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Moving to London - Where to live for a die-hard foodie?

Just found out work is moving me to London for at least six months and likely longer. My office will be located on the Strand. The question is ... where should I live to maximize the foodie opportunities in London? ... Factors to consider:

1. Avid restaurant diner, but equally if not more avid home chef

2. Prefer hole-in-the-wall ethnic dives rather than "au courant" spots of the moment.

3. Access to a quality grocery store, ethnic markets, and especially produce stands is a must.

4. Prefer to keep the commute under 30-40 minutes.

5. Want to live in a nicer one bedroom -- budget roughly 400GBP a week.. .

Many thanks in advance... very excited to explore the city in more depth!

Brian (xerxesny)

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  1. I'd say East London (but then I would as that's where I live!). There's some great markets (Broadway, Brick Lane, Ridley Road, Columbia Road), lots of ethnic supermarkets (on of the the best areas for Viet Namese restaurants, loads of Vietnamese shops which stock all kinds of ingredients), also Indian, Bengali, Pakistani supermarkets. Also fantastic butchers - Ginger Pig in Hackney and a few new fish shops have opened up recently in Broadway Market and Victoria Park Village.

    Some of the most exciting restaurant openings have also been East recently - Bawn and Viajante, then there's also lots of places around Shoreditch, Old St, Spitalfields.

    And you are about a 15 - 20 minute bus ride in to the Strand (or less on the tube).

    Did you want to spend £400 for a room in a shared house? That should be fine but you would srtuggle to find a decent one bedroom place on your own for that in London.

    1. There was this thread:


      and I think Greenwich to Charing Cross is a 20-minute train ride.

      Also £400 a week should be fine, I think pj might have read it as 400 a month!

      1 Reply
      1. re: gembellina

        oops, yes I did, sorry, £400 will be fine!

      2. I'll throw my lot in for London Bridge/Borough, since that's where I live. Here too is a vibrant (though debated) market scene with Borough Market, Bermondsey Market and Maltby Street Market making the shortlist

        Bermondsey street has a small but interesting mix of places and it is growing with the additions of Jose and Zucca. There is some nicer dining as well, with Magdalen being my favorite in the hood.

        There is a nice set of interesting bars, from The Rake (good mix of beers) to the Gladstone (hipster, roackability fun) to Village East (NY-like EV bar).

        It is also close to the excellent East London places PJ lists as well as being central to most else (20 min to Chinatown, 20 min to Spitalfields, 25 min to Edgeware road for Lebanese, 25 min to excellent Pakistani grills, etc).

        I used to work on the Strand and it was a pleasant 25-30 min walk in. Otherwise a 15 min tube ride.

        Easy to get a nice 1 bed for your budget, including some interesting warehouse conversions.


        Village East
        171-173 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UW, GB

        1. If you lived round Waterloo you could easily walk to work. Over Waterloo Bridge and you are at the bottom of the Strand. Much nicer than getting on a tube. Or pick up a bus easily if it is raining. Lots of foodie goings on the Southbank in general. It is also easy to get to London Bridge, Maltby Street, Bermondsey from there. You would also be close to Elephant and Castle, Peckham and Camberwell which have good hole in the wall type places to eat as well as ethnic shops/markets. Peckham has some nice areas to live in and for your budget you would get a 2 or 3 bed house if you wanted.

          Brixton has a lively food scene too. Lots of buses there (can you see a theme - I don't like the tube) but it is at the end of the Victoria line.

          Or maybe the west part of Clerkenwell. Or the eastern side of Holborn/Bloomsbury. You could easily walk to work from there.

          1. With that budget, I'd go for Waterloo or Borough and walk to work. I live in Brixton/Herne Hill and love it but it's not for everyone. Great food/market scene though, and it will only take half an hour to get to the Strand.

            1. Brixton - but it depends on you liking the area. Sure it's gentrified a bit now, but it's by no means trendy.

              Otherwise somewhere east like Dalston gives you access to amazing Turkish and above average Vietnamese restaurants, as well as Ridley Rd and Broadway Markets. You'll also be close to Bethnal Green (Viajante/The Corner Room), Old St/Shoreditch with buses going south to Spitalfields and London Bridge (and from there Maltby St and Bermondsey - which now has Zucca and Jose). Also it's a great area if you're interested in things other than food.

