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From Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey and everything in between, there is so much to see and do in London that you are bound to work up an appetite.

You might be wondering where to start when it comes to what to eat in London, and what constitutes English or even UK food. Thankfully we have curated a list of some must-try cuisines that are sure to get your mouth-watering – or at the very least pique your interest.

Fish & Chips

This British fare is world-famous, but to be honest, all the Brits did was merge two existing delicious foods. Fried fish came from the Jews exiled from the Iberian Peninsula during the 1400s and chips from French-speaking Belgians. The cuisine is such a vital part of the national culture that during World War II, it was one of the few things that was not rationed. For the best fish & chips, we suggest going to an actual shop and not a pub – it will be a more authentic experience!

Sunday Roast

There is nothing quite like a roast – and while they are typically enjoyed on a Sunday afternoon, you really can have any time you like. But in saying that if you want the full English experience, head down to a local London pub on a Sunday (get there early!) and enjoy the beauty that is meat, roast potatoes, vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, and lots of gravy. Choosing between beef, pork, or chicken will be the only hard part about this amazing dish – the rest will go down a treat.

Yorkshire Pudding

Speaking of Yorkshire pudding, we think it deserves its own section for just how vital an item it is on a Sunday roast plate. Made from a batter of eggs, flour and milk or water, the side dish hails from the Northern England County, Yorkshire and was first created by cooks who used the fat that fell into the dripping pan while the meat roasted as a batter. It’s a must-try and you won’t have any issues finding one in London – all great pubs serve them with a roast.

Full English Breakfast

Sausage, bacon, baked beans, tomato, fried egg, toast, and a slice of black pudding (a sausage incorporating blood) if you dare, a full English as it’s called became popular among socioeconomic classes during the Industrial Revolution. By World War I, ingredients such as sausages, black pudding, baked beans, and grilled tomatoes were staples on the plate, but as time progressed additions such as mushrooms and hash browns were introduced. There are many places to get a hearty full English, all you have to do is find a café near you!

Chicken Tikka Masala

With a large South Asian population, London is home to some of the most amazing Indian and Pakistani foods – and while there are bountiful options to choose from, chicken tikka masala has become the pinnacle of Anglo-Indian cuisine. Rumoured to have first been created by a curry house in Glasgow, it is considered the British national dish, and with its combination of marinated chicken, yoghurt, and spices from garam masala to cumin, it’s an incredible culinary adventure. Head to any local Indian restaurant for a meal you will never forget.

Pie and Mash

A traditional working-class food, pie and mash originated in the Docks of London and consists of minced meat pie, mashed potato, parsley sauce known as liquor, and sometimes jellied eels. During World War II food rationing threatened the closure of pie and mash shops, but thanks to public demand the Ministry of Food was persuaded to keep the eateries open – just as they did with fish & chip shops. For a good pie and mash head to a quintessential shop with white tile walls, mirrors, and marble floors – the traditional Victorian décor adds to the experience!

Afternoon Tea

The tea-related ritual has been part of British culture since the 1840s when the simple concept of enjoying sandwiches, cakes, savoury snacks, and fine teas was first introduced – and to be honest, the tradition hasn’t changed much! Afternoon tea is offered all around London; no matter your budget, there is a scone with your name on it. From the glitz and glamour of The Ritz, and Fortnum & Mason to the unique Golden Tours Afternoon Tea Bus, which allows you to nibble and sip with amazing city views, this is one British culinary delight everyone must try.   

Eton Mess

Welcome to the sweet side of the blog! First mentioned in print in 1893, Eton mess is a traditional dessert consisting of strawberries, meringue, and whipped cream. It is believed to have originated from Eton College and is served at the annual cricket match against the pupils of Harrow School. You can usually find Eton mess on a dessert list in a good pub or restaurant.

Stick Toffee Pudding

Made with sponge cake and finely chopped dates and covered in toffee sauce, the pudding is a staple on dessert menus around multiple eateries in London. Sometimes served with vanilla custard or ice cream, it’s the perfect comfort food for a cosy night in the city. Its history is disputed, as the origins of the pudding have been claimed by several pubs around the UK including in Yorkshire and Aberdeenshire, and while we can’t be sure if the pudding first came onto the scene in 1907 or the 1960s, we do know that every bite is like a warm hug.

Victoria Sponge Cake

Victoria sponge cake is a light cake made with eggs, flour, and sugar and while it is rumoured to have originated during the Renaissance in Spain, the Victoria part of the name is quintessentially English. Queen Victoria was known to attend tea parties with her friend Anne Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, and loved them so much that the practice soon became a trend among the upper class – and that is how her name became attached to the sweet treats she enjoyed daily. Keep an eye out at bakeries around London for a slice of the iconic sponge cake.

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