This would be my favourite page as I love to cook and eat! Eating is one of my skills I wish I could put on my CV.
When I first came to London I made the mistake of eating at typical tourist restaurants in the West End so usually ended up paying a lot of money for very bad quality food. On this page I share some of my favourite restaurants, cafes and pubs with you so that you won’t have to make the same mistake. Most of them are cheap, some are more expensive, but all of them serve great food! Make sure to also have a look on my page Shopping & markets as I also list some wonderful food markets there.
Bar Gansa: 2 Inverness Street, NW1 7JH.
Tapas. Cozy restaurant that has great cocktail offers, friendly staff and a wide variety of tapas. To be honest, not the best tapas, but the atmosphere makes up for this. Go to Bar Gansa on a Monday night and enjoy a free flamenco show (usually start at 9pm). From November 2013 there are also flamenco shows every Sunday by dancers from the largest London flamenco school, La Escuela de Baile.
Beigel Bake: 159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB.
Jewish bakery. Not a restaurant, but a bakery. A very special bakery actually as it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No matter what time of the day, there will always be a queue of people here waiting to pick up fresh bagels or other delicious rolls and pastries. Friendly service and an absurd low price for yummy treats.
Bistrotheque: 23–27 Wadeson Street, E2 9DR.
French. Super trendy East End restaurant located in a converted clothing factory. High-end cuisine for high-end prices. Go here for a fancy night out, enjoy wonderful food while spotting East End celebs.
Boho Mexica: 151-153 Commercial Street, E1 6BJ.
Mexican. Not your typical Tex-Mex restaurant, but only authentic Mexican dishes. Good cocktails and lovely food, all for a good price.
Café 338: 338 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AG.
Breakfast. This café is so cool that it doesn’t even need a website! An ordinary ‘caf’ in an ordinary street, but suddenly seems to attract hipsters from Shoreditch and beyond. I recommend going here in the morning on a weekday as it’s almost impossible to get a table here in the weekend. You will find many breakfast variations on the extensive menu, but also warm lunch and (early) dinner options. Fuel up here before you set off for your London adventures as this place serves BIG meals for just a few pounds. Excellent place, really recommend the food. Service tends to be quite slow though so you’d better not be in a hurry.
Carluccio’s: various locations.
Italian. Yes, this is a chain restaurant owned by famous Italian chef Carluccio. But it is a good chain restaurant where you can eat delicious pastas, salads and cakes. I always order the cherry cloud soft drink, but you can also choose a drink from the wine list of course. Eat in or buy your ingredients and cookbooks in the shop area of the restaurant so you can cook your own delicious Italian meals at home.
Chez Elles: 45 Brick Lane, E1 6PU.
French. At this end of Brick Lane you will find dozens of curry houses, so it is quite surprising to find this single French restaurant in the heart of ‘Banglatown’. A bit pricier than the cheap curry houses surrounding this restaurant, but at least you get bigger portions than at your average French restaurant. Good food and great people. Chez Elles opens only a few hours in the afternoon and the evening so check the opening times beforehand!
Corner Room: Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, E2 9NF.
European. Located on the top floor of the stunning Town Hall Hotel. Corner Room offers exceptional dishes for an affordable price in an informal atmosphere.
Disappearing Dining Club: various locations.
European. Quirky dinner parties at unusual locations such as warehouses, photo galleries and launderettes. Book a table and meet like-minded people while enjoying great food.
Franzè & Evans: 101 Redchurch Street, E2 7DL.
Pan-Meditteranean. Drop in during the day for fabulous cakes and coffee or stop by for a tasty lunch with delicious fresh salads or a slice of quiche. The evening menu offers a combination of Italian and Mediterranean dishes, but also delicious chips and hamburgers. Good price for good food.
Gaby’s Deli: 30 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DE.
Mediterranean. Gaby’s Deli is a charming restaurant located in the midst of the West End theatres so it is packed here with theatre-goers just before shows start. Very cheap restaurant, especially considering its locations. My favourite dish is a selection of seven warm vegetables such as spinach with chickpeas and curry cauliflower. Yummy!
