I quite often get asked for restaurant recommendations, which I always find slightly tricky. It's one thing to love a restaurant yourself, but eating out means something different to everyone and what I love about a restaurant might not be the same as what someone else would love. That said, there are a few London restaurants that I personally love, and have returned to again and again (and will continue to do so!) Here are some of them.
Quick Eats and Budget Treats
Everyone knows about the burger ting. London is awash with awesome places to get an awesome burger and I could quite easily compile a list of my favourite ones (note: do this). However, one of my all-time favourites is MEATliquor - maybe because it was one of the first dirty burger places I visited - and I have never had a bad time there. Although they have one of those dastardly no reservations policies (though their Hoxton branch is bookable), the place is big and if you time your arrival right then you won't have to wait more than 20 minutes. Get the Dead Hippie burger with some cheese fries (chili cheese fries if you're a piggy like me) and prepare to get deliciously filthy.
Fried chicken is another one of those on-trend phenomenons, and there are loads of places you can find that do this both well and terribly. Clockjack Oven is awesome, because for the location (off Leicester Square) you would expect it to be busy, expensive, and terrible - and it is none of those things. You can book a table here, but I've also been able to walk-in without a wait and it's one of those great places that is cosy enough to go to as a couple but also completely family-friendly if you are that way inclined.
A bombay-fusion cafe, there are two branches now - one in Covent Garden and one in Shoreditch. This is a great place for group dining and a good one for recommendations as the food is not only delicious but also quite unique and interesting. Although I love the dinner food, I ESPECIALLY love their brunch menu - the bacon naan roll has a reputation that precedes it, for all the right reasons.
Special Mentions: Slider Bar, Kimchee, Koya
Mishkins is probably my favourite London restaurant. It's super cosy, with a different daily special as well as a bunch of staples. It leans towards a jewish deli vibe, but has got the mix between authentic and accessible bang on. I have taken dates here, had a birthday dinner here and visited with my papa, and each time everyone has left vowing to return. This is one of those restaurants that is permanently on my list, it's a safe choice that has never let me down.
The most chain-esque one on my list, but one that is always a good recommendation to have in your back pocket. There are currently three branches (Royal Festival Hall, Spitalfields, Canary Wharf) and the focus is on that sort of home-away-from-home dining that sometimes you just need to have in your belly. My favourite is the Royal Festival Hall branch because I love the seating arrangements (especially the booths for two where you sit next to one another as this is one of those things that most people find awkward but I LOVE) and its proximity to the Hayward Gallery which is one of my London faves. For home-comforts this is a no-brainer, and although it's not the cheapest one on the list there are a wide range of pricing options for those who are on a budget. These days I am especially enjoying the bacon, eggs and bubble and squeak from their breakfast menu.
There are loads of Italian restaurants not just in London, but everywhere. If it's a chain, it's likely to be an Italian one. I think it's for this reason that Italian food has fallen out of favour somewhat - it's such an easy child-friendly choice that people associate it with unimaginative dining. However, there are some absolutely amazing family-run Italian restaurants in London and one of my favourites is Ciao Bella. It has that authentic feel that you want when eating out somewhere like this, and the most impressive parts of the menu are definitely the non-pizza options. Both the pasta and the meats here are delicious and this also happens to be on one of my favourite London streets.
Special Mentions: Elliot's Cafe, The 10 Cases, Medcalf
I went to Bam-Bou again last week, and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. The food there is so tasty, the service is always right, and the Red Bar on the top level is perfect for a post-dinner cocktail. It's not cheap (though last week we had a toptable 35% off deal so keep your eyes peeled) but is so, so worth it for a special occasion meal. The food is a mix of chinese and thai (with a bit of a western influence) and all the flavours are just so interesting - it's one of those places where you feel completely justified shelling out the cash as you would never be able to recreate the dishes at home. I also completely love the cocktail bar, especially as last week they made me my favourite cocktail off-menu.
Pretty much a London institution now, the Hawksmoor brand has just run away with itself over the last few years. I don't think I've had a better steak in the UK, and anyone you take here would find it impossible not to be impressed. The staff all know their stuff and can talk you through the options in that quite hard to do non-patronising way, leaving you feeling like actually you were the expert all along. Despite the price (though they do a late theatre menu) this is a massive safe bet.
Home of the eponymous Press for Champagne button, this is the perfect place to have a special occasion meal. It is flamboyant without being over the top, with the food all being incredibly delicious. I last visited for my birthday, and I think I might just continue this trend for all my birthdays from this point onwards.
Special Mentions: The Wolseley, Mon Plaisir, Opera Tavern