For American expats, being 'stranded' in London offers no serious hardship on the culinary front. Meanwhile for born-and-bred Brits, American food is yet another cuisine the capital is dishing up the goods on. All either party needs is the bravery to explore. Whether you're from just down the road or the other side of the Atlantic and miss home, here are a few restaurants and diners that bring the best of the good ol' USA right to your doorstep. Looking for a specific American dish? This should help you out.
The American steakhouse: Hawskmoor
Reminiscent of places like Morton's or Smith & Wollensky in Manhattan, Hawksmoor is unique in offering well-aged porterhouse steaks in larger sizes, which can be shared among several diners. The beef may be British but the values are very much all-American, where huge slabs of meat and incredible side dishes are main-staples of the steakhouse. This is as good an experience as you'll get in London.
Hawksmoor has various restaurants all over London including Borough, Knightsbridge, Seven Dials, Piccadilly and Spitalfields.
The American speciality: Burger and Lobster
With a menu limited to just three main courses — a grilled or steamed lobster, a burger or a lobster roll — Burger and Lobster brings the best of New England to London. Those lobster rolls are the real deal. Big lobster chunks, smothered in rich sauce being soaked up by the fried brioche bun, it's the best of both worlds. Perfect for both fish and meat lovers.
Burger and Lobster has various restaurants all over London including Oxford Circus, Bond Street, Knightsbridge, Leicester Square, Mayfair, Soho, West India Quay and City of London.
The American brasserie: Jackson & Rye
New York opulence meets French fare at Jackson & Rye, which puts an American spin on French staples. Think syrup and bacon pancakes for breakfast, butter-brushed steaks and veal escalopes for mains, then pecan pie or cheesecake for dessert. Even the drinks have a Stateside nod, with maple Old Fashioneds and American bottled beers from Brooklyn, Boston and New Orleans.
Jackson & Rye has restaurants in Bank and Richmond.
The American deli: The Delaunay
Not many places in London live up to the full New York City deli experience, but The Counter at The Delaunay on Aldwych comes pretty darn close — although it's styled as traditional middle European. The huge wiener schnitzel (don't laugh, it's classic Swiss and made from veal) is a stunner, but the chicken noodle soup carries the flavour crown. An impressive feat given the dish's usual association with sick beds. A bit pricey, but certainly worth it. Definitely American in feel.
The Delaunay, 55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB.
The American saloon: Red Dog Saloon
Complete with a Man vs Food eating challenge (break the record for most patties in your cheeseburger and you get it for free), all the dishes on the menu at Red Dog Saloon are reminiscent of any good chain in the USA. With burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, mac 'n' cheese and St Louis pork ribs, plus hot (and extra hot) chicken wings you pay for by the platter, Red Dog will fill almost every craving you can imagine. Which is what great American food is all about, isn't it?
Red Dog Saloon has two London restaurants: Hoxton Square and Soho.
The American wings: Orange Buffalo
A good chicken wing can come in many shapes and sizes. But for all-American awesomeness, it has to be the buffalo wing and its spicy, buttery sauce. And for the best buffalo wing, it has to be The Orange Buffalo. Served out of a trailer in Brick Lane, a hatch in Hoxton or a permanent restaurant in Tooting, these meaty marvels are meant to be enjoyed on the go. But bring a wad of napkins with you, because each wing comes so slathered in sauce it can be hard to emerge, post-gorge, unscathed. Feeling daring? Opt for the Snake in a Basket, where seven original wings cosy up alongside one fiery naga chilli wing. The only way to find out which is which? Take a bite.
The Orange Buffalo has outlets in Shoreditch, Hoxton and Tooting.
The American pizzeria: Joe Public
Perch on one of the stalls in this uber-trendy former public toilet (more appetising than it sounds, trust us) and wait to be absolutely stuffed. The pizzas here are 20 inch (yes, 20 inch!) monsters. But fear not, if you're still working up an appetite you can order by the slice. They're made Californian-style, meaning sourdough bases are loaded with toppings such as beef, sausage, bacon, courgette, truffle oil, and halloumi.
Joe Public Pizza, 4 The Pavement, SW4 0HY
For other American pizza options, check out Voodoo Ray's which serves up New York style pizzas in Dalston, Shoreditch and Peckham.
