I spent a semester studying and interning in London when I was 20 and will forever have a soft spot for this idiosyncratic city. I love that there’s a legit castle right near a big financial hub, ancient walls outside of tube stations and tiny historical pubs minutes away from slick new restaurants.
I’ve been back to London a few times since I was a snakebite-swilling half-adult and I’m continually impressed with everything it has to offer. This last visit, my focus was on food — glorious, plant-centric food.
Here’s my London hit list for badass vegetable dishes, quality chains and good food, in general:
287 Upper Street, Islington N1 2TZ (& other locations)
If you’ve ever picked up one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks or just passed the display of gorgeous desserts in the window, you’ll definitely want to stop in for lunch (and some locations, dinner). I had lunch at a couple of the locations and dinner at the Islington one and was in love with everything I tried. The salads and vegetable dishes are inventive, generous and beautiful to look at. There are nice meat and fish offerings too, and of course, the desserts. Those chocolate chip cookies are a must with a tea after a satisfying veggie-filled meal.
51 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith W6 9QL(with another location in Islington)
A vegetarian institution, this restaurant is all about good food and wine with style. Everything we ate was exciting and thoughtful, and meat was not missed even a little bit. I’ll be trying their brunch next time I go back, for sure.
83-89 Fieldgate St, London E1 1JU
Around since 1972, this Indian food restaurant is a London classic. Great dishes, corkage-free byo and a rowdy atmosphere all get a thumb’s up from me. Make a reservation though, waits can get epic.
After a week-long road trip around the UK, the fresh green juice and easy-to-grab breakfast options made this chain a little savior for me one morning.
Another chain, Leon was a great spot for an easy lunch that wasn’t a boring sandwich. The meatball box and kale salad brightened up an especially hangry afternoon.
Wild Food Cafe & Juicery
14 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden WC2H 9DP
I discovered this place right after picking up my favorite (treat yo self) night moisturizer next door at Neal’s Yard. The Wild Juicery sells some serious green juice and the cafe above is all about raw local food (and Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses). Plus, the little courtyard where this all goes down is pretty darn charming.
8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL
It’s a bit of a foodie/tourist stronghold, but I love this place and don’t care. Go for lunch and pick up some treats for later. There are some epic baked goodies, cheeses and snacks just waiting to be eaten.
Do you have any favorite London haunts? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment below.
p.s. You might also enjoy Eating Well in Paris