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The 100 best dishes in London

See our selection of the finest food served at London restaurants and market stalls

Here it is, a countdown of the capital's most coveted plates. No more need to agonise over the menu; dive straight in as we reveal dishes to die for at London's best restaurants and street food markets stalls. The 100 best dishes 2015 picks out sophisticated signature dishes, indulgent desserts and sweet treats, finger-licking street food and restorative plates of breakfast food. Our list also celebrates 2015 food trends – from bao buns to butter chicken. Tuck in to our top 100 below.  

Produced by Laura Richards

Reviews by Tania Ballantine, Nicola Arencibia and Time Out London Editors

100 best dishes in London: 100-91

100

Chocolate-cloaked praline eclair at La Pâtisserie des Rêves

£5.90 each

Picture an éclair, the soft, choux pastry filled, not with plain cream, as it would be at your local branch of Greggs, but with a combination of sweet, nutty, praline cream and chocolate custard. Then, instead of a simple slather of chocolate on the top, imagine the whole thing wrapped up in a thin cloak of top-quality, pliable chocolate (kind of like pigs in blankets, only sweeter and much more impressive). Well, this futuristic London outpost of a Parisian bakers ain’t called the ‘patisserie of dreams’ for nothing.

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Marylebone
99

Spicy pork and fennel meatballs at Polpo Covent Garden

£6

Meatballs are rarely sexy, and never pretty. But they can be very, very good. These versions, which first appeared at the ultra-trendy original Soho branch, sparked a meatball-loving trend across the capital. They are surprisingly light, and the hit of fennel is a revelation. Once you’ve had three, and mopped up the smooth tomato sauce they arrive smothered in, you’ll feel deeply comforted. If waiting for a table isn’t your thing, go at lunchtime instead – you can book until 4pm.

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Covent Garden
98

Chips at Comptoir Gascon

£3.50

Comptoir Gascon, a French bistro, traiteur and pâtisserie, is an accessible offshoot of the phenomenally successful fine-dining restaurant Club Gascon opposite Smithfield Market. Appropriately for a restaurant specialising in the food of south-west France, the French fries are twice-cooked in duck fat. But careful choice of fat is not the only bit of Gallic polish the kitchen adds to these chips magnifiques. The tatties are hand-cut 8-10cm long and 1cm square. The final flourish is ‘crazy salt’ – a mixture of fleur de sel salt and piment d’Espelette pepper.

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Farringdon
97

Chargrilled quail at Song Que

£7.20

The pho (noodle soup) at this longstanding Kingsland Road Vietnamese is a staple, but those in the know also order the quail. Service can be perfunctory, queues and crowds are common. But wait patiently at the paper-clad table for the arrival of the blackened, spicy, butterflied bird, served with a sharp citrus dip, and you’ll be won over instantly.

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Hoxton
96

Panipuri at Sakonis

£3.99

A landmark on Ealing Road, Sakonis attracts a cross-section of the local Indian vegetarian population. It’s a huge, café-style operation. Gujarati and South Indian dishes abound, and such is the throughput of customers that most buffet choices remain fresh and (where appropriate) crisp. There are various bhelpuris, all of them a sour-sweet confection of deep-fried puffed rice and diced vegetables, made tangy by tamarind sauce. Our favourite is the panipuri – crack open the deep-fried shell and fill the crisp interior with a mix of chickpeas, potato, onion and chat masala. Before it goes soggy, pop it whole into your mouth.

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Alperton
95

Bone marrow and parsley salad at St John

£8.90

In ‘Nose To Tail Eating’, St John’s cookbook, chef-proprietor Fergus Henderson suggests you ask your butcher to hold back a calf’s leg for you if you’re in the mood for bone marrow. We think it’s better to let someone else do the legwork, and head for the dining room of St John instead. Here, against a cool, clinical backdrop, you’ll be served up the just-roasted marrow, still in the bone, and invited to scoop out the translucent contents, spread it on grilled toast and season it to taste. The relish-like parsley, capers and shallot salad cutting through the intensely meaty richness will refresh you enough to allow seconds. And thirds.

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Farringdon
94

Charcuterie at Terroirs

From £4

We’re not saying Terroirs makes the very best charcuterie in London; we reckon Bar Boulud would see off any competition in that regard. Nevertheless, if you eat at this delightful wine bar, do make sure you try the cold meats. The pistachio and pork terrine (£6 small/£9.75 large) in particular is first-class: unctuous and flavour-packed, with appealing textures. The tapas-style bar snacks (Marcona almonds, cheeses) and plats du jour are also appealing.

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Covent Garden
93

Anjou pigeon, sweetcorn, bacon popcorn at Texture

£18.90

Read it on the menu, and this starter at elegant Marylebone high-flyer Texture may seem a gimmick. When the dish arrives, gloriously adorned with an intact pigeon leg (claw and all), it may even shock. But the substance more than matches the style: this is an intelligently composed, superbly executed creation. Fat little slabs of ruby-middled pigeon flesh meet with an intense red wine jus. Charred pieces of corn and a delicate sweetcorn purée offset the subtle gaminess of the bird. And a few pieces of ‘bacon’ popcorn (flavoured with bacon powder) round it off. Taste? Sublime. Texture? You betcha.

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Marylebone
92

Slow-cooked pork burrito at Wahacito Tortaría, Wahaca

£6

Sometimes, only proper grab-and-go food will do. But if we have to look another egg and cress sandwich in the face, we may just implode. What we want is comfort and spice, at a decent price. Oh, and we don’t want to wait. Well then, it’s off to Wahacito we go. This take-away counter (right next door to the Charlotte Street restaurant) will build you a burrito while you wait. They’re all good, but our favourite is the one with the terrific slow-cooked Wahaca pork pibil in the middle. Add this to fluffy green rice, homely black beans and service with a smile, and you can just about forget your cares for a few moments.

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Fitzrovia
91

Sunday roast at Trinity

£25

This smart Clapham restaurant specialises in Modern French cuisine, but also features a smashing roast lunch as part of its Sunday à la carte menu: Aberdeen Angus sirloin served with proper Yorkshire puddings, roast veg and fresh horseradish (grated with a flourish, table-side). Bookends might be terrine of partridge, pear and pistachio with toasted brioche for starters, and hot chocolate pudding with mint choc chip ice cream for dessert. Service is top notch, and unexpectedly unfussy, for all the pressed linen and sparkling glassware about. Pricey, but very special.

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Clapham

100 best dishes in London: 90-81

90

Venison puffs at Yauatcha

£5.30 for three

Yauatcha’s executive head chef, Tong Chee Hwee, is highly innovative, as demonstrated in dishes such as the venison puffs (popular at both the Soho and City branches). Egg-glazed and garnished with sesame seeds, they look like char siu puffs (with a crumbly, samosa-shaped layered pastry on the outside), but bite into them and you get a very different intense but sweet flavour. Life-affirmingly good.

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Soho
89

Chicken livers at Yalla Yalla

£4.50

A staple at modish Lebanese café Yalla Yalla, the pan-fried chicken livers (sawda djej) isn’t going to scoop first prize at any beauty pageant. But if you’re looking for big, bold flavours, give it a whirl. Glistening pomegranate seeds add glamour to an otherwise brown mass, but in a single mouthful you’ll get the lingering hit of chopped sautéed liver and mellow garlic, ahead of the faintly sweet aftertaste of the fruit molasses. Best eaten with warm flatbreads and the fresh and feisty house tabbouleh.

