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.
So, tortillas. That tacos do not need corn tortillas to be good is a truism in parts of North America, but London barely has good corn tortillas, so any attempt to make great flour tortillas, the kind that Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton would compare to “flaky wonton wrappers,” would seem to be a fool’s errand. Luckily, Netil Market’s Pollo Feliz has pedigree and Londoners are more familiar with analogous flat, circular cooked doughs from the roti and chapati of the north and west of India, so recognising a truly great flour tortilla is a little more innate, instinctive. These are opaque in the light of the sun, light in the palm of the hand, tender between the teeth of the mouth and satisfyingly delicious in the pit of the stomach. Soft, pliable, and with the just the right chew, they are made all the better by the cheese crisped up below where the juice-laden barbacoa lands. A potent macha, studded with peanuts and and dried chiles, is the most potent in a trio of accomplished salsas. These are the tacos, they aren’t even on the board and they are this good. Its never been about corn over flour; it’s always been about good tortillas over bad. —Feroz Gajia
13 — 23 Westgate Street, Hackney E8 3RL
There’s something satisfying about gazing at the window and chiller cabinet displays at Ingles Bakery shops. Eyes wander from fat Belgian buns, squares of bright pink Tottenham cake and piped fresh cream slices to multi-coloured iced buns and doughnuts. The family-run East London chain, formerly known as Percy Ingle, has been selling locals their daily bread and sweet treats since 1954 — and a sense of nostalgia remains in the brown paper bags, pastry grease soaking through, and unpretentious atmosphere. Despite the rather retro offering, Ingles is a cannily forward-thinking business. As part of the bakery’s re-brand last year, it’s significantly stepped up efforts and implemented real changes to become more eco-friendly — removing plastic price tags and labels, using compostable coffee cups and ditching plastic bags. And as some companies try to sweep their gender pay gap under the carpet, Ingles has published its findings and acknowledged where it needs to improve. It’s heartening to see an old-school food business adapt and thrive, building truly sustainable practices. Especially when it makes some of the fluffiest, jammiest, sugary-lips doughnuts in London. —Daisy Meager
Where are the good old-fashioned chunky slabs or wedges of cakes in London? The sort that could be whisked up by a Women’s Institute grandma at the drop of a hatpin, or that a mother would make with her child for a school bake sale? No trendy flavours like matcha or mango; just conventional varieties like carrot, banana, chocolate and orange?
No, not a tourist café in a stately home, but a church. Specifically this majestic stone building a few minutes’ walk from West Hampstead tube station. It’s a working church complete with a tranquil prayer area at the back, but also a thriving community centre with a post office and a children’s soft play area, so the interior is a mix of high ceilings and brightly coloured climbing frames, ancient stained glass windows and cheerful bunting, tall candlesticks and stationery racks. There are a few pre-packaged sandwiches and salads, but the cakes, freshly baked by staff throughout the day in a domestic oven behind the serving counter, are what everyone comes here for. Carrot and banana are devoid of the usual walnuts and raisins but they’re soft, moist, and generously slathered with cinnamon-scented icing; and orange is velvet-smooth and crumbly, with a bracing blast of citrus that’s perfect for freezing weather. There’s also a suspended coffee scheme; and a community fridge that was one of the first of its kind in north London. A beautiful community space with hordes of little kids running around all over the place, there’s plenty here to eat, pray and love. —Sejal Sukhadwala
St. James Church, Sherriff Road, West Hampstead NW6 2AP
When Top Taste put its shutters up for good, there was a large barbecue-shaped hole in Bethnal Green. Yanji has come sizzling and smoking to fill this void with skewered meats and Korean dishes. Named after the Yanbian Chaoxianzu Autonomous Prefecture, which is the home of the largest group of ethnic Koreans outside of Korea, this influence is seen throughout the hearty food. Tables with small charcoal grills give diners pleasing autonomy. Juicy chicken wings crackle and yield to tender flesh, while cubes of cumin lamb and beef rotate, dripping and popping with chilli-infused flavour. Meaty squid tentacles lathered in garlic are a highlight, as are thin strips of pork belly parcelled up with enoki mushrooms. Selections of offal adorn the extensive menu, making repeat visits a certainty — as certain as pairing it all with bottles of cold beer. —Shekha Vyas
153 Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green E2 7D
The service at this ramshackle Hampstead cafe is disarmingly jolly, even the most annoying requests are met with warm enthusiasm. Square Mile coffee gently hums out of the large La Marzocco and shelves are stacked with distinctly grow- up looking cakes, while the food menu is simple but full of thoughtful little touches. Boiled eggs come with hand knitted cosies, cheese toasties are spiced up with a fiery chilli jam and the excellent salt beef sandwich is piled high with house-made pickes and sweet mustard ketchup. Even a brief visit will leave anyone as contented as the people who work there, waiting to welcome the next convert through the door. —Leila Latif
4a-5a Perrins Court, Hampstead NW3 1QS