15 Best Foods to Try in England

Traditional British Sunday roast dinner with chicken, vegetables, gravy and a Yorkshire pudding
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England sometimes gets a bad reputation for its culinary offerings, but the country is filled with delicious restaurants, from classic pubs to innovative global cuisine. There are several traditional British dishes worth trying on a trip to England, many of which are available in every town pub. So whether you want to try the best fish and chips around or sample a slice of Victoria sponge cake during afternoon tea, there's a taste for every palate. From beef Wellington to Cornish pasties, here are the best foods to try in England.

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Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips
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If there's one dish you absolutely have to try while in England, it's fish and chips. The classic dish, which features fish that's been battered and fried served with fat French fries, is delicious and filling. It's often accompanied by mushy peas, which are an acquired taste for many, and you should seek the dish out in coastal towns for the freshest fish. Some of the best fish and chips can be found in the seaside town of Whitby at Royal Fisheries, and those visiting London should head to the historic spot Poppie's Fish & Chips, which has three different locations.

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Full English Breakfast

English Breakfast of eggs, sausages, bacon, tomato, beans and mushrooms.

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A full English breakfast is comprised of bacon, a fried egg, sausage, mushrooms, baked beans, toast, and grilled tomatoes, as well as a potential side of black pudding. It's always served with coffee or tea, and this massively filling dish is a good way to start a day of sightseeing. Many restaurants also offer vegetarian or vegan versions. For the most traditional take, head to Regency Cafe in London, which has been open since 1946. Or head to Trof in Manchester, which won't leave you hungry.

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Scotch Egg

egg wrapped in sausage meat and crumbs and deep fried

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A Scotch egg, a boiled egg wrapped in sausage, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried (or baked), makes for a delicious snack or pub treat. The eggs are often served cold, although many eateries will warm one up if you ask. The best Scotch eggs are found in high-end gastropubs like the Hinds Head in Bray or the Harwood Arms in London, although many outdoor markets also have good ones. Look for Finest Fayre Scotch Eggs at London's Broadway Market or Greenwich Market.

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Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington, classic steak dish on rustic wooden table

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Fans of steak should order beef Wellington while visiting England. The posh dish, which is notoriously difficult to make well, involves a fillet steak coated with pâté and duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry and baked. It's extremely indulgent and extremely delicious. It's the sort of dish you'll find at high-end, traditional restaurants, but the absolute best is at Simpson's in the Strand in London. The British eatery has been around since 1828, making it the perfect place to try a classic beef Wellington.

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Scones for Tea
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Scones are typically served with clotted cream and jam as part of a traditional afternoon or cream tea. They're less of a breakfast item and more of an indulgent treat (and it's a great debate as to whether the cream or the jam goes on first). You can find scones almost anywhere that serves tea, as well as in most grocery stores and bakeries. Still, some of the most delectable are found at National Trust property tearooms like manor house Baddesley Clinton and Goddards House & Gardens In North Yorkshire.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky toffee pudding served with ice cream

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Sticky toffee pudding is one of England's favorite desserts, for a good reason. Made of sponge cake and chopped dates and covered with toffee sauce, it's one of those treats that hits the spot any time of year. It's often served with vanilla custard or a scoop of ice cream, and many restaurants and pubs keep it on their dessert menu. Cartmel, a village in Cumbria, claims to be the home of sticky toffee, and the Cartmel Village Shop is a good place to start your journey into the delicious sweet dish.

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Bangers and Mash

Bangers and mash

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Despite the seemingly lewd name, bangers and mash are a pretty low-key menu item in England. The bangers are sausages, using Cumberland, and the mash is mashed potatoes, all topped with gravy. It's a common dish in most pubs, although you can sometimes find higher-end versions in some posh restaurants. For a hearty serving, head to London's Mother Mash, which dishes up mashed potatoes with several types of sausages and gravies.

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Victoria Sponge Cake

Victoria sponge cake filled with fresh whipped cream, rasberries and jam on white platter.

