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Eat your way around the world without ever leaving London
Pancake breakfast, sushi lunch, spinach with feta and sumac dinner -- the city of empire is an empire of food
Almost 40 percent of Londoners were born abroad. The capital is, and has been for centuries, the top destination for migrants who arrive on British shores.
All that diversity makes for an incredible selection of food.
Whatever the cuisine, chances are there's a restaurant in London that serves it.
Don't believe it? Scan the list below and start making plans.
On a small cobbled street between Soho and Mayfair, Momo offers a mini-taste of Morocco.
As in a Marrakech souk, passersby are greeted by the sweet smell of shisha.
Inside, it’s low tables, carved wooden screens and lanterns hanging from the ceiling.
On the menu is a range of mezze starters. They’re reasonably priced, ranging from £5 to £10 (US$8-$16).
Among the tastiest options are the octopus with roasted peppers and spinach fatayar with roasted pine nuts, feta cheese and sumac.
The cocktails are as good as they come and with super names -- fancy sipping some Burning Desire or Black Banshee?
25 Heddon St., W1B 4BH; +44 (0)207 434 4040; moderate; noon-3 p.m. and dinner 6-11 p.m.; www.momoresto.com
For funky French fun there’s nowhere like Sketch, with its sunken bar, toilets in white pods and the Gallery restaurant where no two pieces of crockery are the same.
In an 18th-century townhouse, Sketch started out as a private home. But history had a glamorous fate for this Mayfair hotspot, which subsequently hosted the Royal Institute of British Architects and Christian Dior.
Head chef Pierre Gagnaire serves “new French” food in the upstairs restaurant. Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed recently revamped the The Gallery downstairs.
In honor of stereotypes, we recommend the Burgundy snails to start. For the main course, the Dover sole meunière is delicate and delicious.
For dessert, the French option is the mille-feuille with vanilla cream, quince and pineapple marmalade.
9 Conduit St., W1S 2XG; +44 (0)207 659 4500; expensive; Monday-Saturday, 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sketch.uk.com
Peruvian food is conquering the world and Lima is leading the way in London.
Dishes here are meant to be shared. Highly recommended is the sea bream and Amazon fish.
If you're after South American “superfoods,” the two quinoas ceviche is especially good.
For dessert, Café Peruano (espresso, cream, vanilla Pisco) goes down nicely, along with chanchamayo coffee ice cream.
If you can handle the heat, the cuento del diablo cocktail is worth ordering for the cocktail glass alone, which comes garnished with two red chile “horns."
31 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JH; +44 (0) 203 002 2640; moderate to expensive; Monday-Saturday noon–2:30 p.m. and 5:30–10:30 p.m.; www.limalondon.com
Just round the corner from Hyde Park and Harrods, Ishbilia is the spot for London’s Middle Eastern community -- a sure sign that this is Arabic food at its best.
Tables are garnished with large bowls of fresh vegetables.
There’s a delicious range of starters, from hummus with pine nuts, to vine leaves and baba ganoush.
There are dozens of options of lamb, and a different fish dish each day.
If you're adventurous enough to order a bottle Lebanese Ksara wine, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
When dessert time hits, the baklava is superb.
8-9 William St., Knightsbridge, SW1X 9HL; +44 (0) 20 7235 7788; moderate; noon-midnight; www.ishbilia.com
Italian: Il Bocciolo
London has no shortage of Italian restaurants, but the newly opened Il Bocciolo (The Rosebud) is no ordinary Italian restaurant.
Located in South West London, it's owned and run by 25-year-old Luigi Raucci, who has been saving to buy a restaurant since he was 14.
Originally from Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Luigi has finally realized his dream.
Forget pizzas (apart from the ones on the "bambini" menu); delicacies range from crispy calamari and zucchini to veal escalope with porcini mushrooms and arancini (Sicilian stuffed rice balls) in tomato sauce.
Then there’s the signature dish, tagliolini al bocciolo, which is house-made squid ink spaghetti with calamari and king prawns.