              1. Hey Brian:

                I am the one who asked the question in the link below. I have since moved to London and am really enjoying. Certainly a different food scene than NYC (I lived in Hells Kitchen). I have moved to Marylebone, which I quite like. I work long hours, and there are many dining options. The local markets stay open until 10pm. Marylebone High Street has a great butcher and cheesemonger. I do enjoy Borough Market (early in the AM), which is an easy tube ride away. Crazy as it may seem, a 1 bedroom in Marylebone for £400pw is considered a good deal, so best of luck with your search. If you have any further questions, please let me know via a personal email. Would be happy to share my learnings. Good luck!

                1. I am (or was or will be again, God willing) a transplanted New Yorker in London. I was in the east for pretty much my whole stay, but I'd point you a bit further west.

                  Shoreditch has already been recommended and I would second it. Lots of good food in the area. It also places you very conveniently to get to Brick Lane, Spitalfields, Whitechapel Market, etc.

                  Deptford is also fantastic without being particularly grimy. The local rail operates very frequently and gets you to London Bridge or Waterloo in about 10 minutes. The local food scene is fantastic with London's best Vietnamese restaurants, very respectable (sometimes excellent in the case of Chaconia) Caribbean food and decent West African. The market is one of the best in London, IMO. The area's got an interesting mix of immigrants, some old East End types, Goldsmiths Students, artists and professionals. Some of the older housing stock is very nice and it would be well within your budget.

                  You could also consider Shepherds Bush which I think was already mentioned below. It's a lot like Shoreditch in that it's a great base to explore further afield, but it still has good local stuff. Shepherds Bush Market is also excellent while Westfield presents you with the other side of the coin. It's also a lot cheaper than nearby Notting Hill, but nowhere near as shady as Ladbroke Grove.

                  Brixton would also be excellent. Amazing food scene, great access to South London, etc. It's getting very gentrified though. Live it before it's gone?

                  29 Replies
                  1. re: JFores

                    Wouldn't recommend Shepherds Bush at all if working in Waterloo. Don't think David Cameron would like to hear you say that Ladbroke Grove is shady as it is right near where he has his former family home rented out. Ladbroke Grove is where Notting Hill proper starts out.

                    1. re: cathodetube

                      I wouldn't recommend Shepherd's Bush full stop. I work there and find it very uninspiring.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        Ha! It's the 'edgy' part of West London, and I have never cared for it. Too many BBC people.....

                        1. re: cathodetube

                          Don't worry, lots of us are moving to Central London soon - personally I can't wait. Will miss Damas Gate and the Nut House but think of all the other food options that central has to offer!

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            I actually meant the employees who live there. Used to work for them in Portland Place. Much more interesting place to be I agree.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              GG - I hear Salford is great - good for a curry.

                      2. re: JFores

                        With all due respect to you , JFores, you've only lived in London for 5 minutes. People have been saying that Brixton is becoming gentrified for, literally, decades! I think it will always retain its edge, despite the hype that Brixton Village is currently getting. Here's a write-up from today's Metro:


                        1. re: greedygirl

                          I dunno about that. I did my grocery shopping in Brixton every weekend for the whole of 2007-2008 and it was a completely different area. My former butcher is new a vegan restaurant. Brixton Village has changed completely (mostly for the better), the crowd on the streets is very different and property prices are skyrocketing.

                          It'll retain it's edge because of the estates and because neighboring areas like Streatham won't be gentrifying anytime soon, but it definitely feels different from only 3-4 years ago.

                          1. re: JFores

                            The gentrification goes in waves. Brixton Village actually feels like a different place to the rest of Brixton, especially on a Saturday. The market proper is largely still the same. Property prices have skyrocketed everywhere - I bought a flat for £60K here back in 1995.

                            And, someone was beaten to death right outside Brixton Village a few weeks ago on a Saturday lunchtime, while the hipsters inside shopped and ate obliviously. Gang/drug-related violence, no doubt, but still....

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Isn't it interesting how South London centric this thread is - any takers for North London??

                              How about Islington?