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Fitzrovia
88

Heaven and Earth at Hix

£9.95

Given that Mark Hix’s name has become synonymous with British cooking, it may seem odd to highlight, of all things, his interpretation of a German dish (‘Himmel und Erde’). But this mainstay of Hix’s smart Soho restaurant showcases everything that is great about his cooking: ‘heaven’ is a soft, gently spiced black pudding, while ‘earth’ combines mashed potato with faintly sweet apple and a hint of onion. It’s thoughtful, yet simple: Hix at his best.

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Soho
87

Turkish eggs at Kopapa

£9.50

Kopapa is a smart, New Zealand-style café on Seven Dials, Covent Garden. The team behind it – including top Kiwi chef Peter Gordon – also runs the Marylebone fusion cuisine beacon Providores. The kitchen excels at creating refreshing alternatives to the usual breakfasts, so if you must get eggy for brekkie, try Kopapa’s bowl of Turkish eggs, poached and served with whipped yoghurt and hot chilli butter; fabulous. Note: this dish is available at breakfast and lunch during the week, and at brunch on weekends.

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Covent Garden
86

Roast barn-reared Indian Rock chicken with stuffing and chips at Tramshed

£15 (half, for one)/£29.50 (whole, for 2-3)

Watch out – this chook has its claws out. That’s right, the whole roast chicken at Tramshed (and Hixter, its more mainstream spin-off), arrives standing up, with a stick up its bum, its legs in the air, and its talons still very much on. But don’t worry, this isn’t a Chinese restaurant, so you don’t actually have to eat the feet – just divvy up the juicy, crisp-skinned meat and herby bread stuffing between you and a couple of mates (which, given the price, is a total bargain). It doesn’t come with roasties but proper skinny fries, which are actually pretty damn great for dunking in the accompanying gravy.

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Shoreditch
85

Soondooboo chigae at Koba

Venue says: Koba is now open again following six weeks of refurbishment. Please call us to reserve your table.

£9.70

The wibbly wobbly cauldron of deep-red spicy seafood stew (chigae) with curdled tofu (soondooboo) at this mid-priced Korean restaurant isn’t as scary as it looks. There’s a kick, yes, but it’s far from the three-chilli annotation next to its name on the menu. We’ve had this dish here dozens of times and think it’s still the best version in town: the hidden poached egg with its perfectly runny yolk is the best bit.

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Fitzrovia
84

Friands at Lantana

£2.40 (eat in), £2 (takeaway)

Head to Aussie-run café Lantana for some first-class melt-in-the-mouth friands. These moist little almond cakes, dotted with raspberries or blueberries, have become the archetypal Antipodean baked good – lamingtons, your days are numbered. But is the friand Aussie? Mais non, the French invented it. Known as the financier in France, the rectangular teacake was so-named because it resembled a bar of gold.

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Fitzrovia
83

Natto maki at Atari-ya

£2.50 for six

There’s a growing trend in London’s faux-Japanese restaurants – the ones that aren’t Japanese-run, and serve Japanese food to Western tastes – to do away with the more challenging textures and flavours. The result is dumbed-down menus. Not so at Atari-ya, which has stayed faithful to traditional Japanese tastes and offers many delicacies, including natto. This fermented soybean has a distinctive flavour and is best enjoyed raw, perhaps in the maki (hand-rolled sushi): six pieces cost a mere £2.50 here.

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Swiss Cottage
82

Mince and potatoes at Dean Street Townhouse

£14

Dean Street Townhouse is one of those Soho restaurants that attract self-important media types, all flash watches and loud voices. But the menu grounds most people, as it’s old-fashioned and British – in the best sense. One signature dish is particularly brave, having been traduced to a mockery by generations of school caterers… yes, mince and tatties. The version here is piquant, properly browned, full-flavoured, wonderful in texture, and tastes of… childhood. If you ever want to show someone what everyday food in Britain was like in decades past, yet leave them with a favourable impression, order this dish.

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Soho
81

Stir-fried spicy cabbage (thoran) at Rasa

£4

The dishes served at the original Rasa in Stoke Newington (opened in 1994) champion not just the vegetarian cuisine of Kerala in south India, but specifically the food of one caste, the Nairs. They’ve had a few thousand years to refine their cooking, making it among the most sophisticated on the planet. But the caste wasn’t averse to ‘new’ influences. The Portuguese brought New World ingredients like chillies, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines – and the British brought their brassicas, such as cabbage. If you think you dislike cabbage, you’ve not had a thoran – thin-sliced, stir-fried with coconut, mustard seeds and spices, this side dish elevates the humble savoy to a delicacy.

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Stoke Newington

100 best dishes in London: 80-71

80

Som tam at KaoSarn

£5.90

This Thai café in Brixton Village Market is a good place to relive the backpacker experience. KaoSarn’s som tam (green papaya salad) is just like the street vendors in Thailand would make it – complete with slivers of bird’s-eye chilli that assault your palate with their heat. The sharp citrus crunch of green papaya is given sour notes by the addition of ground dried shrimps, with crushed peanuts adding nuttiness.

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Brixton
79

Wagyu beef nigiri at Dinings

£8.95 each

We’ve encountered similar versions of this dish, but none as tender or as explosively flavoursome as the one at Japanese restaurant Dinings. A lightly blowtorched piece of fatty beef lies on perfect rice, which is then topped with salty-sharp cubes of ponzu (citrus) jelly that melt on the tongue. Overarching this luxurious mouthful is the dab of truffle ‘salsa’. Insanely good and worth every penny.

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Marylebone
78

Cassoulet de Toulouse at Colbert

£16.75

If a tin of Heinz baked beans with sausages went on an episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, it would find distant relatives everywhere: feijoada from Brazil, fabada asturiana from Spain, and of course, that long-lost great granny – cassoulet. A traditional French stew of white beans, meat (duck or goose confit, if it’s from Toulouse) and pork sausages, it’s proper heart-warming stuff. And while the Russell Brands of the world might want to point out the paradox of eating peasant food among the coiffed sorts of this smart Sloane Square brasserie, the cassoulet is undeniably magnifique.

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Belgravia
77

Fried yam paste meat dumplings at Royal China

£3.75 for three

When ordering dim sum, it’s important to consider a balance of textures: after all, that’s what Cantonese cooking is all about. So once you’ve chosen the standard slithery, sticky and doughy dishes (cheung fun, steamed dumplings and buns), make sure you ask for this delightful creation. Tiny pieces of mixed dried meats nestle at the epicentre of a deep-fried dumpling made from slightly sweet puréed yam. It’s light and crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. You get three per plate, and they’re fairly rich, so you’re usually happy to let one go. But not two. Oh no.

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Bayswater
76

Pa jeon at Cah Chi

£8.50

Despite not being right in the New Malden Korean heartland, Cah Chi is the jewel in the crown of south-west London’s Korean restaurant scene, and produces the full range of Korean home-style cooking. Blood pudding or hot chilli dishes aren’t for everyone, so we recommend starting with something simpler, such as pa jeon. There are three pancakes on the menu; all are served sizzling hot, then cut at the table with scissors. Our favourite is filled with spring onion and seafood – it’s light and delicate, with a freshness imparted by the frying process that is distinctively Korean. Staff are happy to choose dishes for you, if you’re not sure what to order.

