A guide to London’s classic dishes


By Chris Pople, food blogger

Main image courtesy of Getty Images

Skip to Navigation

Roast dinners with gravy, fish and chips with vinegar and sweet puddings with custard – we Brits love our comfort food. Visiting London and keen to try the classics? Food blogger Chris Pople picks the best places to sample British fare around the capital.

Full English: E Pellicci

You can get a decent full English at any one of the countless cafes around London but if you want to see just how good the great British breakfast can be you should head to E Pellicci. This gorgeous East London institution with all its wonderful wood panelling is beloved by locals – many of whom deem it the best place in the city for a fry-up.

Most Londoners accept that no pub-bought Sunday roast stands a chance of being better than their mum’s, but if there’s anywhere in the city capable of meeting that lofty standard, it’s The Drapers Arms

Order a classic set breakfast and receive a plate piled with sausage, egg, bacon, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes and fried bread or toast. Choose to ‘have the lot’ and you’ll also get a hash brown and black pudding – although your food might not all fit on one plate. Vegetarian versions are also available and include ‘bubble and squeak’ (another classic British dish).

Nearest Tube: Bethnal Green

In the know… Arrive early and be prepared to queue – E Pellicci is seriously popular (for good reason).

  • Fish at The Golden Hind is delivered fresh daily, then encased in the quintessential British batter

    Fishy business

    Until as recently as recently as the 1980s it was commonplace to serve fish and chips wrapped in old newspaper, and today some venues’ printed wrappers make a nod to this. Book flights to London, plus a five night hotel stay from:$1388 pp

    Book flights and hotels

Sunday roast: The Drapers Arms

Most Londoners accept that no pub-bought Sunday roast stands a chance of being better than their mum’s, but if there’s anywhere in the city capable of meeting that lofty standard, it’s this neighbourhood gastropub in Islington. The chefs roast a fore rib of beef to juicy, pink perfection. On top of that, the roast potatoes are golden, crunchy bundles of joy and the Yorkshire puddings are the size of your head.

Nearest Tube: Angel

In the know… If the weather’s good, arrive early to bag a table in the lovely outdoor garden in the back.

Most Londoners accept that no pub-bought Sunday roast stands a chance of being better than their mum’s, but if there’s anywhere in the city capable of meeting that lofty standard, it’s this neighbourhood gastropub in Islington. The chefs roast a fore rib of beef to juicy, pink perfection better than anyone else we know. On top of that, the roast potatoes are golden brown, crunchy bundles of joy and the Yorkshire puddings are the size of your head.

Nearest Tube: Angel
In the know…
If the weather’s good, arrive early to bag a table in the lovely outdoor garden in the back.

Fish and chips: The Golden Hind

You might be surprised to hear this, but London isn’t well known for its fish and chips – the famously British dish is far more prevalent in the North of England. Nonetheless, this charming establishment in Marylebone serves genuinely excellent fish and chips in refreshingly unpretentious surroundings.

Nearest Tube: Bond Street

In the know... Order haddock rather than cod for a denser, meatier fish. And don’t forget mushy peas.

  • Enjoy the house gin at The Distillery.

    Gin-spiration

    The Ginstitute, home of Portobello Road Gin, was the creation of four longtime friends.

    Book flights to London
  • E Pellicci cafe © Simon Pollock/@londondsuburbia

    Worth the wait

    Popular with a local London crowd, E Pellicci has been serving its community for more than 100 years.

    Search London city breaks
  • Sunday roast at The Drapers Arms is legendary

    Roast with the most

    The Sunday roast originated in Britain in the 1700s, as a meat-and-dairy feast that could be left to cook while you were at church and eaten upon your return.

    Classic London weekend

Pie and mash: F Cooke

Pie, mash and ‘liquor’ (a sauce made with parsley) is classic comfort food for many Londoners. F Cooke has been serving up the hearty, warming dish since it opened in 1862 and – despite many of its peers having been lost to redevelopment – the Hoxton location is still going. Order some jellied eels on the side for a traditional taste of the East End.

Nearest Tube: Old Street

In the know… The Museum of the Home on nearby Kingsland Road is a fascinating time capsule museum where rooms are decorated according to the conventions of different periods.

Afternoon tea: Claridge’s

It’s true there are cheaper spots in town to enjoy this high society ritual but if you’re going to start anywhere you might as well start with one of the best. The sandwiches are exquisite, containing luxurious fillings such as smoked salmon with crispy shallot and dill mayonnaise. The scones are freshly baked every day and the pastries are made with seasonal fruits. Expect tea that’s brewed perfectly and service that’s as sharp and polished as a duelling sword.

Nearest Tube: Bond Street

In the know… After your tea and cakes, slip into a comfy chair in the cosy Fumoir bar for an exquisitely prepared cocktail.

  • Give in to temptation with Claridge’s Afternoon Tea

    Perfect pairings

    Look out for ‘top tea tips’ on the Claridge’s Afternoon Tea menu – experts have selected teas that pair perfectly with the sandwiches, scones and pastries.

    London’s afternoon teas

Gin: The Distillery

This gin-themed complex in West London is a mecca for G&T lovers. Home to the world-famous Portobello Road Gin, The Distillery houses two bar-restaurants and the ‘Ginstitute’ where you can learn how to mix botanicals and produce your own custom-made gin. Take a bottle of your signature gin home with you for a unique souvenir.

Nearest Tube: Ladbroke Grove

In the know… On Saturdays, Portobello Road turns into the world’s largest antiques market.

A pint: The Rake

It’s a very British pastime indeed to settle down for a pint of beer. While this activity can be quite satisfactorily achieved in any number of London’s rightly world-famous pubs and bars, true beer enthusiasts hold a special place in their hearts for The Rake in Borough Market. Despite its diminutive size, this pub has an astonishing range of beers, both by the bottle and on draught, and staff are always willing to talk you through your options.

Nearest Tube: London Bridge

In the know… Leave time to browse the rest of Borough Market and discover its fascinating food stalls.

Curry: Tayyabs

Britain has long enjoyed a love affair with Indian food. While Tayyabs isn’t really your ‘traditional’ British curry house – there’s no creamy chicken korma or sweet rogan josh on the menu – this vast Whitechapel institution serves freshly grilled lamb chops, seekh kebabs full of fire, bubbly naans and curries so addictive you’ll wonder what you ever saw in anywhere else. Plus it’s BYOB (bring your own booze).

Nearest Tube: Whitechapel

In the know… If you can, go for a table on the ground floor – it’s more boisterous but much more fun.

Puddings: Rules

Where better to work your way through a selection of famous English puddings than this extraordinary restaurant, which has been operating from the same spot for more than 200 years? Rules has had plenty of time to perfect the art of quintessential British desserts, from sticky toffee pudding and apple crumble to steamed syrup sponge, as well as a host of traditional savoury dishes. The charming service, plush surroundings and perfectly executed classic dishes make this historic restaurant an ideal spot to savour a taste of traditional London.

Nearest Tube: Covent Garden

In the know… The upstairs bar is a hidden gem. Pull up a chair and order The Duchess of Cambridge cocktail.