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London: A food-lover’s guide to casual dining, classy drinking and Irish food

Where to eat well for under £10, tuck into a Michelin-bib meal and get a cocktail in Soho

London boasts one of the greatest, most diverse food scenes in Europe. It's a cliché to call it a "melting pot", but there's no denying the impact global influences have had on shaping its cuisine. Less than two hours' flight from Irish airports, London is as accessible as it is exciting.

Far more than fish and chips or pie and mash with liquor, each borough and neighbourhood offers a wide variety of places to eat and drink – however, like any capital city, it’s as easy to eat incredibly well in London as it is to eat terribly. Add a couple – or all – of these to your own bucket list to make a trip to London unforgettably delicious.

Cheap eats

Street food is a great way to taste the city for just a few pounds. Borough Market is world famous and a must for any food adventurer, but also consider the markets at Maltby Street in Bermondsey, Berwick Street in Soho, Broadway Market by London Fields, KERB at King's Cross or the Real Food Market on the Southbank.

Continuing with cheaper meals, head down a basement near Euston station to find Roti King (40 Doric Way, Sugendran Gopal's Singaporean/Malaysian restaurant is no frills, fast and delicious, with every dish under £8. Bring cash, and prepare to queue.


Along Brick Lane, pick up a salt beef bagel (£5.90) at Beigel Bake (159 Brick Ln,, which is open 24 hours a day.

Weekday lunch at Bao (multiple locations, is delicious and super affordable. Two can dine comfortably under £40 with their takes on Taiwanese dishes and filled steamed buns.

If you can’t justify a splurge of a stay at the resplendent Rosewood Hotel in Holburn, or even nab a table at its restaurant Holborn Dining Room, there’s a small hatch called The Pie Room (252 High Holborn) where you can try Callum Franklin’s elaborate, show-stopping pie creations for less than a tenner.

Casual dining

London has no shortage of fine, casual restaurants that have an electric atmosphere and queues out the door. Among the most popular is Barrafina (multiple locations, for modern Spanish small plates; Hoppers (multiple locations, for Sri Lankan and South Indian dishes; Padella (multiple locations, affordable, punchy Italian flavours; St John Bread & Wine near Spitalfields Market (94-96 Commercial St, for simple, enduring British classics; Kiln (58 Brewer St, Soho, for Thai; and The Barbary (16 Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, for North African. Also in Covent Garden, Ashma Khan's Darjeeling Express (2a Garrick St, is wonderful for lunch or dinner, but try nab one of the hottest tickets in town: the Sunday afternoon biryani supper club serving traditional "dawaat" style feasts.

Inspired by the Irani cafes of Mumbai, Dishoom ( now boasts branches across the UK but still retains so much of the quality and individuality it began with. Breakfast at Dishoom is sensational, but aside from the iconic bacon naan, try the Keema per Eedu, Parsi Omelette and Masala Beans, all washed down with free-flowing chai.

Brasserie Zédel (20 Sherwood St, is an enduring institution of the city from the Corbin & King group. Set spectacularly beneath Piccadilly Circus this expansive unapologetically French brasserie is all about democratising French food. Still Bib Gourmand awarded to this day, you can eat like a king at pauper's prices here.

Trend: Irish in London

Many Irish have called London home and added to the eclectic fabric of the city. Irish man in London, Richard Corrigan, serves a rare-as-hens-teeth decent pint of Guinness at Daffodil Mulligan in Shoreditch (70-74 City Rd, as well as incredible seafood at Bentley's near Piccadilly Circus (11-15 Swallow St,

Once a leading chef in the Gordon Ramsay Group stable, Anna Haugh in her first independent restaurant Myrtle in Chelsea (1A Langton St, combines French technique with best of British and Irish ingredients.

London-born but Irish-rooted, Chef Lee Tiernan's Black Axe Mangal in Islington (156 Canonbury Rd, offers incredible takes on Turkish classics and other open-fire dishes using lesser appreciated ingredients.

London has no shortage of high-end, fine dining either, with 66 restaurants awarded Michelin stars, including Core by Clare Smyth (92 Kensington Park Rd,, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (68 Royal Hospital Rd, and Sketch ( 9 Conduit St, all with three apiece.

On the more affordable fine-dining scale is Jun Tanaka's French-Mediterranean restaurant The Ninth in Fitzrovia (22 Charlotte St,, nearby Portland (113 Great Portland St, and Lyle's in Shoreditch (56 Shoreditch High St,

Wine and cocktails

Looking for a pre-dinner tipple in Soho? Bar Termini (7 Old Compton St, is your new favourite. Tony Conigliaro's petite, perfectly formed cocktail bar serves the best value martini in the city, alongside a small selection of cocktails, bubbles and coffee.

Wine lovers continue to beat a path to Noble Rot in Soho (2 Greek St,, which has a destination wine list, let alone the dishes. It is equally a great value spot with three courses for £22.

Lyaness at Sea Containers hotel, near Blackfriars Bridge (20 Upper Ground, is also sensational.


Take one of many independently run food tours around the city, including Totally Tailored Tours (, Devour Tours ( and WithLocals (

For something more specialist, snap up a place on one of Jennifer Earle's Chocolate Ecstasy tours ( or book a spot at the Bread Ahead Bakery School half-day doughnut workshop (£90) in Borough Market to learn all the skills to recreate their highly Instagrammable doughnuts (