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london's best pie and mash, G Kelly Bethnal Green
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London’s best pie and mash shops

Classic cockney pie and mash is London’s original street food. Here are the best places to eat it

Chris Waywell
Written by
Chris Waywell
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Like many other great things in London, classic cockney pie and mash was created among poor working-class and immigrant communities – many of them Italian. From the nineteenth century to the 1990s, London had a pie ’n’ mash shop on almost every high street. Now, these tiled beauties are an endangered species. Often small family-run businesses, some have been open for a century or more continuously, and the survivors are hubs for local communities. But they have struggled as London’s menu has diversified into the street food of six continents. If you’re into Instagramming your avo, take note: along with Sunday roasts, fish ’n’ chips and full-english fry-ups, this city was built on pies, mash, eels and liquor. So why not ditch the chicken and forego the falafel and tuck into the OG food of London?

The best pie and mash shops in London

  • Restaurants
  • Pie and mash shop
  • Walworth
  • price 1 of 4

Just around the corner from Elephant & Castle, Arments has been operating since 1914. On a good day, the pies are remarkable, with flaky-pastry lids and a minced beef filling with plenty of gravy and no gristle. Don’t miss the smooth mash, generally brilliant liquor and signature chilli vinegar. There are veggie and fruit pies too, and Arments is also known for its jellied eels.

  • Restaurants
  • Pie and mash shop
  • Canning Town

Towards the Canning Town end of Barking Road, BJ’s is one of the smaller pie-and-mash shops in the East End – but who cares about size? Served with some classic Cockney banter from a counter that’s peculiarly located at the back of the premises, the pies are almost burnt (as is traditionally popular), filled with beef and a rich gravy and served with well-seasoned liquor and creamy mash. BJ’s also dispenses some of the most reasonably priced stewed eels and – controversially – offers chips as an alternative to mash.

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  • Restaurants
  • Portobello Road

A rarity in west London, Cockney’s Pie & Mash sits at the north end of Portobello Road near Trellick Tower. Opened at the end of the twentieth century, it’s a relatively new kid on the block, yet the food is authentic: slopped into heavy white china bowls, the pies have a suet bottom and a buttery crust, while the crockery prevents the outrageous helping of thick liquor from spilling on to the table. It’s the perfect place to fill up before a leisurely stroll along Portobello’s renowned street market.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Poplar

Previously called ‘Traditional Pie & Mash’, this Chrisp Street Market site changed hands a few years ago but continues as one of the area’s key shops. The pies are filled with a satisfactory amount of gravy and the mince is fine, though the pastry can seem overly thick. Generous-sized ice-cream scoops of mash are creamy, but the green parsley liquor can be bland – you’ll need to add copious lashings of vinegar and some serious seasoning. Veggie pies are also available, along with stewed and jellied eels.

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  • Restaurants
  • Leytonstone

Offering exceptional value for money, the Noted Eel & Pie House in Leytonstone charges less than £5 for a reasonable helping of pie, mash and liquor served in a cheery setting complete with distinctive red benches. Their mash is incredibly smooth and, although small, the pies boast excellent thin pastry encasing a filling that needs no additional salt or seasoning. The liquor is tasty enough, although its texture is likely to coat the roof of your mouth until dinnertime.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Hoxton
  • price 1 of 4

Owner Joe Cooke’s great-grandfather Robert opened his first premises near Brick Lane in 1862 (allegedly London’s first dedicated ‘pie and mash’ shop), and the family’s pies are still made to the original nineteenth-century recipe using the best-quality Scotch beef. The liquor has a pleasing consistency and depth of flavour like nowhere else, and the owners of this Hoxton institution refuse to serve gravy as a substitute – even with their made-to-order veggie pies.

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Bow
  • price 1 of 4

Although it was trading during the 1920s, this place really took off when a certain George Kelly arrived in 1939 and proceeded to put it on the eel and pie lover’s map. The shop began as fuelling point for the costermongers of Roman Road Market, although now attracts customers from far and wide – not surprising, given that the pies are filled to the brim with minced beef in a rich gravy and have a noticeably buttery pastry crust. If you need it, there’s fruit crumble and custard to finish.

  • Restaurants
  • Pie and mash shop
  • Greenwich

The sign on Goddard’s bottle-green frontage says ‘Est 1890’, although this shiny venue is merely the latest incarnation of a long-running family business. Foodwise, variety is the name of the game: there’s an impressive choice of pie fillings ranging from chicken-and-ham to lamb-and-rosemary, which are now overtaking minced beef in the popularity rankings. Goddard’s also sells gluten-free pies, along with calorie-laden handmade puds. Be warned: this place is regularly rammed with tourists on the Greenwich heritage trail.

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Matchstick Piehouse
  • Theatre
  • Performing arts space
  • Deptford

This grassroots Deptford venue serves up both pies and fringe theatre from talented locals, with a focus on new writing. It has also played host to jazz collective Steamdown since they left nearby Caribbean bar Buster Mantis. 

  • Restaurants
  • Poplar

Also known as Maureen’s ‘Cockney Food Bar’, this redoubtable pie-and-mash shop has been plying its trade on the pedestrianised part of Chrisp Street Market for more than 50 years. Inside, its looks more like a greasy spoon café with tiled walls, but the pies are some of the East End’s best. Smooth mashed potato is scraped on to the side of the plate and the dark liquor tastes almost minty. Maureen’s is also famed as a purveyor of hot salt-beef sandwiches and beigels.

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  • Restaurants
  • Pie and mash shop
  • Bermondsey

Michele Manze and family arrived from Italy in 1878, started out as ice-cream merchants and finally opened this pie, mash and eel shop in 1902. Inside, little seems to have changed since those early days: the Edwardian green-tiled interiors speak of history, while the pie and mash is reckoned to be some of the best in town. The liquor can be a tad too thick, though the mash is smooth and the pie filling sits nicely between the soft suet-pastry base and the flaky, almost burnt lid.

  • Restaurants
  • Pie and mash shop
  • Peckham
  • price 1 of 4

Originally opened in 1927, burned down during the Peckham riots in the 1985, then rebuilt and reopened in 1990, this branch of Manze’s is run along similar lines to its elder brother on Tower Bridge Road. It serves up some of the best pies in town, with mash so smooth it tastes as if it’s been churned using an industrial mixer. The liquor’s also perfect – exactly the correct consistency and vivid green from fresh parsley (emphasised by the chilli-infused vinegar on the table). Undoubtedly south London’s finest for pie and mash.

Discover London's traditional caffs

  • Restaurants

Ah, the greasy spoon. These traditional cafés are where formica tables, full English breakfasts and milky, milky tea rule supreme. These mostly family-run joints offer a welcome warmer than the toast and well faded 'celebrity' photos on the walls, and we love them for it. But, alas, they're a dying breed in London these days, so we've decided to celebrate the ten finest caffs in the capital. Long live the greasy spoon! 

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