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All good tearooms will serve up slices of Victoria sponge cake, which was named for Queen Victoria. It's a light, summery dessert made of two sponge cakes sandwiched around a layer of jam and fresh whipped cream. Some bakers also add fruit, like strawberries or raspberries, into the center before dusting the cake with powdered sugar. Venture north to one of York's tearooms to indulge in a slice along with your cup of tea. Try the Vanilla Cafe or Betty's Cafe.

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Welsh Rarebit

Traditional Welsh rarebit

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Don't let the name throw you. Welsh rarebit is basically an open-faced grilled cheese, although there are a few differences in the flavors. The traditional version of the dish, which dates back centuries, involves a hot cheese-based sauce served on toast. The oozing sauce is made with Worcestershire sauce and mustard, giving it a slight tang. It can be found in most pubs and on the starter menu at nicer restaurants, and some chefs mix things up by adding meat to the dish (which is typically vegetarian). An especially delicious version can be found at St. John Bar and Restaurant in London.

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Sunday Roast

Traditional Sunday Roast

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In England, it's traditional to sit down with your family for a hearty Sunday lunch. This is known as a Sunday roast because nearly everything on the plate has been roasted in the oven. A classic Sunday roast includes meat (often beef), vegetables, roasted potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding, and a dollop of gravy. A Sunday lunch menu is common in every pub, as many other restaurants, and there are often several offerings, from beef to chicken to a vegetarian nut roast. Try Roth Ball & Grill in Somerset or Hawksmoor in Manchester and London, or ask a few locals for their favorite nearby spot.

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Eccles Cake

Eccles cake

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The Eccles cake, a small, turnover-like pastry, was named for Eccles, part of Greater Manchester, although it can be found all over England. The centuries-old pastry is often sold at bakeries, especially in Manchester and Lancashire. It involves flaky pastry dough filled with currents, and despite it being a sweet pastry, the Eccles cake is traditionally eaten with Lancashire cheese. You can find them in a variety of bakeries, but head to Manchester for the original version. Indulge in a few mini cakes at afternoon tea at Mamucium in downtown Manchester, or scour the local grocery store aisles.

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Eton Mess

Traditional English Summer Dessert - Eton Mess Ready to Serve
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A traditional Eton mess may look like, well, a mess, but its three ingredients create a delicious, summery dessert. Made of strawberries, meringue, and whipped cream, the Eton mess supposedly originated at Eton College in the 19th century (although its origins are not completely clear). It typically shows up on restaurant dessert menus during the summer when strawberries are in season, and you don't have to go to Eton's dining halls to find it. If you want to eat the sweet dish in Eton, located near Windsor, head to aptly named The Eaton Mess.

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Shepherd’s Pie

Dish of shepherds pie ready to be served on a cutting board

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Layers of ground lamb, vegetables, and mashed potatoes complete a shepherd's pie, which is not be confused with a cottage pie, which has beef instead of lamb. It's a rustic, filling entree that can be served both inside crusty pie dough or without any dough. It's a staple at pubs, but several higher-end restaurant chefs have created more upscale takes on the dish. The version at The Ivy is very popular, while the Holborn Dining Room in London serves up innovative takes on pies, including a curried mutton pie.

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Cornish Pasty

Different pasties being displayed in a windows shop in Cornwall

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Named for its origin in Cornwall, the traditional Cornish pasty is a savory baked pastry filled with beef, potato, onion, and swede. There are many spin-offs of the original, including vegetarian versions, and the pasties make for an easy lunch or snack on the go. You'll obviously want to head to the source in Cornwall to find the best ones, and numerous bakeries sell different takes on the pasty. A few local favorites include St. Ives Bakery, Chough Bakery, and Sarah's Pasty Shop.

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Bacon Butty

Bacon sandwich in Britain is a bacon sarnie or bacon butty and it's all about the bacon with no extra frills.
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Known both as a bacon butty and a bacon roll, England's take on a bacon sandwich is very simple. A bacon butty is served on a white roll or white bread with fried back bacon and a condiment, like ketchup, brown sauce, or mayonnaise. Don't expect anything else on the sandwich, although more modern restaurants might be willing to add a fried egg or some cheese. There are many good ones around England, but for something more unusual, head to the Indian restaurant Dishoom, which has a version made with naan and chili-spiked tomato jam. There are outposts in London and Manchester.