If a first-time visitor to London asked you for a London restaurant recommendation, where would you send them? You know I have my favorite places. But what are yours? And just because someplace is your favorite, do you think others will like it too? (After sending my old boss — a conservative New Englander — to the famed St. John many years ago, I learned the hard way that not everyone loves St. John like I do.)
I posed this question recently to some of my Internet friends — what are your “must visit” restaurants for tourists in London; I love asking this question because everyone always has a different answer. You probably will too. I was pretty surprised by some of the answers — I expected to get London stalwarts like The Wolseley or Fortnum & Mason. Some of these places were even new to me, which says something, doesn’t it?
Manze’s Pie & Mash
Sarah Carter from ASocialNomad suggested Manze’s Pie & Mash in Bermondsey. Here’s what she had to say.
Manze’s pie shop is London’s oldest original pie shop. It was established in 1902 by the current owner’s grandfather, Michele Manze. The first shop to bear his name was to be found at 87 Tower Bridge Road, Bermondsey, where you will still find it today.
Pie, mash and liquor traces its roots back to the 18th century in the East End of London, where eel pie and mash houses were places to get a cheap and filling meal. Eels, which were cheap and plentiful from the River Thames, have given way to minced beef in today’s pie menus. The “liquor” in the dish is a green parsley sauce.
At Manze’s, order your food at the counter, where it will be served to you immediately. All the pies are baked fresh on the day and are made from prime cuts of beef, minced on site with a small amount of gravy added to each pie before the lid is put on. Vegetarian pies are also available. Mashed potato is also made fresh as needed and Manze’s liquor is world famous, containing a special, secret ingredient; it too is made fresh on site the day it is sold.
Traditionally, cover your pie with liquor, then douse it liberally with salt and vinegar. If you want to try eels, then pick up some stewed or jellied eels, which are also cooked fresh on the premises.
Elaine and Dave from Show Them the Globe recommended Sushi Samba on Bishopsgate…
Located on the 38th floor of the Heron Tower, one of London’s tallest buildings, Sushi Samba serves an interesting combination of Japanese, Peruvian and Brazilian foods.
The bar area, with its amazing views of the Gherkin and the city, is the perfect spot for a pre- or post-dinner drink and the restaurant is stunning with high ceilings, full length windows and sweeping views across London.
The menu is a mix of large and small plates and we enjoyed our beautifully presented dishes. The highlights were the sushi plates and the Japanese grilled dishes. Sushi Samba has a great cocktail list and the cocktails complemented our dinner perfectly.
The outdoor terrace is perfect for summer dining or a cocktail on chillier days. The distinct Sushi Samba orange tree and accompanying bar are the focal points of al fresco evenings and the sweeping views of the city steal the show during the day.
Visiting Sushi Samba is a great experience and a fantastic mix of stunning décor, interesting food, great cocktails and a vibrant atmosphere. Make sure to book ahead as it’s a popular spot!
Mirror Room at Rosewood London
Kay from Paws & Pines recommended afternoon tea at the Rosewood Hotel. In her own words…
One of my favorite places for afternoon tea is the Mirror Room at the Rosewood London. Sitting in a room of mirrors in the beautiful Rosewood London hotel, you’re served freshly brewed pots of tea to accompany your finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. The pastries themselves are inspired by different works of art and change every so often. The last time I visited, they were inspired by Banksy, Pollock, and Kadinsky – amongst others. Currently, their desserts are inspired by Rodin (including a sweet version of The Thinker) and the art of ancient Greece.
At £55, you won’t want to visit every day, but it’s definitely something to experience at least once! Note that you can request multiple rounds of the tea, sandwiches, scones, and pastries so note your favorites when you taste all of them! Food preferences can be accommodated for and reservations are recommended.
James from Where You’re Between has Fisher’s at the top of his list of “must visit” restaurants for tourists in London.
Marylebone often goes unnoticed due to her more illustrious near neighbours, such as Mayfair and Soho to the south. Marylebone High Street is one of London’s hidden gems, and Fischer’s is one of its many treasures.
