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One foodie's day in London?? Suggestions needed

Hi. I will be passing through London shortly for 2 days of work, and have one full Saturday to myself. I'm looking for recommendations for an easy day (I will have just flown for 26 hours) of foodie fun - I was planning to visit the Borough Market, but most of the posts from other Chowhounds make it sound like it will be hellishly busy. Other ideas? I love good markets (just returned from a year in France), am on a comfortable budget (would be happy to spend 100+ pounds in the day), and probably favour the casual over the formal or haute cuisine. I'm travelling solo, and will be staying at the Royal Horseguards in Whitehall Court. Suggestions appreciated! Thanks.

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  1. Borough will be busy but I will still recommend it - if you aren't in a hurry the crowds won't bother you (it's when I want to pop in quickly to buy something for dinner they are a pain!). There are also a couple of great pubs there - so make sure you stop in for a pint.

    For lunch/dinner there are loads of places you could try and many are good for solo dining (perhaps check another current thread on this subject). I would suggest Arbutus in Soho, where you can sit at the bar (excellent food) or if you do Borough in the morning, visit the Anchor and Hope in Waterloo for lunch, for Great British 'gastropub' cooking. Or wander over the bridge to Covent Garden to Great Queen St, their sister pub (on Great Queen St).

    Not sure if you have been to London before, but it is surprisingly small and if you are willing, many places are walkable, and you will soak up so much more. Enjoy your stay (from one kiwi to another!)

    10 Replies
    1. re: pj26

      Echo these suggestions. Get to Borough early and pootle and graze. Drink in one of the pubs, titbits from the stalls, then late lunch at Anchor & Hope or Masters Superfish. Deposit purchases at hotel, kip, then back out. You could do a little solo bar/tapas hop based around propping up various Italian/Spanish counters - check out Spuntino/Polpetto/Barrafina/Saltyard.

      1. re: helen b

        Translation for Americans... titbits = tidbits. Oh, you Brits.

        1. re: zuriga1

          Don't worry - I'm from NZ, so I knew what was meant!!

          1. re: kiwichowhound

            Yeah Zuriga, SOME ex colonies still speak the Queen's English ;)

            And Kiwi, forgot Bocca di Lupo amongst your barhop list.

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            Bocca di Lupo
            12 Archer St, London, England W1D 7, GB

      2. re: pj26

        London is surprisingly small? Compared to what? Certainly not to Paris, and not to any city that I can think of.

        1. re: cathodetube

          Los Angeles? Auckland? Sydney, list is endless. My point is, looking at an AtoZ things look further away than they actually are, and many places are walkable, and you get to see so much more than getting the tube. My example was, go to Borough, walk to Waterloo, walk across the bridge to Covent Garden. Are you saying that's not walkable?

          1. re: pj26

            London is a city of around 13-14 million inhabitants and covers many thousand square miles. It actually qualifies as a megacity.

            It's way bigger than all of those cities you've mentioned.

            1. re: spli

              Covers many thousand square miles? No it doesn't. Try several hundred square miles.

              My point is, you can walk around to some major sites and foodie destinations. No need for cars, public transport etc. The OP is staying centrally, and can get to many of the places mentioned by foot. I'm just trying to help out a tourist, not give geography lessons.

            2. re: pj26

              The example you have mentioned is walkable. Of course it depends on how used to walking you are. And, if you are carrying shopping. Buses are also a great option, far, far better than using the tube. You see more as well. But, London is not surprisingly small and I am really surprised you would even write that.

              1. re: pj26

                I will stick up for you. London is a much more walkable city than Los Angeles and many others. I always laugh at how I used to take the Tube when a tourist and then realize how short a distance I'd gone. Manhattan is the same. One can really walk all over without using any public transit. The others are talking more about population size and not square miles etc.

            1. Brixton Village. And don't miss Las Americas (outside BV on Popes Road) for a medley of superb Colombian snacks: bunuelos, empanadas, and if freshly made, arepas.

              1. i agree with the brixton suggestion. alternatively, i really like broadway market if the weather is nice.

                you can get off the tube at angel, pop into paul young (camden passage) for wonderful chocolates/brownies and then head right down st peter's street to join up with the canal which you can walk along until you hit broadway - the towpath cafe is nice if you want to stop en route.

                the market has a wonderful mix of food stalls, most of which are selling stuff you can snack on there - i love the falafel guy and the gujerati kitchen (wonderful veggie food). the vietnamese coffee is also worth a try (do a search on "broadway" on this board and you'll get other recommendations.

                you can then head off via colombia road - the flower market will not be on but a few shops are open and you can stop at brawn for a drink. head towards old street (there's lots of graffitti in this area, if you're interested in that) or take a route via brick lane through to liverpool street and moorgate.

                if your feet aren't too tired you could then head to london bridge (or get the tube) and visit borough (or do it the opposite way round - i think grazing at broadway is better than borough).

                1 Reply
                1. re: abby d

                  I like the Broadway Market crawl idea; I like the churros stall there and am also a fan of Buen Ayre, the Argentinian steak house (for a grazing crawl, will have to exercise a lot of restraint and perhaps go with a starter or so -- the beef tongue is a good one).

                  Some older threads:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/651499
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/736941
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/727492

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                  Buen Ayre
                  50 Broadway Market, Hackney, England E8 4, GB

                2. Thanks for all the suggestions. Tomorrow is my day for wandering so will report how I get on! Am certainly up for the walk - walked to Borough after I arrived yesterday (good to stretch the legs after 24 hours on a plane!) and got there as things were closing up, but will definitely be good for more tomorrow.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kiwichowhound

                    If you go to Borough again then why not try Maltby Street Market nearby. It has a website.