10 Iconic London Dishes You Need To Try on Your Next Trip
British food often gets a bad rep—people assume UK residents survive solely on greasy fish and chips and hilariously named desserts such as spotted dick. But London’s exceptional food scene tells a different story, one that defies genres by combining flavors and fusions inspired by its diverse and multicultural population. Here are 10 iconic London dishes that will take you to all the corners of the food-obsessed capital.
Quality Chop House
Divinely crispy and cut in perfect prisms, these melt-in-the-mouth potatoes are the ideal accompaniment to any of the Quality Chop House’s hefty cuts of beef, lamb, or pork. Established more than 150 years ago in 1869, this Farringdon institution draws inspiration from its heritage while also keeping its menu modern and fresh.
Chili fish sauce wings
Sitting proudly on the bustling high street of Shoreditch, this industrial-chic hotspot serves Bangkok canteen classics that capture the authentic flavors of Thailand. Smoking Goat’s signature chili-fish sauce wings are simultaneously sweet, spicy, and sour, and are almost reminiscent of a toffee apple—just one plate of them simply won’t suffice.
There’s no better place to enjoy a pre-theatre splurge than J. Sheekey, a heritage seafood restaurant that’s iconic red frontage is immediately recognizable. Nestled in St. Martin’s Court and tucked away from the bustle of Leicester Square, the 19th-century restaurant’s generous seafood platter is a must-order for any seafood fan, featuring oysters, king prawns, whelks, ceviche, mussels, and even snails.
Al pastor tacos
Bright, vibrant, and bursting with spice and acidity, the dishes at Plaza Pastor recreate the exciting flavors of Mexico’s Yucatan. Though you might not enjoy the same balmy Caribbean breeze on the covered plaza in Kings Cross, the signature tacos are sure to transport your taste buds overseas. Chock full of 24-hour marinated pork, caramelized pineapple, coriander, onion, and spices, these tacos are so iconic that the restaurant named itself after them.
Dishoom is arguably London’s most famous Indian food hub after Brick Lane, and no visit to England’s capital would be complete without trying some of its signature dishes. Top picks include the fragrant chicken ruby, a spicy curry dish made with makhani sauce, chili-cheese toasts, and jackfruit biryani. Options for vegan and vegetarian options are plentiful and tasty, like the house chaat and gunpowder potatoes.
Many London restaurants compete for the title of best Sunday roast, one of the country’s most beloved dishes. But for the majority of Londoners, Blacklock reigns supreme. Housed in a former brothel in the heart of Soho, the award-winning chophouse serves up tender cuts of meat drenched in bone marrow gravy accompanied by traditional sides such as a Yorkshire pudding and beef dripping chips.
Related: Pubs With History: London’s Most Unusual Drinking Dens
No other London institution embodies the spirit of Spanish food like Barrafina, a Michelin-starred tapas joint. Sit at the counter and watch chefs toss flaming gambas (prawns) as you nibble on traditional pan con tomate (bread with grated tomato) washed down with cold Spanish beer. Don’t leave without sampling the goat-cheese stuffed courgette flower or one of the traditional tortillas, omelets where fillings vary according to the season.
Bob Bob Ricard
Bob Bob’s ‘Press for Champagne’ buttons are perhaps the restaurant’s most Instagram-worthy feature, but its French-inspired menu and glitzy interior provide diners with a show-stopping culinary experience. Shuck oysters, sip champagne, and rub shoulders with London's elite in the restaurant's glamorous Mayfair location. And don’t forget to taste the beef Wellington, made from aged Scottish beef and topped with truffle jus.
Cacio e pepe
The long line outside Padella's flagship Borough restaurant is a testament to the exceptional quality of its pasta dishes. Though most ingredients differ according to the season, you'll always find the signature cacio e pepe on the menu. Creamy and peppery, this budget-friendly dish pairs best with some of Padella's house wine.
Steak and truffled chips
Hawksmoor, Gaucho, and JW Steakhouse are all strong contenders for London's best steak dinner, but Goodman takes the title. Found in Mayfair, Bank, and on the docks of Canary Wharf, this premium steakhouse serves up top-quality cuts that are aged on-site and cut to request, with decadent sides such as truffled chips and creamed spinach.