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A range of intricately decorated pies from Calum Franklin’s Pie Room at Holborn Dining Room
A range of pies from the Pie Room in Holborn.
BBC

15 Great Pies to Eat in London

From 100 year-old pie (and mash) to works of modern pastry art

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A range of pies from the Pie Room in Holborn.
| BBC

It’s high time (pie time?) for London to start getting real about dinner — those faffy small plates aren’t going to cut the mustard any longer. Outsiders might make fun of all the mashed potato, but it’s a vital second line of defence against the all-consuming drizzle and gloom. The first? Pie.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Chicken and tarragon pie at The Drapers Arms

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44 Barnsbury St
London N1 1ER, UK

Beneath a hefty suet lid lurks an accomplished pie filling with a hint of bittersweet tarragon, which makes a pleasant change from all that leek (sorry to the leeks but they’re everywhere). This is a great weekend pie for people who like to go for Sunday roasts but not actually eat roasts, with some savoy cabbage and smoked chilli butter on the side.

2. Beef shin, pickled walnut and onion pie at Marksman Public House

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254 Hackney Rd
London E2 7SJ, UK

Here at one of London’s dreamiest pubs, they have a way of making every dish feel like an event, not least this majestic circle of a pie that’s made to be shared. There’ll be just enough room on the table for a mustardy salad and those fried potatoes with burnt onion mayonnaise — a version of pie and chips that’s so good, Londoners barely deserve it.

3. Pork pie at Holborn Dining Room

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High Holborn
London WC1V 7EN, UK

Anyone who has heard of the Internet has seen Calum Franklin’s masterpieces — a fish-shaped seabass en croute here, a flawlessly latticed wellington there. No big deal. All in a day’s work. One of his key concerns is the pork pie. He takes this (often bad and weird) British classic and makes it magnificent (and crown-shaped), with pork shoulder, pork leg, pancetta, smoked ham hock and fennel seeds.

4. Chicken and leek pie at The Wigmore

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15 Langham Place, Regent Street, Marylebone
London W1B 3DE, UK

This pie is a beautiful, fully-formed thing — as much a “pub pie” as this swish establishment is a “pub”. It’s got a thick, rich pastry outer (not just a lid), and the richest, most delicious filling laden with chicken and sweet, buttery leeks. It’s served with possibly the smoothest mash on this list, and a personal pot of mustard.

5. Pie of the Day at Quo Vadis

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28-29 Dean St, Soho
London W1D 3LL, UK

This Soho icon, with its stained glass and golden light, seems an elaborate choice for a no-reason mid-winter dinner, so pare it right back to their pie of the day; it’s all one could ever need. Pie fillings tend to be brothy, stocky and loaded with multiple meats (chicken, duck and bacon or beef and venison.)

6. Fish pie at J Sheekey

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28-32 St Martin's Ct
London WC2N 4AL, UK

Fancy people have been lunching on this legendary pie (and champagne) for a hundred years and it turns out they’ve been right to do so. The pie is an individual, golden, breadcrumbed beauty to be worked through alone. Under a cheesy mashed potato top, there are chunks of white fish and salmon in a creamy, mustardy sauce. No egg, though — a possible point of contention.

7. Pork, caramelised onion and black pudding pie at The Ginger Pig

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Borough Market, Borough High St
London SE1 1TL, UK

Everyone’s favourite bougie butcher makes bits and bobs for its bakery in the traditional style, because — it says — historically, pastry was a way of making meat go further (see also: Yorkshire puddings). They do sausage rolls and hot pies, but the picnic pies are where it’s at. The ingredients in this one are layered up a treat inside a hot water crust, with jelly made the old-fashioned way with pigs’ trotters.

8. Beef and onion pie at M.Manze

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105 Peckham High St
London SE15 5RS, UK

The Manze family knew they were on to something, so they divided and conquered. Michele Manze was Luigi’s brother and his legacy is in the south — in Peckham, Tower Bridge and Sutton. His places’ pie games are just as strong, too.

9. Empanadas at Elephant Coffee

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109 Elephant Rd, Elephant and Castle
London SE17 1LB, UK
07828 193548

Welcome to the hand pies. These rugby ball pleated Latin-Cornish pasties can be found dotted around the Colombian bakeries of Elephant and Castle. Look for them and they are impossible to miss, the colour of sunshine and filled with slow cooked strands of meat, ready to be liberally dipped in homemade aji. The best empanada of all in Elephant isn’t really an empanada, but the arepa de paisa at Elephant Coffee, a circular version filled with the entire contents of a bandeja paisa: chorizo, crispy chicharron, shredded chicken, black beans and plantain, a dumpling as neutron star — all for £3.

10. Salteñas at Jenecheru London Restaurant

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206 Old Kent Rd
London SE1 5TY, UK

Imagine someone pointing at a Cornish pasty and saying “soup dumpling. Essentially, that is the salteña, Bolivian versions of empanadas which are so much more than they appear. For one, they are baked rather than fried, and filled not with just meat but with gelatinous rich beef or chicken stew, often sweet with raisins, as well as chopped egg and a whole olive (sometimes dastardly unpitted), dribbling and squirting everywhere from the first bite. It’s possible to get versions of these around Elephant and Castle at many of the Colombian bakeries, but the real deal can be found at Jenecheru on Old Kent Road.