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Cottenham Park
75

Sea urchin sushi at Nizuni

£4.50 each

There are some essential flavours of the Japanese kitchen that you’ll never find in Pret A Manger, and uni is one of them. These orange-yellow ovaries and roe of the sea urchin are a great treat for connoisseurs, but they’re best not attempted in budget establishments; ‘cheap sushi’ is not the way to go. Instead, try uni somewhere mid-range, such as Nizuni. The sushi here is well-made, and the uni speaks reassuringly of decent sourcing; the creamy roe tastes clean and sweet, with none of the musky, fishy odour of less-than-fresh versions.

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Fitzrovia
74

Walnut miso udon with mushrooms at Koya Bar

£11.60

Koya’s springy wheat noodles are made on the premises every day, and have remained consistently excellent since the place opened in 2010. Our favourite dish has to be the vegan ‘walnut miso’ udon: a ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ combination of intense nuttiness, in which sweet-salty red and white misos are mixed with walnut purée. Dissolve a small spoonful of the powerful paste mixture into the soup for each mouthful. Toppings might include seasonal mushrooms or hispi cabbage. Tip: it’s even better if you add the onsen tamago (literally ‘hot-spring egg’, slow-cooked) into the mix, though of course it then becomes veggie, not vegan.

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Soho
73

Kedgeree at The Wolseley

£13

Few dishes evoke a notion of Empire as much as this one, brought to the UK by colonials returning from Raj-era India. In Queen Victoria’s time, kedgeree would be served in the morning, so it follows that you should enjoy it in the grand, clattering dining room of The Wolseley, arguably the capital’s ultimate breakfast venue. As it happens, this version, a heap of creamy curried rice punctuated by generous chunks of smoked mackerel and topped with a runny-middled poached egg, is so rich, so buttery, that it would do very nicely for brunch or even an early supper. Just as well the restaurant is open all day.

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St James'
72

Mutton roti at Jerk City

£9

We like Jerk City for its home-style Caribbean dishes, many of which are Trinidadian and influenced by the island’s Asian population. The mutton roti is a case in point. Jerk City’s floury, flaky roti is a thick and heavy flatbread, the curried mutton spicy, the portions large. Service can be haphazard, so avoid the lunchtime rush unless you’re happy to squish in with the crowd at the smattering of brown wooden tables – or join the many who just pop in for a takeaway.

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Soho
71

Chicken satay at Satay House

£7.10 for six

This simple family-run restaurant has been offering the full roll-call of traditional Malaysian cooking since 1973. The satays form only a tiny part of the menu, but if there’s one venue in which to enjoy this over-exposed buffet staple, it’s here. Half a dozen skewers of tender, chargrilled meat are served with a cucumber garnish and a thick peanut sauce that has just the right amount of kick. Gobble it down with moreish pieces of roti (flatbread) or a side of ketupat (pressed rice, cut into cubes) for a street-style feast.

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Paddington

100 best dishes in London: 70-61

70

Chicken waffle at The Lockhart

£14.50

As Joey from ‘Friends’ would no doubt say, ‘Waffle: good. Chicken: gooood.’ So putting them together is clearly a no-brainer. Well that’s what ‘modern Deep Southern’ restaurants, including this smart, yet relaxed Marylebone spot think. The freshly cooked waffle is made from a soft rice batter, with the option of pecans stirred into it for extra crunch. The real crunch, of course, comes from the buttermilk fried chicken – two full-flavoured dark meat pieces (a thigh and a leg), dusted in spiced southern flavours (including paprika, cayenne, and garlic salt) and deep-fried until the chicken is just cooked, and still juicy. Factor in extra butter and maple syrup and you’ll either die, or simply feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven. Note: only available on the weekend brunch menu.

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Marylebone
69

Pastel de nata at Lisboa Pâtisserie

£1.15

Born, legend has it, in Belem just outside Lisbon, these delectable Portuguese egg custards feature rich, chewy pastry and a still-richer sweet filling. Lisboa’s exemplary versions have been baked on the premises since 1982, and you’ll find no finer north of the Iberian Peninsula. If you’re lucky, your visit to this simple little café will coincide with the tarts emerging hot from the oven, but throughout the day you can guarantee they’ll be freshly baked; sprinkle them with cinnamon and order a bica (espresso) to counteract the sugar. A famous pit-stop away from the Portobello market kerfuffle.

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North Kensington
68

Deep-fried pickles with blue cheese dip at Meat Liquor

£3.50

As well as their renowned burgers, this is another US import done fiendishly well by the Meat Liquor team. Tangy, juicy pickles are coated in a crunchy batter, ready to become vehicles for an artery-clogging blue cheese dressing (one we think even blue cheese-phobes will like). We preferred it when they served them sliced up into dippable medallions rather than as long unwieldy slices, but it’s still a darned good snack.

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Marylebone
67

All balls at Cinnamon Soho

£3.80 for four

Of all the balls we’ve bitten over time, these are the best. Created by executive chef Vivek Singh for the Soho outpost of his modern Indian restaurant group, they show off his trademark style: fusing Indian spices with European presentation. Four tiny balls are lined up on an elegant slate, each one perched on a smear of fragrant home-made chutney or spiced sauce. From the full collection, the delicate crab and curry leaf cake, potato bondas (a kind of Indian potato croquette), and tiny spiced scotch quail’s eggs are the winners.

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Soho
66

BBQ-spiced crispy pigs' ears at Duck & Waffle

£5

These are more a snack than a dish, but oh, what a snack they are. Arriving in a little brown paper bag (and, as Fraulein Maria taught us – ALL of our favourite things come in brown paper packages), complete with a little red wax seal, what you get is a tumble of long, deep-fried piggy strips, with a warmly spiced barbecue flavour and plenty of crunch. Think pork scratchings, only much, much better. The fact that you can munch on them at any time of day or night, all the while gazing out at the breathtaking skyline views, is a big bonus.

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Moorgate
65

Meat fruit at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

£17.50

The signature dish at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, and no doubt one that will join the likes of ‘snail porridge’ and ‘bacon and egg ice cream’ when summing up the zany chef’s creations. But lord, is it good. A beautiful orb with an exterior of thin, sharp mandarin jelly encases some of the lightest, creamiest chicken liver parfait known to man – a triumph of flavour, texture and vision that fills us with childish glee.

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Belgravia
64

Mongolian hotpot at Mongolian Grill

£14

You know those really annoying people who always make you order something different, ‘so you can share’? Well, at this Clapham hotpot specialist, you can leave them to it, because a ‘half and half’ is actually on the menu. Also known as a ‘Chinese fondue’, a hotpot is basically one big pot (or two halves) filled with the soup base of your choice (fragrant chicken, spicy stock, tom yum), brought to your table with a flame underneath. You gather up fresh ingredients (meat, seafood, veg) from a Pizza Hut-style salad bar, then plonk it all in your pot until it’s cooked. Take that, sharers.

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Clapham
63

Nigiri sushi at Yashin

From £20 for five pieces

At Yashin, individual seasonings are paired with each piece of flesh to bring out the flavours of the seafood or meat; some pieces are lightly blowtorched, resulting in contrasting textures and smoky flavours. Each meticulously crafted morsel has its own merits, whether yellowtail with black pepper, or torched fatty tuna with a dollop of fresh wasabi. Consistently well-formed, supple rice completes the formula for perfect nigiri. A real treat.

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Kensington
62

Apple tarte tatin at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe

£8.50

The Galvin brothers have made a name for themselves by giving bistro cooking a relaxed sense of luxury. Their signature tarte tatin is a case in point. This is no flouncy ‘haute’-style individual (read: tiny) tart. Instead you’re served a huge rustic slice, piled with caramelised chunks of apple. These sit on a base of buttery puff pastry: rich, decadent, and sweet with syrup. A dollop of chilled crème fraîche cuts through it all beautifully.

