Borough has been a lively area since prehistoric times, but it became a bustling trade centre when the Romans founded Londinium around 43 AD. Its position on the Thames and proximity to London Bridge has ensured it’s remained a trading hub ever since. Though these days Borough is dominated by Borough Market, which gives the area its reputation as a foodie paradise. Generally, the best restaurants are in or very near the market but, if you know where you’re looking, you can find some gems hidden away. The bars and pubs are more spread out but are worth a little walk. Which is just as well, given how much you’re guaranteed to eat in Borough.
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The best bits of Borough
Restaurants in Borough
Arabica Bar & Kitchen
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).
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.