Where to eat fish & chips and four other Great British dishes in London

British cuisine has opened up to the world like very few others, and its recipes have received influences from other countries with open arms

The Wolseley
A full English breakfast at The Wolseley. Image provided by the establishment.TIM WINTER Tim Winter

Here is a list of recommendations, complete with five dishes and the restaurants where you can eat them.

1. Fish & chips

'Fish and Chips' at The Golden Hind. Image provided by the establishment.
'Fish and Chips' at The Golden Hind. Image provided by the establishment.

Fish & chips is one of British cuisine’s most quintessential dishes. The fish — usually cod, although haddock is tastier — is served fried, encased in a crispy batter and accompanied by French fries and “mushy” (mashed) peas. Depending on the location, malt vinegar or tartar sauce are typically offered as condiments.

Although its origin is disputed, the most widely accepted theory is that Spanish and Portuguese Jewish refugees introduced fried fish to the country in the 16th century. Likewise, it is believed that it was the Huguenots (French Protestant refugees) who made French fries known in the United Kingdom a century later. The first chippy was founded in 1860 in east London by Joseph Malin, a Jewish emigrant from Eastern Europe.

One of the best places to try good fish & chips is The Golden Hind. Located in the stately neighborhood of Marylebone, this simple establishment, whose name pays homage to one of the galleons with which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world in the 16th century, has been faithful to its favorite dish for more than a century. The price is between £11.95 and £16.95 pounds ($14.85 and $21.06).

🍽 The Golden Hind. 71a, 73 Marylebone Ln, London W1U 2PN. Telephone: +44 20 7486 3644.

2. Full English breakfast

It is no secret that the British take their breakfast very seriously. Traditionally, the full English breakfast includes baked beans, eggs, sausages, bacon, mushrooms, and tomatoes, as well as toast on the side and tea or coffee. So, it more than meets the nutritional recommendation of prioritizing proteins in the first food of the day. Likewise, depending on the province, it may also include “black pudding” (blood sausage).

This breakfast is believed to have originated in the 14th century, when the nobles of the countryside turned their pre-hunting meal into a social event. The wealthy Victorians continued the tradition and the Industrial Revolution brought it to the working class, who needed a hearty breakfast for the physical work they had to do.

The Wolseley is a restaurant that perhaps those Victorians with all the time in the world would have frequented. Opulently decorated and located in Mayfair in the heart of Westminster, its breakfast menu includes the Full English for £19.95, about ($24.80) at the current exchange rate.

At the other end of the scale, in the historically working class East End of London, Pellicci’s is a typical café (pronounced “caff”) that has been run by the Pellicci family, for more than a century. The menu does not hide the owners’ Italian roots, and the English breakfast costs £12.80 ($15.91).

🍽 The Wolseley. 160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London, W1J 9EB. Telephone: +44 20 7499 6996.

🍽 E. Pellicci. 332 Bethnal Grn Rd, London, E2 0AG. Telephone: +44 20 7739 4873.

3. Sunday roast

'Sunday Roast' by The Harwood Arms. Image provided by the establishment.
'Sunday Roast' by The Harwood Arms. Image provided by the establishment.

The star of the dish that has been making the English happy for more than half a millennium is roast meat — traditionally it was beef, but pork, lamb or chicken are also common. Always accompanied by vegetables and a Yorkshire pudding — a kind of roasted pancake made in a muffin tin. No Sunday roast is complete without the gravy, which is made from the juices of the roasted meat and vegetables.

The Sunday roast became popular during the reign of Henry VII at the end of the 15th century and was eaten on Sundays after attending mass. It is no coincidence that the royal guards of the Tower of London have been affectionately known as Beefeaters ever since.

Both The Quality Chop House restaurant, which has a Sunday menu with a varied selection of roasts (3 courses, for £55 / $68.33), and the Harwood Arms (3 courses, for £65 / $80.76), a Michelin-starred pub specializing in game meat, are excellent places to try it.

🍽 The Quality Chop House. 92-94 Farringdon Rd, London, EC1R 3EA. Telephone: +44 20 7278 1452.

🍽 The Harwood Arms. Walham Grove, London, SW6 1QJ. Telephone: +44 20 7386 1847.

4. Chicken tikka masala

Tayyabs chicken tikka masala. Image provided by the establishment.
Tayyabs chicken tikka masala. Image provided by the establishment.

This dish is a regular on menus in Great Britain — including pubs and takeaway establishments — and some venture to consider it one of the first examples of fusion cuisine.

The dish comprises chicken pieces cooked in a tandoor oven and dressed with a creamy tomato and yogurt sauce. Its origins are in chicken tikka, a traditional, spicy North Indian recipe served on a skewer, with yogurt sauce and curry. Emigrant chefs from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh adapted the dish to British palates, which were less accustomed to spicy foods. At the beginning of the 21st century, the then British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, called it a symbol of multicultural Britain.

The Tayyabs restaurant, located in east London and renowned for its endless menu and reasonable prices — this dish costs £12.95 ($16.09) — is an excellent location to try it.

🍽 Tayyabs. 83-89 Fieldgate St, London, E1 1JU. Telephone: +44 20 7247 9543.

5. Pie, mash, and liquor

'Pie and mash,' from Goddard's. Image provided by the establishment.
'Pie and mash,' from Goddard's. Image provided by the establishment.Warren King

This dish, which once served as sustenance for the working class, who came from all over the country to carry the weight of the Industrial Revolution, has its origins in East London. It is a small individual pie, whose original 19th-century filling was eels — the Thames was full of them and they were cheap — is accompanied by mashed potatoes and a “liquor” of parsley sauce. Nowadays, the most common pies are minced beef, and you can try “jellied eels” (eels served in gelatin, a very London snack) separately.

Goddards opened its doors in Greenwich in 1890 and has since become an institution. Their pie & mash is extensive, includes gluten-free and vegan options, and the prices are very modest. The minced beef option costs £5.40, ($6.71), and accompanied by jellied eels, it will cost you £8.90 ($11.06).

🍽 Goddards. 22 King William Walk, London, SE10 9HU. Telephone: +44 20 8305 9612.

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