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Marylebone
61

Robata-grilled scallops at Roka

£14.60

Roka still impresses with its mastery of the Japanese-style robata grill, which dominates the capacious dining room, and unsurprisingly, grills are highlights of the menu. Order the inch-thick scallops, peppery and sweet from the mix of shiso cress, a slick of soy and a dollop of wasabi cream; or the satisfyingly crisp and umami-packed spiced chicken wings with sansho-pepper salt and lime (£5.30). The rest of the menu features signature dishes such as yellowtail sashimi with truffle yuzu dressing (£16.60), creamy, risotto-like rice hotpots, and black cod dumplings (12.90).

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Fitzrovia

100 best dishes in London: 60-51

60

Pulled pork at Pitt Cue Co

£11.50

The peripatetic Pitt Cue Co truck parked up at the South Bank in 2011, spawning a permanent site since in Soho, making it easier to try some of the best pulled pork in town. The strands of slow-cooked, sweet, smoky meat, partnered with sharp coleslaw and chilli sauce, were perhaps more evocatively tasty when eaten out of a waxed tub from a van, but the dish is still mighty fine – and the restaurant has gone from strength to strength.

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Soho
59

Persian fesenjân at Kateh

£14.50

Kateh is comfortable without being overpriced, a good showcase for the rich, complex cooking of the Persians. If you’re looking for the essence of the cuisine, try the confit-duck stew (fesenjân). Walnuts were first cultivated in Persia, and when cooked with pomegranate paste (another Iranian signature flavour) give a characteristically rich and sour-sweet sauce. Confit Barbary duck leg is dark and strong enough not to be overpowered by the sauce, and the resulting dish is a masterpiece. It’s not a constant on the menu, but it makes regular appearances – as does its pheasant counterpart – so if you’re going just for the bird, best phone ahead.

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Maida Vale
58

Salted caramel ice-cream at Oddono's

£2.45 (one scoop)

Don’t go to a branch of Oddono’s expecting whizz-bang trickery or luxurious seating: these traditional gelaterias put the product centre stage. There’ll always be an excellent chocolate or pistachio on offer, but it’s really worth checking out their Facebook page or following their Twitter account to find out when the salted caramel is in town. Creamy and decadent, with sweet and salt coming through with each lick, it’s shut-your-eyes-drown-out-the-crowds kind of good.

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Nappy Valley
57

Venison scotch egg at Harwood Arms

£4

When this Fulham gastropub opened in 2008, the heart of many a food pilgrim was set aflutter by the simple brilliance of its venison scotch egg, from the warm, oozing yolk to the toothsome casing of top-quality shredded venison fresh from Berkshire. The Harwood Arms is Fulham’s worst-kept secret, which makes dining tables hard to come by, but swing in for a pint and nibble this at the bar.

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Fulham Broadway
56

Custard doughnut at St John Maltby

£2.50 each

When word got out that the St John Bakery had started selling its decadent custard cream-filled doughnuts (previously only available at the Clerkenwell bakery) at its Druid Street arch on Saturday and Sunday mornings, queues formed. They’re available from 9am, but you’d best get there early to be rewarded with these pillowy, deep-fried treats, pumped up with glossy, fluffy, vanilla-speckled whipped custard. Or pop round the corner to St John Maltby, a little wine bar-cum-restaurant run by the group that has its own stash. They’re simply glorious – and ideal with a strong coffee.

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Bermondsey
55

Flame-grilled mackerel with pickled cucumber, Celtic mustard and shiso at The Ledbury

(One of four courses on the £85/£95 lunch/dinner menu)

In many ways, the Ledbury remains a neighbourhood restaurant (its kitchen staff famously protected customers with knives and rolling pins when riots broke out in 2011). But this dish, from Aussie chef-patron Brett Graham, explains not only why the venue is considered to be one of the finest haute cuisine restaurants in London, but why diners are prepared to cross town to eat a lunch here. The silky mackerel has a unique burnt-wood smokiness, and comes with lightly pickled cucumber, while squiggles of shiso and mustard deliver freshness and bite. A masterful composition.

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Westbourne Grove
54

Blood orange granita at Gelupo

£4

This gelateria – the younger sibling of hip Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo, just opposite – prides itself on doing things differently. Sure, there are one or two predictable offerings (hazelnut, say), but most of the creations – from ricotta, coffee and honey gelato, to pumpkin and cinnamon – will blow your mind. And none more so than the blood orange granita, a dark, deeply intense ice experience made using only fresh fruit and cane sugar. It’s outstanding – but not a permanent fixture on the ever-changing seasonal menu, so if you see it, order it. Or try your luck at the second branch of Gelupo, on Cambridge Circus, where it’s produced in larger batches using a special machine.

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Soho
53

Fish and chips at Poppies

From £11.70

Tuck into a great British tradition at this Hanbury Street chippy, safe in the knowledge that the fish is sustainably sourced and all the frying is overseen by Pat ‘Pop’ Newland, an East Ender with decades of trade knowledge under his belt. Poppies is civilised enough to draw in the smarter Spitalfields set (there are Meantime beers, wines and table service), but at its heart is a great no-nonsense chip shop.

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Spitalfields
52

Beef pho at Cay Tre

£7.50

The beef pho at Cay Tre’s Soho branch, made with a combination of hanger steak, brisket and clod, is consistently good. Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) is a soup noodle dish, made with soup stock that’s clear in the Hanoi style – and which tastes intensely of beef marrowbone. The rice noodles are sheer; herbs decorate the surface. A side dish of sawtooth leaf, Asian basil, fresh chilli and beansprouts is provided to stir in: a nice authentic touch.

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Soho
51

Roasted aubergine with date yoghurt, pickled lemon, pistachio and basil at Ottolenghi

£9

Anyone who has ever eaten at this smart café-deli will recognise its trademark style: dishes that deliver sunshine on a plate, full of colour, texture, and bright, bursting flavours. Here, roasted aubergine slices come drizzled with sweet-sour date yoghurt and sprinkled with zingy pickled lemon and slivers of nuts and herbs. Exact ingredients change throughout the year: seasonal varieties include saffron yoghurt, or even a chilli-spiked one – but whatever version you get, it’s a dish that never fails to impress.

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Canonbury

100 best dishes in London: 50-41

50

Chorizo sandwich by Brindisa at Borough Market

£4.25

Back in the days when Borough Market was still a wholesale market, a handful of food enthusiasts banded together to create an irregular fine-food market selling directly to the public. Among them was Leila McAlister, who created the now iconic chorizo sandwich. She’s moved on to Shoreditch to head up the excellent Leila’s Shop and café, but her buns live on. Join the salivating queue waiting for the renowned griddled Spanish Alejandro chorizo buns, drizzled with olive oil and complemented by silky piquillo red pepper from Navarra and peppery British rocket – all for a very reasonable £4.25.

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South Bank
49

Toasted cheese sandwich at Kappacasein at Borough Market

£6

In the world of cheese, the folks at Kappacasein are over-achievers. They’re the kind who, if they posted all their achievements on Facebook, would make you feel a little bit sick. Not content with making his own cheese, owner Bill Oglethorpe went on to develop a new creation: Ogleshield, a sweet, nutty, alpine little number with brilliant powers of melting, that’s incorporated in cheese toasties across town. But for the Godfather of them all, you’ll need to join the queue at his Borough Market stall, where the celebrated Kappacasein cheese toastie is made with a mixture of 60 percent Montgomery cheddar, 15 percent Ogleshield, 15 percent Comté and 10 percent Bermondsey Hard Pressed (another Kappacasein invention), all packed onto a base of Poilâne sourdough, with chopped leeks and a combination of red, white and spring onions for extra oomph. Just prepare to lie down afterwards.