Gallery Cafe: 21 Old Ford Road, E2 9PL.
Vegan. I recommend coming here for lunch or for a naughty cake and big cup of coffee. This is a vibrant place which is very popular among the creative, arty incrowd. Buy a delicious sourdough sandwich for lunch which will keep you going for hours.
Gourmet San: 261 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6AH.
Chinese. I am not a big fan of Chinese food. In the Netherlands our Chinese restaurants actually serve a fusion of Indonesian and Chinese food so my Dutch palate isn’t very accustomed to authentic Chinese food. But Gourmet San offers good quality food that my Western palate can handle perfectly. I do like spicy food so am happy to see that almost all dishes at Gourmet San come in the non-chilli and the chilli (lots of chilli!) variant. Very cheap restaurant and the fact that it is always very busy there (mostly Chinese diners), is definitely a good sign.
Green Papaya: 191 Mare Street, E8 3QT.
Vietnamese. Situated in the heart of Hackney and in the midst of many other Vietnamese restaurants along the same street. There might be many other good Vietnamese restaurants in the area, but this one is definitely fantastic. Good-quality food for a good price in a bright and open restaurant with a very friendly staff.
Jamie’s Italian: various locations.
Italian. Also a chain restaurant, but obviously very good quality. Jamie Oliver goes Italian, do I need to say more?
Lardo Pizzeria: 197 – 205 Richmond Road, E8 3NJ.
Italian.One of the many good restaurants in trendy Hackney area. Eye-catcher is definitely the pizza oven which looks like a giant disco ball. The restaurant offers a selection of antipasti, pasta and pizzas. Visit the gallery next door on your way to the bathroom.
Laxeiro: 93 Columbia Road, E2 7RG.
Spanish. Small restaurant with authentic Spanish dishes. Really good quality food which come in portions just larger than tapas-size, but still perfect to share.
Market Cafe: 2 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ.
European. Indulge in Italian-inspired food at this trendy cafe. Come here early on Sunday afternoon to enjoy a hearty warm brunch. Or come later in the day and enjoy a glass of prosecco. The cafe is very popular in the weekend, so come early if you want to grab a seat (or just stand outside in summer as lots of other people do).
Mestizo: 103 Hampstead Road, NW1 3EL.
Mexican. Exquisite authentic Mexican food. A bit more expensive than Boho Mexica mentioned above, but Mestizo has more dishes on the menu and often hosts special events.
Mildreds: 45 Lexington Street, W1F 9AN.
Vegetarian. Another hidden gem tucked away in the West End. Amazing vegetarian food that omnivores as myself love as well. Mildreds is located between Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus. I suggest you rest your feet and spoil your tummy here after hours of shopping.
Namaaste: 64 Parkway, NW17AH.
Indian. I live near Brick Lane and one end of that street is filled with dozens of curry houses. The street is also called Banglatown due to the large Bangladeshi community. The Brick Lane Indian restaurants offer fairly the same food, not the best quality but quite cheap. There might be some gems hiding in the street, but I haven’t found one extraordinary Indian restaurant there yet. Unlike this Indian restaurant up in Camden, north London. Namaaste offers very good Indian cuisine for an average price, but you do get smaller portions. Fantastic food though, an absolute winner.
Ombra: 1 Vyner Street, E2 9D.
Italian. Fantastic restaurant that serves lovely fresh pasta and Venetian specialties. No microwaves, only fresh ingredients! One of my favourite restaurants. Very good quality for a low price. Very friendly staff and a lovely laid-back atmosphere.
Thai Square: various locations.
Thai. Although this is a restaurant chain, I highly recommend going to one of their London restaurants for an excellent meal. The extensive menu offers many excellent Thai dishes for a good price.
Tokyo Diner: 2 Newport Place, WC2H 7JJ.
Japanese. Tokyo Diner proves that you can find restaurants in the West End that offers good quality food for a low price. Delicious authentic Japanese dishes and sushi. I highly recommend this restaurant!
Wagamama: various locations.