Fischer’s is a modern take on a classic 1920s Viennese café. The stunning Austrian art deco interior captures a beautiful old world style, reminiscent of the swankiest First Class carriage on board the Orient Express. The resplendent grandeur is paired with a remarkably relaxed and informal atmosphere. You’re made to feel welcome if you’re just popping in for tea and a slice of cake or wanting a full-on Austrian feast.
Fischer’s opens early enough for breakfast and is open until last orders. Available from the extensive and authentic Austrian menu is everything from Sachertorte and Viennese coffee to Wienerschnitzel and wild boar wurst. Dessert consists of typically sinful Austrian delights, such as strudels, cakes and ice creams. The impressive wine list also demands attention. If you ever need an excuse to visit Marylebone, then this is it.
Emily from London City Calling suggested Roxie Steak. Here’s what she had to say…
Any meat-lovers will absolutely adore Roxie Steak, a small chain of South African steak restaurants located in Putney, Fulham, Earlsfield, Clapham Junction and Wimbledon. I’m going to be so bold as to say that this little neighbourhood gem serves up the most delicious cuts of steaks that you will find anywhere in London, along with tasty sides, a great wine selection and some of the friendliest staff in town.
Plus their amazing deals mean that indulging in a steak dinner once a week is totally doable. The Roxie Butcher’s Feast, which includes steak, fries, beef dipping jus, a homemade sauce of your choice, and a glass of wine or prosecco is just £20. On Tuesdays you absolutely have to try the Rack Attack, a large rack of mouth-wateringly tasty barbecue ribs and a portion of fries for just £10!’
Maureen from Life on The Mediterranean recommended Megan’s Café, another place that is new to me.
I typically go to Megan’s for brunch on the weekends and take something with me to read. From the outside, it looks quite small, but once you enter, you see there’s a stairway that leads down to a hidden, bijoux garden. This space is such a haven of cool, Chelsea-Fulham chic. Megan’s has now expanded into two more rooms that front the street, giving the restaurant a lot more space.
Their eggs are fantastic whether poached, scrambled, or Benedict, and the homemade baked goods are divine — I recommend the carrot cake w with cream cheese frosting. They have small and large plates and gluten free and vegan options, all with a Mediterranean flare. Enjoy organic coffees, juices and Pimms, if you’d like. But if you really want brunch, don’t worry. It is served all day long, and is considered the best brunch in Fulham.
You’ll find a second Megan’s in Parson’s Green – 57-69 Parson’s Green Lane, and a new location is opening soon in Balham.
La Bodega Negra
Melissa from Suitcase & Heels had a super-interesting suggestion in La Bodega Negra in Soho…
There’s a storefront in Soho that appears to be a seedy adult shop, but if you dare to go in you’ll soon find yourself in a dimly lit, hacienda-style subterranean den serving up the best margaritas and tacos. A handsome server will show you to your seat next to battered concrete walls and an upended deconstructed grand piano.
Like any restaurant worth its salt, the menu changes from time to time. On my visit I had an impeccably fresh and balanced green salad with avocados and a goddess dressing paired with a dish of stuffed poblano peppers topped with a delicious Mexican crema. This ain’t no Taco Bell.
Getting here isn’t for the meek and uninitiated. You’ll find a cafe called La Bodega Negra on Moor Street in Soho, but that’s not what you’re after. Keep going around the corner to Old Compton St and look for the gaudy sex shop. That’s your target. Go in and tell the person manning the counter in front of the nudie magazines that you have a reservation. They’ll show you the way.
The reward for your brazenness is some of the best Mexican food in London…and getting to be in on a secret. Who doesn’t love a secret?
When I asked people this question, I expected to get things like Rules or even maybe a little Clink Prison. I was totally surprised by the variety of establishments and cuisines I got in response. Just showing you that everyone’s definition of “must visit” London restaurants is different and London has an amazing variety of restaurants to choose from.