How to Eat the World In London (With Restaurant Recommendations!)

From Ukrainian dumplings to Silk Road menus.

December 12, 2017

The world is wide, and we want to see (and eat) all of it. We've partnered with VisitBritain to take a closer look at the foods, producers, restaurants, and regions that make Great Britain a top destination for food-loving travelers.

With everything from Ukrainian dumplings to Silk Road menus, London should not be renowned just for fish, chips, and Michelin-starred establishments (though of course London is a hub of fantastic classic and innovative British cuisine, too). The globe-trotting food served at supper clubs, pop ups, and food markets are the reason to get excited about eating in London. They’re where I learn about the people of this city, through their food.

Below are just some of the ways to eat the world in London (restaurant recommendations included!). Eat…

At Dining Events with Changing Menus

Kino Vino in gorgeous action. Photo by Oliver Rowe

There are a variety of venues that host different chefs—it’s always fun to look up and see what the theme or menu du jour may be.

Shop the Story

Kino Vino is a project that pairs international films with food. The dining events in warehouses or other large spaces range from a classic Russian movie with a pre-Revolutionary era menu (and gramophone performance!) to a viewing of Whisky Galore paired with Scottish single malts. In addition to the entertainment, the dining area is exquisite—it’s set up by a team that thoughtfully picks flowers and table settings that match the theme.

Mazí Mas celebrates the cuisine of the many refugees that have settled in the U.K. through personal stories and home cooking. Recent events have featured Turkish, Azerbaijani, Greek, and Georgian food. I had an exquisite rose, walnut, and cardamom halva at a recent event—it was the chef’s mother’s recipe.

Helluva halva.

At Food Markets

Street food in London isn't just about food trucks anymore—markets have taken over the London food scene as exciting places for thoughtful food.

In the heart of bustling Hackney lies Broadway Market. Alive on Sundays, the market is heaving with smoke rising from street food stalls, where locals as well as tourists line up. One of my favorite spots is Zardosht , which is a Persian-inspired stall on Sundays. Their dishes are fragrant with fresh dill and mint; the dates stuffed with pistachio, Arabic cheese, and saffron-flecked rice are not to be missed.

Food, art, and cultural diversity are evident from every food offering in Borough Market. When I visit, I usually end up enticed by an enormous pan of saffron seafood paella cooking slowly in one corner, or Mumbai street food in another.

Pop Brixton began as a project to uplift and create a space for small businesses, and it’s turned into a sort of a food hub with restaurants and bars. Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen and Bottomless Basque Brunch are two of my favorite stops. And a bonus: the music from Pop Brixton’s radio station that plays in the market.

Photo by Time Out

At Cookbook “Clubs”

There are a few places that host cookbook authors so diners can try the food from their books and meet their cookbook heroes. Carousel is an eclectic dining place in the heart of Marylebone that runs events with guest chefs from around the world, from Ukrainian food by Olia Hercules, to Bangladeshi inspired-menus from Romy Gill.

The Indian Subcontinent

The layering of spices in Pakistani food, the vegetable dishes of North India, and the coconut-infused curries of South India reign supreme in London restaurants. Drummond Street near Euston Station has an array of Pakistani and Indian restaurants. Notably Raavi Kebab House—try the beef nihari stew, where a shank of lamb is slow cooked with spices for 3 hours. Other great spots include the vegetarian Ravi Shankar, which has great Indian chaat (snacks). The Pakistani Punjabi food (and local ales) at Masalawala Café in London’s Brockley Market makes for a great weekend night out. Tayyab’s is an institution; the line goes for miles, but the lamb chops marinated in spices overnight and cooked in the tandoor are worth the wait.

After holidays to Sri Lanka, I always crave hoppers. These crispy fermented pancakes are comforting and addictive, especially when eaten with spicy curries. The best I’ve had is at Hoppers in Soho, which also serves other Sri Lankan dishes and South Asian-inspired cocktails.

Hoppers St Chris at dusk 🌞 shot by @passionatezoe #HoppersStChris

A post shared by 🇱🇰Hoppers (@hopperslondon) on

Along the Silk Route

Silk Road shines a light on the food of China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, which has been shaped by both Muslim and Chinese influences. It serves up heavily spiced food, like cumin and lamb kebabs and a chile broth with hand-pulled noodles.

London's Silk Road is paved with Xinjiang specialities. Photo by Time Out

The food of Azerbaijan is simultaneously fresh and rich, with strong Iranian influences. My favorite is the koofteh tabrizi (giant herbed meatballs) at Azerbaijan Restaurant in Kings Street, West London.

Good British Food, of Course

The food at Poppies Fish and Chips is pure British indulgence that’ll transport you to the 1950s (when the restaurant opened): It has fixed bar stools, neon signs, and tiled stairs, along with lots of other great kitschy decor. Whether you get the haddock or cod, you won't be disappointed.

Retro vibes at Poppie's Fish and Chips. Photo by Poppie's Fish and Chips

St. John’s Smithfield Bar and Restaurant and their bone marrow on toast with parsley salad nearly defines London. This iconic spot is located in an elegant Georgian townhouse in Smithfield’s Market; nearly all the building’s original details are preserved and the food is superb.

What are your favorite spots to eat in London? Let us know in the comments!

We've partnered with VisitBritain to take a closer look at the foods, producers, restaurants, and regions that make Great Britain a top destination for food-loving travelers. Follow along on Instagram to see what's going on across the pond at @lovegreatbritain and what Great Britain is eating at @greatbritishfood.

Editor's Note: Dock Kitchen has been removed from this list since it has permanently closed.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • HalfPint
  • Sumayya Usmani
    Sumayya Usmani
Sumayya is a food writer and cookery teacher who grew up in Pakistan, but has now found home in Glasgow. Sumayya is passionate about sharing the flavours of her homeland with a view to highlight Pakistani cuisine as a distinct one. The author or two cookbooks: Summers Under The Tamarind Tree (Frances Lincoln) and Mountain Berries and Desert Spice (Frances Lincoln, out April 2017), her writing reminisces about food and memories growing up in Pakistan. She writes for many publications, appears on television, and co-presents BBC Kitchen Cafe weekly, on BBC Radio Scotland.


HalfPint December 12, 2017
Tayyab is one of my favorites. I also love eating at Borough Market. Talk about eating around the World. It seems to have just about every cuisine. I've never had a bad meal in London which seems to surprise a lot of Americans who still have this view that the food in England is not that great. I like that the portion sizes are reasonable and not gargantuan like some countries ;)
Author Comment
Sumayya U. December 12, 2017
Totally agree!