Asian. An international chain restaurant, but frankly one of my favourite places for a tasty and healthy meal. Go to Wagamama for ramen dishes, curry dishes and also fresh fruit juices for your vitamin kick.
Wahaca: various locations.
Mexican. Funky restaurant that serves a wide selection of delicious street food dishes, Mexican beers and (virgin) cocktails. Order a few smaller dishes to share, kick back after a few hours of shopping and sip on your freshly made mojito. I often go to the Wahaca restaurant at Covent Garden.
Coffee & cakes
Choccywoccydoodah: 30-32 Fouberts Place, W1F 7PS.
Chocolate. If you like chocolate, then this is your place to be. Even if it’s just to look at the edible chocolate artworks. The shop is famous for its bespoke wedding cakes, but is also a good place to buy presents. Or just go to the cafe upstairs to feast on fantastic cakes.
Kahaila: 135 Brick Lane, E1 6SB.
Cafe. Great cafe which serves coffee, super tasty smoothies, nice sandwiches and delicious cakes (my absolute favourite is the Red Velvet cake). The cafe also hosts various special events such as origami and knitting workshops, poetry evenings and book club meetings.
Approach Tavern: 47 Approach Road, E2 9LY.
What I often miss living in London are beer gardens by a pub to sit on a sunny day. The Approach is one of the few London pubs that have a nice large beer garden. The pub is near Victoria Park so you can have a nice lie in the park after a few pints of beers in the summer.
Cat & Mutton: 76 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ.
Very popular pub that also serves food. One of the many pubs on trendy Broadway Market. Over the summer I observed a weird sight while drinking a beer outside this pub. Various men came up to the people standing outside and offered them balloons of laughing gas. Although it was quite a funny sight, it was also quite odd and a bit disturbing.
Dove: 24-26 Broadway Market, E8 4QJ.
By far my absolute favourite London pub! Serves a wide selection of Belgian and Dutch beers, but also delicious food. Try some of the amazing Belgian chips or authentic Thai curries cooked by the Thai chef.
Florist Arms: 255 Globe Road, Bethnal Green E2 0JD
Popular and cozy pub which also serves incredibly tasty pizzas! Go there on Sunday or Monday evenings for super cheap pizza nights.
Hemingway: 84 Victoria Road, Hackney, E9 7JL.
Amazing looking pub, very chilled atmosphere and good food too.
Hop Poles: 17-19 King Street, W6 9HR.
Large, nice-looking pub conveniently located by Hammersmith tube station. I went there for a pre-concert dinner (concert at Hammersmith Apollo) and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. Good food for a reasonable price, nice atmosphere and very friendly staff.
Mother Kelly’s: 51 Paradise Row, E2 9LE.
Open and bright pub that opened in the spring of 2014. It’s located in a quiet part of East London and has a quiet beer garden where you won’t have to worry about noisy traffic passing by. The pub doesn’t have a kitchen, but they do serve some simple (cold) pub snacks. Very friendly staff who are more than happy to advise you on which one of the many beers on their menu to choose from. They have 19 different beers on tap and have a great selection of bottled local and foreign beers. I am thrilled to see their small but excellent Belgian beer selection, although they are quite pricey.
Off Broadway: 63-65 Broadway Market, E8 4PH.
Cocktail bar that also serves Mexican street food. Very popular bar located on trendy Broadway Market.
Satan’s Whisker’s: 343 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9RA.
Don’t let the name and gloomy interior scare you off, this hidden gem is a very popular destination for hipster locals. The name is a reference to a cocktail and serving excellent and affordable cocktails is what this pub does best.
Star of Bethnal Green: 359 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6LG.
Funky pub, nice food, good selection of drinks and friendly staff. Come here to watch sports matches on TV during the weekend or come in on a weekend night to dance till early morning.
The Water Poet: 9-11 Folgate Street, E1 6BX.
Wonderful pub in the middle of the lovely Shoreditch streets with their magnificent Victorian houses. The Water Poet has a big indoor bar, but also a huge enclosed beer garden which is the perfect place to spend your summer evening.