England hasn't always had the best reputation for food, but these days London is a thriving culinary hub with tons of innovative restaurants and classic spots. While the city is known for its global fare, there are several quintessential British dishes that every visitor should try. Some of these may seem a bit unusual, like the sausage-wrapped Scotch egg, while others are just another version of a dish you likely already know, like a bacon roll. Since London is a destination filled with pubs, it's easy to find most of these dishes while exploring the various neighborhoods, particularly if you're not too picky about where you try it. For those with a food-loving heart, however, there are some recommendation eateries perfect for experiencing everything from sticky toffee pudding to bangs and mash.
Beef Wellington is a classic dish, mostly found in upscale or old school restaurants around London. It features a steak coated in pate and mushrooms, then wrapped in puff pastry and baked, and it is extremely indulgent. Simpson's in the Strand, a restaurant that's been open since 1828 and was a frequent dining spot for Winston Churchill, is the ideal spot to try this rich entree. Chef Gordon Ramsey is also often associated with this dish, and visitors can taste it at his Heddon Street Kitchen as well.
Fish and Chips
The best fish and chips in England is likely not found London. For that, visitors will need to hear to the coast along the North Sea or venture to Scotland. But London does serve up a few options for the fried white fish and thick-cut fries. Head to The Mayfair Chippy for fish and chips made with cod or haddock, or taste test the vegan version, which is made with jackfruit and tofu.
A Sunday roast is a classic British dish, typically served for lunch on Sundays at home or in a pub. The dish consists of a piece of roasted meat like beef or lamb, a selection of roasted vegetables, a Yorkshire pudding and gravy. The Yorkshire Pudding is the best part, sort of like a puffed up popover. Almost any pub will have a Sunday roast menu, but the best beef version is found at Hawksmoor Seven Dials, which serves up the plate with bone marrow gravy and a whole roasted garlic bulb.
The British version of a sandwich usually involves some bread, a heaping dose of condiments and a slice of meat. The most iconic is the bacon sandwich, often known as a bacon roll, or "bacon butty." It's a white roll with fried back bacon, usually served with ketchup, brown sauce or mayonnaise. There are a lot of good ones in London, but for something more unusual head to Indian restaurant Dishroom, which has a version made with naan and chili-spiked tomato jam. If you just want the classic: Regency Cafe.
Full English Breakfast
A full English breakfast includes several specific component: fried eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, tomato, mushrooms, toast and, of course, black pudding. That last one is essentially blood sausage, which may sound gross but is actually very beloved and tasty. Any good breakfast spot will include a full English on the menu and many also feature a vegetarian version, usually made with halloumi cheese instead of meat. One of the most famous and classic renditions of the dish can be found in East London at E Pellicci, but travelers may want to investigate healthier variations like the "Fresh Aussie" at Granger & Co, which includes smoked salmon and avocado.
Bangers and Mash
It may have a funny name, but bangers and mash is just a sausage with mashed potatoes. The sausages are typically large in size and made of pork, lamb, or beef, and the plate is doused in gravy. It's common pub fare, found on the menu of any local, but some London eateries have made the dish more upscale. To really get the gist of this selection head to Mother Mash in Soho, which has numerous sausage types to pick from, including the classic Cumberland. There is also a vegan sausage for those who don't want the real thing.
This delicious dessert was named for the famous boys school at Eton College, near Windsor, and dates back to the 19th century. It's made of crushed merangue, whipped cream and strawberries, and usually served in the spring or summer. The traditional versions appears on dessert menus throughout London, but many restaurants also offer modern takes on the dish, sometimes swapping in ice cream for the whipped cream. Since it's a seasonal dessert, it's best to call restaurants ahead if you have your heart set on trying it. Still, Bob Bob Ricard in Soho is usually a safe bet.
A Scotch egg is one of England's best culinary creations. It involves a hard or soft boiled egg wrapped in ground sausage, coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. It can be served hot or cold, often with a dipping sauce like mustard, and it's a staple in a lot of pubs. It's not necessarily a meal in itself, and should be ordered as a starter or a bar snack. Some of the best can be found at Scotchtails, a stall in Borough Market with various versions, including vegetarian options with beet and sweet potato. The "Traditional Lincolnshire" Scotch egg is the recommended order at the stall for anyone who's never tried one before.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
As those who have seen The Great British Bake Off know, a sticky toffee pudding is comprised of sponge cake smothered in toffee sauce and served alongside custard or vanilla ice cream. It's made with dates and black treacle, which account for some of the richness, and the cake itself isn't that sweet (the sauce is where the sugary component comes in). It's considered somewhat retro, but a lot of pubs and British restaurants around London regularly keep it on their dessert menus. Try the one at The Abington in Kensington for something classic, or experiment with the sticky toffee ice cream sandwich at Chin Chin.
Afternoon tea is technically not a food, but more of an experience. It involves tea, of course, but also scones with clotted cream and jam, finger sandwiches and tea cakes, which are often presented on a tiered platter. Most London hotels serves a version of afternoon tea, some even featuring themed teas based on movies or artists. The absolute best is at Fortnum & Mason, an upmarket department store known for its branded teas. The tea is served upstairs in a very fancy dining room and you should come extremely hungry (and be prepared to box up any extra cakes or sandwiches since it's unlimited). A more budget-friendly offering appears in the restaurant at the Ham Yard Hotel, a chic and quirky property that allows guests to indulge in a more casual setting.