1. KERB Camden Market
When I first moved here to be in a band twelve years ago, I used to play at the dingy indie bars in Camden, but now the area has a cool food scene. This street food market is packed with stalls run by young people. Club Mexicana’s vegan tacos are banging – limey, salty, crunchy and spicy, they use pulled jackfruit instead of pork and you don’t miss the meat. Ink’s Szechuan pepper squid with pastel-coloured mayonnaise is also very tasty.
The grilled cheddar cheese on toast at The Cheese Bar is perfect – the bread is super crunchy and the cheese is melted just right. It’s oozy, gooey, messy, salty and delicious.
2. The Cheese Bar
London’s best cheese on toast is served up by my mate Matt Carver at the Cheese Bar in Camden Stables opposite Proud Galleries. We both started on the street food scene together slogging it out at festivals. The grilled cheddar cheese on toast is perfect – the bread is super crunchy and the cheese is melted just right. It’s oozy, gooey, messy, salty and delicious.
Try it for yourself…
P Franco is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 16:00 to 21:00, Thursday and Friday from 16:00 to 23:00, Saturdays from 14:00 to 23:00, and Sundays from 14:00 to 22:00. Nearest station: Clapton railway (overground).$316 returnDiscover London
3. The Dundee Arms
This boozer on Bethnal Green Road is a proper British pub, with wooden tables, retro red velvety seating and taps all along the bar serving great ales. London is having a real craft beer moment and they serve a great selection here. The football is usually on in the background and there’s always a lively crowd. Prop yourself up at the bar – that’s where all the action is – and strike up a conversation.
4. Rough Trade Records
Not only does Rough Trade do the best selection of vinyl in London – a sea of every genre from hip-hop to death metal – they also hold gigs in the store. Sometimes when you buy something you’ll get a free ticket to a show. Last time I was there I picked up a limited edition of Nirvana’s In Utero, one of the first records that made me fall in love with music.
The spice of life
Did you know that the UK has the highest Indian population in Europe – and therefore some of the best Indian restaurants on the continent? East London’s Brick Lane is famous for its tandoor restaurants, but it’s also worth exploring suburban North London areas such as Southall for more hidden gems.$316 returnBook flights to London
France may get the credit when it comes to cheese, but over 700 varieties are produced in the UK. From brie to blue cheese, try as many as you can handle at this artisan cheese bar in Camden, which is the city’s boho epicentre.$625 ppDiscover more London dishes
Ramen around town
Tonkotsu is named after a type of ramen specific to Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island. Try this non-nonsense London restaurant’s noodle-and-soup bowls at one of six locations around town.
5. Broadway market
Jam-packed with hipsters sporting moustaches, beards, tattoos and wearing checked shirts (probably me and my friends), Broadway Market is a bit like a slightly cooler version of well-known Borough Market. It’s open every Saturday, and is where I go if I want to find a new, different cheese or unusual ingredient for a new dish. Take a stereo and have a lazy picnic on the grass at London Fields or play some football on the green.
6. Lahore Kebab House
Brick Lane is famous for its curry houses, but the best in London in my opinion is Lahore Kebab House, which is a short walk away near Whitechapel. You don’t go there for the ambience – it’s a canteen with bright lighting and simple plastic tables, but the food is incredible and reasonably priced. Watch out for my go-to, the sweet, smoky and spicy lamb ribs.
Going to market
Open year-round, London’s buzzing food markets really come into their own during the summer months, when tourists and Londoners alike congregate to sample everything from street food to craft beers from local suppliers.$316 returnDiscover London’s food markets
Ramen is having a renaissance in London, and Tonkotsu on Mare Street is my local joint. The ramen is made from pork broth braised for 16 hours, and it’s meaty and moreish. Another must-try is the Japanese fried chicken marinated in soy and ginger. Ask for some Kewpie mayonnaise to dip it in. If you sit in the far booth in the front section you get a view of staff hand-making noodles.
Smack in the middle of Soho, this basement restaurant by Neil Rankin is a carnivore’s delight, with the most incredible-looking open kitchen with cuts of meat hanging down and smoking over wood. Neil’s larb of burnt ends fuses American barbecue and Thai, and the Brigadeiro baked cookie with dulche de leche ice cream is one of the most memorable desserts I’ve had.
9. Electric Diner
Ladbroke Grove, not far from Portobello Road, was one of the first places I lived in London so I know the area well. The décor of Electric Diner was inspired by LA’s Au Cheval, and the atmosphere here is a dark-and-dingy diner meets smart hotspot. It’s next door to one of London’s oldest cinemas, and the Bloody Marys are the best – salty, sweet and punchy. The secret ingredient? Briny pickle juice.
10. P Franco
One for foodies, P Franco in Clapton started out as a wine shop then morphed into a restaurant when the owners brought in a long wooden dining table. The vibe is homely, as if you’re at a friend’s dinner party, and dishes have unusual combinations you’d never think to put together such as crumbled goat’s cheese with coffee granules. It’s not wacky for the sake of being wacky though as it’s all completely tasty. Don’t look at the wine menu, just get Phil (the manager) to give you a recommendation. Try a glass of orange wine, which has the zinginess of white wine and the depth of a red.