London's best food shops
For hard-to-find ingredients, value for money and exemplary customer service, nothing beats a good neighbourhood deli. With so many in London – from Cypriot to Polish, Middle Eastern to Vietnamese – we‘ve trawled the capital to bring you the definitive list of outstanding food shops
Gennaro DelicatessenStep inside this family-run delicatessen from the chaos of Lewisham and you could very well be in Italy – organised clutter, from a vast range of dried pastas to boxes of biscotti and jars of sundried tomatoes and marinated artichokes, fills the small space. Luckily, owners Antonio and Elena are both charmingly helpful, to both confused locals and Italian regulars who stop by for the buffalo mozzarella, charcuterie, freshly baked breads and properly strong Italian espressos. Their Sicilian own-brand olive oil is a must-buy. Gennaro Delicatessen, 23 Lewis Grove, SE13 6BG (020 8852 1370) Lewisham rail/DLR. Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm.
PersepolisPurveyor of Iranian foodstuffs and handicrafts, where you’ll find music and shisha pipes among edibles, this colourful little corner shop in south-east London is fast becoming an inspiration for food lovers from both the local area and beyond. Owned by Sally Butcher, who wrote the acclaimed cookbook ‘Persia in Peckham: Recipes from Persepolis’, shoppers are guaranteed that any questions about how to cook using the exotic ingredients – be it fresh Persian dates or sumak powder – will be well answered. Persepolis, 28-30 Peckham High St, SE15 5DT (020 7639 8007) Peckham Rye rail or 36 bus. Open daily 10.35am-10pm.
Suroor MarketA friendly family-run institution, Suroor is the place to seek out authentic Iraqi ingredients. An impressive collection of fruit, herb and flower waters includes the rare ‘seven herbs’, as well as jasmine and bitter orange – hard to find, even by Middle Eastern standards. It can be a bit difficult to get to, but it’s worth the trip for other essential Iraqi products such as dried barberries (used as a spice) and dried lime powder.Suroor Market, 101-113 Robin Hood Way, SW15 3QE (020 8974 6088) Kingston rail, then 85, K3 bus. Open daily 8.30am-9pm.
Thai noodles at Talad Thai
Talad ThaiOwned by the people who run the Talad Thai restaurant next door, this small, well-stocked shop has all the things you need for a great Thai meal. Fresh fruit and vegetables are imported from Thailand, so you’ll be able to buy hard-to-find delights such as mangosteens, the ‘queen of fruits’, as well as essential ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves and Asian holy basil. There is a formidable range of curry pastes for adventurous cooks, as well as a comprehensive selection of noodles, rice and seasonings. Talad Thai, 326 Upper Richmond Rd, SW15 6TL (020 8789 8084/www.taladthai.co.uk) Putney rail or East Putney tube. Open daily 9am-8pm.
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Andreas MichliCharmingly moustachioed Mr Michli oversees proceedings at what we think must be one of the best Cypriot food stores in London. This modest, slightly eccentric and unmarked corner shop in Green Lanes sells buckets of juicy olives, yellow dates, fresh black-eyed beans and plenty of ceramic cooking pots. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are imported from Cyprus, or grown on Michli’s very own farm in Hertfordshire. Andreas Michli & Son, 405-411 St Ann’s Rd, N15 3JL (020 8802 0188) Harringay Green Lanes rail. Open Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-3.30pm.
Blue Mountain PeakThere is a mountain of Afro-Caribbean produce to be found at this Willesden shop, from fruit and veg (yams, jackfruit, sugar cane and callaloo) to staples such as soy flour and fufu (root vegetable starch). Herbal bitters and fruit syrups, from cherry to guava, are some of the more interesting drinks, while there are more sauces, herbs and seasonings than you can imagine. Blue Mountain Peak, 2a-8 Craven Park Rd, NW10 4AB (020 8965 3859/www.bluemountainpeak.co.uk) Willesden Junction tube/rail. Open Mon-Sat 7.30am-6pm.
The Food HallThis well-stocked Ethiopian food shop in Turnpike Lane is a wonderful find that specialises in freshly milled flour – including rice, millet and maize flour – used for making traditional breads such as the soft, slightly sour injera flatbread. You’ll also find Ethiopian coffee and more unusual ingredients such as ‘grains of paradise’ (a pungent and peppery West African spice). A good buy is the aged spice butter, ideal for flavouring stews. The Food Hall, 22-24 Turnpike Lane, N8 0PS (020 8889 2264) Turnpike Lane tube. Open Mon-Sat 8.30am-7pm.
