If you’re planning to go abroad, and eating is the favorite part of your day, you might wish to jump aboard the Foodie revolution and “devour” the city of your choice. The lifting of food from basic necessity to a meaningful, almost religious relationship has catapulted food, food artisans, and food lovers to a level of equilibrium fueled by the flexibility of this craft. There is no longer a secret society of people mildly ashamed as they spend the majority of their paycheck on $30 cheeses.
The silent, but energized, groups of coffee worshippers who excel in chasing the perfect cup of coffee now have t-shirts publicly acknowledging their caffeine love.
Foodies are now their own subculture with the ability to roam the world freely eating everything in sight with zero explanation needed.
Just as the food lover phenomenon grows into a full time profession, food has taken another leap and collided into travel. Nowadays, food and travel coincide as one of the best ways to immerse oneself in a city’s culture. There is no better place to do this than the vast metropolis of London.
London’s rich history, open access, and ever-inventive society makes it one of the premier locations for travelers. However, there is an entirely immersive community of food lovers, crafters, and inventors that call London their home. This community has transformed London into a travel destination that no food lover should pass up.
Here are few must-do tips for the foodie traveling in London:
1. START AT A STREET MARKET
You can find markets in most sections of the city with the majority staying open 364 days. The food options are vast and vary at each market. Use these markets to gauge your interest in foods you’ve never tried before. Prices are generally cheap, and give the perfect few bites of something new. If you’ve never had a kabob before, have one at a street market. You might just hate it but at least you didn’t spend an arm and a leg as you would at a fancy kabob place. The street markets are a facet of London’s culture on their own. These amazing markets mix antiques, art, music, clothing and food, all in a matter of 1-2 miles. Try Camden Street Market if you’re a lover of Indian foods. Incredible India specializes in fusion North Indian cuisine.
Brick Lane Market is an intensely impressive market mixing street art and music as you walk the street; try the Falafel and Hummus Wrap from Planet Falafel or build your own! Borough Market is a must if you’re a fan of sweets and baked goods. Check out Mrs. Pork Pies and Artisan du chocolat for that sweet tooth. Borough Market also boasts a grouping of Indian stalls that allow you to test various curries; this may be an indication of how you’ll fair with Indian foods. Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill is the one for antique and history lovers. Health conscious travelers will appreciate Portobello’s fresh fruit and veggie stands.
Expert Tip: Buy some extra fruit and store them in case you get hungry through the day.
2. HAVE A BRITISH BREAKFAST
The typical British breakfast is considered to be the “Full Breakfast”, a filling plate of eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, and beans. But like any “traditional” meal, you can add whatever you’d like to it. Add some toast to your breakfast or try a scone. The great thing about the breakfast is: you can find a traditional breakfast, usually called a fry up, in most restaurants on whatever street you find yourself on. If you’re lucky enough to make a British friend, he or she will probably offer to make you breakfast. (Take them up on this.) But if you can’t force a Brit to be your friend, you’re in luck, the full breakfast usually only costs about £5 and because of the availability of the British breakfast, use this as your chance to be spontaneous. Find a restaurant that serves breakfast and eat there.
TIP: you can generally tell how good the food will be from the patrons. Do your best Sherlock: are the patrons happy? Are they sipping on coffee or waiting for coffee? Are they too busy eating to speak to their friends? Or do their faces look like a mix of confusion or disgust? Since you can get the breakfast anywhere, move on to the next place if most people look a bit perplexed or a bit irritated. On the flip side, a long wait and happy guests usually means the food is worth it.
3. LOSE YOURSELF IN A CUP OF ARTISAN COFFEE
You’ll reach a point in your travels where all the buildings will start to look the same. Your eyes might be crossing. You’ll swear you’ve passed that statue a million times. You’re starting to feel like you’re lost. You are probably lost. Don’t worry, it happens. Allow this new found freedom to propel you in the direction of stunning, artisan cups of coffee. Get cappuccinos with portraits made out of foam and lattes with hearts made of milk strategically placed by tattooed baristas. Grab a biodegradable cup and mooch off the free WiFi because London coffee is an art form not to be missed. If you’re still in Brick Lane, check out Brick Lane Coffee, or and try a latte. If you’re an adventurous coffee enthusiast, try the Thai style coffee at Addie’s Thai made with cardamom seeds for a Thai infused kick. If you’re down for espresso and an equally impressive décor, do not pass up Caravan in Granary Square. Caravan has an espresso to die for and a décor to Instagram until the days come to an end.
TIP: if espresso freaks you out a bit, ask for a “Long Black”, a shot of espresso over hot water. Alternatively, a “Flat White” is one-thirds espresso, two-thirds steamed milk, with a topping of froth.
4. HAVE A TRADITIONAL AFTERNOON TEA
Do it. Do not skip this step. Convince your travel buddies to go to an afternoon tea OR do this on your own. Bring a book, your cutest sundress, and be as British as you’ll ever be in your life. If you don’t like tea, you should still attend an afternoon tea. You can have tea at the Ritz for £45. It is worth it. You have to dress nice, though, hence the sundress.
Men: bring a jacket and tie. If you’re a fashion lover, looking to spend a bit less, or not wanting to wear a tie, check out The Berkeley’s Afternoon Tea for £39. If you plan to go to Oxford, The Rose’s Cream Tea Special is only £12.50 and is said to be one of the best cream teas in the country, as per many local recommendations. Sip on tea and nibble on tea sandwiches, develop an obsession with scones and clotted cream. But do not skip this step, whatever you do.
5. GO ON A FOOD TOUR
With the emergence of the foodie, big cities have come up with a way to blend the food, the culture, and the people together in one big hodgepodge of a tour. These tours can start at around £35 and go all the way to about £100, BUT, the price includes many different food tastings as well as great company and the post food calorie burn. Bring your walking shoes and taste away. For the chocolate lover, try London’s Walking Chocolate Tour around Mayfair. Try the British staples such as fish and chips, and Indo-British curries, on the East End Walking Tour, there’s also a bacon sandwich stop! These tours are a great way to interact with new people, meet a new friend, perhaps a dinner buddy, or taste some of the best London has to offer in a few short hours!