We've got to preface this article with the fact that London is enormous and the food options there are unparalleled anywhere in the world right now in our opinion, for quality, variety and value for money. The number of great places to eat is frankly overwhelming, which is why we've picked our all time favourites, in the hope that you can ignore the noise and get straight down to the good stuff. And if you're anything like else us you'll be so blown away that you'll immediately start booking your next trip - and we can provide a whole new list of recommendations.
If you're lucky enough to be there on a Saturday, Spa Terminus in Bermondsey is London's little secret. Wander through the industrial park and you'll find possible the world's best pastries from Little Bread Pedlar (buy them all, every one of them), Monmouth Coffee, eye-wateringly good sausage rolls from The Butchery, incredible cheese from Le Mons and Neal's Yard, and loads more of the city's best producers. It's where savvy south Londoners do their weekly shop, and it's blissfully tourist free. It's also just a 10/15 minute walk to Borough Market which unfortunately is packed to the rafters with tourists and a bit stressful at the best of times, but worth elbowing your way through for the doughnuts at Bread Ahead, which are nothing like the majority of what's currently on offer on the Dublin doughnut market.
If you're looking to sit down somewhere, Caravan is probably London's favourite brunch spot for dishes like jalapeño cornbread with tomatillos and feta, and grilled coconut bread with rhubarb and lemon curd. If you go to the one in King's Cross prepare for a heart-breaking queue. The ones in Bankside and the city don't tend to be as mental (*said hopefully*). The bacon and egg naans at Bombay-style Indian café Dishoom are a thing of hangover legend, especially washed down with their house chai, and for something a bit dirtier (but no less tasty) head to Chick n Sours for some of the most addictive fried chicken in town - sides of pickled watermelon salad and szechuan aubergine are mandatory.
London has so much great coffee that it's very hard to isolate a few, but that's what we're here for. Prufrock, Workshop Coffee and Kaffeine are three of the city's best, and unsurprisingly all have food offerings that are taken as seriously as the drinks.
There are so many options your head will spin if you think about it too much, so don't and just stick to our list. Padella is a must-do for the daily freshly made pasta at seriously good prices. Again, prepare to queue, but it moves fast and it's worth it. We also love Bar Tozino which is this perfect Spanish tapas bar under an arch near London Bridge with jamon hanging from every inch of the ceiling, a great sherry list and some of the best Spanish food we've had outside of Spain. We're also big fans of Breddos whose tacos are made fresh in house every day and packed full of the most delicious flavour combinations. Dublin unfortunately has nothing that comes close to these bad boys.
If you're feeling like something Asian or with a bit of spice, our top picks would be Bao in Soho/Fitzrovia, which are the best we've ever had, both for the bao buns and the fillings, Roti King in Euston for the flakiest, butteriest, crispiest roti imaginable, made to order and served with bowls of silky smooth dahl - you know the drill, you'll probably have to queue for this one - or for something a bit more upmarket head to Hoppers in Soho for better Sri Lankan food than we managed to find in Sri Lanka.
For dinner we've stayed away from super swanky as most of them you need to book sometimes months in advance, but all of these are at the top of their respective cuisines so we think you'll still be blown away. If you want to experience Chinese food that's the antithesis to chicken balls and spice bags, head for Xian Impression (near the Arsenal stadium - 100% worth the trip), for their cold skin noodles, biang biang hand-pulled noodles and beef buns. The first time we had lunch here we ordered the exact same again to take home for dinner - it's that good. For some of the best Israeli food in the city make your way to The Palomar for shakshukit and jars of polenta, truffle and asparagus, and for barbeque on another level head for Smokestak in Shoreditch for coal-roasted aubergine, pig's tails and brisket with pickles.
For more "I'm on holidays and I'm getting dressed up" options, it's hard to beat Andrew Edmunds, one of the oldest restaurants in London with consistently excellent food, a gorgeous room and sometimes jaw-droppingly low margins on wine. Ask for one of the tables upstairs in the window. If you want to feel like you're in Barcelona sit at the counter at Barrafina (several locations) eating Michelin-starred tapas, and for the whole shebang get yourself a table at Lyle's, which is just perfection from start to finish (and it would want to be, it's number 38 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants List).
London is without doubt one of the best cities in the world for wine lovers right now, and Dublin only sees a fraction of what's available to drink over there (but it's getting better all the time). Natural wines are King, and some of the most interesting places to settle in are 40 Maltby Street, Brawn and P. Franco, all with excellent food options too - prime Sunday lunch + all the wine material. If you want to really indulge, head to Noble Rot, which has one of the best, most varied and well-priced lists in the city (acknowledged earlier this year with a World Restaurant Award for their red wine list). There are world class bottles open daily by the glass here, and the seasonal, produce-focused food from chef Paul Weaver more than stands up to the wine.
Phew. After all that we need a nap, but there are still so many places we haven't told you about. Might have to do a part 2...