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South Bank
48

Bacon naan roll at Dishoom

£5.50

A bit of an in-joke of a dish, considering pig is rarely eaten by most of the population of India, but at the same time a perfect representation of British-Asian fusion. A take on a classic bacon buttie, the Dishoom version comprises freshly made naan encasing sugar-cured, cold-smoked, grilled back bacon, a slick of chilli-tomato jam, yoghurt and sprigs of coriander. The Indian components add freshness to an otherwise heavy breakfast dish, the slightly charred naan a great pairing with the smoky slices of pork. To accompany this dish, a builder’s brew just won’t do – opt for a glass of masala chai instead.

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Covent Garden
47

Confit of pork belly with rosemary-scented cannellini beans at Opera Tavern

Venue says: Heading to the Royal Opera House this month? We are the perfect spot for pre- or post-theatre dining in Covent Garden!

£9

The first time we had this tapa, one of the signature creations of the Salt Yard restaurant group, we were a little disappointed that it wasn’t easier to divvy up for sharing. Then we saw the light – this is a dish that’s too good to share. The belly comes in three layers: tender, juicy base; fatty, full-flavoured middle; and a thick, crunchy top layer of crackling (the bit that’s tricky to cut). All this on a bed of stewed, starchy cannellini beans with just enough rosemary running through. Simple, but hugely comforting.

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Covent Garden
46

Salted chocolate caramel tart at Pizza East Kentish Town

£7

The chaps at Pizza East, perhaps sensing an approaching zeitgeist, wisely got on board the salted caramel bandwagon back in 2009. Their launch menu included this pud, and it’s as popular as ever – both at the original restaurant in Shoreditch and at its younger siblings, Pizza East Portobello and Pizza East Kentish Town. The pastry base is plain, and a good thing too: the filling is so rich that it’ll make your eyes roll into the back of your head, especially when you finish each mouthful with a little of the accompanying crème fraîche. Share it with a loved one. Or not.

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Kentish Town
45

Crazy lamb jalfrezi burger at Bhangra Burger at Kerb

£6

There are hundreds of food vans – sorry, ‘food trucks’ – roaming London these days, and it’s hard to pick just a handful. But heck, we had to try. Of the dozens we’ve sampled, the dishes of Bhangra Burger stand out, especially the lamb wrap, or as they call it, ‘crazy lamb jalfrezi burger’. Lamb mince is marinated in spices, then served with spiced mango pulp, mint-cumin raita and chilli pickle, and rolled in a naan-style buttermilk bun sprinkled with black onion seeds. The van is a regular fixture at Kerb at King’s Cross and also pops over to Brixton each spring for an annual residency at the Market House Bar; Bhangra Burger also has permanent sites at Pop Brixton and Street Feast’s Dinerama.

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King's Cross
44

Duck egg tart with red wine sauce at Medlar

From £28 (As part of prix fixe menu)

Medlar is a modern French restaurant at the unfashionable end of King’s Road. Although the menu changes frequently, you can bet almost everything it will be delectable. The duck egg tart is a case in point. Robust flavours are introduced here with the red wine sauce, lardons and sautéed duck heart accompanying a fried duck egg – one of several starters on the £28 three-course, prix fixe weekday lunch menu (dinner is £46). Whatever you order, you can expect dish after dish to wow with its balance of flavours and subtlety of expression.

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Chelsea
43

Hot dog at Big Apple Hot Dogs

From £4

Hot dogs were considered to be lowbrow food in the UK until this little stall set up on an unlovely stretch of Old Street. Now you can fill up on Big Apple’s celebrated wieners at street-food pitches all over London, and at pubs and bars including The Gunners Pub in Highbury and Roadtrip in Hoxton, although their permanent lunchtime base is at Cole & Sons deli on Caledonian Road. Free-range pork, prime beef and judicious seasoning are used in custom-made sausages that banish all thoughts of weak and watery canned wieners. Even the buns are made locally. If you can eat one and keep a clean shirt you’re doing well – either way, you’ll be happy.

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Pentonville
42

Charcuterie board at Bull & Last

£17

A perfect platter for the charcuterie-lover, Bull & Last’s own-made offerings range from deliciously umami-packed duck ‘prosciutto’ to chicken liver parfait with a bit of body. There’s fantastic chunky ham hock terrine too, great with the tiny gherkins, and the celeriac remoulade is a good foil for the rich rabbit rillettes and meaty pig’s head croquettes. Tiny pepper radishes, watercress, chutneys and toast complete the deal at this smart spot.

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Dartmouth Park
41

Pork ribs at Duke's Brew & Que

£12 for two

These sticky ribs are the closest thing you’ll find to the perfect rib outside of the American Deep South. Prepared in an imported wood smoker – which gives the meat an intense smokiness – the juicy ribs are covered in a sweet sticky glaze and nicely charred. We can’t think of them without salivating. To offset the density of the meat, the ribs come with creamy coleslaw and tangy pickled red onions. Messy finger lickin’ guaranteed!

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De Beauvoir Town

100 best dishes in London: 40-31

40

Burrata with miyagawa and coriander seeds at NOPI

£12.90

NOPI, from the Ottolenghi stable, offers genre-bending small plates that cross culinary as well as geographical boundaries. And there’s genius behind the flavour and texture combinations. The mozzarella-like Italian burrata needs virtually no accompaniment, but here it’s served with toasted coriander seeds and seasonal soft fruit – perhaps blood orange, miyagawa (a Japanese satsuma) or fragrant nectarine – designed to complement the creaminess of the soft cheese. The rest of the menu is even more unpredictable, assembling a diaspora of ingredients on tiny plates. Order multiple dishes, and prepare for a large bill.

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Soho
39

Salt beef bagel at Brick Lane Beigel Bake

£4

For decades, Brick Lane Beigel Bake has been serving up this signature Jewish snack: a big chunk of just-cooked juicy salt beef, sitting on a chewy fresh plain bagel, optionally spiked with some eye-wateringly strong mustard – all for less than £4. No pickles (they’re 20p extra), no tables, or standing on ceremony, just a pure, perfect salt beef bagel. Well worth queuing for.

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Brick Lane
38

Bi-cuon (shredded pork summer rolls) at Café East

£6.50 for three large rolls

Many people head to the Vietnamese hotspots in Hackney when they get the craving, but a trip to this unprepossessing café in a car park in Surrey Quays will yield much joy for the more adventurous diner. These cold ‘summer’ rolls are filled with baked crushed rice, vermicelli noodles and shredded pork skin as well as the usual herbs and veg, which gives them a fantastic soft/crunchy texture and an intense piggy flavour.

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Rotherhithe
37

Goats' cheese-stuffed courgette flowers with lavender honey at Salt Yard

£4.50 each

Salt Yard’s frilly-edged courgette flowers are jammed with monte enebro (a salty goat’s cheese with blue cheese notes) before they’re tempura-battered, deep-fried, and drizzled with honey. Versions of this dish are widely available elsewhere, but we still think that the one at Salt Yard (and its younger, sexier siblings Dehesa, Ember Yard and Opera Tavern), with its perfect balance of creamy and crispy, sweet and salt, is worth seeking out.

