London is not short of dining options, with restaurants catering to all tastes and budgets. More than that, there are local restaurant chains present in many areas of the city serving great food at great prices. They are a good intermediate choice between a traditional fast-food and a full fledged restaurant. Once you know what is on offer, you are certain to get the same menus and standards in all properties. Different from the fast-food joints, at these locations you can have healthy and wholesome meals. Here is a list of some of my favorites:
LUPITA (3 branches), WAHACA (over 10 branches) and BENITO’S HAT (6 branches) serve Mexican food. While Benito’s Hat focuses on burritos and margaritas (well, not necessarily a real meal), Lupita and Wahaca have a wide range of dishes, both spicy and mild and many quite healthy with avocado, chicken and fish.
BUSABA (over 10 locations) dishes out great Thai food (and swanky cocktails) in very well designed restaurants, many of which have large communal tables. WAGAMAMA (over 10 branches) is a pan-Asian chain, also with long communal tables and great gyoza, ramen and fresh juices.
Burger fans will be happy with BYRON (over 10 branches), BURGER & LOBSTER (over 10 branches) and now even the American fast-food FIVE GUYS (over 10 branches) spread in almost every corner of London. Byron has nicely designed restaurants with really yummy burgers. For something a bit fancier, head to Burger & Lobster where they serve, well, burgers and lobsters (and drinks). Five Guys has become famous I really don’t know why. But since they are springing up like mushrooms and there is always a huge following, I thought it was worth mentioning here. Maybe it is the free toppings?
PIZZA EXPRESS (over 10 branches) is another chain you will get tired of seeing during your visit. They are all over the place because they are popular (since 1965) so expect a good pizza, risottos and a nice glass of wine. As people are more health-conscious, they also have fresh salads such as the tomato and fresh mozzarella.
If you are looking for a quick bite, some wi-fi, a clean toilet and good prices, there are plenty of fast-food joints a world away from what is served by McDonald’s and Burger King. LEON is good for salads with fresh vegetables, quinoa and couscous. TOSSED is more or less the same, with a few more choices of soups and sandwiches. For Asian fast-food head to ITSU, WASABI or KIMCHEE TO GO where you pick the food from the open fridges, pay at the cashier and head to your table. COSTA COFFEE and EAT. are great for a latte, smoothies and cakes, while my all time favorite is PRET A MANGER. I love their triangular sandwiches, the carrot cake, the ginger shot, the flat white and even the porridge. They are constantly putting new items on the menu and I always grab a banana or an apple for later. Some are open in the evenings with a more restaurant-like menu. Also keep an eye to their new venture VEGGIE PRET. Bon ap!