Mc & Sons Public House & Thai Kitchen
160 Union St., Southwark
We’re always up for a beer at a London pub. But a family-run Irish pub that swaps fish and chips for spicy pad see ew (proving that authentic Thai is best paired with a pint)? That’s the kind of pub that makes us regulars. A spin around the bar here reveals the rich family history behind Mc & Sons: Every inch of available wall space brings you face-to-photograph with members of the McElhinney family, whose patriarch, Jack, opened its doors in the ’70s. The next generation—Ryan, Joanne, and Johnny and his wife, Lailar—now runs the show. The interior was designed and built by the brothers; Ryan’s artwork is peppered throughout the pub; and the menu was created by Lailar, inspired by her Southeast Asian heritage. Those may be the delicious, design-driven details that make that make the pub a good-looking place to eat and drink, but it’s the authentic Irish spirit and hospitality (they show rugby games at 10 a.m.) and the extensive beer list that make this unlikely Irish ale-meets-Thai kitchen a goop favorite.
1 Bedale St., Southwark
The masterminds behind beloved Shoreditch institution Lyle’s opened their second restaurant amid fruit hawkers and oyster shuckers on London’s tastiest block of real estate—Borough Market. Flor is that around-the-corner casually excellent spot you look for when you move to a new neighborhood. It’s wine bar and it’s also a bakery; it’s the spot where you grab a coffee and croissant on the way to work and come back with friends for dinner. All the baked goods and bread are made from the finest British wheat milled at sister restaurant Lyle’s, and with produce fresh from local farms and an all-star kitchen, we will be treating Flor as our personal canteen next time we're in town.
Tacos El Pastor
6-7A Stoney St., Southwark
It always helps when the restaurateur has actually spent time in the place the cuisine they're peddling hails from. In the case of the Hart brothers—the guys behind the wildly successful, Barrafina—and their partner Crispin Somerville, they didn't just live in Mexico City, they also ran one of the best clubs that ever was: the sadly now-defunct El Colmillo. Armed with serious CDMX knowledge, they've managed to recreate the look and feel—albeit much more glamorous— of a typical city taqueria in the heart of London, no less. They built a custom taco machine (they will proudly show you if you ask) and brought in a master taquero over to London to show the team the ropes and man the Pastor for its opening weeks. They also use authentic, non-GMO grains from small producers, have a broad and respectable Mezcal list, and will serve you—in Spanish, if you like—with a big grin. Located in the heart of Borough Market, this spot oozes loud, buzzy Mexican vibras.
6 Southwark St., Southwark
From the gang behind North London's classic Italian joint, Trullo, comes Padella, a fast-paced, super affordable pasta bar in Borough Market. At this busy new spot, hand-rolled pasta is king: The main dining room consists mostly of a hulking open industrial kitchen where those with bar seating get to watch their meal being made. The menu is teensy and perfect, as are the classic Italian aperitivo-style cocktails. Our recommendation: If it's on the menu of the day, go for the beef shin ragu or the ricotta and sage ravioli.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
21 New Globe Walk, Southwark
The reconstruction of the original Shakespeare theater is one of the Bankside's most beautiful and character-laden structures. Much of the theater is standing only, which just adds to the authenticity. In addition to shows, tours of the building and exhibitions on Elizabethan theatre and Shakespearean London are on offer.
8 Southwark St., Southwark
Borough Market is London’s oldest market and offers a dizzying expanse of food options, most of them organic and fresh from the farm. For kids, weaving through the stalls (the baked goods and sweets offering is particularly on point) and taking in the sites and smells is a total blast. Since it's a covered space, it makes for a great rainy day excursion.
St. John Bakery
72 Druid St., Southwark
It all began with the Maltby Street Saturday Market, when St. John started selling its legendary breads (and then doughnuts) out the back of its bakery. Word spread among London’s foodies and very quickly the sourdoughs and indulgently overfilled custard and jam doughnuts started flying out the door. The logical next step was to make the bakery a proper spot to dine, and not just on Saturdays on the fly. We make the pilgrimage to South London for Welsh Rarebit on the best bread in town—all washed down with a good glass of wine.
20 Upper Ground, Southwark
Chef and restaurateur Seamus Mullen famously cured himself of rheumatoid arthritis by changing his diet and eating anti-inflammatory, seasonal foods: He wrote a book about it, Hero Food that we interviewed him about for goop. In New York, he's part of the vanguard that's transforming restaurant cuisine, making it as delicious as it is good for you. And now, he's hopped across the Atlantic and landed at the Sea Containers in London, bringing his unique brand of seasonal to the city for the first time. And, while guests devour his brand of Spanish/Mediterranean/Moroccan/deliciousness—think house-made ricotta, wild salmon crudo, lamb meatballs, oven-roasted flatbreads, and the like—they do so in a beautiful, Tom Dixon-designed space that overlooks the Thames.
The Tate features modern and contemporary art from 1900 to the present day in a huge renovated power station on the Bankside of the Thames. The outstanding Tate Collection, which is free to visit, is complemented by a series of contemporary art exhibitions that rotate through. Of course, London has it’s fair share of quality museums, but the Tate Modern is at the top of the list, especially following the museum’s recent renovation and expansion, which were completed this summer. After browsing the galleries here, follow GP’s favorite London walk: Head down to the river and then meander east along it toward Westminster Bridge. Take the foot path over the iconic bridge (you’ll see Big Ben on the other side), and then continue into historic, beautiful St. James Park, which leads to Buckingham Palace. After you see the royal home, head back in the other direction, taking Pall Mall, which connects to the central hub of Trafalgar Square.
Tate Modern, Southwark
After a long day of sight-seeing, even the most stoic foodies can succumb to the typically sub-par and soggy dining options inside most museums. Not so at the Tate Modern, whose award-winning, riverfront café pretty much blows other museum dining options out of the water. The full menu caters to adult and children's dining needs with everything from a light, flavorful smoked salmon salad (and a seriously good wine list) to perfectly crispy fish and chips. Did we mention that kids eat for free?
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