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Fitzrovia
36

Laksa at The Providores & Tapa Room

£10

Kiwi-born chef Peter Gordon became the king of fusion while still at the Sugar Club, and arguably he remains London’s master of pick’n’mix cooking. Laksa – the spicy noodle soup from the Malaysian peninsula – has long been used by Gordon as a starting point in his creations. But what you won’t find in Penang or Singapore is a dish like smoked coconut and tamarind (assam) laksa with a prawn and lemongrass dumpling, green-tea noodles, soft-boiled quail’s egg, crispy shallots and coriander. That’s a lot of action on the taste buds, but curiously, it works.

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Marylebone
35

Piggie burger at Bar Boulud

Venue says: Come and enjoy our new bar snack menu with deep fried mac 'n' cheese, hot wings, brisket slider and homemade pickles for just £14.

£19

Long before the rest of London started coming over all unnecessary about patties of meat sandwiched in a bun, one burger was worth seeking out above all others: Daniel Boulud’s gourmet beef patty topped with melt-in-the-mouth, barbecue-sauce laden pulled pork and a judicious dollop of jalapeño mayo, and served in a cheese-crusted brioche bun (with French fries, of course). Despite London’s dedication to the dude-food cause in the intervening years, this burger still surpasses a lot of the competition – plus, it’s an affordable way to access the Knightsbridge dining scene.

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Belgravia
34

The 'Seven Samurai' lobster roll at Smack Deli

£10

Don’t talk smack. Don’t take smack. And don’t smack your kids. But DO trot on over to this fast-food joint (from the people behind Burger & Lobster), for the incredible and incredibly good value lobster rolls – our favourite is the exceptional Seven Samurai. Picture a lightly toasted brioche generously filled with sweet, succulent lobster meat, the crunch of Japanese cabbage, a lick of Japanese mayo, some finely sliced spring onion and a final sprinkling of togarashi (‘seven spice’). A seriously moreish, unashamedly decadent sandwich.

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Soho
33

Passion fruit pina colada sundae at Social Eating House

£9.50

Since opening, the ‘British one’ in Jason Atherton’s ‘Social’ empire has gone from strength to strength, with dishes getting more intricate and interesting all the time (thanks in no small part to head chef Paul Hood’s talents). This exceptional take on a piña colada is a must-try: an island party in your mouth that mixes coconut and rum sorbet with pineapple ice cream, pineapple and rum purée with fresh passion fruit, and coconut meringue with passion fruit foam – all topped with a star anise tuile. Trust us, it would be your desert-island dessert.

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Soho
32

Dosa at Dosa n Chutny

From £2.95

Many of Tooting’s numerous South Indian restaurants proudly offer a selection of dosas, but none can rival those served at Dosa n Chutny. Despite being hand-made to order, each of these huge, savoury-sour pancakes is eerily perfect: uniformly round, paper-thin and crisp. The standard dosa batters are made from a mixture of ground rice flour and black lentil flour and come with various stodgy fillings, fresh coconut chutneys or sambar (a thin, spicy lentil ‘soup’).

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Tooting
31

Short rib French dip at Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar

£12

There are many reasons for visiting any of Hawksmoor’s six London branches, but if you’re in for cocktails rather than a three-course, beef-based blowout and merely need some sustenance, then go French. This is sandwich perfection – braised short rib with Ogleshield Jersey cow’s milk cheese, layered in a slightly sweet finger roll, served with an order of mahogany marrow gravy, which is the delicious dip.

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Spitalfields

100 best dishes in London: 30-21

30

Grilled octopus at José

£10

Dishes from ‘la plancha’ – the hotplate grill – was one of the trends to be embraced by London’s Spanish restaurants in the noughties. José, a tiny wine bar in Bermondsey that arrived in 2011, has a good plancha, and if you’re in the right spot you can watch the mini galley kitchen at work. From the day’s specials board, you might find morsels of market-fresh octopus cooked to order. Other top-quality market ingredients to get the plancha treatment include pork fillet, sea trout, pumpkin and superb razor clams.

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London Bridge
29

The Lord Rupert by The Bell & Brisket at The Barley Mow

£7.50

The Bell & Brisket’s founder, Bel Shapiro, started it as a street-food outfit, but her team have since taken up permanent residency at Shoreditch’s Barley Mow, from where they organise deliveries of their gigantic salt-beef sandwiches and the odd private shindig while also running the pub’s kitchen. Their success lies in their spot-on filling-to-bread ratio and their attention to detail. Take the signature ‘Lord Rupert’: designed as a British take on a classic Reuben, it comes stuffed with layers of succulent hand-brined salt beef, their house pickled red cabbage, fresh dill pickles, a blob of mustard and a slice of cheddar, which they blow-torch so it goes all gooey. A word of warning, though: you may have to unlock your jaw like a snake swallowing an egg to get your chops around the thing. But it’ll be totally worth it.

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Shoreditch
28

Ox tongue with salsa verde at Artusi

£6

Peckham’s best restaurant is worth a special trip away from the comfort of Zone 1, even if you’re not a local. The menu changes every day, but this is as close as Artusi comes to a signature dish – it’s almost always chalked up on the board. This is a starter that instantly realigns diners’ expectations: after just one bite, they understand they’re in for a serious treat. The tongue has a crisp-fried exterior but is beautifully tender inside, its richness counterpointed by a startlingly fresh, parsley- and garlic-laced salsa verde. Lovely jubbly.

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Peckham Rye
27

Pudim abade de priscos at Taberna do Mercado

£5

If a friend were to offer you a dessert made from pork fat and egg yolks, you’d probably puff theatrically, pat your tummy and claim you couldn’t eat another bite. But some dishes are much more than the sum of their parts, and in the talented hands of Nuno Mendes, these frog-like ingredients are transformed into one princely dessert: a glistening golden ingot of super-smooth, slow-cooked egg yolks in a pool of pink-hued port caramel, with a beguiling yet irresistible flavour and a richness surpassed only by Richard Branson surfing a sea of lottery balls.

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Spitalfields
26

Houmous at Hummus Bros

£5.55

It may seem a bit of a cheat to include a dish as simple as houmous on our list. But while the one served at hip chickpea fanatics Hummus Bros may be simple, it’s anything but dull. Creamy and smooth, it’s spread out into plain white bowls before being finished with a slick of intense tahini (sesame paste), a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of smoked paprika. There’s a large selection of toppings, with plenty of vegetarian choices (or chicken and beef options, if you prefer). For extra zing, help yourself to the fresh garlic or lemon juice dotted around the communal tables in tiny plastic cups.

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Soho
25

Beyti kofte at Mangal Ocakbasi

£6.50 (box)

Most of the grilled skewers on the menu at this busy backstreet Turkish restaurant are great, but the beyti is our favourite for its delicious simplicity. It’s not much more than a kebab of minced lamb, chilli, parsley and garlic, but the skill of the always-occupied barbecue chef and the intense smoky heat of the coals elevate it to something truly special. Some fine Turkish bread and a basic salad is all you need as accompaniment – and that’s what’s provided when you order it in a box.

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Shacklewell
24

Dracula tonkotsu at Shoryu Ramen

£11.90

After a bowl of this potently garlicky soup, you’ve more chance of a three-way with Alexander Skarsgard and Brad Pitt than of pulling a real vampire. It doesn’t stop us though – there’s something hypnotically appealing about the addition of crunchy garlic chips and caramelised black-garlic oil to Shoryu’s umami-rich base broth laden with barbecued pork belly, vegetables and a nitamago egg. Just make sure your other half orders the same thing, or you’ll catch it in the neck later on.

