Pub food in London, favorites?

So, I'll have three dinners in London after our British cruise. We plan to go to pubs, nothing fancy, yet I'd love to try the dishes that are popular or special to London. Of course I'll eat fish and chips, any others that should be on my list?

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
1062 posts

It depends - if you want something "special to London", then you can try jellied eels, but I don't recommend it because (a) it's hard to find and (b) it's awful. For a more edible London meal, I suggest pie, mash & liquor. There are some restaurants that offer this, but also roadside vendors. When you try fish and chips, do note that you will probably be served cod. That is OK, but proper fish would be haddock, which is hard to find in London (or outside, these days).

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
1204 posts

Thanks for all your suggestions! I love food and I'm afraid that looking at a menu I won't have a clue what to order, so I appreciate the ideas. Only three nights so I only get three chances to try British pub food, and I want to make the best selection. Now I'll know what to look for, thanks!

Posted by Kathleen
Camano Island, WA, usa
475 posts

My favorite pub food is scampi and chips basket; or chicken kiev...always good. It may not be "English" but quick & tasty. You really came to drink after all. Try some hard cider...yum!

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3134 posts

Steak and Ale pie! Like a roast beef dinner (with carrots, onions and potatoes and GREAT gravy) under a crust! Or Shepherd's pie (if you like lamb, or Cottage pie if you prefer ground beef)- ground lamb, veggies and gravy under a topping of mashed potatoes. All are good, but steak and ale is my favorite.

Posted by david
837 posts

I would concur with Toni and add chicken pie. We have tried a few pubs and found two that we return to often, while others proved disappointing. Hereford Arms pub on Gloucester Rd, near the tube station, and the Grenadier in a residential neighborhood in Belgravia near the Wellingon Arch.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
1020 posts

I love ham, eggs, and chips. Also fish pie, which is creamy and yummy and not "fishy." Both are real comfort food. Not sure that either are "special to London," but they are typically British. The "British National Dish" of course is Chicken Tikka Masala. Really! ( So you might want to try that. You may be surprised to find food at pubs better (fancier, more pan-European, healthier) than you expected. And that's not a bad thing!

Posted by Nancy
London, UK
170 posts

Bangers and mash, bubble and squeak, sausage or bacon roll. Cannot say I have tried all of them but I see them everywhere. Oh - jacket potato with beans or tuna. Jacket potato seems to be a comfort food here.

Posted by Jim
Crystal Lake, IL, United States
29 posts

One of my favorites: Roast Beef, mashed potatoes, yorkshire pudding and gravy... Usually comes with a vegetable like mushy peas or beans... Jim

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

You're going to have to do some snooping around to find some of the more unusual dishes. Increasingly, especially in areas you're likely to be, you'll find that pubs retain their old names but are actually corporate-owned. Names like Weatherspoon, Martsons, and Robinson will show up on the menu and often the building itself. Food comes from corporate central and gets a low pass by the microwave on the way to the table. If you didn't like dead chicken piri piri one night, it's not going to be any better around the corner the next if you picked the same crowd again.

Posted by Laurel
Arlington, WA
886 posts

Bangers and Mash at the Sherlock Holmes on Northumberland St!! My favorite thing....sticky toffee pudding. Browns Restaurant (they're a chain and there is one just up St Martins Lane) does a good one tho IMHO a little on the small side.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

Dessert - I enjoyed every bite of a delicious 'Eton Mess' at a pub near Oxford, and 'Spotted Dick' served with custard at a London pub. Fish & Chips - got real haddock at Geales in Notting Hill. Not a pub, per se, but a great neighborhood restaurant on a quiet back street, a short walk from the Notting Hill Gate tube:

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

If you get tired of pub food, London has some of the best Indian food in the world. Chicken tikka masala is actually the national dish!

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
1146 posts

Definitely sticky toffee pudding and also scones with clotted cream. I always try and have the Sunday roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips, and bangers and mash. I love Costa coffee (they have the most delicious lemon bars!) - though I'm not a big coffee drinker, I think their coffee is good.

Posted by Kristie
Knoxville, TN, USA
183 posts

I love Coronation Chicken, Gammon, Steak and Ale pie, and Cornish pasties. YUM!

Posted by Kacie
13 posts

I second the baked pies, such as steak and ale pie. I also found that many pubs offered a homemade soup of the day and they were always wonderful. Lamb dishes were also always great in London. One of my favorites was The Cask Pub.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2786 posts

If you go to the Camden Lock Market you walk over to or take the tube to the Kentish Town Station. THe Oxford Pub has fantastic food. A bit pricey but well worth. Don't have to eat in the dining room. Can get served in the pub area. Cumberland sausage, toad in the hole with root veggie....

Posted by Barb
Central Florida
484 posts

I was in London many years ago. I don't know if it's still around. But, I would like to suggest Gordon's Wine Bar at lunch time. It was near the Nat.l Gallery of Art and St. Martin in the Fields Church. The pub is located in a very old historical building. Great Food, great prices. What you expect in a pub for atmosphere. You walk down some old steps. You have to duck your head in parts of it because it is sooo old. Cheers! Drink a Great Beer for Me! For others who posted about the Chicken Tikka being the English national dish,
are you kidding me? I'm not surprised, but there's nothing English about it. It was served to me on British Airways last Summer.

Posted by Rose
922 posts

Re: Chicken Tikka Masala, I think it's not the 'official' national dish - only that it's said to be the most popular dish in British restaurants. I think it originated when former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook commented that chicken tikka marsala should be considered "a true British national dish." It's not a real Indian dish that one would be likely to find in India, rather a mildly Indian flavored dish adapted for the Western palate. There are a bezillion Indian restaurants all over England, including several in London that have been awarded a Michelin star - for example, Amaya in the Halkin Arcade in Motcomb Street, Belgravia, and Tamarind in Queen Street, Mayfair. My friends in the northeast and in London are always banging on about "going out for a proper curry."

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

I didn't mean that it was official or anything, but many people do consider it the national dish. It was definitely invented in England, as ROse explains.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5047 posts

This dish you have to look for as it is not as available as in past decades in pubs...steak and kidney pie.