I asked fellow members of the Secret London team to tell me about their favourite restaurants…
Knowledge is more useful when shared and I kind of thought that maybe, as a team, we might have a bit of knowledge to share about London – you know, with it being our job and all. So I asked my London-loving colleagues what their favourite restaurant in the city is. Here’s what they said.
Guy Parsons, Editor
‘GOD IT’S HARD TO CHOOSE ISN’T IT’ exclaims our frantic and indecisive leader who submitted his answer a full week later than everybody else. After seven days of fretful dithering he recommends Brasserie Zedel off Piccadilly Circus for the dreamy Wes Anderson decor and classic French food at (frankly) knockdown prices, or, if you’re in his neck of the woods, Nunhead’s Babette, for cosy neighbourhood vibes and an always-changing menu where the sharing platters are stars of the show.
Georgie Hoole, Deputy Editor (me!)
I really hate this question, even though I literally asked it myself. Can I have more than one favourite? Good, I’m listing five. First and foremost, El Inca Plebeyo on Essex Road. It’s a little tricky to get to but it’s worth it for their beautiful ceviches, the coconutty fish stew and the most incredibly indulgent desserts. You can read more about it here, where I go into more detail about those oh-so-perfect puddings and some rather bizarre Ecuadorian traditions. Secondly, Suvlaki. This is my go-to restaurant recommendation because it’s very easy to get to (they have one in Soho and one on Brick Lane) and it just has such a lovely atmosphere. If you were to choose just three things from their menu, I’d say the Prawn Saganaki, the Baked Feta and the Spicy Lamb Chops should be top of your list. They are OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD.
To continue with my indecision, I’d also recommend Arlo’s in Balham or Battersea for the best steak, the best service and the best birthday pavlova (I’m coeliac so couldn’t have the brownie, but they stuck a candle in a pavlova for me which was almost as good as the birthday rack of ribs I had in Wetherspoon’s on my 22nd birthday). You should also head to Wingman’s in Kilburn for cluck-me-these-are-really-clucking-good Buffalo wings and the friendliest service ever. And finally, Camino, for bloody brilliant G&Ts and some ¡estupendo! tapas (I particularly recommend the Gambas Ajillo, the Octopus and the Tortilla de Patatas). Okay, I’ve finished hijacking this article now.
Alex Landon, Staff Writer
“Being an indecisive type, I’ve split my vote a couple of ways. A duo of Mexican restaurants routinely battle for my affection – Lupita, home of the world’s best guacamole, and Del 74, where the awesome cocktails and fun-loving owners routinely turn a visit into a party. But purely for food, it has to be Pizarro on Bermondsey Street, a superb Spanish restaurant which served easily the best meal I’ve ever eaten in London. Sell your soul for the Presa Iberica, and don’t miss out on the Leche Frita either!” (Lupita have various restaurants across London and Del 74 have branches in both Dalston and Clapton.)
Asli Umut, Videographer
“My favourite restaurant is Tenshi in Angel. It’s a non-chain, authentic Izakaya and sushi restaurant with a great selection of Sakes. This unassuming, family run restaurant has been my favourite in the neighbourhood since its opening in 2010 – you can always trust them to find a seat for you even when they’re packed. It’s reasonably priced and the service and consistency of flavours never disappoint. I would highly recommend their Nasu Dengaku and Yakitoris but my personal favourite is their Spicy Miso Vegetable Udon.
I have two more – Rasa, the veggie Keralan restaurant in Stokey and Cirrik 19 Numara Bos in Dalston, which I, your friendly Turk who loves a good grill, can vouch for having the best authentic Turkish & Kurdish taste.”
Matt Wyatt, Videographer
Matt recommends Islington’s Trullo, even though he had to Google the name of it to make sure he hadn’t made it up. I’ll assume that’s just a sign of how good it is – so unbelievably good that you literally have to check that it wasn’t all a dream. He says the restaurant has a fantastic authentic atmosphere, especially downstairs. Their menu is full of excellent antipasti and delicious handmade pastas that are rolled just minutes before serving, but, when I asked Matt what the best thing he ate was, he said the fish – which is all cooked over burning coals. The menu changes daily, so you could visit every day of your life and never get bored.
Georgie Darling, Branded Content Writer
“DF/Mexico. Half price tacos and a margarita is basically everything you need from a Monday and, IMO, it’s the perfect way to start the week. There’s everything from chorizo nachos to steak burritos and buttermilk chicken buns on the menu and it’s all truly delicious. On the side, go crazy with any number of fancy (free) salsas but beware: some are hotter than others. You can easily get a whole meal, a side and a cocktail for under £20. And if, somehow, you’ve still got room afterwards, try the tres leches ice-cream sandwich for the ultimate happy ending (their words, not mine, but they’re pretty accurate). You’ll find DF/Mexico down Tottenham Court Road and at the Old Truman Brewery and make sure to arrive with an empty stomach.”
