This weekly column suggests London restaurants to try over the weekend. There are three rules: The restaurants must not be featured in either the Eater London 38 Essential map, or the monthly updated Heatmap, and the recommendations must be outside Zone 1. In need of even more London restaurant recommendations? Head to the 5 to Try restaurant recommendation archive.
Halwa Poori House
It is dawn on an autumn Saturday on London Road, but Halwa Poori House is already filling up. The single digit hours are mainly for solo diners — nighthawks, early risers, and weekend workers — getting a quick fill before families arrive to share steaming bowls of nihaari and scooping up glutinous haleem with bread. But really, everyone is here for halwa poori, that prince’s breakfast served here a la mode on a plastic tray divided into three parts to hold soothing channa (chickpeas), bitter potato, and sweet, carrot orange halwa.
Today everyone is glued to the television — so often the other portal to home in diaspora restaurants, whether it’s music videos, films or football. This time it’s the news, playing clips of Imran Khan’s speech to the UN on Kashmir, a momentous one no doubt but one unlikely to change anything. It’s impossible not to think of all the other diners eating breakfast and watching TV that day, exactly the same scene playing out, diners everywhere across the region. In fact, everywhere except for Kashmir, where the media blackout persists. Does food really unite people? It’s tempting to believe it but don’t be so sure. What can only be said for certain is this: on that day, like many other days, diners in Karachi, diners in Lahore, diners in Amritsar, in Kashmir and in Norbury, Muslim diners and Hindu diners, sat down to enjoy halwa poori, a small shared fragment of unalloyed pleasure, before the reality of the day kicked in. —Jonathan Nunn
1033 London Road, Thornton Heath CR7 6JF
Yes, Crispy Dosa does do crispy dosas — such as parchment-like rava (semolina) masala with potatoes, onions and a lick of fiery podi — but they also serve ones that are soft and spongy, fluffy and folded, that come with good coconut, coriander and tomato chutneys. Among them is kal dosa: somewhat thicker than other varieties, and here piled up in a set of two. Kal are made from a batter of fermented parboiled rice and split white urad lentils, cooked only on one side so their insides, entirely dotted with pin-prick holes, resemble the surface of pikelets. They come with a choice of chickpea curry or vegetable kurma, mellow and fragrant with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coconut and cashews.
There are other good snacks too, like idlis served with peppery sambar, and ‘Madras crispy bhajia’, which are just fried potato slices with a sprinkling of cracked black pepper and chaat masala. Most international South Indian chains have origins in India, but this vegetarian venue is a rare example of one that first opened in London with plans to expand in the sub-continent. This original Greenford branch is smaller, plainer and quieter than its buzzier, shinier younger sibling that’s new to Hounslow. The chefs are from Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu, so they don’t mess about — no ice cream-banana-strawberry dosa horrors here. —Sejal Sukhadwala
1280 Greenford Road, UB6 0HH
Excellent tantuni, kunefe, and ice cream. Available in Dalston now. What more is there to say? Go now! Eat the succulent fat kissed meat, onion salad, and tomatoes wrapped in thin lavas bread. Support this — not the Brewdog opposite — for it’s what London actually needs. —Feroz FG
44 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XJ
White Goose Magda Gessler
This smart Polish restaurant in Stratford has completely updated its menu, now offering innovated versions of Polish classics. Gone are the homestyle bigos (hunter’s stew) and smalec (lard), instead replaced by small plates, such as mackerel crostini and wild mushroom soup, while mains with an almost fine-dining flourish, like roast goose thigh, dominate. These dishes are well worth trying. So too is a clear, amber soup, filled with chicken, noodles, and parsley is warming and comes with complementary bread and paté. Pierogi is stuffed with tender duck and dressed with seasonal damson and onions. And slabs of cake and beautiful pastries still make White Goose a standby for desserts in the neighbourhood. —Shekha Vyas
198 The Grove, E15 1NS
Sacro Cuore is an extraordinarily popular pizza restaurant on a busy stretch of the Chamberlayne Road in Kensal Green. Its dedication to producing authentic Neapolitan pizza has proven a hit in the seven years since it opened and a weeknight queue snaking out of the door is a common occurrence. The room is spartan but bustling; the menu is confidently short: a dozen pizzas, a few sides, four desserts, and three wines. There is a steady stream of take out orders but this is a foolish error, as pizza like this, with its lightly chewy but crisp crust and almost soupy tomato-cheese centre is best when eaten magma-hot, straight from the wood-fired oven. —Leila Latif
45 Chamberlayne Road, NW10 3NB