                              1. re: Nii

                                My niece lived in Maida Vale for awhile in a nice one-bedroom that wasn't over this person's budget. She liked the food scene up north and was sad to leave. She worked right off Oxford St. near Bond so the world was her oyster.

                                1. re: zuriga1

                                  Maida Vale is actually West London.

                                  1. re: cathodetube

                                    Yes, but when one lives in Surrey, everything north of the river seems North. I stand corrected. :-)

                                    1. re: zuriga1

                                      What did your niece like about the food scene up north? I am originally a North West Londoner. I am not drawn to anything up there anymore.

                                      1. re: cathodetube

                                        I don't think my niece restricted her eating to the north. She had friends all over London and was in lots of different neighbourhoods. I guess she had a few places nearby where she lived, but I don't know what they were.

                                2. re: Nii

                                  Nothing really worth mentioning in North London apart from the Bull and Last! And Islington is full of chain pubs/restaurants (sweeping generalisation I know but it's really not a foodie area compared to East London or Brixton)

                                  1. re: Nii

                                    Gilak, 500, Cafe Del Parc, St John's Tavern (unrelated to to St John's in Clerkenwell et al), Madhi (branch near Swiss Cottage), Asakusa, Eatzone, Lanka, Queen of Sheba, Chez Liline, Little Sardegna etc.

                                    1. re: limster


                                      Why is there a Liverpool restaurant mention in your post?

                                      1. re: cathodetube

                                        Looks like a problem with the autolinking; will have to get these links removed.

                                        1. re: cathodetube

                                          The locations are various, from Archway to Kentish Town to Mornington Crescent to Finsbury Park. I think or others have posted on all of them and they should be pulled up by a search.

                                          1. re: limster

                                            Mornington Crescent is barely North (west) London as it is just above the Euston Road. That to me is Central. As is most of NW1. It would be interesting to define what is North London seeing as there is NW, N, and then you get into the East part, ie Walthamstow. Not everything north of the river is north, ie Victoria is SW postcode. Kingsbury area (NW) as a lot of SE Asian restaurants. You could call Edgware Road North, even though it is West. I would hate to be a newly arrived visitor when trying to figure out the post-coding.

                                            1. re: cathodetube

                                              Was using approximations based on Nii's post - i.e. counting Islington as North.

                                      2. re: Nii

                                        Green Lanes for Turkish - in particular Antepliler Ciger Salonu for offal and kunefe.
                                        Local Friends in Golders Green for Hunan (although I haven't been in a while).
                                        West Green Rd for Caribbean.

                                        1. re: emusinthezone

                                          Two or three restaurants does not make a food 'destination'!

                                          1. re: pj26

                                            i dont think the thread has been south-centric! ppl were mentioning shoreditch, dalston, hackney etc - thats not south

                                            1. re: t_g

                                              I have to say, I like Islington!

                                            2. re: pj26

                                              Actually about 15 have been mentioned (not counting the many destination worthy Turkish places in Green Lanes) but I'd also add Muna's for Eritrean, Le Chamarel and Mauritian Paradise in Turnpike Lane, Delhi Grill in Islington, Yumcha in Chalk Farm for dimsum, Salt Beef Bar and B&K for salt beef. I'm sure others can add more.

                                              I wouldn't argue that it outranks South or East London but it's not the wasteland some people are making it out to be.

                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                      I agree, Brixton Market aside, it's still pretty edgy/dodgy. There's little pockets of gentrification but you can say that about pretty much most places in London.

                                      1. re: pj26

                                        I live in Clapham South which is most definitely not foodie in itself, but you're a 2-min tube/15 mins walk to Tooting for south Asian restaurants and groceries, a ten-min bus to Brixton, and a 15-min tube to London Bridge/Borough/Maltby. There's a nice fishmonger, and 4 butchers in walking distance. There are a few nice restaurants nearby, and it's easy for travelling to other parts of London for more adventurous eating. It's pretty and safe and it has the Common, but it's certainly not edgy or trendy or cool in any way! And you'd have to be able to put up with lots of pushchairs and children on scooters...

                                  2. Brixton, there's a great thread on here about it,http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/698606.

                                    I'm a diehard Sth Londoner though, currently cooling my heels in Aus for a bit of work.

