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Five Restaurants to Try This Weekend

Tacos, Thai, Greek, a brilliant wine bar, and a restaurant that serves pasta with parmesan!

Tortilleria El Pastor is the latest from the Harts Group, in Bermondsey
Sam Ashton/El Pastor

Tortilleria El Pastor

Nearly 18 months on, Sam and James Hart and Crispin Somerville’s taqueria El Pastor is still almost as rammed as it was during the first service. Dodge the queue on Thursday evenings, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays by elbowing through the crowds to the bottom of Maltby Street Market, now home to offshoot Tortilleria El Pastor. Part Scout hut, part Tulum beach bar, it serves a textbook selection of tacos, including the al pastor and a mushroom one beefed up with caramelised onion and melted Oaxaca cheese, plus frozen margaritas and the first batch of El Pastor’s own mezcal — its teamed up with Mexico’s La Clandestina mezcaleria. In a real hurry? Pick up fresh-from the-press tortillas, salsa, tomatillos and cheeses from London’s Gringa Dairy to take home. —Emma Hughes
58 Stanworth Street, SE1 3NY

Ombra

At Ombra, British and Italian produce is efficiently and cleverly used to create the dishes of a Venetian ‘bacaro’ (a simple restaurant typical of Venice). There might be razor clams doused in citrus, garlicky fried oysters sat in a tangle of monk’s beard, or cuttlefish with chard. And there’s pasta, served with cheese! What’s also great about Ombra is that it’s collaborative: Head chef Mitshel Ibrahim regularly brings in guest chefs to offer a new take of Italian cuisine (not dissimilar to Quo Vadis’ famous ‘x’ nights). It’s perhaps testament to London’s eclectic food scene today that Ombra does this — a fluid approach that pools technicians and flavours together. Not all restaurants have big backers and big budgets; a savvy use of resources is not just a way of showing off talent and developing menus, but a way of enticing new custom with a ‘one part platform, one part chef’ methodology. Out of inspiration comes — one hopes — survival. —Josh Barrie
1 Vyner Steet, E2 9DG

Sager + Wilde

Dog friendly with cheese toasties, what’s not to love? Sager + Wilde on Hackney Road takes wine very seriously, and the dark brick, iron and glass bar-top can feel intimidating, but don’t be put off: Once inside the big windows and friendly staff make it a cosy, relaxed spot. Pour over the wine list in the early evening sunshine that spring brings, with a glass of Catarratto ‘Ceillo Bianco’ from Sicily and salted almonds to snack on. Then move to another glass (helped along with top advice from staff) and pair with some charcuterie and bread. Then, why not go all out, with a full-bodied bottle (maybe a big Californian cab sav) and a stack of glorious, indulgent cheese toasties — the jalapeño and three cheese mix is a prefect paring for any Saturday evening. —Anna Sulan Masing
193 Hackney Road, E2 8JL

Vrisaki Restaurant

Twenty years after its late 90s heyday, Vrisaki is still repping Palmers Green, home to the largest Greek Cypriot community in Europe outside Cyprus. Photos of celebrity patrons on the wall — Pauline Quirke, Antony Costa, Sven and Nancy! — and out of date Evening Standard awards suggest faded glory, but the food here is still worth the trip up north. Diners with ordering FOMO are well served by the comically large set mezze, which runs through the menu’s entirety in two dozen mini portions of dips, salads, cured meat and seafood. The less greedy should just skip straight to the grilled meat: three kinds of souvlaki, soft pillows of minced lamb and offal sheftalia wrapped in caul fat, or Flintstone sized chunks of lamb souvla, slow-cooked over charcoal until it slips from the bone at the merest prompt. —Jonathan Nunn
73 Myddleton Road, N22 8LZ

Singburi

Reading menus in full and in detail isn’t in fashion right now, so here’s a place to ignore them entirely. At this lo-fi, family-run Thai kitchen conventional menus are a happy afterthought, as greedy and knowing eyes linger on the specials board. The air wheezes with chilli heat; the prawns are absolute units; the dishes stand up to any “nu-Thai” outfit with as much poise as heft and run the regional gamut with aplomb. An order from the blackboard is a guaranteed win, whether it’s a tangle of razor clams in curry sauce or a Laos-style yam sam oh pomelo salad with dried shrimp, chilli and peanuts: with delicious (BYOB) wine or beer and good friends there’s nowhere better to spend a raucous, happy evening. —James Hansen
593 High Road, E11 4PA

Quo Vadis

26-29 Dean Street, , England W1D 3LL 020 7437 9585 Visit Website

El Pastor

6-7A Stoney Street, , England SE1 9AA Visit Website

OMBRA

1 Vyner Street, , England E2 9DG 020 8981 5150 Visit Website

SAGER + WILDE

193 Hackney Road, , England E2 8JL 020 8127 7330 Visit Website

Vrisaki Restaurant

73 Myddleton Rd, London, Greater London N22 8LZ +44 20 8889 8760 Visit Website

Tortilleria El Pastor

58 Stanworth Street, , England SE1 3NY Visit Website

Singburi

593 High Road Leytonstone, , England E11 4PA 020 8281 4801

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