Being 'stranded' in London offers no serious hardship on the culinary front to an American expat. All one needs is the bravery to explore. If you’re from the other side of the Atlantic and miss home, here are a few restaurants and diners that should make you feel a little bit less homesick.
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. American steakhouses are to die for, with huge slabs of meat and incredible side dishes. This is the ultimate US steakhouse experience 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 lobster roll or a burger — Burger and Lobster certainly brings the best of New-England-style rolls to London. With a rich sauce soaking the big lobster chunks in a fried brioche bun, the sandwich comes with a side of fries and salad and makes for a filling meal; 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 brasserie opulence meets French fare at Jackson & Rye, which puts an American spin on French staples. Think maple and bacon pancakes for breakfast, BBQ splatters and shrimp burgers for mains, and cheesecakes and banana splits for dessert. Even the drinks have a Stateside nod, with Peanut Butter Cup Martinis, and lagers from Brooklyn, Boston and New Orleans.
Jackson & Rye, Bank, Soho and Richmond.
The American deli: The Delaunay
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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 Viennese. The chopped chicken roll is stunning, and the other hot sandwiches and chicken noodle soup are simply delicious, too. A bit pricey, but certainly worth it, and definitely American in feel.
The Delaunay, 55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB.
The American saloon: Red Dog Saloon
Complete with a Man vs Food eating challenge, all the dishes on the menu at Red Dog Saloon are reminiscent of any good chain in the good ol' USA. With burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, ribs and mac'n'cheese, as well as hot (and extra hot) chicken wings, whichever London branch you visit, Red Dog will fill your cravings and transport you far away from London.
Red Dog Saloon has three restaurants across London: Hoxton Square, Soho and Clapham North.
The American pizzeria: Joe Public, Clapham
Perch on one of the stalls in this uber-trendy former public toilet building, and wait to be absolutely stuffed. The pizzas here are 2o" (yes, twenty inch!) monster — but fear not, they're sold by the slice rather than whole. Specifically, they're made Californian-style, meaning sourdough bases loaded with toppings such as beef, sausage, bacon, chorizo and halloumi.
Joe Public Pizza, Clapham Common.
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 it's counter-side seating, red leather booths and plates of pie good enough to take home to grandma you're after, Electric Diner will meet your need for an American eatery big-time. It gets packed out at brunch time, but as Londonist's Lydia Manch says, 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" she recommends. If this is up your street, book yourself into some of the other best diners in London.
Electric Diner, 191 Portobello Road, W11 2ED
The American street food: NY Fold
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What makes the pizzas at Soho and Hackney eatery NY fold, fit for an American? For starters, they're sold by the slice. Big slice. Each side of the mouth-watering triangle is about 25cm in length, to be precise. Next, they're absolutely covered in mozzarella cheese. Finally the New York-style bases are freshly made in store and turn out crispy, thick and strong. Strong enough to carry toppings like the Big Daddy with artichoke hearts, garlic oil and caramelised onions, or the Butcher shop which, as the name suggests, comes slathered in every single meat you might expect on a pizza.
NY Fold, 103 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DT and 20 Sidworth Street, E8 3SD.
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 reins 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 and 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 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.
Other American food recommendations in London
A few other favourites that we're willing to share. Tell them we sent you:
- Blues Kitchen:
- Stax Diner: burgers, popcorn shrimp, waffles and milkshakes — it's gonna get messy.
- Boondocks: sister venue of Stax, Boondocks serves American home-style cooking ideal for when you're looking for a blowout meal: burgers, chicken, blue plates, shrimp, mac 'n' cheese — the works.
- Maxwell's: Best-known for its freakshakes, we'd describe Maxwell's as an upmarket diner — although the cocktails are pretty good too. Sister venue Roadhouse is the livelier of the two — more of a bar that happens to serve food, with live music and raucous events most days.
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By Karen Shidlo and Ruth Hargreaves