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Photograph: Steve Beech
Photograph: Steve Beech

How to eat well on the Elizabeth Line

Do a Crossrail crawl and eat your way west to east, from Bond Street Basque to a Nepalese feast in Woolwich

Angela Hui
Written by
Angela Hui
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Picture this: you’re sitting on a shiny new train, there’s real air conditioning that doesn’t blow out hot air, the patterned purple seats are comfy and you can get from Paddington to Canary Wharf in just 17 minutes. Nope, it’s not a pipe dream. The long-awaited first phase of the Elizabeth Line aka Crossrail, opens today. The new purple link promises super-speedy connections from east to west and back again, but also gives you the chance to easily eat your way across the city. Here are the top Lizzie Line’s stops. The next station is... Flavourtown.

Paddington

There’s more to Paddington than a famous fictional Peruvian bear and marmalade sandwiches. This stretch of London might not be the first thought for good dining, but there are some top-notch Malaysian eateries nearby in between all the offices. Satay House has been serving outstanding nasi lemak and roti telur for over 40 years and are still going strong. For halal good eating head to Bonda Kitchen for exceptional beef rendang rolls while Tukdin is knocking it out the park with some magical and nourishing oxtail soup and laksa kari that’s topped with boiled eggs, mussels, prawns, fish cake and tofu. 

Photograph: Paul Rothe
Photograph: Paul Rothe

Bond Street [not open yet]

The shopping mecca’s Crossrail stop might not be opened to the public just yet but bookmark these places for future reference. Chef Ferdinand ‘Budgie’ Montoya is slinging out showstopping dishes at Sarap Filipino Bistro in Heddon Street. For a chef’s table experience, sit at chef Nieves Barragán’s Michelin-starred Sabor counter in Mayfair and bask in the Basque pintxos goodies. If you’re after more trad lunchtime fare, the family-run Paul Rothe and Son in Marylebone has been going for more than 100 years. Its handmade sandwiches, with near limitless filling options, and freshly made soups are the stuff of legend. 

Photograph: Juan Trujillo Andrades
Photograph: Juan Trujillo Andrades

Tottenham Court Road

The heart of the West End is also the epicentre of good restaurants. Hidden away on an alley behind Primark lies Kikuchi, an affordable Japanese sushi, omakase and sashimi joint (best accompanied with a flight of sake). Crank up the heat with a visit to Seoul Bakery, a student hangout and K-pop lover’s wet dream filled with all things Korean. Its rabokki, kimbap and bibimbap make for comforting lunch options. For a classier affair, head to a cult favourite wine bar: Noble Rot Soho. This branch (there’s another in Holborn) offers a slightly more French-leaning menu with dishes like pig’s head and ham hock terrine, and roast chicken, morels and Vin Jaune.

Photograph: Luca
Photograph: Luca

Farringdon

If Soho is the central meeting point for a casual bite before moving on elsewhere then Farringdon is the place for serious eating. Of course, there’s pioneering nose-to-tail British restaurant St John (as always), but don’t forget chef Nick Bramham at Quality Wines, cooking some of the city’s finest food in a wine bar. We loved the sun-kissed octopus bun and roast scallop with Café de Paris butter but the menu changes daily, so check its Insta for the blackboard details. If you’re after an Italian escape without leaving Zone 1 then head to Luca for sublime Italian cooking. Or drop in to eat your way through chef Florence Knight’s Mediterranean menu at the dream-like distressed Tuscan villa setting of Sessions Arts Club

Photograph: Jo Chan Fen
Photograph: Jo Chan Fen

Liverpool Street

The City of London is home to suits and skyscrapers. Venture slightly further afield from the station and you’ll find Sichuan specialist Noodle & Beer. As the name suggests, noodles are the aim of the game. The za-jiang mian and Chongqing xiao mian dry wheat noodles with spring onions, pickled greens and peanuts are blow-your-head off good. For more regional Chinese fare, slurp up the good stuff at Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles for proper thick belt noodles or brave the crowds at Spitalfields Market and head to Dumpling Shack for its famed juicy shengjianbao (pan-fried pork buns) doused in black vinegar and chilli oil. Be warned: they do squirt.

Whitechapel 

Go east to get a taste of Whitechapel’s outstanding Pakistani, Punjabi and Bangladeshi cuisine. Check out E1’s culinary output from the likes of legendary Punjabi canteen-style restaurants Lahore Kebab House and Needoo Grill – both make satisfyingly juicy and smoky grilled lamb chops and a fragrant karahi gosht in a tomato, ginger and garlic-based curry. For some Bengali snacky bits to take away, try Sonargaon’s tangy and spicy samosa chaat, cracking pani puri and crisp jalebi at an incredibly affordable price. 

Photograph: Hawksmoor
Photograph: Hawksmoor

Canary Wharf

What is good near E14, aka the land of finance bros, you ask? Well, not much except for chain restaurants, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Take splashy steakhouse Hawksmoor, who consistently deliver some of the city’s finest steaks with a side of steaks, and all-day dining veterans Caravan, specialising in hand-roasted coffee and banging egg-based brunches. Can’t decide what to eat? Have it all at the newly opened Market Halls right opposite the station. This swish new food hall features Gopal’s Corner (of Roti King fame), Chinese dumpling slingers Baozi Inn, fancy fusion kebab creators Le Bab and more. 

Custom House

The only time you’ve probably been to Custom House is for an event at the ExCel Centre once in a blue moon. Well, rethink that journey and make a beeline for some of the best Chinese banquet halls in Docklands. Yi-Ban and China Palace both offer sprawling dim sum menus with views of the Thames but the real thrill is seeing planes landing at City Airport while you shovel down black-bean beef, king prawns with salted egg yolk and Singapore vermicelli noodles.

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Woolwich

South-east London is home to the UK’s biggest Nepalese community. Some might say that momos (steamed or pan-fried dumplings) are the archetypal cuisine of Nepal. Get the full momo experience at Kailash Momo, Maya DD’s and D Namaste. Order the jhol momo, steamed and simmered in a tomato curry soup, and the fried chilli momo, filled with juicy, spiced meat fillings and covered in a blanket of peppers, onions and chilli sauce.

Abbey Wood

SE2 straddles the border between Greenwich and Bexley, and feels a little like a no man’s land, but there are actually some good things to eat in this area. The Abbey Arms has a mighty fine selection of sourdough pizzas by Sourdough Saloon. Give ‘The Geezer’ a go, with salt beef, gherkins and sweet mustard dressing, plus crispy shallot toppings. Bonus points: it’s got a massive beer garden out back so you can eat your slice in the sun. For some hearty Jamaican that’s vibrant and warming, Heart and Soul Flavours offers beautiful brown stew fish and a whopper of a jerk chicken. If you fall asleep and end up at the end of the line you can still get your fill of deliciousness.  

Everything you need to know about Crossrail here.

Take a first look at the Elizabeth Line.

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