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Piccadilly Circus
23

Prawn toast okonomiyaki at Shackfuyu

£6.30

Shackfuyu has turned out a heroic number of Instagrammable dishes since opening in February 2015, but this one – the love-child of a sinfully crisp prawn toast and a mayo-drizzled Japanese filled pancake – stuck in our memory the longest, thanks to its topping of bonito shavings that dance in the heat of the dish to resemble a fantastical living creature. Shackfuyu was originally launched as a year-long pop-up, but the good news is that it's now gone permanent. That gives you plenty of time to also explore the fantastic miso aubergine and the French toast with green-tea ice cream.

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Soho
22

Ajo blanco at Copita

£4.50

On a second visit you may not see any of the same dishes from the first, but the ajo blanco is usually a mainstay at this congenial Soho tapas bar. One of the restaurant’s many tiny but thrilling dishes, this Andalucian white soup is made from almonds with a hint of garlic (ajo). The portion size is barely enough to fill an egg cup, but its flavours transported us right back to Seville. Sup it with a glass of bone-dry sherry.

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Soho
21

Bockwurst at Herman ze German

£4.45

At middle-class supper parties across the capital, guests will press you into hearing about their favourite houmous recipe or how to get your quinoa just right, but ask them about sausages and they may just recoil with horror. But these people need to get out more, and try the ones at Herman ze German. Everything a sausage should be: fat, juicy, and made with the highest quality ingredients, they’re imported from a German butcher (called Fritz, wouldn’t you know). Choose from chilli beef (made with pork, beef and chilli), classic bratwurst (made with minced pork and veal), or our favourite – the bockwurst – made with smoked pork. With a delicate flavour, a springy middle and plenty of ‘knack’ when you bite into it, it needs nothing more than ketchup and mustard, though the optional free topping of crispy onions, and a dollop of sauerkraut or curry-tomato sauce at 50p a pop are jolly nice, too.

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Soho

100 best dishes in London: 20-11

20

Scallop with 'nduja at Rök Smokehouse and Bar

£6

You know when the first dish you taste is so good that it makes you want to cancel everything else you’ve ordered so you can eat it on repeat until you burst? Well, Rok’s scallop and ’nduja is one of these ‘marry me’ dishes: served still sizzling in its shell, it’s cooked in oil rendered from Calabria’s spicy Italian sausage, so its flavour packs a smoky chilli heat. The result is mouthwatering and moreish – but limit yourself to one (or two) each, because the rest of the menu won’t disappoint.

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Shoreditch
19

Coconut calamari at Viet Food

£5

If you’re one of the surprisingly large number of people that just can’t seem to cope with coconut in any form, then you should probably look away now. Because what’s magical about the calamari-with-a-twist at this stylish Vietnamese street food joint is that the golden battered crust is distinctly coconutty, its delicate candy notes giving the tender squid inside an extra dimension. Factor in the house-made sweet chilli sauce, served in a dinky test tube (because it’s that kinda place), and it’s quite glorious.

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Chinatown
18

Chilli lamb skewers at Manchurian Legends

£2 each

Pieces of marinated lamb are skewered and fiercely grilled until the juicy fat goes nice and crisp, then judiciously sprinkled with a flurry of salt and spicy dried red chilli flakes. There are also chicken wings, tofu and beef skewers at this north-eastern Chinese restaurant, but the lamb comes out on top: it’s the kind of dish you could eat piles of, soothed by an ice-cold Tsingtao beer.

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Chinatown
17

Veni-moo at Mac & Wild

£10

Here’s a funny thing about venison. It’s so naturally lean (being from wild, free-roaming deer) that if you used it make a burger on its own, it might be too dense and bland. Step forward, Highland cow. These bovine beauties contribute the ‘moo’ part of the Veni-moo, which is one patty lean, top-notch venison; one patty juicy, fatty beef. And while the meaty middle is Scottish, the rest is old-school American: soft bun, melted cheese, pickles, lettuce. This is burger brilliance at its best.

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Fitzrovia
16

Keralan fried chicken at Kricket

£7

Yes, yes – that joke. Again. A deep-fried breaded chicken dish with the initials KFC. But the Keralan Fried Chicken at this teeny Indian-with-a-Brit-twist restaurant (part of hip Brixton container park Pop Brixton) is no laughing matter. Garnished with deep-fried curry leaves, and served with a dinky pot of mild curry mayo, it is just the armadillo that a perfect KFC should be: crunchy on the outside (but with not a trace of grease) while mouth-wateringly soft and juicy in the middle.

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Brixton
15

Quail brunch with 'cereal', 'tea' & 'toast' at Pollen Street Social

£17.50

Jason Atherton is known for his witty reconstructions of familiar dishes, and his ‘quail brunch’ is a miniature homage to that meaty and satisfying meal you scarf instead of breakfast and lunch. There’s a bowl of ‘cereal’ (wheat and barley, cooked into a savoury risotto with wild mushrooms), a slice of ‘toast’ (sourdough topped with a rich quail terrine), and even a cup of ‘tea’ (quail stock and lapsang souchong, poured from a teapot at the table). And that’s before they even open the large wooden box that’s sitting next to you, which – presto – reveals two pieces of pine-smoked quail (confit leg, and breast), which are gently placed on top of your risotto. It’s culinary theatre of the best kind, and guess what – it’s delicious, too.

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Mayfair
14

Lahmancun at Oklava

£6.50

Just like pide (pronounced pi-day, as in ‘bidet’, rather than peed, as in ‘peed myself’), lahmancun is a kind of Turkish pizza. What makes it different to a pide is that you then add veg or salad and roll it up to eat like a hot wrap. The one at this stylish modern Turkish joint balances a crisp base and beautifully spiced meat with a zingy, crunchy DIY salad filling of parsley, red onion, baby gem and pickled cauliflower. It’s a ‘pizza wrap’, and then some.

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Shoreditch
13

Pig's tripe at Nanban

£4.70

If you don’t know what tripe is: we’ll tell you. It’s animal stomach. But stay with us here. Tripe isn’t the same as offal. Okay, technically it is, but it doesn’t have a strong gamey flavour the way that kidney or liver does. It’s much more of a blank canvas, which when cooked the way they do at this hip Brixton ramen joint (from ex-‘Masterchef’ winner Tim Anderson), with salt, spice, sweet and sour, plus crunchy rice and fresh sprouts, will blow you away. We promise.

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Brixton
12

Yoghurt with doughnuts and quince at Upstairs at the Trinity

£5

We get it. This dessert doesn’t sound all that. I mean, the doughnuts might be okay, but who gets excited about yoghurt (or quince)? But the menu completely undersells what this dish actually is, which is a bowl of thick cultured cream (like clotted cream, only with a sour note) topped with a trio of warm gooey-centred chocolate doughnuts and a blob of fragrant quince purée to set it all off. It’s breathtakingly good (as are all the puds, if it’s not on the oft-changing menu).

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Clapham
11

Bone marrow at Hoppers

£4.50

So you think you know bone marrow. You’ve tried it under onions at Hawksmoor, in mash at Pitt Cue, on pizza at Homeslice (and don’t even get us started on St John). But until you’ve had it at this funky Sri Lankan street food specialist, you haven’t lived. Here, the calf bones (cut lengthways, like tiny canoes) come smothered in a terrific dry curry sauce, making every mouthful a heavenly mix of fat and spice. Team it with a plain hopper (savoury pancake) and say ‘more please’.