Abbie Whitby, Head of Brand Partnerships
“El Ganso Cafe in Broadway Market – the tastiest tapas in town! I love this place for the ambience, fantastic service and yummy bites of heaven. Try the pork belly, gambas al ajillo and padron peppers. You won’t be disappointed! Perfect for a date night or a larger group.”
Abi Townsend, Senior Brand Partnerships Team
Blacklock almost made my list, but I’d already gone overboard so I let Abi have it. She recommends going for their Sunday Roast and sharing the ‘All In’ with “someone with just as big an appetite as you”. It’s £20 per person and you’ll get a juicy pile (yes, literally) of beef, lamb and pork, plus all of the trimmings (Yorkshire puds, duck-fat roast potatoes, seasonal veg and bone marrow gravy). Definitely one of the best – if not the best – roast dinners in London. You’ll find Blacklock in Soho, the City and Shoreditch.
Oscar Lie, Brand Partnerships Manager
“Foley’s is the place to be.” This is all I got from Oscar, but I get the feeling he is big fan. Foley’s in Fitzrovia boasts an epic menu of modern Asian cuisine, including some incredibly inventive dishes, such as Rock Shrimp Tempura with nori spice and kimchee mayo and Octopus with sweet potato miso, lemon dashi foam and chilli oil. Just a quick browse of the menu has me drooling. Perhaps Oscar is right.
Ben Chapman, Project Manager for Secret London and Fever
Ben has recommended the lovely Kentish Town trattoria, Rossella. According to him they have the “finest Italian food in all the land.” He goes on to say, “it’s an authentic little family-run Italian. Founded and inspired by their Southern Italian origins, it offers both amazing food and authentic charm. The menu is cheap and cheerful – as to be expected from an Italian – but the dishes are certainly the tastiest I ever have tried. From delicious crispy pizzas covering all the staple favourites, to pastas (the Penne Rosella is a particular fave), right through to the more traditional dishes like the Pollo Milanese. Rosella is a Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! Buon Appetito!”
Catherine Chatzianastasiou, Creative Solutions Executive
Catherine recommends Arepa and Co. in Haggerston for great Venezuelan cuisine. She urges you to try the yucas, the cachapas and, for dessert, the tequeños de chocolate (dark chocolate pastries with vanilla ice cream and passion fruit coulis)! They also make a great caipirinha and the location is perfect (along Kingsland Towpath).
Ellie Cook, Creative Solutions Executive
UCHI, which translates to “home” in English, is a wonderfully authentic Japanese restaurant in Hackney. It feels a lot like an Izakaya, which is a casual drinking place in Japan, sort of like a pub. Ellie likes it because she’s gluten free and they’re pretty good at sorting her out. She also says they do a wicked weekend brunch, there’s a wonderful “a e s t h e t i c”, and the food is served in the most beautiful earthenware.
Brad Hornby, Global Head of Sales at Fever
“F*cking amazeballs” is how Brad would describe Al Forno in two words. It’s deep down in the depths of Wimbledon, which happens to be Brad’s neck of the woods, but it’s worth the journey for the rustic atmosphere and the incredible pizzas cooked in a traditional brick oven. (I couldn’t find a decent picture of the pizzas to share, but a quick search through Insta helped me to understand Brad’s choice of words.)
Abby Hodder, Business Development Lead at Fever
Abby originally chose Trullo, but Matt very selfishly got there first. Not too much of a shame though as Le Sacre Coeur in Angel was easily a joint favourite. She says it’s “cosy and super romantic, serves hearty portions of traditional French cuisine in an intimate and bustling setting. It’s like popping off to Paris for a night without the extortionate price tag – the wine list is also extensive and reasonably priced. Highly recommend the camembert frit and boeuf bourguignon. Allez vite!”
Oli Walker, Business Developer at Fever
Oli was very quick to recommend Lupins, the lovely British restaurant in Southwark. Here’s what he had to say: “Firstly, the food is incredible – perfectly portioned small plates, a frequently updated menu and amazing variety! The restaurant only seats about 24, and there’s a few extra seats downstairs on the pass so you can watch your food be cooked before your very eyes. It’s tucked away in the corner of Flat Iron Square but once you’re nearby you can’t miss the smells coming from the open kitchen. 5-7 small plates between two is perfect, and it’s the ideal date spot to treat the other half!”