Favorite Local Spots:
Borough Market: This market is chock full of meats, cheese, wines, beers, and a seemingly never-ending selection of local and ethnic fare. It’s also the setting for the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in the Harry Potter movies!
In the Borough Market:
Maria’s Café: Maria serves up unpretentious, hearty, and delicious “bap” sandwiches and English breakfasts. Her menu often features wild game dishes like the wild game burger with red pepper chili jelly for 5.50.
Borough Wines: Grab a glass or prosecco or mulled wine to go, or browse an assortment of bottles to purchase to take home. This is the original Borough Wines, but they have two or three other store fronts around the city now.
Utobeer: This stand in the Borough Market is always my first stop. They have a wide selection of craft beers from London, England, and around the world at reasonable prices. You can buy one cold from their fridge and sip while roaming around the market, or you can mix and match and take beers home with you off the shelf.
Pieminister: You must have a pie while in London. It’s a local specialty. Whether you want a traditional beef pie with mushy peas or something crazier like a spicy venison pie with red wine and bacon, Pieminister has it all.
The Cider House: This place has ciders for all tastes. Sip on a pint of sweet or dry cider for £4, or browse their selection of bottles for take away. You must have at least one cider while in London, and this would be the perfect place to grab a pint.
Scotch Tails: Scotch eggs are a serious British tradition and Scotchtails does Scotch eggs right. While a traditional Scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, breaded, and deep fried, Scotch tails also offers spins on this traditional dish. Feelings adventurous? Try a lamb and mint, black pudding, or chorizo Scotch egg. Definitely order your egg with a side of sweet potato fries.
Wetherspoons in the Liverpool Street Station (Hamilton Hall): This is a very large, semi-fancy yet casual, convenient place to grab a pint of real ale (i.e., cask). They have very reasonable prices, especially during happy hour, and there is a wonderful selection of taps. You can also sit down for a bite to eat if you please. Hamilton Hall is a very popular after-work spot.
Tayyabs: Like Indian food? Look no further. This place is the real deal. Get there early or make a reservation because it’s popular for a reason. Also remember to BYOB – they are not licensed but are completely A-OKAY with you bringing your own beer or wine.
Camden Market: What’s not to say about this market? It’s weird, eclectic, eccentric, awesome, sensory overload-ish (that’s a word-right?), hipster-y, bright, colorful, and full of wonderful markets – good, clothing, accessories, random – anything – and pubs. Although this area has become more touristy over the last few years, it’s still a MUST when visiting London.
In the Camden Market Area:
Poppies: This is one of two poppies in London, the other near Old Spitalfield’s Market. Poppies has been kickin’ it since 1952 and is the quintessential fish-and-chips joint. They have numerous awards and Londoners will tell you it’s the best place to get great fish-and-chips in the entire city.
Canal Café: This adorable little café is the perfect place to grab a cup of joe and a healthy, vegan snack. You can also order coffee at their take-away window off the sidewalk.
Sonita’s Kitchen: I can’t say enough good about this place. Sonita cooks her mother’s authentic Indian recipes. The food is fresh, unbelievably flavor, traditional, and healthy. You can mix and match any three dishes with as many toppings as you’d like for 6. Sonita is very friendly, always smiling, and happy to give you recommendations. If you eat in the Camden food markets, you should definitely partake the all of the free samples available, but make sure you save room for your main meal here. You can also follow Sonita on Twitter.
Chia: This is another fantastic option in the Camden food market. They serve up healthy whole grain wraps and salad boxes with the tastiest fried halloumi and falafel in the market. Find out more on their twitter
Horse Tunnel Markets: These are connected with the Camden food markets. These markets offer all sorts of antiques, works of art, clothing, book, and almost anything else you could think of. And they seem never-ending!
Chapel Market: This is a low-key market located two minutes walking from the Angel station on the Northern line. The market itself offers fresh produce and a few other items (e.g., cell phone covers, t-shirts). The restaurants around this area are inexpensive and delicious and home to locals only.
The Alma: Located amidst the Chapel Market, this draft house offers a wide selection of bottled and tap beers AND board games.
Indian Veg: Indian Veg offers and all-you-can eat vegetarian Indian buffet for 6.50. It’s the perfect lunch if you’re in the mood for unbeatable (and limitless) Indian food.
Craft Beer Company: Craft Beer Company has various locations all over London. I stumbled upon two while walking around. If you’re a craft beer lover (like me), this place if a guaranteed hit. Barrel-aged beers, local stouts and real ales, and a handful of IPAs, all on tap. They also have a killer bottle selection.
Exmouth Market: This adorable, local area has cobblestone streets lined with cafes, restaurant, cute shops, and street food. The street food is really where it’s at (in my opinion). Whether you have a hankering for Indian, Turkish, French, Mexican, or even Ghanaian cuisine, it’s all here, and for £5-6 per plate.
Moro in Exmouth Market: This is undeniably the stand with the longest cue – always. Moro serves up traditional Turkish food and is one of the most popular places to eat in the entire Clerkenwell area. They have both a sit-down restaurant and this food stall.
Little Bay: This restaurant, located near the Farringdon stop, serves up modern European cuisine in a quirky environment. The food is amazing and the prices are unbeatable! You can get a two course meal for £10 or a three course meal for £13.
Honest Burger: This teensy, tiny, local favorite serves up a total of four items, three of which are beef burgers and one of which is a chicken burger. Get here early or call ahead – because this place knows how to make burgers. I can’t say enough about Honest Burger. They also offer a few great craft beers, ciders, and wines to accompany probably the best burger in London. Multiple locations.
Sketch: This place is bizarre, fancy, whimsical, and wonderful. Check out one of their multiple rooms, either for a craft cocktail, high tea, or a sit-down meal in their two-star Michelin restaurant. This place doesn’t come cheap, but it’s impressive and there’s nothing else like it. Don’t forget to check out their incredibly bizarre bathroom capsules.
Red Lion: Near the Leytonstone stop on the Central Line. Literally locals only. They have a rotating menu using only the freshest ingredients and rotating tap beers. This massive building is decorated in a shabby-chic décor with a large our-door beer garden and lounge in the back.
Cereal Killer Café: You like cereal? This is the place to go. For£ 4.50, build your own cereal bowl or order a “Cereal cocktail” or a mixture of fixed cereals. Choose your milk. Add a pop tart if you’d like. Enjoy in their semi-ghetto 90s themed restaurant.
Brick Lane: If you like trendy and inexpensive art, pubs, restaurants, and an extensive selection of street food – you’ve come to the right place. You can spend hours admiring Brick Lane’s street art and indulging in inexpensive eats. This is truly one of the most unique areas in London.
Old Spitalfield’s Market: Another adorable and historical market near Brick Lane. This covered market offers jewelry, food, clothing, and other accessories. There are also a handful of sit-down restaurants surrounding the market.
Square Pie: Located in Old Spitalfield’s market, this is another great location to sample some of London’s best traditional fare, pies and mushy peas.
Barbican: This gigantic brutalist style building is Europe’s largest multi-arts conference venue presenting a diverse range of art, music, theatre, dance, film, and creative learning events. Parts of the gigantic building are also home to 20, 000 local London residents. It’s a very peaceful place, especially near the pond and fountains where one can pick up a coffee, a beer, or some lunch and enjoy at the indoor or outdoor seating areas.
The Water Poet Spitalfield’s: This pub has reasonable prices, great beer and food, and a comfortable atmosphere with a large garden out back, perfect for sunny days. There are also lots of TV screens, so the Water Poet is THE best place to be to catch a soccer or rugby match (Go, Man City!!).