FEBRUARY 2020: We’ve revisited the capital’s top chippies and are happy to report that they’re all in fine fettle. Soho’s Golden Union Fish Bar remains our fave in central London, but several neighbourhood spots also deserve a special shout – especially The Fish Lounge in Brixton, Seventeen in Balham and Sutton & Sons’ original branch in Stoke Newington.
Rare is a dish as comforting as a plate of fish and chips. When done right, that irresistible mixture of steamy, crispy fried fish and chunky potatoes, humming with salt and vinegar, is up there with London’s best dishes. There’s a chippie on every other street in London, so we’ve rounded up our favourite spots – from anachronistic British fish bars to those with vegan-friendly menus (yes, really). Hell, there’s good reason some even appear on our rundown of London’s best cheap eats. Some things just never go out of fashion.
Can't decide? We’ve selected five of the best in our video below:
RECOMMENDED: Dab hand at frying? Stock up with our list of London’s best fishmongers.
The best fish and chips in London
A fixture of Leadenhall’s elegant Victorian market since 2001, the family-run Chamberlain’s is famed as one of London’s top seafood destinations, and the owners have now added a chippy to their armoury. Pitched next door to the restaurant, it specialises in fish delivered each morning from the owners’ stall on Billingsgate Market. Battered skin-on cod, fishcakes and a daily special are boxed up for hardy City workers who are happy to sit outside and brave the weather (blankets are thoughtfully provided).
Having moved from its Berwick Street pop-up pitch, this punningly named chippy is now riding high in Notting Hill. Nautical shabby-chic is the style here, and sustainably caught fish from Cornwall gets the full treatment – check out the batter laced with BrewDog beer. Sides of pickled eggs and curry sauce please the diehards, while superfood salads and Asian slaw are there for the hipsters. CF’s owners have also returned to Soho and opened a second branch on Greek Street.
Part traditional chippy, part contemporary seafood restaurant, Victoria Park’s favourite fishy haunt is a minimalist space with a huge close-up of octopus tentacles covering one wall. Eat in from a creative menu that moves from moules marinière to a teriyaki-baked salmon bowl with quinoa, avocado, radish and crispy kale or stick to wrapped-up carry-out portions of the chippy classics. There’s a branch in East Village (E20) and another offshoot within the Virgin Queen pub in Hackney.
Keenly upholding a singular British tradition, this super-spotless Brixton chippy gets everything right: each piece of fish is delicately battered, chips are pleasingly thick and delightful staff treat everyone like lifelong friends. Eat in or takeaway from a menu packed with the usual suspects – from cod, rock, skate and plaice to pies (including Jamaican patties), battered sausages, burgers and chicken. ‘Gluten-free Mondays’ are in tune with the times too.
A real-deal chippy of the old school, Fryer’s Delight has been serving London well since 1962. It may look like a London cabbie’s hole-up (Formica-topped tables, long benches, old-school menu), but fans come from far and wide to sample its battered cod, rock, skate, saveloys, fishcakes and pies with mushy peas and ‘wallies’ (gherkins). Owner Osvaldo ‘Ozzie’ Bartolo is particularly proud of his chips, which are thick cut (about 18mm) and fried in beef dripping.
In 2014, the Golden Hind celebrated 100 years’ service as a trusty purveyor of fish and chips to the residents of Marylebone. Every detail is spot-on here, from the grease-free batter and chunky chips to the well-seasoned mushy peas – not forgetting a choice of fish that runs from fried cod, haddock and ‘rock’ to steamed plaice and salmon. There’s booze in the house too (beers for the builders, fizz for the ladies who lunch) and the restaurant has reintroduced its BYO offer.
Forget the chain upstarts around Oxford Circus and head towards Soho for some proper old-school fish and chips. Golden Union looks like a cross between a retro chippy and a breezy American diner (complete with jukebox), but its approach to beer-battered sustainably sourced fish is bang on-trend. Provenance is king here and everything is cooked to crispy perfection, while puds include soft-scoop ice-cream sundaes. Our advice: drop by for a slap-up dinner – and commandeer that jukebox while you wait.
Fish tacos, panko-crusted cod, sea bream in basil tempura, dirty fish burgers, seaweed-salted chips, red slaw… welcome to Hook’s sustainable ‘new school’ fish and chips. The daily changing menu depends on the catch from Cornish day boats, but innovation rules across the board: Hook’s homemade tom yum ketchup knocks spots off the usual curry sauce, and there’s salted caramel pretzel pie to finish. Yep, you'll be hooked in no time. There’s also a branch at The O2.
Perched at the zenith of London-based fish and chippery, scrubbed-up eco-friendly Kerbisher & Malt goes that extra mile for its loyal customers. High-quality sustainably sourced fillets are freshly dunked in floaty-light batter, the chips are double-fried, the rich tartare sauce is made in-house, and the onion rings are ‘pickled’, adding an appealing vinegar tang. There are no packet sauces and no neon lights either. K&M also has an outlet at Market Halls Victoria.
Basic chip-shop batter is off the menu at Nautilus – everything is coated in matzo meal, fried in matzo meal and egg, or grilled. No worries, because this no-frills outfit is renowned for the sheer quality and freshness of its output. Servings are generous, with fish overlapping the plate and just enough room for the chips. Early opening (from 4pm) also makes this a smart choice for a family supper with the kids (there are mini portions too).
Nostalgia rules at Pat ‘Pop’ Newlands’s legendary Spitalfields chippy, which comes decked out with a pick ’n’ mix assortment of shiny British kitsch (a jukebox, newspaper cuttings, model aeroplanes, wartime memorabilia). It may look like some fantasy trip, but there’s nothing airy-fairy about the food: fish comes fresh from Billingsgate each morning (have it fried or grilled), and the menu encompasses everything from jellied eels to hot seafood platters. Poppies also has outlets in Soho and Camden.
If you fancy fish and chips in Balham but want something a bit trendier than your average local chippie, this quaint little spot should tick all the boxes. Bearing all the hallmarks of a hipster paradise, the décor at Seventeen combines white tiled walls with distressed wood floors and dangling lights. But it’s not a case of style over substance: the battered fish is among the best in south London. Other hits include calamari, onion rings and a fish fillet burger.
Sutton & Sons are London fishmongers of repute, so freshness is guaranteed at this high-end chippy across the road from its Stokey shop. In addition to the usual battered suspects, hungry locals are rewarded with freshly shucked oysters and moules marinière, while Mrs Sutton’s homemade cakes and Hackney-brewed Crate beer are further reasons to be cheerful. There’s also a full menu of plant-based imitations involving everything from banana blossom to Japanese potato starch. Branches in Hackney and Islington.
A true one-off, this wood-panelled Muswell Hill chippy bears all the hallmarks of a long-running family business that knows what it’s doing. Not much has changed here since the place opened in 1968, although using traceable, sustainably sourced fish is a sure sign that Toff’s has its finger on the pulse. Everything is battered, fried or grilled to order – be it skate, rock eel, halibut or sea bass. There’s fish soup to start, and spotted dick to finish.