London is easily one of the best cities in the world in which to eat. The stereotypes that London and Britain have terrible food are only held by those who’ve never been — as even the British food being served in London is now rising to a world-class culinary standard.
While you can find nearly every type of ethnic cuisine in the English capital, here are five dishes that define British food today. Add these to the must-eat list the next time you’re overwhelmed by choices, and you won’t regret giving “gross” British food a second chance.
Fish & Chips
This is easily the most stereotypical British dish, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard this celebration of all things fried when in London. Plenty of chippies (fish and chip shops) have upgraded from cheap fish and heavy batter to light, flaky crust on fresh-caught fish from the coast. Also, as weird as it is, if you get great fish and chips, the mushy peas will be a perfect complement between bites.
Bangers & Mash
Sticking with the philosophy that all you need is carbs and protein, bangers (sausage) and mash (potatoes) isn’t fancy, but can be outrageously delicious. As restaurants in London have embraced traditional British dishes, you can now find mix-and-match menus with gourmet sausage and various seasoned potatoes.
Chicken Tikka Masala
It’s hard to pick just one dish to represent the strong role Indian cuisine plays in the modern British menu, but chicken tikka masala is a good barometer. If you find a place with good chicken tikka, everything else will probably be delicious too. If the place misses the mark on this simple, staple dish, then it’s best to find a different spot to try next time.
Full English Breakfast
Many countries have a hallmark breakfast, but there’s none quite like the “full English.” In case you’ve never heard or seen one, the plate comes loaded with eggs, beans, toast, tomato, mushrooms, black pudding, bacon (thick-cut, not crispy), and Cumberland sausage. It hits every major food group and is widely considered an irreplaceable hangover cure after a late night at the local pub.
Despite being called “Scotch” eggs, there’s really nothing Scottish about them, and they don’t include Scotch as an ingredient. The London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented them in the mid-eighteenth century, and since then they’ve become a staple at British picnics and outdoor markets around the country.