London is one of our favorite cities, and it’s so hard to believe we were wandering her streets, fighting through holiday crowds, eating street food and going to live music venues in December 2019—just a few months before the pandemic changed the world.
As we reminisce about that trip and dream of international travel, we thought we’d share some of our favorite restaurant experiences from our last trip. A local will certainly provide better insights into off-the-beaten-path treasures—but here are some popular spots showcasing the variety of cuisine available that a first time visitor is bound to enjoy.
We walked to all these places from our Soho hotel except for Borough Market—we hopped an Uber for that. Note that some places are temporarily closed or only offering takeout right now.
1. Borough Market
You’ll find Borough Market near the top of many travelers’ London itinerary. Wander through the many shops and food stalls to find exactly what you’re in the mood to eat, whether that’s scotch eggs, cheese toasties, oysters, tapas, pastries or something else entirely, you’ll find it here.
After lunch, we explored the Southwark area a bit before crossing the Thames and checking out the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.
2. Punjab Restaurant
You can’t go to London without trying the best Indian food outside of India. Punjab is a North Indian restaurant in the Covent Garden area that has been around since 1946 and has the most amazing cuisine and excellent staff. You may have to wait in line for a table (or order takeout during the pandemic) but the line moved quickly, and it’s well worth the wait anyway.
3. Patara Soho
Patara is an international chain that serves up contemporary Thai dishes in an elaborately decorated dinning room that sets the perfect ambiance to begin or end a night out on the town. You will find traditional Thai dishes, modern interpretations and tastes from other Southeast Asian regions on the menu.
4. Radio Rooftop
We had a plan when we arrived on our early morning flight into London: drop our bags at the hotel and find a place for brunch with a view. The idea was to keep ourselves entertained and distracted from the jet lag until we could check in and take a nap. Radio Rooftop is a swanky bar and restaurant at the top of the ME Hotel and was a short walk from our accommodations. The brunch menu was fantastic, as were the cocktails and the view.
5. Dog and Duck
You can’t go to London for the first time without trying fish and chips, a game pie or chicken tikka masala, right? Our hotel was right next door to this wonderful, traditional pub with a tiny dinning room on the second floor. Dog and Duck has delicious ales and pub food, including vegetarian options, and is located in the heart of everything.
Bonus: Where to Stay
We stayed at Mimi’s Hotel Soho and can’t recommend it enough. Mimi’s, like Dog and Duck next door, offers the perfect central location. The hotel has an amazing staff, a great little bar and comfortable rooms—and it’s surprisingly affordable for the location. The rooms are tiny and some don’t have windows, but that’s all very clear in the description, so make sure you read carefully before you book. We got the Lux room with a window, and it had all the space we needed including a foyer!
What are your favorite hot spots in London? Let us know in the comments.