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Beyoglu is named after a buzzing area of Istanbul known for its excellent restaurants and night life. We like to start our meal here with a selection of small cold dishes such as patlican salata, a smoky aubergine salad made with lemon juice, tahini and yoghurt, then follow up with the lamb beyti (a minced meat kebab), and an ezme salad on the side. The salad is made with chopped tomatoes and parsley dressed with pomegranate molasses, and it's ubiquitous in restaurants across Istanbul because it complements grilled meats perfectly. Make sure to get plenty of Turkish bread, too.
This little tapas bar in King’s Cross uses carefully selected ingredients. The potato tortilla is made with Burford Brown eggs from the superlative Clarence Court for example, and the Asturian rib eye steak comes from 6-8 year old ex-milking cows. There’s some top Iberico ham on offer of course, and we struggle to think of anything better than having a selection of this delivered directly to our door. Perhaps a bottle of cava on the side as well.
When Chicken Shop came onto the scene they did something genuinely unique — cooking and serving chicken in a casual environment and doing it well, but not frying it. The chickens are spun slowly on a rotisserie, dripping with juice, the skin crisp and taut. Their hot sauces are house-made and the hottest one is truly addictive, adding just enough heat and vinegar to keep you coming back for more. We’re also big fans of their avocado and butter lettuce salad, which despite the first ingredient, feels very British: soft, reserved and well dressed.
El Burrito by Mestizo
Mexican restaurant Mestizo make very good burritos here that are more in the Mexican style than the vast, fat, Mission district San Francisco style. The range of fillings includes options such as cochinita — pork roasted slowly with citrus juice and annatto seed which gives a bright red colour. Quesadillas, chimichanga, tamals, nachos and tacos are also available, and we can’t help having a soft spot for guacamole with tortilla chips, which always disappears too fast in front of the TV.
Iberia – Authentic Georgian
We never thought we’d be saying this, but you can actually have Georgian food delivered to your door. This country, in the shadow of the Caucasus mountains, has an exciting cuisine which is a result of influences from its neighbouring countries, such as Turkey, Russia and Azerbaijan. Pkhali are a little balls made from spinach and walnuts - perfect spread onto bread. Lobio is a classic, rich bean stew, and khachapuri is an absolute must try — a spectacular bread stuffed with cheese, available as regional variations all over Georgia. Khinkali should also be tried — a very traditional dumpling, which is filled with meat and black pepper. A wonderful cuisine which is under represented in London.
This gelato shop has been serving the area since the 1930s and was once part of a much larger restaurant serving savoury food. Now they specialise in gelato and will, remarkably, deliver it to your door. Flavours include cookies and cream, dulce de leche and old school classics like mint choc chip and our favourite, rum and raisin. Kids, stay away — we're keeping this one all for ourselves.
Despite the name this Vietnamese café serves more than just bánh mi. The food is simple but fresh and vibrant. We like their summer rolls — rice paper rolls with prawns, salad, rice noodles and herbs served with a dipping sauce, and their vermicelli noodle salads or bun sa, which come with a variety of toppings such as lemongrass chicken or tofu. Pho is of course a Vietnamese classic, made with a broth, sliced meats, noodles and herbs. It’s restorative and soothing. And delicious.
We love the classic Caribbean preparation of jerk, which is made with allspice, thyme, spring onions and scotch bonnet chillies. Cooked over flames, the smoke is an all important part of the jerk flavour. At Mamas Jerk you can order your meat with a side of classic Caribbean rice and peas, or try some jerk sweet potato fries. Fried plantain is also available.
If you fancy changing up your fish and chips of a Friday night then Hook is the place for you. Fish comes coated in the lightest of crumbs — the Japanese panko — which is super crisp and greaseless. There are also lots of variations, such as Jamaican jerk panko coated hake, which comes with seaweed salted chips. Sides are along the likes of wakame and sprout pickle (we bet you didn’t see that one coming), and celeriac, fennel and mustard seed slaw. Chips aren’t run of the mill either, with flavoured salts and dips like garlic and truffle.
Arancini are little fried balls of risotto which originated in Sicily. The Arancini Bros are masters of their trade and sell their balls in batches, which can be biked to your door. Enjoy them in various flavours such as mushroom, or Cajun butternut squash, and with dips. in wraps or with salad. Fries are available too because, well, fries.
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By Helen Graves, Londonist Food & Drink Editor.