A Foodie Guide to London

Just a few years back, London would not have come to mind as a foodie destination. It is today. Blessed with close proximity to Europe as well as a high income population, London has evolved into a sophisticated food destination for both cutting edge concepts and traditional concepts in food.

The following is a list of suggestions of what to look for when you visit:

Food Halls

The great food halls of London are one of the first stops on any foodie’s list of things to do after unpacking their bags on a visit to London.

The food hall at Harrod’s Department Store stands heads above the rest for sheer variety, quantity, and eye candy appeal. Beautifully restored to its original colorfully painted ceilings, each and every large room of the food hall has its own theme. There’s one for seafood, one for chocolates, tea and coffee, one for take away and cheeses, and one for fruit and vegetables. It is so beautiful that it is almost more of a place that tourists come to stare at than it is a fully functional food emporium.

Harrods Food Hall

flickr image by pov_steve

Just down the street there is a lesser known food hall, but one of equal interest. It is located on the top floor of Harvey Nichols Department Store. Spread out under skylights and quite glamorous in design, this food hall has a great sushi bar called Yo Sushi, with a revolving conveyor belt of constantly changing plates you can pick up and enjoy. There is a full service restaurant, and a fun bar for either an aperitif before or a cappuccino after your meal.

Somewhere in between the over the top food hall in Harrods and the smaller chic food hall in Harvey Nichols is the middle range food hall in Selfridge’s Department store. This one is aimed at the middle market with items like Bovril and pasta, however it is really worth a visit if you are near Oxford Street. There are fun small restaurants inside and ample gourmet produce to keep you entertained.

Finally, the most elegant of all food halls is found at Fortnum & Mason. You can’t miss a visit here, especially during holidays when the interior is an exquisite destination for holiday cheer and special holiday foods.


Open Air Food Markets

The best open air market for foodies in London is the Borough Market. This is where you will find the best of everything, from high end French pastries, artisanal products, organic honey, authentic handmade English pork pies, small batch jams, raw milk, farmhouse cheeses, fresh game in season, Neal’s Yard Dairy, sweet fresh butter from France, duck eggs, you name it. A visual feast as well, take a camera along when you visit. And don’t eat before you go. There are fabulous little restaurants, food trucks and food vendors offering exquisite food.

Open Air Food Markets

flickr image by Magnus D

A favourite open air market is held in fashionable Notting Hill where you can find a cheese monger specializing in cheeses from France, freshly baked breads, and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. This is a fun market on the weekend because it is also close to antique shops to browse in, cafes to dawdle in, trendy boutiques nearby to shop in, and a great way to make a day of it.



Charbonnel & Walker has a small store on fashionable Bond Street in London that you can just squeeze into if there are a few people shopping there. They’ve been making chocolates since 1875 and were the Queen Mother’s favorite. Her pick? Their fragrant Victorian Violet and Rose Creams.


Best French Bakery

Londoners were delighted when Paul opened in the city. This bakery chain from Paris produces lovely pain au chocolat, croissants, baguettes and specialty pastries. You will find Paul bakeries now all over the city.



Yes, supermarkets are worth visiting in London! There is the new American chain, Whole Foods, which opened in Kensington. It is a large health oriented supermarket trying to do its best at providing organic and healthy produce. As an interesting comparison, visit a typical English supermarket. The best is found in Marks & Spencer department stores. It has a totally different twist on how to present food. Theirs is more readymade, packaged, and ready to go. You’ll even be able to buy a plastic glass of wine, sealed with plastic wrap, ready to take out on a picnic or have in the car!


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Luckily, the French macaron purveyor Laduree decided to open a shop in London in Piccadilly. Excellent macarons and a great spot for a sweet tooth!


Best Cheese Shops

Paxton & Whitfield Cheese Shop on Jermyn Street is a heady experience when you enter the little store. In that location for over 200 years, it is the ultimate expert source to go to for finding English farmhouse cheeses.

A larger store, but equally fascinating and worth a visit is Neal’s Yard Dairy, a major aggregator of farm cheeses from little farms all over England. Their shop in the Borough Market is amazing for the sheer variety and quantity of cheeses they offer.

Date posted: 12th September, 2011

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