LUXE City Guides
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Where to Eat in London (Part 2)

Confounded by the vast selection of eateries in London town? We hear you. Cut through the noise with the LUXE London guide’s curated list of what’s hot, and what’s not. 

Following her round up of of the smartest London restaurants, food and travel TV producer Jayne Hibbitt Smith introduces the best of the city’s casual kitchens.

Part 2: Casual Kitchens

Dishoom, King’s Cross

The lowdown: Modern take on the Bombay cafes of old. No reservations for groups under six.

What to order: 24-hour house black daal, lamb raan, bacon and egg naan roll, ergo the best bacon buttie in the city.

Not your average curry house. Since opening in 2010 this modern take on the cafes of 1930’s Bombay has become a London dining phenomenon – punters looking for a ruby murray fix are willing to queue for up to two hours at one of it’s four locations across the city. A magnificent three storey Victorian warehouse is home to the King’s Cross branch making it not only easy on the eye but also very spacious – both important factors if you’re going to be hanging out at the bar for any length of time waiting for a table.

The top-notch cocktails and traditional Indian snacks while away the time nicely and the main event is very much worth the wait. Their signature 24-hour black daal is more unctuous and delicious than any pulse should be, perfect alongside charcoal grilled meats and plenty of pillowy naan for moppage. Breakfast is a good option to avoid the nighttime queues; let’s face it there are worse ways to start your day than with a bacon and egg naan.

Hawksmoor, various locations

The lowdown: Steak, dirty great slabs of it aged and cooked to perfection.

What to order:  The bone-in larger cuts are great for sharing.

Considered by many to be the best steak in the UK, this very British steakhouse gives its US counterparts a run for their money. But there’s no American grain-fed beef to be seen – Hawksmoor only serves British, grass-fed meat that’s been dry-aged for 35 days for maximum flavour. Chargrilled to perfection, steak this good requires little more than a well-cooked chip as accompaniment – triple cooked in this case, and a bit of béarnaise, but other sides are available.     

Padella, Borough Market

The lowdown: Pasta, Pasta and more pasta. No reservations.

What to order: Pappardelle with eight-hour beef shin ragu, pici cacio e pepe, fettuccine with Cobble Lane cured nduja.

This tiny Borough Market pasta bar has eager punters pressing their noses against the window an hour before opening, in a desperate bid to bag a table. The menu is small but perfectly formed with six antipasti and eight pasta dishes, regularly rotated. The antipasti is tasty enough but it’s all about the pasta, which is made fresh to order right in front of you and servings are petite enough both in price and size to allow three between two people. The pici cacio e pepe is a lesson in simplicity not to be missed and as comforting as an electric blanket on a cold winter’s night. Get there early and have a nose round London’s most famous food market first.

In case you missed it: Where to Eat in London (Part 1)

Ottolenghi, Islington

The lowdown: Outrageously good salads and cakes to eat in or take away.

What to order:  It’s pretty hard to order badly here. The salads are guaranteed to make you look at veggies in a whole new light.

The first outpost of the ever expanding Ottolenghi empire is a deli by day and restaurant by night. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but it’s the lavish spread of salads and cakes that’s the main draw – it’s virtually impossible to walk past the beckoning window display. With flavours hailing from North Africa to the Middle East via the Med, the salads here are to die for. The menu changes seasonally but might include roasted aubergine with feta yoghurt, pistachio, mint and Aleppo chilli or new potatoes and grilled courgette with truffle oil, baby spinach and pistachios. Cheap and cheerful it’s not, but you most certainly get what you pay for.

Copita, Soho

The lowdown: Cliche-free tapas bar in the heart of Soho.

What to order:More a question of what not to order from the daily changing menu.

Noisy and bustling with high communal tables at which to either stand or pull up a pew, and a daily changing menu of mouth-watering small plates, this is everything a tapas bar should be without the cliches. The menu, inspired by the day’s market, perfectly marries Spanish classics with seasonal British ingredients.  Depending on the season you’ll find peppered beef onglet with rosemary onion, duck egg with spinach and smoked haddock sitting alongside the Copita take on tapas faves like sweet potato bravas sauce aioli and peanuts.

Duck & Waffle

The lowdown: Late-night dining with a view.

What to order:  Duck and waffle, ox-cheek toasted cheese sandwich.

Open 24/7 Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower has, as you might expect, stunning views of London. The vistas are especially spectacular at night so take advantage of it’s late-night menu with a plate of their signature confit duck and waffle, a cocktail or three and drink it all in.

Brixton Village & Market Row

The lowdown: Every cuisine under one roof, even the pickiest of eaters will find something to sate their appetite.

What to order: With everything from burgers and tapas to Chinese dumplings and jerk chicken the question is more, how much can you fit in?

Why limit yourself to one restaurant when you can have a whole arcade of them? The regenerated Brixton Village and Market Row has become one of the most exciting places to eat in London. It’s a community in itself and multicultural London at its best with 71 different cultures represented among its family of independent businesses. Some of the capital’s best-loved traders started out here including Honest Burgers and Franco Manca pizzas. Head to Mamalan’s for golden-bottomed pot-stickers just like the owner’s grandfather used to serve on his Beijing food stall; Fish, Wings & Tings for a mean curried goat or for Pakistani street food grab a thali from Elephant (55 Granville Arcade, Coldharbour Lane).

Updated April 2022.

For more London eating and drinking finds…

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