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.
The Village Pub
The Village Pub serves excellent food every night of the week, but the Sunday lunch is otherworldly. A typical plate looks like this: thin slices of tender meat, extra-crispy roasted potatoes, airy Yorkshire puddings, and lashings of buttery vegetables all doused in a rich gravy. It’s intended to be a drawn-out, almost ceremonial affair. Everyone eats too much and somehow still finds room for apple tart, fruit crumble, or sticky toffee pudding). It’s all followed by a long ramble through the ridiculously lush Barnsley House grounds afterward. (It’s no surprise that the property was, at one time owned by a famous gardener—the late Rosemary Verey.) Food aside, the setting—low ceilings, blazing fires, sofas scattered with tartan cushions—invites you to sit, stay, and read the newspapers with a cup of coffee or perhaps a glass of port.
The Wild Rabbit
Church St., Kingham
With flagstone walls, streams of natural light, and elegance in spades, the eighteenth-century Wild Rabbit is worth every mile it takes to get there. And it takes a lot. The Wild Rabbit is the smaller sister property to nearby Daylesford, and its pub menu—most of it sourced from Carole Bamford’s organic farm—is solidly British. By which we mean Cheddar cheese tartlets, venison paired with creamy celeriac and sharp chicory, thick-cut chips, buttery vegetables, and proper puddings. On the somewhat lighter side, we loved the smoked salmon on nutty pumpernickel and balsamic onions. The pub also operates as an inn. Spacious guest rooms are next-level comfortable (and an excellent value at roughly £150 a night) with inviting armchairs, product-laden bathrooms, and cashmere throws strewn across the spacious beds.
Ox Barn Restaurant
If you’re not staying at Thyme (though we highly suggest that you do), book in for supper at the cavernous yet cozy Ox Barn Restaurant. It’s helmed by the owner’s son (and Ballymaloe alum) Charlie Hibbert, and his brand of Cotswold cooking is just as homey, hearty, and farm-to-table as you would expect, but elevated. Hibbert doesn’t go for rustic plating and simple preparation. Instead, a leisurely lunch or dinner at the Ox Barn might involve braised beef livened up with pickled walnuts and punchy salsa verde, with a salad of speck, kohlrabi, and local apples on the side. To finish, maybe a small bowl of fig ice cream? All artfully presented, of course. Having lunch there provides an excuse to wander the grounds with daylight on your side, poke around the carefully curated shop (we love the antique champagne coupes, vintage tea sets, and linen tablecloths), and thumb through the design books at the Baa Bar. Maybe with a glass of champagne.
1 Westgate St., Hackney
Bright is exactly that. Tables are a bleached blonde, sun-saturated wood; walls are creamy linen white that borders on yellow; and the restaurant’s front is made entirely of glass. Settle into the high stools and rest against the wall. Bright speaks to the diner who wants to sink their teeth into perfectly toasted sourdough glistening with paper-thin cured pork belly, grilled radicchio stalks drowned in preserved cherries, and ropes of tagliolini swirled in porcini butter. And then there’s the wine. The owners are also the mavericks behind P. Franco and Noble Rot (two beloved London wine establishments), and the list is in line with their low-intervention, small-growers-only credo.
Din Tai Fung
5 Henrietta St., Covent Garden
Ask any Los Angeleno which restaurant justifies a slow crawl across the I-10 on a weeknight and the answer is almost always Din Tai Fung. The experience runs like a finely oiled machine from start to finish, to the point that it's (blessedly) predictable and outrageously tasty. Now, with an outpost open in Covent Garden, Londoners can breathe easy. Yes, you will wait, but you’ll wait with a ticket and a tick-the-box menu for no longer than half an hour. Once you’re seated, those delectable soup dumplings will be on the table in minutes, and the whole thing will cost you less than your weekly coffee order.
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.
30 Henrietta St., Covent Garden
London is the kind of city where residents find it perfectly reasonable to eat sashimi flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market for lunch and an authentic Bangladeshi curry for dinner. Global cuisine is London cuisine—and vice versa. But when all you crave is unintimidating, wholesome grub executed well (especially before a night at the theater), Cora Pearl delivers. From the same people as Mayfair’s Kitty Fisher’s, the menu is made for rainy Sundays when only a rare roast beef and Yorkshire pudding will do. Monday through Saturday however, Cora Pearl's ham and cheese toastie with pickles, proper thick-cut chips, and old-fashioned trifle to share keep us quiet and contentedly well-fed.
4 St. James's Market, St. James
Mayfair and St. James have a reputation for being stuffy and formal (which they are), but these days, some of the capital’s best food is hiding behind the neighborhoods' shiny storefronts. That’s Scully. Chef Ramuel Scully is a global citizen, with Chinese, Indian, Irish, and Balinese heritage plus a Sydney upbringing, and you can taste all that on the plate. Dinner at Scully might look something like: slow-cooked eggplant paired with preserved lemons and spoonfuls of creamy curd, chili-marinated goat tempered with cooling labneh, the best tomato salad of your life, and a wine list that stands up to the food. And the interior is that classic medley of elegant greys and an open kitchen synonymous with upscale dining from London to Los Angeles. But the jars of pickles and ferments, the sheer artistry of each plate, and the feverish excitement when you finally get to dig in push Scully to the top of our reservation list.
11 Harrington Rd., Kensington
Lunch on the go can be a conundrum. One the one hand, you know you should eat something healthy and green. But you also want to feel full and not have to go miles out of your way to pick it up. For those based in West London, there’s Squirrel. The menu of build-your-own bowls is full of proteins, vegetables, and tasty add-ins like feta, avocado, and pickled onions, which make these salads feel like full-on meals. They are filling enough to stave off the dreaded 3 p.m. hunger pangs, but light enough to stop any midafternoon snoozing at your desk. Our standing order when in town is chicken or salmon mixed with nutty quinoa, kale, pickled onions, and a boiled egg—all tossed in a citrusy sumac dressing. You can order for delivery or pickup, and it never takes more than thirty minutes for your biodegradable bowl to arrive or be ready. Best of all, it’s consistent, and lunch is exactly as you order it every time.