                                    1. Is London going to be very different from where you live now?

                                      What do you think will change about how you cook?

                                      Sounds challenging to start a new job and impress a food blog?

                                      Congratulations on the promotion.


                                      1. Clerkenwell and walk to work! I would love to live in Clerkenwell but it's way out of my price range. Honestly - if you are working on the Strand there's so many nice areas within walking distance which is a luxury most of us don't have - if you can avoid London public transport for work and just use it for fun times out on evenings and weekends to explore further afield you will really enjoy London. Plus you will get to know London a lot better than looking at a tube map which bears no resemblance to what's actually happening at street level. Walking is the best! Commuting in London is dire and expensive. The strikes, the engineering works, the signal faults, general unexplained delays... Or if not Clerkenwell you could live quite centrally (Bloomsbury?) and shop at say the Korean on Store Street, Berwick Street Market, Chinatown, the Japanese shop on Brewer Street and also on Brewer Street is Lina Stores a wonderful Italian deli. To me £400/week rent for a 1-bed sounds like a lot. I would think you could live centrally for that.

                                        Forget Dalston no matter how "trendy" it has become (I lived in Dalston/Hackney/Shoreditch from 1994-2005 and still have to go there often - it just seems like some big joke)

                                        Islington is an uneasy (and often dangerous - lots of muggings) mix of rich and estates and boring chain restaurants. The farmers market is not very good and very overpriced - "I saw you coming!" (from a "funny 'cause it's true" comedy sketch)

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: themags

                                          The Korean on Store Street is defunct. That said, I agree: Bloomsbury is a wonderful place to live, and if I weren't here and could afford it, I would like to live in Clerkenwell. It's easy to get to almost anywhere else in London. In addition to those mentioned above, Drummond Street is close by, I can stroll to Chinatown, and a bus goes straight from Russell Square to the Maltby Street market. Another goes straight to Dalston. A Boris bike to Angel, Marylebone Farmer's Market or London Bridge takes 10-20 minutes. And the value of walking or biking to work is greater than diamonds.

                                          The Clerkenwell
                                          69-73 St. John Street, London EC1M 4AN, GB

                                          1. re: tavegyl

                                            Oh - didn't know the Store St. Korean was gone. Went there every day when I was studying across the street but that was a few years back. I guess there's still the Korean shop in the shadow of Centrepoint? I'm not in the West End/Soho anywhere near as much as I used to be as I'm now self-employed and living in Walthamstow - E17 is London's best-kept secret - but I wouldn't begin to recommend it to someone with £400/week as you could buy the entire borough of Waltham Forest on that budget ;-)

                                            1. re: themags

                                              It just closed down a few months ago: they've been doing up Store Street and it was one of the casualties. I don't know the shop near Centrepoint - I'll have to look it up! I'm in the market for some nice metal chopsticks.

                                          2. re: themags

                                            Totally agree about Islington. The chain aspect is depressing. The cinema is the only redeeming feature.

                                            Re farmers market, I find that the Brixton one has become very expensive. I have reverted to visiting Peckham now on Sunday.

                                            1. re: cathodetube

                                              We are about to leave London, but must put in a plug for our farmer's market in Stoke Newington and neighborhood in general. It sells phenomenal produce - all local, all organic- and is related to the Growing Communities box scheme. The neighborhood, Stoke Newington, is a lovely mix of the yuppy and the face tattooed, and the rare face tattooed yuppy. There is a Whole Foods (stocks big bags of masa harina), plenty of Turkish grocers with great produce and ingredients. Local restaurants aren't sublime, even veg rasa has slipped quite a bit. But the Jolly Butcher's pub has great ales. 76 bus goes direct to the Strand.

                                          3. Thanks for all the responses so far (and keep 'em coming if people have more ideas). My boss just threw a wrench into my plans and suggested Melbourne instead... Still want to go to London!

                                            Many non-foodies recommended Islington and I was a bit underwhelmed on a recent visit. I am glad that others confirmed my suspicions (a bit too chain for my taste).

                                            I have a habit of "settling" for the nice and easy yuppie villes and hating them so I am hoping I have the courage to venture to a more "real" environment this time.