The rich tiramisu pairs well with Luigi’s Sgroppino digestif, a blend of lemon sorbet and prosecco.
314 Trinity Road, SW18 3RG; +44 (0) 20 8875 9595; budget; Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; www.ilbocciolo.com
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Come weekend, few things beat an American-style brunch. The flow of people through Automat’s doors is a testament to this and it all comes down to two things: large portions and great grub.
This buzzy brunch spot churns out the classics: blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, eggs Benedict and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.
The décor is cool, with swinging doors through to the bathrooms, white-tiled walls and a wood-paneled "railway carriage" section.
33 Dover St., W1S 4NF; +44 (0)20 7499 3033; www.automat-london.com; moderate to expensive; Brunch on weekends from 10 a.m.
There’s just one option on the menu at London’s latest Chinese restaurant, HKK -- a 15-course tasting menu.
It takes three hours to get through and includes lotus roots, lobster, razor clams, flower jelly and, of course, Peking duck pancakes.
There are two options -- vegetarian and regular -- but for lunch and dinner HKK serves only tasting menus (just eight courses for lunch).
Former head chef of Michelin-star Hakkasan, Chef Tong gives a fresh twist to Cantonese and Chinese cuisine with dishes like monkfish with goji berries in a champagne and rice wine sauce.
The food is colorful and fun -- the dim sum trilogy comes with a paintbrush for applying soy sauce.
Thanks to the open kitchen and glass oven, food prep becomes a show. For intimacy or special occasions, there's private dining room with hand-painted gold walls.
Broadgate West, Worship Street, EC2A 2DQ; +44 (0)203 535 1888; moderate (as tasting menus go -- £95/US$150 for 15 courses); Weekdays noon-2 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.; Saturday 6-9 p.m.; www.hkklondon.com
Think Japanese food, think sushi, think Nobu. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has become synonymous with the very best Japanese fare.
There are two Nobus in London: on Berkeley Street (where the Beckhams are often spotted) and Nobu London, with views across Hyde Park.
If your wallet is full and your stomach empty, we recommend taking on the tasting menu -- it starts with signature salmon tartar, before sashimi and black cod with miso sauce.
Next comes the meat: beef taban yaki.
For dessert, any of the sorbets will do -- choose between citrus, lychee and rose.
19 Old Park Lane, W1K 1LB; +44 (0)207 447 4747; expensive; Monday-Friday, noon–2:15 p.m./Saturday-Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m./Monday-Thursday, 6–10:15 p.m./Friday-Saturday, 6-11 p.m./Sunday 6–10 p.m.; www.noburestaurants.com
Is it a bar, a restaurant or a club?
In true Brazilian style, it’s all three rolled into one.
There are giant parrots and tropical greenery painted on the walls, a stage for live music, long bar churning out holiday-style cocktails (the flaming Fogo de Floripa is tops) and casual wooden tables scattered across the floor.
For an appetizer, the bolinhos de bacalhau (salt fish croquettes) are fantastic. Mains include Bahian fish stew, linguica Calabrese (sausage) and feijoada, a typical hearty casserole.
91-93 Great Eastern St., EC2A 3HZ; +44 (0)207 613 4228; budget; Tuesday–Thursday 5 p.m.–1 a.m.; Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.–2 a.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.-midnight. Floripalondon.com
British: The Shed
If you want to skip the well-trodden route of afternoon tea, The Shed in Notting Hill offers a real taste of rural Britain.
Literally a shed, the wooden walls are decorated with old cart wheels and the bar stools had former lives as tractor seats.
From lamb chops to ox tongue and pig’s cheek, the food is rustic and wholesome. Much of the produce comes from the family’s Sussex farm.
We recommend kicking things off with a glass of Mead (ye olde English honey wine) or the family fizz, Nutty Brut.
122 Palace Gardens Terrace, W8 4RT; +44 (0)207 229 4024; moderate; Tuesday-Saturday noon-midnight; Theshed-restaurant.com
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