Beigel Bake is a treasured East End institution and a surviving remnant of the district’s former Jewish past. While the area has evolved rapidly in recent years, the 24-hour bakery remains popular with early-morning workers and late-night clubbers alike. The signature salt beef-and-mustard bagel (a.k.a. beigel) might be a tall order if you’re just starting your day, but other favorites include the smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, and apple strudel or the cheesecake for a sweeter alternative.
BTW: Prepare to eat and run, as this is a busy bakery, not a cafe. But there’s plenty to do on the surrounding streets of cool and trendy Shoreditch.
Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Lane Shoreditch, London E1 6SB
For a breakfast with a difference, head for the Covent Garden location of the chain Dishoom, which pays homage to cafes in Mumbai that were set up by Parsi or Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran — once a regular feature of the Indian city and now few and far between. The extensive breakfast menu features a fiery blend of spiced-up favorites like eggs and bacon, as well as lesser known traditional alternatives, such as keema per eedu, a Parsi power breakfast of chicken keema topped with eggs.
BTW: Fortunately, Dishoom takes reservations for breakfast, so you won’t have to wait as long as you might later in the day.
Dishoom, 12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane London WC2H 9FB
Whether you’re exploring the South Bank or heading up the Shard for a bird’s-eye view of the capital, it’s worth taking a mealtime detour to bustling Borough Market. A true feast for the senses, it offers a huge variety of delicious street food made fresh on-site. From vegan burgers to meat pie and mash, you’ll be spoiled for choice. While there, don’t miss out on the culinary shopping or the packed schedule of free cooking demonstrations.
BTW: Check out all the options before you commit. You don’t want to get order envy.
Borough Market, 8 Southwark St. London SE1 1TL
London’s foodie culture has been conquered by Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his Palestinian partner Sami Tamimi. Their “chain” consists of four laid-back deli-style restaurants, as well as restaurants Nopi and Rovi. Whatever you choose, it’s more than likely going to be excellent. But lunchtime at Ottolenghi is all about the salads. The chargrilled broccoli is a specialty, and aubergine (or eggplant) often takes center stage. Save room for the giant meringues or any of the decadent desserts.
BTW: Unlike other branches, you can actually book for lunch at Spitalfields — a distinct advantage, given Ottolenghi’s popularity.
Ottolenghi, 50 Artillery Lane London E1 7LJ
Bang Bang Oriental Food Hall
It’s well worth venturing beyond the confines of central London to the city’s northwestern suburb of Colindale to this huge and happening Asian food court. Catering to every taste and budget, it features more than 20 concessions cooking up an eclectic mix of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Malaysian cuisines. Translated from Mandarin as “Good Good,” Bang Bang offers a wide selection of sushi, dim sum, curry, bubble tea and more.
BTW: Not the place for an intimate meal; Bang Bang can be crazy busy.
Bang Bang Oriental Food Hall, 399 Edgware Rd. Colindale, London NW9 0FH
Far from the West End spotlight lies Rugoletta, tucked away on a quiet suburban street but a major favorite for North Londoners. Always busy, this tiny restaurant overflows with atmosphere, serving some of the city’s best and most authentic Italian food. Booking is recommended, but if you can’t get a table, there’s another branch in nearby North Finchley, less than two miles away. Be sure to include the side of zucchini fritti.
BTW: You can bring your own alcohol.
La Rugoletta, 59 Church Lane London N2 8DR
Spread out over three floors, the Fable is far from intimate — and yet every nook and cranny has a cozy feel, thanks to the awesomely quirky interior, including vintage typewriters and furniture crafted from stacks of books. On the edge of the City of London, this bar and restaurant is inspired by the fantasy world of fairy tales and Aesop’s fables. Every night is a late one, aside from Sundays, which are usually closed for private events.
BTW: The Fable will teach you how to blend your own cocktail with mixology classes.
The Fable, 52 Holborn Viaduct London EC1A 2FD
Edgware Road, otherwise known as Little Beirut, has no shortage of top-quality shawarma and shisha joints. Among them is Ranoush Juice, which stays open until 3 a.m. Part of the long-established Maroush brand, which has eateries across the capital, Ranoush is a smaller, fast-food-style operation serving some of the best drinks and dishes from the Middle East, including hummus, falafel, moussaka and, needless to say, a fine late-night kebab.
BTW: Juices are squeezed fresh on-site, and you can order a blend of whatever is in season.
Ranoush Juice, 43 Edgware Rd. London W2 2JE