                                            Thanks again, Brian

                                            13 Replies
                                            1. re: xerxesny

                                              Some of the more bonkers and amusing chowhound posts I've ever seen on this thread.

                                              I particularly liked 'there's nowhere to eat in north London other than the Bull and Last'. I know this place is a broken record sometimes but that's ludicrous. Too many people commenting here who have patently not lived in London long enough (with some obvious exceptions such as GreedyGirl). I'd be very careful about advice to live in Shepherds Bush, Holborn, Waterloo or Deptford or ignore the entirety of north London.

                                              Clerkenwell is an excellent recommendation I think for both food and work. Islington is a brilliant place to live - I assume that anyone decrying it probably walked down Upper Street on a Saturday. And the cinema is the only redeeming aspect??
                                              Shoreditch, Bethnal and Hackney tick some of the boxes although the commute could be a pain depending on where you are.
                                              Brixton would tick all the boxes I think from the OP's comments.

                                              Most of the places recommended fall into two categories:
                                              'Yuppie villages' which are nonetheless excellent foodie places to live: London Bridge/Bermondsey Street, Islington and to some extent Shoreditch.
                                              Slightly edgier more interesting areas: Hackney, Bethnal Green, Brixton.

                                              As a general rule you'll get a much much better flat for your money in the latter but the commute will be more of a pain.

                                              The Clerkenwell
                                              69-73 St. John Street, London EC1M 4AN, GB

                                              1. re: ManInTransit

                                                Thank you for writing this so I didn't have to - my thought when I read those comments about Islington was "oi, Upper St is not the whole of Islington."

                                                I live there. It's amazing. And to weigh in with my credentials - I've only been in London 3 years. I've lived in Haringey (Wood Green + Turnpike Lane), Islington (Highbury) and Tower Hamlets (Bow). I've never lived South of the river, so I can't comment on which is better.

                                                And my 2p to add is that Highbury Barn has a very cute range of food stores - good butcher, deli, cheese store, fish and chips. Also, I would like £400 a week for rent.

                                                1. re: ultimatepotato

                                                  We moved to Islington earlier this year and would love to hear your foodie recs for the area. We've found a few gems, but also a whole lot of dross!

                                                  1. re: souhaite

                                                    There is a lot of dross, as so nicely pointed out by other contributers. I didn't mean to say that I'd pick Islington as the best foodie destination, just that I thought people were being a little harsh about my beloved area.

                                                    In saying that, there are several places that I love for different reasons:

                                                    Dotori - Korean & Japanese, in a truly dire location by Finsbury Park tube station. Delicious sushi, bibimbap and more. Prices reflect the location.

                                                    On Upper St itself, along with that 'great cinema', I like Le Mercury - a French restaurant at which I've had great times. One of my friends does however refer to it as 'Allo 'Allo. I think he was being vaguely dismissive, but it's hard to tell. Ottolenghi has its largest branch in Islington too - and yes, it's a chain. But I like what they do.

                                                    Also Upper St, I like Gallipoli Bazar for the room, but Pasha for the food (Turkish/Lebanese).

                                                    Something different - Iberia, a Georgian place in Caledonian Rd.

                                                    The Highbury Barn part of Highbury boasts good gourmet shops as I said above, but I also rate The Beach Hut for fish and chips. Moving down through Highbury and onto Blackstock Rd, a less prettied up area, I like Small and Beautiful, The Globe Cafe (breakfasts) and Little Sardegna.

                                                    Please note that I have a limited budget and in no way am I comparing these places to the finest reastaurants in London, of which I have been to a scant few. What I am recommending here are the places that I love, where I have had delicious food, great service and a fantastic time.

                                                    Islington (Sundays) and Stoke Newington (Staurdays) Farmers Markets are definitely worth a visit for fresh and ready-to-eat food.

                                                    Apologies if I'm a completely different wavelength to what you're looking for and happy exploring!

                                                    1. re: ultimatepotato

                                                      Oregano, just by the cinema, is a good local spot for pizza. I agree, people are being a little harsh about Islington. It may lack outstanding foodiness, but the general standard is higher than most parts of London. Ottolenghi's cakes and prepared salads are very good indeed, and there is also a good fishmonger on the Essex Road.

