All aboard the flavour train!
Whether you’re a royalist or railist, greenbelt commuter or devoted trainspotter, we think it’s fair to assume that you’re counting down the days until May 24th with keen anticipation.
Yep, the long awaited opening of the Purple Line, aka Crossrail, aka the Elizabeth Line, is upon us, connecting east to west with speed and grace. We hope.
For those foodies riding the London leg of the line, looking to tick off a few stops and check out each station’s refreshments along the way, we’re here for you. Whether you’re craving a pint in Paddington or a feast in Farringdon, here are some of the top restaurants and bars on the Elizabeth Line, Greater London.
Santa Maria Pizza
Everything about Santa Maria in Ealing is about authenticity and simplicity; the bare, whitewashed walls, the lightly adorned pizzas, the premium ingredients imported from the motherland. It’s all sourced and cooked with a pride in the product as the guiding principle.
As the rest of the city catches up, Santa Maria arguably remains the finest pizza in all of London.
Tucked away by Ealing Common, local favourite The Grange is only a short walk from the station. Here, you’ll find a selection of award-winning cask ales, craft beers and a decent selection of wines. Make the most of the British summer in the large outdoor garden and dine on capably-prepared pub classics, running from light bites and sandwiches to a hearty Sunday roast with all the trimmings.
Sometimes you just need a sweet pick-me-up on a day spent trainspotting. Enter Creams Café.
Situated in the centre of Ealing, expect a visit to Creams Café to entail fabulously flamboyant desserts and sensational sweet treats. Think sky-high rainbow-coloured sundaes and larger-than-life American-style waffles, as well as silky-smooth gelato and sorbet, freshly cooked crepes, cookie-dough stuffed waffles and freakishly flavourful milkshakes. We feel the sugar rush kicking in just writing that…
Thai Zapp at The Heron
Long before ‘nu-Thai’ became so ubiquitous in the capital that you couldn’t move without getting prik kee noo in your eye, Paddington pub The Heron was quietly pounding out some of the finest Thai food this side the Chao Phraya river, all from the humble kitchens of the pub’s basement.
At Thai Zapp (meaning ‘delicious’ in the North Eastern dialect of Thai) you won’t find som tam salads made with heritage celeriac, but instead, Thai food as you’d find it on the streets of Bangkok; pad Thai, green curry, tom yum, green papaya and all. Because sometimes, that’s what you really want from a Thai restaurant, isn’t it?
If you’re looking for somewhere casual to eat, enjoy a few beers and maybe a frozen margarita or two, then head over to Pergola Paddington. This is a rooftop bar set over two floors and has just had a revamp. Now operating as Pergola Paraíso, the bar wants to transport you to the coast of Mexico this summer and has the decor to match; think cacti, tropical foliage and hammocks galore.
The rooftop hangout is serving up a veritable Mexican inspired feast with Burger Shack by Filth&Co channelling a beach grill and frying up juicy burgers and sides with a Mexican twist.
Next, Dos Mas have all your taco needs covered, including the Mexican menu staple fish baja, this time made with grilled swordfish, cabbage, and pico de gallo. Finally, Crudo Cevicheria are here with their plates of prawn, seabass and shiitake ceviche. Oh yes.
Bar + Block
If you’re still hungry, then located on North Wharf Road right next to the Paddington Basin and a short walk from Paddington Station and Edgware Road, is the subterranean steakhouse Bar + Block.
Serving beefed-up breakfasts, express lunches and dinners designed to satisfy your carnivorous cravings, the restaurant offers an ever-changing selection of 30-day aged steaks, hand-cut to order. While you’re here, make sure you order Bar + Block’s signature cocktai, which is a tribute to a certain famous bear.
The second outpost of the hugely popular Sri Lankan restaurant from JKS, Hoppers St. Christopher’s continues the rich run of form so popular at Frith Street and doesn’t mess with the formula.
So, that’s Sri Lankan curries, dosas, the hopper itself (a kind of pancake) and more – all of exotic, heady, just-off-centre spicing and playful delivery.
Tucked away in a historic courtyard in the heart of Mayfair, a stone’s throw from busy Bond Street, Hush Mayfair is a true hidden gem featuring a bustling brasserie, two elegant private event spaces/dining rooms and the exceptional Bar at Hush. The space also boasts a beautifully dressed al fresco courtyard that changes with the seasons.
And sometimes, when you’re shopping in Mayfair, this is just the kind of escape you want.
Okay, so Sabor is a little (7 minute) walk from Bond Street, but it’s well worth engaging your legs for some of the best Spanish food in London. We did say we were after the best restaurants on the Elizabeth Line, after all.
Whether you choose from the counter tapas bar on the ground floor or El Asador up a twisting flight of stairs, you’re going to be fed well.
The latter is a particularly intoxicating experience, with the restaurant specialising in quarter, half or whole suckling pigs, which manage to be both buttery-tender and teeth-shatteringly crisp. Enjoy alongside a few Galician small plates (the pulpo is fantastic) and a bottle or two of Rioja Blanco, and you’ve got yourself the perfect afternoon in the capital.
Tottenham Court Road
Michelin-starred dining doesn’t come more laid-back than at The Ninth, just a few minutes’ walk from Tottenham Court Road. That’s not to say the Mediterranean-inspired plates aren’t worthy of a star; chef Jun Tanaka’s cooking is as poised and precise as you like, with the restaurant’s rabbit lasagna earning cult status soon after opening in 2016.
If it’s on, order it, as the chefs at The Ninth have a wicked way with pasta. If not, anything from that section of the menu is guaranteed to wow you. Save room for the restaurant’s signature pain perdu, and you’re going to leave satisfied. You’ll also be grateful that the Elizabeth Line is on hand to whisk you home.
