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10 Best Things to Do in London: A Foodie’s Guide

Last updated on October 29, 2014

After a dizzying three years of living in this vast and enigmatic city, I’ve finally managed to pin down and share a few of my absolute favourite things to do in London.

From the city’s best restaurants and craft beer pubs to riverside walks and tranquil oriental gardens, let me show you the London that I’ve slowly but surely fallen madly in love with.

1. Kick-Start Your Day with Brunch at Kopapa

Kopapa Brunch Seven Dials Covent Garden London

Situated on ultra hip Monmouth Street in Seven Dials, Covent Garden, this cafe-come-restaurant offers excellent coffee and an exceptionally special brunch menu. And with its Maori/New Zealand heritage, it really is a wonderful example of the variety that London has to offer.

Make It Happen
Be sure to book a table as this place is hugely popular. Order the avocado toast with chilli, goat’s cheese, mint & lemon oil (£8) and the hot-smoked salmon on toast with spinach, 2 poached eggs & yuzu hollandaise (£12) and as much coffee as you can handle. Their Bloody Mary cocktails are rather good, too! 

Book your table here (bottom left of page)

Address: Kopapa, 32-34 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HA
Nearest Tube Stop: Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road

2. Roam the River Thames and Stop for Modern Art and a Foodie Fix

London River Thames Walk

This is a failsafe way to get orientated in the big city and it’s the first thing I do with visitors. It includes views of some of London’s most iconic architecture as well as my favourite London art gallery and the city’s most famous foodie market.

Make It Happen
Starting from Waterloo Station/Southbank, head towards London Bridge and follow the foot path that hugs the river and take in the iconic skyline of modern and classic architecture. Twenty minutes or so down this path and you’ll stumble upon the Tate Art Gallery, which is truly inspirational even for people who don’t usually enjoy galleries/museums. Spend an hour wandering about and getting lost in here and then continue down the footpath in the same direction.

Follow the signs and crowds of people to Borough Market, which is a delicious haven of artisan food stalls housed underneath an old railway bridge. Stop for a few nibbles and a cup of coffee/glass of wine and then cross the Millennium Bridge (you will have to double back on yourself a little bit) where you’ll discover the awesomeness of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Nearest Tube Stop: Waterloo

3. Eat Sushi Without Soy Sauce, at Yashin Sushi Restaurant

Yashin Sushi Restaurant Kensington London

I was never really into sushi, but then I discovered Yashin Sushi Restaurant and finally understood what it was all about.  This unassuming little sushi joint is tucked away on a side street just off Kensington High Street and attracts the kind of crowd that know and fully understand what quality sushi is all about. Their ‘Eat sushi without soy sauce’ slogan is their way of saying that the sushi is so fresh and delicious, you don’t need to season it – and it’s true. The welcome is warm and inviting, and the set menus offer outstanding value for money (around £15 pp).

Make It Happen
Swing by for lunch instead of dinner (same menu, better prices) and ask to be seated at the bar so you can watch the sushi artists create your masterpiece. Once you’ve eaten, stretch your legs in the tranquil grounds of the nearby Kyoto Gardens (more on this below).

Call 02079 381 536 to book your table and be sure to read my Yashin Sushin Restaurant Review for more info.

Address: Yashin Sushi Restaurant, 1A Argyll Road Kensington London W8 7DB
Nearest Tube Stop: High Street Kensington

4. Discover Purity and the Path of Devotion, at Kensington’s Kyoto Gardens

Kyoto Gardens Holland Park Chelsea London

I was terrified when I first moved to London. Terrified that I wouldn’t be able to hack it in the ‘Big City’. And so, my first days and months here were devoted to seeking out quiet sanctuaries where I could retreat and indulge in my introverted ways. That’s when I discovered the peaceful and beautifully balanced Kyoto Gardens, which is hidden away in the billionaire playground of Holland Park, Chelsea. It’s a park of peacocks, pale-pink blossom and wilting bluebells, of bonsai and placid ponds. It is perfection.

Make It Happen
Follow the signs through Holland Park to Kyoto Gardens, where I suggest taking a gentle stroll and some time to look within. Go slowly and deliberately.

Nearest Tube Stop: Holland Park or High Street Kensington

5. Drink Your Way to Craft Beer Heaven, at The Fox

The Fox Craft Beer House East London

To my absolute pleasure, the craft beer movement has now fully exploded in London, with micro breweries setting up shop all over town. For a monstrous selection of hoppy IPAs, Trappist beers and sultry dark stouts, visit The Fox Craft Beer House in the ultra hip East End. The bar is incredibly well stocked and run by craft beer hipsters who are genuinely keen to help you.

Make It Happen
From Dalston Junction station, stroll down Kingsland Road and take in the colourful street life of this multi-cultural melting pot. Reggae beats pump out of exotic grocery stalls and gospel singers groove away at the roadside. It’ll take about fifteen minutes to get to The Fox, by which time you’ll have worked up a thirst and a bit of an appetite. Ask for tasters of a few different beers that take your fancy and be sure to order half-pints so you can try a few different beers. The burgers, quite frankly, are the best I’ve ever had in London, so don’t hold back. 

Address: The Fox, 372 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4DA
Nearest Tube Stop:
Dalston Junction

A few more of my favourite London craft beer houses include: The Euston Tap, The Well & Bucket and The Pig’s Ears Craft Beer Cellar.

