London by Michael Flatt

London Food

While England may not be renowned for its cuisine, there are several traditional British dishes a study abroad student should try at least once. For instance, nothing is perhaps more British than fish and chips. Fish and chips is a deep-fried fish dish that is served with what Americans call french fries (chips). It is available in many sit-down restaurants and is also commonly ordered for take-away, the European way of saying “to go.” Fish and chips was one of my favorite take-away meals and is a must try. I recommend topping the fish off with some fresh lemon juice, which is sometimes included with the meal.

My second favorite traditional British dish is the English breakfast. It may be the most unusual meal you will ever eat in London because of its wide variety of ingredients, which include: eggs, sausages, black pudding, baked beans, hash browns, mushrooms, several slices of toast, and half a tomato served with a cup of strong European coffee. If you are really hungry then this is the meal for you. Take a look at the picture below:

 The English breakfast is a delicious meal that will keep your stomach full well into the late afternoon. London also has hundreds of burger and kebab take-away restaurants. I ate most of my meals around the Kings Cross area and one of the best places to find a cheap burger or kebab is Grill Kebab on Pentonville Road. Here you can order a quarter pound burger with chips and a drink for a measly £3.50. That’s about as cheap as you will find in London. Another value restaurant on Pentonville Road is The Other Side, a local Italian place that offers a good selection of pasta, pizza, and salad dishes for a reasonable price. Additionally, a popular Italian restaurant chain among Britons is Bella Italia. You will find Bella Italia restaurants throughout London and the UK, especially in touristy areas like Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

Sadly, there are very few Mexican restaurants in London. As a student at San Diego State, I was very much accustomed to eating Mexican food on a regular basis. Although London doesn’t have the same selection of Mexican food as found in San Diego, I enjoyed going to Chiquito’s in Leicester Square. While Chiquito’s is not cheap and the wait can be long at times, it has a great selection of food on the menu and was really the only Mexican restaurant I found in London.

No visit to London would be complete without visiting the first ever Hard Rock Café in Hyde Park. While the wait is usually one to two hours, the restaurant has a great atmosphere, especially on the weekends. I suggest going at least once.

Due to a large number of Indian immigrants in Britain, Indian food is tremendously popular and a part of the British culture. If you enjoy Indian food, London has some of the best curry I’ve ever eaten. My favorite restaurants were Chutney and Lager in Oxford Circus and Masala Zone in Islington, but it’s hard to go wrong with any Indian restaurant in the city. Chinese food, which can be found throughout Chinatown, is also a staple of the food culture in London. Chinatown has become a part of trendy London with its large archways, bright lights, and annual Chinese New Year celebration in January. One of my professors recommended to me two Chinese restaurants in Chinatown (Crispy Duck and Wong Kei) and both were of high-quality. Located off Wardour Street, Crispy Duck is known for its duck and crispy pork while Wong Kei has delicious Wonton noodle soup.

If you are a vegetarian, you may be wondering about London’s attitude toward Vegetarianism in regards to its food scene. I can safely say that with London being one of the most populated cities in the world, there are plenty of places that cater to those who don’t eat meat. In fact, there is a whole street of vegetarian eateries in the Camden Market area that should suit any vegetarian’s needs.

Finally, I wanted to mention that there are a plethora of American fast food restaurants in London. You can expect to see a McDonalds, Subway, Pizza Hut, and KFC on just about every major street corner. As a last note, I recommend trying the Mars chocolate bar before leaving London. It was sold in the U.S. until the early 2000s and is the UK version of the Milky Way. It is smashing, as the British say.

I hope this page has given you a better understanding of the type of food that will be available to you during your semester in London. Enjoy!