Phoenica Mediterranean Food Hall This spacious Kentish Town food hall is one of the few places in London where you can find freekeh, a roasted young green wheat. A range of products from all over the Mediterranean feature on the shelves, from Lebanon, Greece, Turkey and Italy. However, it’s the halal butcher that shines the most – the offal and own-made sausages are worth the trip alone. Phoenica Mediterranean Food Hall, 186-188 Kentish Town Rd, NW5 2AE (020 7267 1267) Kentish Town tube/ rail. Open Mon-Sat 9am-8pm; Sun 10am-4pm.
VBStanding resplendent in the centre of the shop floor in this popular Wembley Gujarati local is the ‘pickle cart’, holding buckets of moreish, freshly made pickles all sold by weight. Rare herbs and spices, hard to find elsewhere in London, are in abundance, such as cobra saffron, soapnuts, and mango-ginger. VB & Sons, 147 Ealing Rd, Wembley, Middx HA0 4BU (020 8795 0387) Alperton tube. Open Mon-Fri 9.30am-6.30pm, Sat 8am-7pm,
Yasar HalimThis well-loved Turkish food shop, opened in Green Lanes by Turkish-Cypriot Yasar Halim in 1981, has a legion of loyal customers. It’s the bakery first and foremost that attracts the crowds, with the offerings of fresh breads and pastries, from lahmacun (Turkish pizza) to sweet and flaky baklava; the best seller is adana flatbread. For groceries, the olives – more than 20 varieties – and olive oils are a good bet. Yasar Halim, 386-390 Green Lanes, N13 5PD (020 8340 8090) Palmers Green rail. Open daily 8am-10pm.South | North | West | East
Delicious Polish food at Polsmak
London Star Night SupermarketAs it even supplies nearby Vietnamese restaurants with vital ingredients, this is the place to go in Hackney for the fresh aromatic herbs (such as Asian basil, red or purple perilla leaves and saw-leaf herb) essential for cooking authentic dishes at home. Exotic south-east Asian fruits can also be found here: rambutans, durian and dragon fruit. Also unmissable is the excellent selection of fish and shellfish, condiments (such as fish sauce and fermented prawn paste) and a range of Vietnamese cooking utensils.London Star Night Supermarket & Video, 203-213 Mare St, E8 3QE (020 8985 2949) Hackney Central or London Fields rail or 26, 48, 55, 253 bus. Open daily 10am-10pm.
PolsmakThis neatly stocked Polish deli is a treat for anyone who steps inside. As everything is labelled in Polish, it can seem like an alternate universe – our advice is to take a phrasebook and chat to the friendly and helpful staff. You can also sit down and sample some delicious Polish pastries, such as the packzi (cream buns) or drozdzowka (yeast cake). Polsmak, 39 Balls Pond Rd, N1 4BW (020 7275 7045/www.polsmak.co.uk) Dalston Kingsland rail or 30, 36, 56, 277 bus. Open Mon-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat, Sun 9am-6pm.
Taj StoresThis Bangladeshi grocer was founded in 1936 in Brick Lane, and it is where it remains to this day, doing a brisk trade in an extensive range of fresh fruit and vegetables, halal meat, exotic herbs and spices and Bangladeshi fish. Freshly prepared foods such as naan and pita breads or samosas are widely available, as are unusual leaf and stem vegetables such as lata and danga, pulses, grains, spices, utensils and everything else you need for Indian and Bangladeshi cooking. A stainless steel tiffin tin is a good bargain here, too.Taj Stores, 112-114a Brick Lane, E1 6RL (020 7250 1708/www.tajstores.co.uk) Aldgate East tube or Liverpool St tube/rail. Open daily 9am-9pm.
Turkish Food CentreThe Ridley Road original of this supermarket first opened in 1980, and there are now ten branches stretching from Catford to Tottenham. It remains one of the best for Turkish food lovers across London. Fresh fruit and vegetables are flown in weekly from not only Turkey, but Greece and Cyprus as well. The in-house bakery churns out fresh bread, baklavas and pastries every day. Turkish Food Centre, 89 Ridley Rd, E8 2NH (020 7254 6754) Dalston Kingsland rail or 30, 56 or 236 bus. Open Mon-Sat 8am-10pm; Sun 8.30am-9pm.