6. Eat Fish & Chips at The Britannia Pub in Kensington

Britannia Pub Kensington London

There’s nothing more British than indulging in a few pints of the good stuff in an old pub with an open fire and some proper pub grub. And in London you won’t have to go far to find it. But the problem is, old chap, there are far too many scoundrels out there serving below par quality fish and chips. But fear not, for the Britannia is a proper pub, albeit set in the heart of the the rich and leafy borough of Kensington and Chelsea, a short stroll from Kensington Palace.

Make It Happen
Stop by after a stroll around the Kyoto Gardens, grab a pint and a newspaper, turn off that damn phone and do what the British do so well: loiter. I can personally vouch for the Britannia’s generous and succulent fish and chips, served with a honky wedge of lemon and the tastiest mushy peas you could ever wish to shovel down your throat. Don’t forget the salt and vinegar, and do have one more drink for the road.

Address: The Britannia, 1 Allen St, London W8 6UX
Nearest Tube Stop: High Street Kensington

7. Go Wild in the Beauty of Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens London

When you think of London, you don’t think of wide open spaces and tropical plants, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at the awe-inspiring Kew Gardens. At 121 hectares, this vast green space is an official World Heritage Centre and home to the world’s largest collection of living plants.

Make It Happen
Strap on a pair of your most comfortable shoes and prepare for a day on foot (good food and drink available at reasonable prices). Explore the elegant glasshouses that transport you to desert and tropical climates. Get lost in the Mediterranean Gardens and run free through the canopied paths of pine and petal. And don’t leave before adventuring through the Treetop Walkway, which offers commanding views over the grounds and distant city skyline.

With my hand on my heart, Kew Gardens is one of my favourite places in all of London. Read my write up for more info. 

Tickets cost £15 per person – kids under 16 go free. Buy tickets on the gate or online.

Nearest Tube Stop: Kew Gardens

8. Take Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason

Afternoon Tea at Fortnum and Mason London

Not only is Fortnum & Mason one of London’s most prestigious department stores – this is where the Queen and the staff of Buckingham Palace buy their groceries – but it’s also home to the famous Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. This bright open space on the fourth floor features timeless Art Deco style and the smooth tones of live piano. The vibe is relaxed and sophisticated, yet utterly unpretentious.

Make It Happen
Get your glad rags on and head here at around 4pm (don’t eat lunch before) for afternoon tea, which consists of finger sandwich classics such as salmon and cream cheese and ham and mustard, scones, cakes and a pot of tea (super-duper fancy tea, of course).

Prices start at around £40 per head, although you could quite easily double that if you were to be swayed by the Champagne Afternoon Tea. And be aware that a 12.5% service charge will also be added. You can book your table here.

Address: Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER
Nearest Tube Stop: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park

9. See and Be Seen, with Lavish Cocktails at the Ritz Hotel

The Rivoli Cocktail Bar at The Ritz Hotel London

The Rivoli Bar is the epitome of London luxe, the cocktail bar to which all others aspire to. But it is so much more than this; it is a symbol of the heritage, culture and prestige that sets this iconic city apart, it is a time warp, a glimpse into England’s colourful and momentous past.

Small in size but huge in style and personality, the Rivoli Bar is Art Deco. Think wooden walls with gold detailing and illuminated glass panels. Think chocolate browns and vintage yellows, gilded ceiling coves and moody lighting. Think white-coated bartenders and cocktails to die for. This is everything you ever dreamed of.

Make It Happen
Do as we did and visit The Ritz for cocktails after your afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason – it’s only a three-minute walk down the road. Enter the side door where you’ll be greeted and asked if you are “Joining us for drinks?” They will take care of the rest.

Order from the classic cocktail menu – prices range from £19 to £350 per drink – and listen to the colourful conversation that fills the room. On your way out, have a quick stroll through the Palm Court, which is a destination for glamorous guests from high society to ‘see and be seen’.”

Address: The Ritz Hotel, 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR
Nearest Tube Stop: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus

10. Do London the Latin Way with Peruvian Food at Ceviche Restaurant

Ceviche Peruvian Restaurant Soho London

For salsa rhythms and seductive Peruvian dishes, head to Ceviche, my absolute favourite restaurant in all of London. It’s warm and intimate with friendly staff and an electric atmosphere that makes it almost impossible to leave.

Make It Happen
Squeeze in at the bar at around 6/7pm and let the latin grooves wash over you whilst you sip on pisco sour cocktails (fruity brandy blended with zesty lime and egg whites and topped off with Angostura bitters). 

Move deeper into the restaurant area and order a selection of exciting little dishes to share. Order a bowl of yucas, which are chunky wedges of cassava root (think sweet potatoes or parsnips) that you dip in a creamy and spicy cheese sauce called huancaina.

And whatever you do, don’t miss out on the zingy, soulfully seductive house classic: Ceviche. It’s freshly cured seabass with amarillo tiger’s milk (think spicy limes), fresh red onions and crispy sweet potato. Wash it all down with ice-cold bottles of Cusqueña – a sweet Peruvian lager. Repeat as necessary. 

Call 020 7292 2040 to book at table. Read my review for more info.

Address: Ceviche, 17 Frith St, London W1D 4RG
Nearest Tube Stop: Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road

For more of my insider tips on London, see my London posts category or talk to me directly on my Facebook page.

All photos by Ben Holbrook, apart from two of ‘The Fox’ photos

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