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I moved to London after nearly a decade in New York City, and I wasn’t sure any city could live up to the Big Apple (typical New Yorker mindset!). But in the nearly two years I’ve lived here, I have totally fallen in love with London's incredible diversity of people, places, flavors, and activities. Three of my favorite places at the moment—especially for taking guests visiting from out of town—are:
Tom Brown’s restaurant Cornerstone (named after his favorite Arctic Monkeys track), in an edgy, hipster area in East London called Hackney Wick. Cornerstone serves food worthy of the many awards it’s received. For anyone who holds the outdated notion that British food isn’t good, Tom’s food will shatter that thought. Tom is a young superstar in the London food scene, having launched Cornerstone after he won England’s admiration on Great British Menu and after working under famed British chef Nathan Outlaw. Originally from Cornwall, a part of England on the coast and surrounded by fresh seafood, Tom’s specialty is fish. Cornerstone’s menu is dictated by the markets—what’s the best produce today?—so it’s constantly changing, sometimes even hour to hour. While the dishes may rotate, one thing is steady: His food will be fresh, thoughtfully prepared, and absolutely delicious.
3 Prince Edward Road
Hackney Wick, London
Asma Khan’s restaurant Darjeeling Express in Soho’s foodie haven of Kingly Court. London’s diversity is one of its greatest assets, and Darjeeling Express is the perfect example of that—it’s an Indian restaurant that will redefine how you think of Indian food. Asma herself is a force of nature! She has a law degree and a PhD but ultimately followed her passion to run a popular London supper club for five years, which led to the opening of Darjeeling Express. It has been welcomed into the London dining scene with much fanfare and acclaim. Originally from Calcutta, Asma makes food from her roots and draws on family traditions in many recipes. She is determined to represent the underrepresented and foster community among people too often overlooked, which is why she employs all women of color in her kitchen. She’s a special person to have in the London food scene, and I have no doubt she’ll win over hearts around the world when she’s featured in the next season of Netflix’s Chef’s Table—the first Brit (not to mention that she’s a British woman of color) to be featured!
Top Floor, Kingly Court
Renegade London Wine, founded by Warwick Smith, an urban winery in East London’s Bethnal Green area. It’s in an incredibly diverse neighborhood, and my favorite thing about imbibing at Renegade is where it’s located: Turn into a narrow alley, past a used furniture shop, and arrive at the hidden wine haven. All of the wines are hand-harvested and vinified in that space, and sipping your wine by candlelight, serenaded by a funky, hipster playlist and among barrels of fermenting wine is, simply put, awesomely fun. They’re also making English sparkling wine (I love me some bubbles!!); it’s the first Champagne method made in London. They’ve only made 800 bottles of the stuff, and it is truly some of the most delicious sparkling wine I’ve ever had. (Who would’ve thought you could find that just past an old pleather sofa in an alley?! I love London.)
Renegade London Wine
Gales Gardens, London
Those are just a small handful of my favorites! For more must-go suggestions for the best and coolest places to go to, eat at, and stay while you're out exploring all of what London has to offer beyond the typical touristy spots, I can’t think of anyone better to ask than the founders of my above favorites: Tom, Asma, and Warwick. Check out their favorite things to do, see, and eat around London below.
From London to Edinburgh, Cornwall to Yorkshire, there's so much to do, see, eat, and experience all across the United Kingdom. In partnership with VisitBritain , we're so excited to share our favorite unexpected discoveries to help inspire your very own British adventure. Follow along on Instagram to see what's going on across the pond at @lovegreatbritain and what Great Britain is eating at @greatbritishfood.