The idea is simple. I got the list of countries from Wikipedia, and I’m trying to visit a restaurant for each country…in London. The idea is not to find the “best country”, nor are the restaurants in here the best representative for each country. I have a strong East London bias so keep that in mind.
21 out of 200+ countries “visited” so far
Finally, this is a multi-year project, so please bear with me.
- China: Can’t recall the name, but my to go place in the corner of Newport Court. The Mao inspired decoration sets the difference.
- India: You can’t go right in Bricklane…but you also can’t go too wrong. In any case it is a London must to be harassed by the restaurant owners as you cross the street.
- United States: I’m long due a visit to a proper “American”, but still I want’t to say that McDonald’s is way underrated. Particularly by “my kind” of left-wing intelligensia. I’m long due an essay on how amazing McDonald’s is.
- Pakistan: Tayabbs, basically London’s worst kept secret. I have lost count the amount of times that someone tried to tell me about this amazing place near Whitechappel. Once, it even happened to me. I was in a Starbucks in central London when some french tourists asked for some restaurant recommendations, when I said Tayabbs they started laughing while showing me in their notebook that I wasn’t the first person with the same “secret tip”. To visit Tayabbs, buy your beers from a local supermarket, actually buy a couple more because even with a reservation you will experience a long and animated queue. Once there it doesn’t really matter what you order…given that you don’t forget to try the lamb chops.
- Brazil: Not sure about the location…but I do recall a dinner party in a Rodizio.
- Russia: Sawmill in Stratford/West Ham park. One of the first gentrified places in the West Ham park area that refuses to be gentrified. Russian restaurant/hipster cafe with a wide selection cakes and deserts. Is a solid choice to spend your day with your laptop (I’m actually doing it right now!).
- Japan: A common fixture for a “a little thing above average” on my weekday lunch is Japanese Canteen.
- Mexico: Wahaca is not worth it, I need to find a better place for this list.
- Vietnam: My first meal in London was Vietnamese. My first street in London (Kingsland Road) still is the Vietnamese cluster in London. I still have too many restaurants to try, for the time being the first love continues the best. Que Viet.
- Egypt: I would like to have something better here. But I do go to Borough Market for lunch and the Egyptian stall has received some (disappointing for the most part) visits.
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Iran: Ariana in Mile end. Easy to miss stuck by the dark park entrance. A mix of Persian & Afghani dishes worth the visit. Indulge in some Shisha if that’s your thing.
- Turkey: Somine is my favourite restaurant in London. Cheap and open 24 hours a day with a great view to the street. I love it because it reminds me simultaneously of Hopper’s Nighthawks and in a way Orwell’s essay about the perfect pub. Try any of the daily stews and the lentil soup.
- Thailand: One would imagine that working close to Covent Garden would be a good thing for the lunchtime. But for the year or so that I worked in the area it was very disappointing. Siam Eatery was one of the few bright spots that I managed to find.
- United Kingdom:“To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day,” said the writer William Somerset Maugham. That’s no longer the case, but it still is a safe choice with british cuisine. The (toasted) sausage&egg sandwich has been one of the highlight points of my british education. You can get it (most likely done by a polish or asian cook) in almost every corner, but a classical and worth a visit is Regency Cafe in Westminster.
- Italy: Shoot me, but I do think that pizza is the most overrated dish ever. Still, if you are in Stoke Newington you can have a good (and cheap) smell of Naples at L’Antica Pizzaria da Michele.
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Spain: With some family based in Spain, my needs for Spanish food are usually met with a quick trip to Madrid. However, Galicia in Ladbroke grove does a good job of translating the ambience of a local Spanish restaurant to London. For some reason I have heard tons of good things about the (similar) Centro Gallego but haven’t tried yet.
- Argentina: A good Argentinian is a simple restaurant – good grilled meat. But a good Argentinian is hard (and expensive) to find. Buen Ayre in the middle of Broadway market was a great experience (booking required).
- Poland: Londek in Stratford is one of my weekly spots each time that I lived in the area. Good for a cheap meal, something fancier, or just somewhere to land with your laptop with some coffee and cake. Alcohol is not sold in the restaurant/cafe, but you can buy it from the same name delicatesse next door.
- Morocco: When I moved to Stratford for the first time the availability of restaurants was very…very limited. Das Marrakech was one of the exceptions, with a good and interesting garden (that we were not always allowed to visit).
- Saudi Arabia
- Afghanistan: Afghan Kitchen in Angel became one of my first regular places back when I moved in 2010. Getting table usually requires a reservation, some wait and sharing communal tables. However, this tiny place is one of my favourite yummy meals in London.
- North Korea
- Ivory Coast
- Sri Lanka
- Burkina Faso
- South Sudan
- Greece: A recent find (July 2017), GReat is a great fast food/gyros place next to Shoreditch. For less than a tenner you get a platter of fresh ingredients in a very authentic experience.
- Czech Republic
- Portugal: I have to admit that Portuguese food travels quite badly, as “our” strong suit is fish (and essentially not doing to much to it) and it is really dependent on the local environment. Still over the years Grelha D’ouro has become my go to Portuguese place for the experience of my local restaurant. Be aware, that the concept of local restaurant is not necessarily of a great restaurant, it’s the place where you go to see football matches (thus tons of televisions are required), you know the staff (so that the beer keeps coming at regular intervals) and with reasonable prices (so you can enjoy some seafood). If you are looking to try the blockbuster dishes of Portuguese cuisine then Cantinho de Portugal is the place to go.
- Dominican Republic
- United Arab Emirates
- Papua New Guinea
- Hong Kong
- Bulgaria: Black Sea next to West Ham park. Once I moved to this neighborhood was the first place to catch my eye. Maybe not worth a special visit, but located in a (what looks like) a traditional British pub with an amazing beer garden is definitely a great alternative to a Sunday roast.
- Sierra Leone
- El Salvador
- Republic of the Congo
- Central African Republic
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Puerto Rico (U.S.)
- The Gambia
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Equatorial Guinea
- East Timor
- Macau (China)
- Solomon Islands
- Western Sahara[Note 17]
- Cape Verde
- Transnistria[Note 18]
- Northern Cyprus[Note 19]
- French Polynesia (France)
- New Caledonia (France)
- Abkhazia[Note 20]
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Saint Lucia
- Guam (U.S.)
- Curaçao (Netherlands)
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic[Note 21]
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
United States Virgin Islands (U.S.)
Federated States of Micronesia
Antigua and Barbuda
Isle of Man (UK)
Cayman Islands (UK)
American Samoa (U.S.)
Northern Mariana Islands (U.S.)
South Ossetia[Note 22]
Faroe Islands (Denmark)
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Sint Maarten (Netherlands)
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
British Virgin Islands (UK)
Cook Islands (NZ)
Wallis and Futuna (France)
Saint Barthélemy (France)
Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK)
Sint Eustatius (Netherlands)
Falkland Islands (UK)
Norfolk Island (Australia)
Christmas Island (Australia)
Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia)
Pitcairn Islands (UK)