup chicken and the Chinese broccoli, are quite tasty; but if you want my advice, save the room in your stomach for extra dumplings.

 Guests enjoying lunch at Honey & Co.

Guests enjoying lunch at Honey & Co.

Honey & Co.

Husband-and-wife team, Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer opened this gem of a restaurant in 2012, and despite the fact that they’ve opened two more restaurants since and gained international renown as cookbook authors, you can still often find them in the kitchen or dining room at their original venture. They opened Honey & Co. with the goal of serving traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. In their words, “the kind you find in people’s homes using the best ingredients [they] can get their hands on.” The pair have done just that. Having dinner in the tiny, simple dining room of this neighborhood restaurant makes you feel warm and cozy inside. From the moment you walk in the door, you feel like you’re part of the family. When it comes time to order, we’d definitely recommend choosing the set menu – the mezze dishes are outstanding and for £30 you can try all of them plus a main course. Also, don’t miss out on the desserts – Sarit has a background in pastry and her creations are absolutely breathtaking. Kitty-cornered from Honey & Co. you’ll find Itamar and Sarit’s deli, Honey & Spice, which serves up delicious, hearty salads for take away and an array of incredible baked goods (I could eat my weight in the sesame breadsticks…or the preserved lemon tahini cookies…or the cauliflower salad…the list goes on). I’d recommend getting your treats to go and enjoying them in nearby Regent’s Park.

 The excellent Kiln restaurant in London’s Soho neighborhood

The excellent Kiln restaurant in London’s Soho neighborhood

Kiln

The food at Kiln is something that I regularly daydream about. It’s Thai food like you’ve never had before – the cooking is influenced by the regions where Thailand borders Burma, Laos and Yunnan. You won’t find any pad thai or drunken noodles on Kiln’s menu – instead you’ll be treated to dry-aged lamb skewers, clay pot noodles with crab, whole grilled sole, Burmese beef neck curry and more. The produce, meat, and seafood are locally sourced and they work with British farmers to grow Thai and Chinese herbs and vegetables. It all adds up to a truly breathtaking dining experience. Most of the seating is at a communal counter which is reserved for walk ins. If you have a party of 4 or more, you can reserve a table in the downstairs dining room (which works out nicely since you can skip the wait and try more of the menu!).

Padella

This pared back pasta restaurant is located on the edge of Borough market. On the menu you’ll find a variety of fresh pasta dishes, including the incredibly well priced Gnocchi with nutmeg butter. At just £4 it’s a serious bargain, but you’ll find that nothing on their menu is more than £11. If you’re a pasta lover, it’s definitely worth waiting in the consistently long line to get your carb fix.

 Jian Bing with pork from Pleasant Lady

Jian Bing with pork from Pleasant Lady

Pleasant Lady Jian Bing Trading Stall

For a quick lunch or an afternoon snack, you can’t beat the pancake wraps from Pleasant Lady Trading Stall, a small street-side hatch on Greek Street in Soho. The thin Chinese-crepes are made right before your eyes and stuffed with an egg, a variety of herbs, veggies, hoisin sauce, crunchy wontons, and your choice of pork, lamb or chicken.

Roti King

Roti Canai is a Malaysian flat bread that is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest foods on earth. At Roti King, you can watch as they stretch the dough, brush it with oil, fold it to form the flakey layers, and then griddle the bread until it’s golden brown and delicious. You can get your roti with a side of dhal (my favorite) or curried chicken, fish or lamb. Alternatively, you can get your roti stuffed with a variety of sweet or savory fillings. Roti King also serves a variety of other Malaysian dishes, but as the name implies, the Roti is by far the best thing on the menu. Note that there are no reservations and at peak times there can be quite a long line. The line moves fairly quickly as service is fast and people don’t tend to linger, but if you want to avoid waiting, you can order your food for take-away. If you do eat in, note that it is a BYOB restaurant with a £10 service charge per table (I’d recommend just focusing on the food and going out for a pint afterwards!).

 Biangbiang noodles from Xi’an Impression

Biangbiang noodles from Xi’an Impression

Xi’an Impression

This no-frills restaurant near the Emirates stadium focuses on delicious cuisine of the Shan Xi province of China. The noodles are the star of the show here – my favorite are the cold noodles (found in the street food section of the menu) in a brightly acidic sesame sauce and the thick, hand-pulled biangbiang noodles with chili sauce (with or without braised beef). Also of note outside of the noodle realm are the Xi’an “burgers” – griddled flatbread stuffed with spiced pork or beef. As long as you avoid the “others” section, which is filled with Anglicized versions of Cantonese dishes, you really can’t go wrong.

 

BONUS: Though this list is mainly focused on restaurants, I couldn’t resist throwing in one of my favorite bars!

Bar Termini Soho

Inspired by Rome’s Termini train station bar, Bar Termini is open all day, serving up excellent espresso and coffee drinks, delicious cocktails, and Italian snacks and charcuterie. I like to duck in here to get a little slice of Italy without leaving the UK, and I’m not the only one. The last time I was here, I was seated next to two very well dressed men who were speaking Italian and gesticulating wildly (somehow without knocking over their delicate cocktail glasses). Don’t miss the house negronis – my favorite is the superiore, which is infused with pink peppercorns. They bottle all their house negronis, so if you discover one that you love, you can actually purchase a bottle to bring home with you. Now that’s my kind of souvenir. 

Are you planning a trip somewhere in Europe? We can help with that! Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Italy, France, Ireland, England and all of Europe. We also still have spots available on our small group trip to Tuscany in May and our small group trip to Piedmont in October 2019!  We'd love for you to join us!  You can always reach Betsy at betsy@eurotravelcoach.com.  We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!