                                                      1. re: tavegyl

                                                        ... forgot to mention Paul Young the chocolatier.

                                                        1. re: tavegyl

                                                          Thanks, both. That's exactly what I was looking for . . . the reliable local stuff, not necessarily the Michelin-starred.

                                                      2. re: ultimatepotato

                                                        Ottolenghi is great. In Islington, for food shopping, I also love Olga's Stores, just a really cracking deli.

                                                        1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                                                          Islington: There's also The Breakfast club in the passage near P.Young which I like and this lovely little bakery along the Essex road whose name escapes me. I also like Fig and Olive, which is sort of like Ottolenghi.

                                                  2. re: ManInTransit

                                                    Clerkenwell is NOT north London. North of the river? Yes. North London? No! And please do note I caveated my post with the fact it was a sweeping generalisation but please, compared to a few other places in London, Islington is not a food destination.

                                                    Clerkenwell is great, yes. But not much of a buzz over the weekend, which is why I suggested east London - loads going on over the week and so much to choose from, from Michelin starred places to local eats, markets and 'ethnic' places. I don't think Clerkenwell can truly match this?

                                                    The Clerkenwell
                                                    69-73 St. John Street, London EC1M 4AN, GB

                                                    1. re: pj26

                                                      hackney roolz everywhere else droolz is pretty much how it goes imo

                                                      1. re: pj26

                                                        Could you point out where I suggested Clerkenwell was north London? It's obviously not but you can throw a stone from a flat I own there into Islington N1.

                                                        I guess there's no accounting for taste and people are free to recommend that someone rents a flat in Holborn or Waterloo or misguidedly put down Islington's chain restaurants and yuppies (good cinema though apparently). Just a good example for me of how important it is to filter internet commentary.

                                                        The Clerkenwell
                                                        69-73 St. John Street, London EC1M 4AN, GB

                                                        1. re: ManInTransit

                                                          Please don't forget the banksters in Islington! Bloomsbury is another recommendation but it is cheek by jowl with Holborn.

                                                  3. lol.

                                                    £400 a week would get you a small house in the nicer part of Brixton - the bit which I live in of course which is close to Brockwell Park and Herne Hill, yet still only 5 minutes from Brixton Village, which is truly exciting food-wise atm, and 10 minutes from the tube. Shopping-wise, both Brixton and Herne Hill have some good options. It's probably one of the best areas of London to live in if you like fish as there are numerous fishmongers. And Nour Cash and Carry in Market Row is a treasure trove of ethnic ingredients. A&C Continental is a fantastic deli which recently won an award and is a proper neighbourhood spot with reasonable prices. Despite what some might say, Brixton is definitely not a yuppie village, although HHill is heading that way.

                                                    Will you have the opportunity for a recce? I think your best option is to visit some of the area mentioned and see whether you like the atmosphere. When I moved to London I'd never even considered Brixton but we came to look at a flat and fell in love with the area - so much so that I've lived within a half-mile radius for the best part of 20 years!

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      In North London, I think Clerkenwell is a lovely area, close to Exmouth Market and within walking distance of Covent Garden etc. I'd also consider Kentish Town - not as posh as Hampstead but still close to the Heath.

                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        Angel (Islington) isn't very exciting for restaurants, (leaving aside the ones mentioned above, plus the lovely Olga Stores) but has good cafes, an excellent street market (Chapel Market) with a wide range of cheap good fruit and veg, plus some Bangladeshi stalls last time I was there) and has a Waitrose (definitely the best local supermarket if you're serious about cooking). It also has an excellent butcher (Elliott's) and fishmonger (Steve Hatt's) more or less next door to each other on Essex Road. It's within easy reach of excellent Turkish shops and restaurants in Green Lanes and Dalston, Vietnamese shops and restaurants in Shoreditch, Ridley Road Market in Dalston for Caribbean/African food, Godfrey's butchers and La Fromagerie at Highbury Barn, and Clerkenwell for interesting high-end restaurants. It's also a short hop by tube from Borough, and cycling distance or a 15 minute bus ride from the Strand.

                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          NB Kentish Town has a fantastic Lebanese supermarket and cafe: the Phoenicia Food Hall.