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Middle Eastern produce at Damas Gate
Atari-yaFor the freshest, sashimi-grade fish, look to West Acton’s Atari-ya, which promises more than 100 types of fish and shellfish. Friendly, knowledgable staff will gladly slice fish into morsels of sashimi for no extra charge. Also available are kitchen essentials, colourful snacks, and thinly sliced meats for shabu-shabu and sukiyaki (Japanese hot pots). Atari-ya, 7 Station Parade, Noel Rd, W3 0DS (020 8896 1552/www.atariya.co.uk) West Acton tube. Open Mon 11am-6.30pm, Tue-Fri 10am-6.30pm, Sat 9am-7pm; Sun 10am-7pm.
Damas GateDomestic goddess Nigella Lawson and food writer Joanna Blythman are among the many fans of this bustling Middle Eastern Shepherd’s Bush supermarket, where a butcher’s counter offers halal meat and a fast-food section sells own-made falafels and kebabs. Endless aisles heave with produce: spices, flatbreads, Lebanese pastries, high-quality nuts, fresh pickles, feta cheese and wine. Damas Gate, 81-85 Uxbridge Rd, W12 7NR (020 8743 5116) Shepherd’s Bush (Central Line) or White City tube. Open daily 9am-10pm.
Deepak CashDeepak may not have the best array of fruit and veg in Tooting – several other nearby stores could take that crown – but for dried goods and spices, it has no peers. There are more pulses to be taken here than in the whole of the adjacent St George’s Hospital – Malawi toor dahl, urad dahl, channa dahl, and every staple you’ll need to cook Indian food. The range of spices covers everything South Asian and beyond – if Deepak doesn’t have it, and for a very good price, you probably can’t get it. Deepak Cash & Carry, 953-959 Garratt Lane, SW17 0LW (020 8767 7819) Tooting Broadway tube or 155 bus. Open Mon-Sat 9am-7.30pm, Sun 10am-5pm.
Green ValleyA Lebanese food hall near Marble Arch that has garnered its fair share of fans with its stunning display of pastries (baked in-house) that most passers-by are powerless to resist. An excellent selection of seasonal herbs and vegetables and a comprehensive range of groceries makes this a one-stop shop for Middle Eastern produce. Better yet, a counter also sells snacks, milkshakes and quick lunch options such as sandwiches and salads.Green Valley, 36-37 Upper Berkeley St, W1H 5QF (020 7402 7358) Marble Arch tube. Open daily 8am-12midnight.
R Garcia & Sons
R García and SonsAmid the hustle and bustle of Portobello Market is this Spanish grocer and delicatessen, one of London’s largest. The charcuterie is a joy to peruse, and a carefully kept cheese selection includes Manchego, Mahan, Cabralles and Tetilla. Smoked paprika, marcona almonds and an excellent range of sherries are some of our top buys. R García and Sons, 248-250 Portobello Rd, W11 1LL (020 7221 6119) Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Park tube. Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9am-1.30pm.
Reza PâtisserieA truly delightful Iranian local in Kensington that is more than just a patisserie – fragrant herbs, fresh fruit and vegetables are also on show, and you’ll find anything from halal meat to Iranian caviar, pickles to rosewater. The pastries and sweets are sensational, so be sure to take home some of their freshly-baked-on-the-premises cakes and biscuits. Reza Pâtisserie, 345 Kensington High St, W8 6NW (020 7603 0924) Kensington High St tube or Kensington (Olympia) tube/rail. Open daily
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Amid the hustle and bustle of Portobello Market is this Spanish grocer and delicatessen, one of London’s largest. The charcuterie is a joy to peruse, and a carefully kept cheese selection includes Manchego, Mahan, Cabralles and Tetilla. Smoked paprika, marcona almonds and an excellent range of sherries are some of our top buys. A truly delightful Iranian local in Kensington that is more than just a patisserie – fragrant herbs, fresh fruit and vegetables are also on show, and you’ll find anything from halal meat to Iranian caviar, pickles to rosewater. The pastries and sweets are sensational, so be sure to take home some of their freshly-baked-on-the-premises cakes and biscuits. South | North | West | East