London is a culinary capital and food tours here are becoming more and more popular. But at Free Tours By Foot we think paying upwards of £50.00 for a food tour isn’t necessarily affordable and value for money. So we’ve put together a self-guided food tour that is absolutely FREE to take – aside from the tasty treats you’ll need to purchase yourself!
This food tour takes place in the popular London neighbourhoods of Soho, Chinatown and Piccadilly. A popular place to eat for both locals and tourists alike, there’s a huge diverse culinary culture here which means you’ll be tasting food from all over the world, and eating like a true London “foodie.”
Click map to enlarge or click here for movable map.
[Note: You can do this tour in the morning or evening but we think lunch time and into the late afternoon is best.]
Start: Oxford Circus Underground Station
Finish: Fortnum & Mason’s
From Oxford Circus Underground Station, take EXIT 6/7 onto OXFORD STREET. Turn RIGHT down Oxford Street until you get to POLAND STREET. Here turn RIGHT.
Stop 1 – Fish & Chips - Golden Union Fish & Chip Bar [38 Poland Street, W1F 7LY]
Start your tour traditionally British with some classic fish and chips! Golden Union is fabulously retro and although they’ve only been open since 2008, it’s already gained a reputation, and is known throughout London as one of the best places to get tasty, traditional fish and chips. Although the menu has lots of side dishes, we recommend focusing SOLEly (get it?!) on the sustainable-fish; lovingly fried in homemade beer batter, as well as crispy, fluffy chips…and of course, the traditional mushy peas!
When exiting Golden Union turn RIGHT back onto POLAND STREET. At the end of the street turn LEFT onto NOEL STREET. Walk until you get to WARDOUR STREET and turn RIGHT.
For more of the best Fish & Chips in London, check out our post.
Stop 2 – Indian Thali - Imli Street [167-169 Wardour Street, W1F 8WR]
Imli is a seriously tasty place. Taking the idea of Indian street food to a new level, Imli Street offers a wide variety of traditional delicacies with modern twists. Take advantage of their lunch time Thai specials to try a variety of different flavours – each thali is served with potatoes, lentils, raita, rice and a poppadum and guests can choose from fish curry, classic chicken tikka, lam roganjosh or veggie saag paneer. One thali could easily be split by 3 people, making it a great way to pack in lots of different tastes, without filling up too early in the tour!
[Tip: For those of you who like a drink with lunch – the cocktails here are superb!]
When exiting Imli Street turn RIGHT back onto WARDOUR STREET. Continue in the same direction for around one minute.
Stop 3 – Spanish jamon - Enrique Tomas [132 Wardour Street, W1F 8ZW]
Just from glancing through the windows at Enrique Tomas you can appreciate the vast diversity of jamon that is being served up here. Get some of the best Spanish pork in all of London either as part of a sandwich, or in a paper cup filled to the brim. A perfect place for a nibble, feel free to pick your favourite piece of pork and either sit in the small area in the back, or stand/wander outside in the streets of vibrant Soho. Vegetarians need not panic – there are options for you here, too! Cheese, olives and fresh bread also help make up the menu so even picky eaters should find something to enjoy.
When leaving Enrique Tomas, turn LEFT down WARDOUR STREET. When you get to PETER STREET, turn RIGHT. Then take the SECOND LEFT onto GREEN’S COURT.
Stop 4 – Lebenese Mezze - Yalla Yalla [1 Green’s Court, W1F 0HA]
It’s not often you come across Beirut street food, so take advantage of this hidden London gem! You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting what you’d like to eat, and we recommend diving straight into the mezze menu. All dishes are served with pitta bread, olives and pickles, and the menu is specifically designed to be shared – which makes it perfect for keeping portions small and varied during your food tour! Great for an introduction to Lebanese and Middle Eastern food…and a delicious reminder for those who have had it before.
When leaving Yalla Yalla, turn LEFT. Turn LEFT onto Brewer Street then make a RIGHT onto WARDOUR STREET. Continue along WARDOUR STREET until it takes you to CHINATOWN.
Here you have a choice of two options (or both, if you’re feeling particularly hungry!)
Turn LEFT onto GERRARD STREET.
Stop 5a – Dim Sum - London Chinatown Restaurant [27 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JN]
London’s Chinatown is home to the largest Chinese population in the United Kingdom, which means the food here is authentic and delicious. Dim sum, small dishes either grilled, fried or steamed, and served to share also make an excellent addition to your food tour! Here you can order as much, or as little as you like and you also have the chance to taste a wide variety of flavours. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by choice, we recommend traditional steamed pork buns, crispy won ton, water wrapped king prawns, and the stuffed bean curd rolls!
Continue down WARDOUR STREET until you get to STOP 5b.
Stop 5b – Traditional Peking Duck – HK Diner
HK Diner is the kind of place that you DO NOT go to for friendly service, but rather the delicious food. Service is fast and efficient, but without a smile, and the food is absolutely worth the somewhat stiff welcome from rushed staff. From the windows, you can see straightaway that duck is a specialty at HK Diner. And here you can find some of the finest Peking Duck in London – served with delicious plum sauce, impossibly thin pancakes and freshly chopped greens. The duck is served with a bit of a show – those ordering an entire duck will find it brought to their table and then shredded into tiny morsels right in front of their eyes.
When leaving HK Diner turn LEFT onto WARDOUR STREET. Then make a RIGHT onto COVENTRY STREET which will take you to PICCADILLY CIRCUS.
Stop 6 – Time For a Drink – The Criterion [224 Piccadilly, W1J 9HP]
After all that food, it’s time to aid your digestive systems with a relaxing drink! The Criterion is a restaurant, hotel and theatre that has been standing here since 1873. The bar is a fabulous art nouveau extravaganza and the drinks are not as expensive as one would think in such opulent surroundings. We recommend a cheeky glass of champagne to enjoy the full experience.
For Sherlock Holmes lovers, the Criterion also delivers a special treat: In A Study in Scarlet this is where Dr. Watson meets a friend who first mentions Sherlock Holmes, saying that he needs a roommate, and perhaps Watson could room with him. There is a small plaque on the wall that commemorates this event: the very first time John Watson ever hears the name ‘Sherlock Holmes.’
Exit the Criterion and go LEFT. Cross REGENT STREET onto PICCADILLY and continue down.
Stop 7 – Decadent Dessert – Fortnum & Mason [181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER]
Finish of your food tour with some flare! Fortnum & Mason holds the ‘Royal Warrant’ which means that they provide goods to Her Majesty the Queen…and now you, as well! As soon as you enter you will find yourself surrounded by luxury edible goods. Head straight ahead for homemade Turkish delight, huge slabs of fresh almond nougat, beautiful marzipan creations and specially flavoured luxury marshmallows. Or turn right for the chocolate counter where row upon row of gourmet chocolates are delectably on display, alongside classic and unique cakes as well as the prettiest macaroons in town. Here you can treat yourself to a small bite…or a huge feast! Everything will be packaged up at your pleasure, in either a bag to eat straight away or a display box if you want to take a gift back to friends or family and present them with a dessert that is – literally – fit for a queen!
End: From Fortnum & Mason your closest Underground stations are Green Park or Piccadilly Circus.