The best restaurants in Borough
Arabica manages to capture the golden age of the Levant solely through its great food and buzzy vibe – visual short-cuts such as belly dancers and ‘Arabian Nights’ murals are kicked to the kerb in favour of a more modern cliché (London’s ever popular bare-brick-and-filament-bulb decor). Dishes hail from all corners of the Middle East and neighbouring countries. For drinks, try Lebanese, Syrian, Israeli or Turkish wines, or one of the spectacular cocktails. Table-turning is strict, but Levantine-style hospitality means you won’t feel rushed.
Sat on the site of an eponymous former greengrocer, Arthur Hooper’s might be a bit of a poky, moody space – but its menu of modern European small plates is an expansive and beatific treat. Most bases are covered, from funky French cheeses to cracking charcuterie; larger plates of pappardelle with beef ragu, clams with ‘nduja and courgettes, or lamb and bulgar meatballs; and a super selection of veggie bits, from burrata with samphire and almonds to a simple salad of IOW tomatoes, onion and mint. The service is fab, too. Go: you’ll be cock a hoop(ers).
Venue says Cheese and wine pairing evening at Arthur Hooper's, Monday 30 September at 6.45pm. Click website for tickets.
Taco joints might be ten a peso these days, but 2017’s greatest food trend remains fresh at this, the Barrafina-founding Hart brothers’ arch-based, bookings-free Borough taqueria. The vibe? Feel-good foodie fiesta, of course. There are starter plates of guacamole and spicy sopa de tortilla soup on offer, as well as a mini menu of quesadillas, but you’d be a maniac to miss the tacos. Best of all is the titular Al Pastór – with marinated pork shoulder, caramelised pineapple, guacamole, white onion, coriander – but the DIY beef short rib sharer runs a close second.
Everything we’ve ever eaten at Elliot’s has been outstanding, from menu signatures like the juicy, pink-middled cheeseburger, to seasonal stars such as mussels spiked with ’nduja and wild garlic, or smoky grilled calçots with piquant romesco sauce. It’s hard to know where the best seats are: the honey-bricked, half-rustic, half-industrial dining room has loads of natural light and a great buzz, but in summer, the handful of pavement tables are perfect for enjoying the bustle of Borough Market.
This superlative steakhouse is one chain we’d be overjoyed to see colonising our high streets. Hawksmoor’s Borough branch is more of the same standard-bearing stuff: interiors that mix parquet flooring and wood-panelled walls with flattering lighting and inky-blue leather; staff who strike the perfect balance between BFF and butler; a menu heaving with bone marrow, belly ribs, beef-dripping fries, best-in-show steaks and market specials; and a rollicking atmosphere – due in no small part to the incredibly moreish cocktails. Pick any special occasion and go.
There’s a real frisson to this brooding tapas bar just outside London Bridge station, with its tunnel-like first-floor dining room, rumbling to the rhythm of trains passing overhead, and its moodily lit ground-floor bar. The all-Spanish team have filled the menu with specialities from their homeland, from moist and tender ‘secreto’ and ‘presa’ cuts of pork (both from the shoulder), to paella-style arroz con costra. All best enjoyed from one of the two-person booths, over a bottle of Spanish vino.
Venue says A meat and tapas menu curated with the carnivore in mind. Excellent service to boot and a good measure of rock ‘n’ roll.
Located next to Flat Iron Square, Lupins is a Lilliputian spot doing British small plates (with a few European inflections for good measure). So far, so London 2018 – but the menu here is pure seasonal poetry. Dishes change on the hoof, but expect things like cornmeal-fried spiring onions with smoked chilli aioli; burrata with mint gremolata and lardo; thermidor of Cornish crab; or sumac lamb ‘scrumpets' (!) with pomegranate molasses. Sensational stuff, and all knocked out of one of the teeniest kitchens in town. A low-key gem if ever there was one.
A grown-up gorgeous reboot of the charmingly pokey Covent Garden original, Native celebrates all things wild and just-plucked from these fair isles – although the kitchen’s efforts are slicker and showier than before. Everything’s spot-on, from the line-up of clever ‘wasting snacks’ (made from ingredients destined for the bin) to the home-cured meats and seasonally bagged game. It’s not exactly cheap, but it’s magnificent – and you can book.
The USP at this marble-clad Neapolitan pizzeria is that they use sea water in their dough. Oh, and they ship said water all the way from the Med. A faff? Sounds it, but these pies are chewy, crusty and fluffy all at once, topped with piquant San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella from Naples or Monti Lattari and a smattering of regional Italian meats. Elsewhere, there are primo pastas and salads, plus Neapolitan street food staples like the ‘calzoncino’ – a miniature, deep-fried folded pizza of ricotta, parmesan and black pepper. The prices ain’t street – pizzas top out over £15 – but it’s all very serene.
The queues stretching down the street from this modern Italian say it all: this sibling to Highbury’s Trullo absolutely nails it. The pasta, homemade and rolled just before each service, is an event in itself, and that’s before it’s topped with ’nduja and mascarpone, or stuffed with Neal’s Yard ricotta and doused in sage butter. Down-to-earth service is swift without being rushed, and everything is an utter bargain. Mains from £4, wines the same? There’s no earthly reason not to join that queue.
Despite its first-floor location overlooking the Borough Market throngs, this British restaurant’s wall-to-wall arched windows give it a conservatory feel. Don’t expect a relaxed vibe, though: the dining room thrives on its busy, clattering atmosphere. Although a popular spot with tourists and visiting businessmen who want to sample traditional British dishes done well – a plate of roast suckling pig with Bramley apple sauce, say, or a mixed grill made with rare-breed meats – Roast is by no means a tourist trap.
Venue says Game season is upon us! Our chef has created a new game recipe: grouse tikka masala available from 27th August in our restaurant.
This restaurant spin-off of a Spanish import company acts as a gateway drug to the further delights of Borough Market; co-founded by José Pizarro, it was, with its authentic tapas and by-the-glass wines, a harbinger of London’s Spanish restaurant revolution (and of the no-bookings scene). Must-try specialities include silky smooth black rice with squid and aioli, and a spot-on Spanish potato and onion tortilla; in summer, the perfect round to buy is a pitcher of sangria.
‘Pancake house’ might make you think of brunchy tourist hotspots with inexplicable queues, but Where The Pancakes Are… is a different kettle of batter. Part of the Flat Iron Square family, it’s a Scandi-chic dream – a vision of blonde wood and draping foliage. The regular buttermilk pancakes come sweet or savoury (and dairy, vegan or gluten-free if you’re so inclined), but best of all are the Dutch babies – basically skillet-cooked Yorkshire puds topped with the likes of rosemary and parmesan.
Venue says A not so traditional pancake house serving good, honest sweet and savoury food and beautiful craft ciders.
Wright Brothers’ bustling, olde-worlde interiors and position next to historic Borough Market conspire to take you back in time to a London where oysters were poor man’s fodder. Unfortunately, the huge selection here is priced for the modern pocket but, on the plus side, you’ll be swallowing some of the best bivalves in London, alongside other seafood classics, from Devon crab to Dover sole. This is not a place to linger, but it’s perfect for a quick, satisfying and atmospheric lunch.
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