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This district of south London has always had a diverse, multi-ethnic population, and its sizeable Caribbean heritage has always ensured a distinctive flair to the culinary scene. But these days, following its inevitable gentrification, there's far more on the menu than jerk chicken or ackee and saltfish. A plethora of restaurants and pop-ups serve anything from Japanese and Thai to Italian or classic Americana. Some of the best include Franco Manca for woodfired pizza and Brixton Kricket, specialising in meaty street-food style dishes of grandma recipes paired with killer cocktails. While you're there, check out Brixton Market; another perfect spot to sample locally made dishes.
This slice of north London has long been synonymous with wide-ranging culinary fare, particularly Upper Street between Angel and Highbury, often dubbed "Supper Street". In fact, there are so many restaurants squeezed into this stretch of N1, it can be overwhelming. There are gems scattered all over though; some of the best include Smokehouse featuring mouth-watering smoked and grilled meats (they butcher on site) and The Elk House whose quirky hunting-lodge style furnishings compliment a menu comprising dishes such as venison shepherd's pie and slow-roasted pork belly.
It may well be a sanitised version of its former self – this slice of London's West End was traditionally associated more with strip clubs and adult book stores than fancy restaurants – but Soho is now one of the most enticing areas of the capital to dine out. Among the best little haunts is Hoppers, a Sri Lankan themed sibling of a Michelin-starred Indian restaurant serving outrageously delightful and inventive curries, dosas and coconut infused goodness. Other hotspots include Ceviche Soho for Peruvian fare and 10 Greek Street with its daily changing seasonal menu. And if all that fails, hit up Chinatown for some cheap late night eats.
This is contentious. Shoreditch has become synonymous with insufferable hipsters launching ludicrous enterprises – Cereal Cafe anyone? – but the fact remains, there are also some damn fine eateries around. Meat lovers should make a beeline for Hawksmoor on Commercial Street or MEATmission off Hoxton Square where the burgers are to die for. For seriously good Chinese, try one of the innovative tasting menus at HKK, where Michelin-starred chef Tong Chee Hwee serves up bundles of steamed goodness inside wicker baskets. If you do want to experience a slice of (risible or otherwise) Shoreditch "cool", check out Tramshed, a chicken and steak joint housed inside a former tram generator building featuring artist Damien Hurst's cow in formaldehyde installation.
Though new money is undoubtedly filtering in, Bethnal Green still retains an appealingly rough and ready edge. Some of the most celebrated restaurants include Sager + Wilde specialising in fresh, seasonal European dishes in a beautiful railway arch, and Typing Room, Town Hall Hotel's restaurant spearheaded by Chef Lee Westcott. But no trip here would be complete with visitingout Brick Lane at the northern end of the neighbourhood. The heart of London's Bangladeshi community, the strip is home to the highest concentration of curry houses outside of Manchester's Rusholme district, aka Curry Mile.
Once almost exclusively the domain of public school boys who "simply love sushi", Clapham's culinary scene has morphed into something far more eclectic in recent years. At the vanguard of the renaissance are The Manor and sister outfit, The Dairy, both of which serve seasonal British produce—yes there is such a thing these days—with The Manor specialising in beautifully put-together tasting plates. Meanwhile, Bistro Union is ideal for a comfort food fix while The Latchmere, next to Theatre 503, is a great place to kick back for a pint and a hearty pub dinner. Especially convenient if you have theatre tickets.
Guy Wilkinson travelled at his own expense.