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Soho

100 best dishes in London: the top ten

10

Classic tortilla at Barrafina

£6

The humble tortilla may seem a peculiar choice to represent this trio of swish tapas bars, particularly when alternatives include the likes of razor clams, grilled quail and giant tiger prawns. All of these are excellent, but that’s partly down to the high-quality ingredients. The tortilla, however, reveals the skill of the chefs, who will cook it right in front of you. A plump, golden cushion of perfectly seasoned omelette with a soft, oozing centre, this is Spanish peasant fare at its very best. Glam it up with prawns or jamón and spinach if you like, but it really doesn’t need embellishment.

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Soho
9

Radish, celeriac, pomegranate and pecorino salad with truffle dressing at Bocca di Lupo

£7/£14 (small/large)

Most people who recommend this Soho Italian mention ‘that radish and celeriac salad’. It’s been on the menu since opening days back in 2008, and thankfully it has stayed. We love the combination of earthy radish and celeriac, pops of tangy sweetness from the pomegranate seeds, with the aroma from the truffle-oil dressing and the saltiness from crumbly pecorino bringing it all together. A real taste of la dolce vita.

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Soho
8

Kebabs at Antepliler

From £11

Antep is a town famous throughout Turkey for its excellent cooking, particularly kebabs and baklava. This Upper Street venture does justice to its namesake, and the dishes remain true to the flavours of south-eastern Anatolia. The alti ezmeli shish (£12.50) boasts particularly tender pieces of lamb atop rich tomato sauce, while the sogan kebabs (£11.50) – ground lamb with chargrilled shallots and pomegranate sauce – have the pleasingly sour-sweet flavours you can find along the Silk Road from Anatolia to Central Asia.

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Harringay
7

Beetroot borani with feta, dill and walnuts at Morito

£4.75

The menu at this dinky little off-shoot of Exmouth Market’s acclaimed Moro changes all the time, but this dish has been on the menu more often than not since day one and is now a permanent fixture (as has the delicious Malaga rum and raisin ice cream, for the sweet-toothed). Morito does bright, bold things with the kinds of vegetables six-year-old you told your mother you’d never eat: chickpeas (fried, with butternut squash, coriander and tahini-laced yoghurt; £4.75), or beetroot, here served as the dippable Iranian housewives’ favourite, borani. The sweetness of the crushed root is offset by a splash of red wine vinegar and a daring amount of garlic (don’t plan on snogging anyone later – unless they’ve been eating it too). It’s then layered with pieces of walnuts, a sprinkling of black sesame seeds, sprigs of fresh dill and morsels of crumbly, salty feta. Grab a piece of flatbread and get dipping.

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Clerkenwell
6

The Spaniard (ceviche) at Señor Ceviche

Venue says: Join Señor for pisco power hour, £5 cocktails, 5-7pm, every day!

£8.50

A well-made ceviche is a thing of beauty, so why gild the lily, you might ask. Because sometimes – just sometimes – a remixed cover version can rock your world enough to forget entirely about the original. At this fun-loving ceviche specialist (a pop-up gone perm, once called Don Ceviche), they do a classic option (Clasico, where chunks of sea bream, pieces of choclo corn and plantain, puréed sweet potato, slivers of red onion and coriander all come steeped in a ‘tiger’s milk’ citrus-chilli marinade), plus several variants, including our favourite, ‘The Spaniard’. Here, the zingy base marinade comes laced with tomato, giving it a softer, more mellow edge, while the addition of crispy pieces of spicy chorizo and juicy, just-cooked prawns tips it into being properly ‘bacán’ (awesome).

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Soho
5

Butter chicken at Chai Ki

£14.80

Take everything you’ve ever thought about butter chicken, from the fact that it’s a high street curry house dish to the fact that it’s boring old chicken (which as we all know has to be breaded and deep-fried to become fantastically exciting). Now throw that all away. Because here, they tandoori marinade the thigh meat before simmering it in a sauce where they’ve dialled up the depth (adding miso for extra umami, aka ‘mmm’-factor) and the heat. It’s the best butter chicken you will eat. In. Your. Life.

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Canary Wharf
4

Cauliflower shawarma at Berber & Q

£4.50 (quarter), £7 (half), £9 (whole)

2015 was the year of the cauli. Everywhere we looked, these pasty-looking brassicas have been popping up in increasingly wild and wonderful ways. Take this stellar dish from hip Haggerston hangout Berber & Q. They parboil an entire head of cauliflower, then slather it in an incredible 20-ingredient Levantine butter, before sticking it on the barbecue for flame-grilling (basting with more butter the whole time, obvs). It’s then topped off with pomegranate molasses, parsley, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and rose petals. Ahhh, ma petit chou-fleur, come hither.

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Haggerston
3

Steak tartare at Chiltern Firehouse

£16

Don’t go to ‘the Firehouse’ for the slebs (they’re all hiding in the VIP bits of the hotel, anyways), go for Nuno Mendes’ cooking. Compared to the maverick dishes he made his name with, the offerings at this Marylebone hotspot can appear rather prosaic – until you consider how Mendes makes them. Take this steak tartare: a fillet of 48-day aged Irish beef, lightly seared, then bound with an alabaster pine nut emulsion. A single Burford Brown egg yolk is removed from an immersion of olive oil, then carefully balanced on top. For ‘mixing in’, there’s a blob of house-made chipotle paste, more of the pine nut emulsion, plus finely chopped or julienned accoutrements: shallots, cornichons, radishes and parsley. On the side, there are thyme-scattered ‘country bread’ crostini plus a bottle of Firehouse ‘hot sauce’ (made with fennel, apple, garlic, tomatoes, red chillies – all smoked, then cooked down with cider vinegar). The sauce is designed to ‘evolve’ the flavour of the tartare, so try it first without, then with. In short, every mouthful is unique, and you can have your tartare exactly how you want it. Hey, you’re worth it.

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Marylebone
2

Confit pork bao at Bao

£4.50

Ta-da! Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for: the best newcomer. Despite being the oldest dish on this list, it’s the one that we just couldn’t get out of our heads. The bao, aka milk bun, is so soft and pillowy it’s like eating a cloud (we imagine), while inside there’s impossibly tender slow-cooked pork; a sweet, sticky sauce and crunchy deep-fried shallots. If your dining companion offers to share, just say ‘NO’ and stab them with a chopstick.

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Soho
1

Lamb chops at Tayyabs

£7 for four

Chefs have been sending out peerless Punjabi grills at this busy restaurant for over 40 years, and the food is still as good as ever. Go at the weekend or for lunch to avoid the often boisterous crowds and wait for a table; once you get one, make sure that a plate of these smoky, sticky, spicy, gingery, charred and fiery chops is the first thing you order.

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Whitechapel

See more on the top ten dishes in London

The top ten dishes in London

We've sampled dishes across the capital to make dining out in London a piece of cake for you. From show-stopping plates at London's best restaurants to street food eats and simple, comforting menu mainstays, these are the top ten dishes in London that are well worth seeking out. 

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By: Tania Ballantine

Check the checklist

Find out the readers' favourite dishes

The people's top ten dishes in London

By now you'll have read our tantalising top 100 countdown on London's very best plates of food. But we wanted to hear from you. Which dishes from our list had your pulses racing this year? You voted in your thousands and below you'll find the results for the people's favourite London dishes.

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By: Tania Ballantine

Comments

1 comments
Tim S
Tim S

#38 is banh cuon not bi cuon... well the picture is of banh cuon anyway and that's what Cafe East seemed to want to spruik when I was there!