Before our trip to London, I fully expected to enjoy some fantastic Indian as their national dish is officially Chicken Tikka Masala. Apart from this, I honestly didn't have high expectations. I couldn't have been more mistaken! Each meal brought cuisines from around the world, all of which I highly recommend!
Disclaimer: London offers hundreds and hundreds of high-quality restaurant and food experiences. This is definitely not an exhaustive restaurant guide, it's simply a list of restaurants that I personally tried during my 7 days in the city and of which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Do you know what England's national dish is? Chicken Tikka Masala. An Indian dish. Authentic Indian cuisine abounds in London and Dishoom offers a fabulous dinner experience if you're looking or a nice evening out. The tables are small, mostly 2-tops all nestled close together for an intimate setting. They only accept reservations for parties of 6+ so you're almost guaranteed to wait in line outside. Luckily they come by periodically with Masala Chai and aperitifs. We went on a Monday evening and waited in line for 45 minutes with a quick stint at the bar before our table was ready...and the bartenders said that the restaurant "wasn't busy" compared to what they're used to on the weekends. If you're traveling and don't have an agenda, head to Dishoom early in the week to avoid waiting too long and if you can get 6 people together, call ahead to reserve your table!
Portobello Road is known to be home to the world's largest antiques market, but it is so much more. Although the crowds are busiest on the weekends, this is really the best time to go as it's the only time all the vendors are present. (The market is closed on Sundays). Plan to spend a few hours here and walk all the way to the end for an amazing selection of street food. (Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea)
Surrounded by pubs, offering fresh street-food style stalls and specialty items, Borough Market is home to award-winning Scotch Eggs and this delicious Salt Beef Sandwich that we enjoyed twice in 7 days! (Southwark)
Nearby Borough Market and a little smaller is a hidden street where Maltby Street Market lives. It is here that I enjoyed possibly the best G&T I've ever had. (Just when you think the small street has ended, continue walking and on your left you'll find both a brewery and Jensen's Gin)
**Maltby Street Market is only open on the weekends, 9AM - 4PM on Saturdays and 11AM - 4PM on Sundays.
Although there are sushi restaurants in the city center and this will seem a bit out of the way for a typical tourist, it is truly the best sushi in town. Fairly priced and of superb quality, if you're a discerning sushi connoisseur, venture out to Willesden Green for some fabulous Japanese.
In London, I was visiting two close friends, both of which I met during my time in China. You can bet that when 4 out of 5 people sitting at the table all lived and worked in China, we have high expectations and can only accept the most authentic Chinese cuisine. Kam Tong Restaurant did not disappoint!
**If you enjoy dumplings, be sure to go to Kam Tong Restaurant for lunch as they don't serve dumplings after 5PM. The Shanghai Dumplings (xiao long bao) are my favorite! (Bayswater)
Hummus is seemingly quite simple, but there is no doubt in my mind that I enjoyed the best hummus of my life at Maroush. We even returned one night to take a shawarma wrap to go. Lebanese (or any middle eastern cuisine for that matter) is another that is best enjoyed with company...order it all and have a bite of everything! (Edgware Road)
This is a beautiful bar & restaurant that offers panoramic views of London. My favorite time to go is of course at night. They do have a strict smart casual dress code and only accept reservations for dining in the restaurant (seating in the bar is first come first served). The vibe here on the weekends offers an up-tempo lounge with louder music than you might like if you're in a larger group and hope to carry on an important conversation. It's perfect to enjoy dinner or a few drinks before continuing your night elsewhere. If you prefer a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere, The Gong, at the Shangri La (see below) is in the same building and offers a comparable view + stunning cocktail menu. (The Shard)
My ears always perk up when I hear "World's Best" somewhere in a sentence.⠀
At this year's Virtuoso Travel Week, I had the pleasure to meet the team from The Connaught, a Virtuoso property in London. When they told me that their cocktail bar, Connaught Bar, won "World's Best Cocktail Bar" at the 10th Annual Spirited Awards in 2016, I scheduled a site inspection right away to experience the property first hand during my time in London, and of course, to have a martini!⠀
Whether a stay at The Connaught is part of your itinerary design or not, a martini (or a spicy bloody mary) at Connaught Bar is an obligatory stop before dinner.
**The Connaught also offers a two-Michelin starred restaurant, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught. While I wasn't able to experience this restaurant first hand during this trip, it will most certainly be a priority for my next visit to London! (Mayfair)
Located on the top floor of the Shangri-La at the Shard, The Gong offers stunning views of the city and an inspired cocktail menu. Between five of us, we tried a variety of cocktails and pictured here was my favorite, Fleming Sweep. Look for George Lucas in the menu and you'll be served a levitating, blue cocktail.
**Reservations are highly recommended. We also enjoyed the ambiance of arriving at The Gong in the early evening, before dusk, to enjoy both the day time, nighttime, and transition views of the city. (The Shard)
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Whitney’s love of experiential travel began when she studied abroad in New Zealand. Upon returning home, this seemingly small decision led her on an unpredictable path to do everything in her power to continue exploring the world. Within one year, she headed to Africa for one month to visit a friend who was volunteering with animals in need of rehabilitation support, and upon graduating only 6 months later, she moved to France for no other reason than the study the language and experience the culture firsthand. Fast forward 8 years, 2 languages, and 20 countries later, Whitney has successfully combined her passion for foreign languages and experiential travel with her professional experiences and launched Undiscovered Sunsets, a bespoke, experiential travel agency.