With those 'gram-friendly red phone booths and His Royal Cuteness Prince George, our sibling across the pond doesn't lack for charm. And while you can feel the excitement of the city's young creatives turning everything from the art scene to the culinary world upside down, the equally palpable hum of history is what makes this capital truly one of a kind.
Any Londoner who appreciates good food has heard of Yotam Ottolenghi. The Israeli-born British chef's color-flecked recipes, rife with fresh ingredients and Middle Eastern flavors, have made him into a local culinary legend—with an incredible success story to boot. Ten years ago, his weekly food column for The Guardian single-handedly made vegetables cool again, and since then he's published four best-selling veggie-centric cookbooks and opened six cafés and restaurants, including the buzzy Nopi brasserie in the city's Soho neighborhood. Considering the restaurateur's distinctive palate, we asked for his top seven go-to places to eat. Scroll through below to see his picks.
"The next little sister to Moro (the first Morito, in Exmouth Market, has been open a while) doesn't fail to make another great splash. This is much bigger than the first one, but the small plates are more than able to hold their own. You can just choose anything on the menu—it will all be delicious."
195 Hackney Rd., +44 20 7613 0754; moritohackneyroad.co.uk
2. P. Franco
"I love this wine shop and bar. They serve all sorts of wonderful natural wines by the glass so you can work your way through a selection whilst nibbling on various cheeses, cured meats, and sourdough. It's all super simple and super perfect."
107 Lower Clapton Rd., +44 20 8533 4660; pfranco.co.uk
3. Locanda Locatelli
"This is where I go with my husband, Karl [Allen], or my parents when we want something classic and traditional (and where you can book a table!). The food is really consistent, in the best possible sense. For all the tastes and culinary adventures you can go on in London, I often just want a plate of exceptionally well-cooked pasta."
8 Seymour St., +44 20 7935 9088; locandalocatelli.com
4. Satay House
"The focus at this local restaurant is very much on the food rather than the frills. The food is Malaysian and I always order too much. Last time I was there I had Kway Teow—flat rice noodles with prawn, squid, egg and vegetables—some Murtabak—bread filled with minced lamb and egg—and also the Rojak Buah—a street food fruit salad dish with thick rojak sauce. All were completely delicious."
13 Sale Pl., +44 20 7723 6763; satay-house.co.uk
"I love Brawn. It ticks a lot of the boxes that other cool, pared-back places are ticking in London in terms of food and décor, but somehow feels more assured, grown up, and relaxed in itself. The food is confident enough not to be over-fussy and the staff are all confident enough to be lovely and informal. This all transfers to the customer who themselves then feel confident enough enjoy the meal as though it were being served in the home of a friend."
49 Columbia Rd., +44 20 7729 5692; brawn.co
6. J. Sheekey
"This is where I go for the best-cooked fish in London. I love sitting at the bar with a plateful of oysters."
28-32 St. Martin's Ct., +44 20 7240 2565; j-sheekey.co.uk
"This is London's equivalent to [chef David Chang's N.Y.C. Asian restaurant] Momofuku's Ssäm Bar, and you have to be prepared to queue. It's well worth it, though, not just for the steamed buns filled with all sorts of pulled-meat loveliness, but for all the other sides and small dishes on the menu. Pig blood cake served with an egg yolk on top is a must, as are the scallops."
53 Lexington St., +44 20 3019 2200; baolondon.com