Cabana, St Giles
For a guaranteed good time, gather the squad and head to Latin-inspired grill and cocktail hotspot Cabana, located minutes away from Tottenham Court Road station. Expect epic bottomless brunches and serious party vibes, served up alongside vibrant full-of-flavour dishes and creative cocktails, all to be enjoyed in stylish interiors inspired by the roaring glory of 1950’s Rio.
Sessions Arts Club
One of London’s most Instagrammed dining rooms (quite deservedly; the space is spectacular), Sessions Arts Club only opened last year, but has already become one of the most sought after reservations in the city.
This is a rare time when it’s genuinely worth the effort to snag a table and a restaurant worthy of the hype; Sessions Arts Club delivers on flavour just as much as it does on vibes, with chef Florence Knight’s minimalist, seasonal plates sophisticated and soul-nourishing in equal measure.
Though the menu changes regularly in tune with the seasons, the signature squid, tomato & calamarata has been an ever-present. It’s a must-order, and one of our favourite dishes in recent memory.
Next door to the superb sibling restaurant Quality Chop House is its (relatively) new kid brother Quality Wines.
Opened in 2018, the Q word is certainly appropriate here; whether you’re looking for a quick snack, a late lunch or something more sustaining and boozy, this walk-in only restaurant is doing all the good things well in their little corner of Farringdon.
So, pull up a stool and order what’s good from the chalkboard menu; there’s excellent charcuterie, freshly baked focaccia, as well as a few plates leaning loosely on Southern Italy, Greece and the Ionian Sea.
And whilst it might sound weird as part of a dinner spread, anytime there’s a sandwich incongruously scrawled on that chalkboard, it’s a must-order. The current croque monsieur is a work of genius.
Next, take a trip to the Barbican and discover Brutally Brilliant Burgers at lakeside pit-stop Bonfire. On the menu is a selection of thoughtfully crafted burgers, including vegetarian and vegan choices, along with sharing sides and classic cocktails to pair. And with summer coming, it’s a good time to head out to the terrace for lunch or dinner by the lake.
Do also check out our tips on where to eat near The Barbican for more restaurant suggestions near this leg of the Elizabeth Line.
Manteca, the ‘Britalian’ restaurant from chefs Chris Leach and David Carter, has taken London by storm since moving to its permanent location in Shoreditch last year. Named by Time Out London as the second best restaurant in the city, and receiving a slew of fawning national reviews, the nose-to-tail small plates here are as satisfying as they come.
Whilst the brown crab caico e pepe is arguably the most talked about dish, it’s the pig head fritti that truly had us cooing. Or should that be ‘oinking’?
Anyway, Manteca truly is a class act, and somewhere you’ll want to return to again and again (and that’s coming through a writer who has now made their way through the entire menu here!).
Cinnamon Kitchen City
Fittingly located in the historic East India Company spice warehouse and just two minutes’ walk from Liverpool Street, Cinnamon Kitchen is the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the City. With Chef Vivek Singh at the helm, the restaurant and all-weather covered terrace serves his signature modern Indian cuisine with the best of British ingredients for lunch and dinner. The restaurant also does one of London’s spiciest dishes.
Moments from Liverpool Street Station, Devonshire Terrace offers alfresco drinking with family and friends on the expansive terrace, with its beautiful glass domed roof to protect you from the elements should the predictably inclement British weather strike. The perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine, leisurely lunch or boozy brunch, we think.
Hey, we couldn’t alight at Whitechapel on our tour of the best restaurants and bars on the Elizabeth Line without popping in to East London institution Tayyabs for a round of their famous lamb chops.
Located in a contemporarily stylised building in east London’s Whitechapel, the place has been open since 1972 and recipes haven’t changed much in this time. When the quality is this high and the dishes this addictive, why would they need to? Add to the mix that it’s BYOB and there’s really no reason not to visit.
Leman Street Tavern
A five-minute walk from Whitechapel is the Leman Street Tavern, which is just the ticket for a pub lunch, after-work drink or al fresco dining. With a selection of craft ales, wines and cocktails, meet with friends for a menu of seasonal British dishes or soak up the sun on the outdoor terrace, with heaters and cover should the weather take a turn.
Old school cafe classics rub shoulders with fresh fish dishes at Billingsgate Cafe. The fish, of course, comes in fresh from the market and it’s one of our favourite places in the city to have a bacon butty which comes with luxurious shellfish twist.
Billingsgate Market’s famous scallop and bacon butty has been fuelling the market traders at Billingsgate every morning since forever (well, 1982). It’s surf’n’turf all repackaged in a floury bap, and we just love it. This salty and saline sandwich is certainly getting off the tube for, as is the cafe’s smoked haddock with an egg on top.
The Sipping Room
Transporting you to a place far removed from the concrete jungle, relax and unwind on the expansive (and heated!) floral Thames-side terrace and enjoy creative cocktails from the dedicated outdoor bar whilst soaking up the glorious British sunshine. When the temperature drops, there are hot water bottles and cosy blankets on hand to keep you warm through the evening.
Burger & Lobster
Looking out over the boats and water, Burger & Lobster at West India Quay is the perfect alfresco spot to crack a claw and enjoy some refreshing cocktails. Soak up the sunshine or find respite in the shade beneath the terraces’ sail-inspired canopy and enjoy classics including whole Nova Scotian Lobster, Nebraskan beef burgers and OG lobster rolls.
And with that, we might have to concede that we’re pretty full. See you somewhere on the Elizabeth Line at the same time tomorrow?