The American diner: Electric Diner
If you're after counter-side seating, red leather booths and plates of pie good enough to take home to grandma, Electric Diner will meet your need for an American eatery big-time. It gets packed out at brunch time, but it's the evening when things really get a USA kick. Try the Philly chilli cheese dog or the cheeseburger and follow with the NY cheese cake, or if you're just getting started, an apple old fashioned.
The American bagel: Beigel Bake
East London's Brick Lane is more commonly known for its marvellous curry options, but there is an American treat waiting for you at the top of the road. Beigel Bake's Jewish-style bagels are the stuff of legend. Salt beef reigns supreme here, arriving fresh and hot with meat so tender it begins to fall apart the second you manoeuvre it into your gob. Moreover, it's a 24 hour joint, so you can get your bagel fix at any time of the day or night. Just try to avoid Saturday mornings, when the queue rivals that for the Empire State.
Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB.
The all-American bakery: Hummingbird Bakery
While London's full of quaint, traditional bakeries and cake shops, Hummingbird Bakery is bold, brash and unashamedly American. Think towering layer cakes (with slices so huge we had to split one over three days), psychedelic rainbow cakes, exquisitely decorated cupcakes and whoopie pies. It's not just the appearance that's American: flavours include red velvet, rocky road, cookies 'n' cream and Brooklyn blackout. They go big on seasonal offerings too, with Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Independence Day ranges. Pop into one of the bakeries to treat yourself to a cake or two, or order in advance if you want a cake made for a special occasion.
Hummingbird Bakery, London locations in Spitalfields, Soho, South Kensington, Islington, Notting Hill and Richmond.
The American supermarket: American Food Store, Ladbroke Grove
London's not short of American sweetshops, selling overpriced Lucky Charms and Twinkies to tourist and Londoners. But American Food Store is a bit different — it's more like a supermarket, meaning that American ex-pats can find that little bit of home they've been looking for, from baking ingredients to groceries (Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese, anyone?) — and yes, those sweets and cereals are available here too.
The American Food Store, 2 Ladbroke Grove, W11 3BG.
The American roast dinner: STK London
'American' isn't a term usually associated with the traditional British roast, but steakhouse STK pairs the two beautifully.
Traditional roast vegetables are served alongside American sides including mac & cheese and parmesan truffle fries. The meat is spice rubbed rib-eye, but the centrepiece is the Empire State Yorkshire puddings — each larger than a dinner plate. It's a meal you waddle, rather than walk, away from, before returning the following Sunday to do it all again.
STK London at ME London Hotel, 336-337 Strand, WC2R 1HA. Served Sunday only.
The American afternoon tea: Balthazar, and CUT at 45 Park Lane
Another American twist on a British classic, but this one's such a good idea that two places are doing it.
Covent Garden brasserie Balthazar served NY-Tea, a Big Apple themed tea, with sandwiches including a pastrami and egg bun, and cucumber, mint and hummus. Dessert-wise, Key lime pie sits alongside pecan pie, while the NYC theme is played up to with a New York-style cheesecake, and a peanut butter and 'jelly' eclair is topped with an image of the Statue of Liberty.
Meanwhile, CUT at 45 Park Lane begins afternoon tea service with a smorgasboard of savouries including wagyu beef sliders, mini mac and cheese and southern fried chicken wings. Cleanse your palette with a strawberry milkshake before beginning on the desserts — Key lime pie, New York cheesecake and red velvet cake.
Other American food recommendations in London
A few other favourites that we're willing to share. Tell them we sent you:
- Blues Kitchen: purveyors of the BBQ. A burnt ends and brisket kinda joint.
- Stax Diner: burgers, popcorn shrimp, waffles and milkshakes — it's gonna get messy.
- Outsider Tart: head out west to Chiswick for authentic baked treats straight from the hands of actual New York bakers.
- Maxwell's: best known for its freakshakes, we'd describe Maxwell's as an upmarket diner — although the cocktails are pretty good too.
- The Diner: churning out the classics, The Diner is another red leather-boothed, burger-heavy hangout. Plus, bottomless filter coffee (just like you see in the movies).
- Smokestak: go here for melt-in-your-mouth brisket and ribs good enough to rival any Texan BBQ.
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Based on original content by Karen Shidlo, updated by Ruth Hargreaves.