London is truly a cosmopolitan city, a melting pot of different cultures, and this is never more apparent than in the food and restaurants it has to offer. Tourists can find themselves a gorgeous London vacation rental and then set about eating their way around the globe, without ever needing to leave the capital – with all tastes, diet requirements and wallet sizes catered for.
A great place for light, Ottolenghi-style dishes is Jar Kitchen in Covent Garden. It offers vegetarian dishes. Although it’s not a veggie restaurant, seeds, nuts and fresh produce abound in their dishes. Decently priced, their signature salad will only set you back £12, and brunch is served all day Saturday.
Another notable place to eat in Covent Garden is the Opera Tavern, while the place to go for a quick pre-theatre tapas menu is Frenchie, a small French restaurant owned by Gregory Marchand who used to work with Jamie Oliver at Fifteen. It offers similar dishes to its sister restaurant in Paris, but uses British produce.
Punch and Judy is a popular 18th-century pub that serves cask ales and classic British meals. It is always busy and decently priced; the beef roast, served every day is just under £14.
Barrafina, recently voted the No 1 restaurant in London by Time Out, is also here in Covent Garden, bringing a taste of Barcelona to London. If it’s a vegan restaurant you are after then 222 Veggie Vegan in West Kensington is the place to head for, whether it be for a lunchtime buffet or candle lit dining in the evening.
For authentic Chinese food, Chinatown would be the place to head to, although the sheer number of restaurants here makes choosing one daunting. The Far East Cafe is one of the few that offers a Chinese breakfast, offering congee; a rice porridge with peanuts and pickled vegetables, or a Chinese doughnut with heated soy milk. The C&R Cafe Restaurant offers Malaysian cuisine, its portions are very generous and prices are good. Try to avoid buffet-style eating in Chinatown; many chef’s specials, advertised on menus outside the restaurants are much better value and twice as nice, unless of course you are a really big eater.
Afternoon tea is also something you should try. The Ritz is surely the most famous option here, but it is very expensive, so a fantastic alternative is The Tea and Tattle in Bloomsbury. Scones, sandwiches and cake come with the traditional tea for two with a price tag that will not break the bank.
Zizzi, an Italian restaurant near Tottenham Court Road, is part of a chain but offers good value food; 3 courses for under £20. The Square, a two starred Michelin restaurant in Mayfair, is more upmarket, comes at a hefty price, but worth every penny.
All in all, there are just too many places to eat in London to even contemplate visiting them all, but don’t let that put you off trying!