11. Literally any pie at 40 Maltby Street

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40 Maltby St
London SE1 3PA, UK

You heard.

12. Ham hock, mustard, and cider pie at The Quality Chop House Shop

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90 Farringdon Rd
London EC1R 3EA, UK

Bite into this pie in situ and experience horror, for it is raw. Yes, there’s some work involved for the diner — the pie must be taken home and cooked, or ordered for delivery — but it’s a mighty contender for a cold night in. The chicken and leek and cheddar and mushroom versions are both strong, but this pie is filled with titanic tangles of ham hock, the texture of which lets them integrate better into the rich, piquant filling than their fowl counterpart.

13. A pie at Willy's Pies

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352 Westgate St
London E8 3RL, UK

They’ve been a fixture of online delivery for a good while, but Will Lewis’s pies now have their own arch (and weekly appearances in some of east London’s better butchers and food stores.) There’s pie and mash here — sometimes kale, Ogleshield cheese, and shallot; sometimes chicken and leek — but also a range of Greggs-besting slices; sausa

14. The pie at Rochelle Canteen

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16 Playground Gardens
London E2 7FA, UK

Rochelle Canteen’s pies follow simple rules: they come in great oval tureens; they are richly filled and topped with friable pastry; they are to be spooned out in great hulking portions. After that, the fillings change seasonally, to add an element of the unexpected to what is otherwise a great constant.

15. The pie at St. John Restaurant

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26 St John St, Barbican
London EC1M 4AY, UK

St. John’s pies follow simple rules: they come in great oval tureens; they are richly filled and topped with friable pastry; they are to be spooned out in great hulking portions. After that, the fillings change seasonally, to add an element of the unexpected to what is otherwise a great constant.

1. Chicken and tarragon pie at The Drapers Arms

44 Barnsbury St, London N1 1ER, UK

Beneath a hefty suet lid lurks an accomplished pie filling with a hint of bittersweet tarragon, which makes a pleasant change from all that leek (sorry to the leeks but they’re everywhere). This is a great weekend pie for people who like to go for Sunday roasts but not actually eat roasts, with some savoy cabbage and smoked chilli butter on the side.

44 Barnsbury St
London N1 1ER, UK

2. Beef shin, pickled walnut and onion pie at Marksman Public House

254 Hackney Rd, London E2 7SJ, UK

Here at one of London’s dreamiest pubs, they have a way of making every dish feel like an event, not least this majestic circle of a pie that’s made to be shared. There’ll be just enough room on the table for a mustardy salad and those fried potatoes with burnt onion mayonnaise — a version of pie and chips that’s so good, Londoners barely deserve it.

254 Hackney Rd
London E2 7SJ, UK

3. Pork pie at Holborn Dining Room

High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN, UK

Anyone who has heard of the Internet has seen Calum Franklin’s masterpieces — a fish-shaped seabass en croute here, a flawlessly latticed wellington there. No big deal. All in a day’s work. One of his key concerns is the pork pie. He takes this (often bad and weird) British classic and makes it magnificent (and crown-shaped), with pork shoulder, pork leg, pancetta, smoked ham hock and fennel seeds.

High Holborn
London WC1V 7EN, UK

4. Chicken and leek pie at The Wigmore

15 Langham Place, Regent Street, Marylebone, London W1B 3DE, UK

This pie is a beautiful, fully-formed thing — as much a “pub pie” as this swish establishment is a “pub”. It’s got a thick, rich pastry outer (not just a lid), and the richest, most delicious filling laden with chicken and sweet, buttery leeks. It’s served with possibly the smoothest mash on this list, and a personal pot of mustard.

15 Langham Place, Regent Street, Marylebone
London W1B 3DE, UK

5. Pie of the Day at Quo Vadis

28-29 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3LL, UK

This Soho icon, with its stained glass and golden light, seems an elaborate choice for a no-reason mid-winter dinner, so pare it right back to their pie of the day; it’s all one could ever need. Pie fillings tend to be brothy, stocky and loaded with multiple meats (chicken, duck and bacon or beef and venison.)

28-29 Dean St, Soho
London W1D 3LL, UK

6. Fish pie at J Sheekey

28-32 St Martin's Ct, London WC2N 4AL, UK

Fancy people have been lunching on this legendary pie (and champagne) for a hundred years and it turns out they’ve been right to do so. The pie is an individual, golden, breadcrumbed beauty to be worked through alone. Under a cheesy mashed potato top, there are chunks of white fish and salmon in a creamy, mustardy sauce. No egg, though — a possible point of contention.

28-32 St Martin's Ct
London WC2N 4AL, UK

7. Pork, caramelised onion and black pudding pie at The Ginger Pig

Borough Market, Borough High St, London SE1 1TL, UK

Everyone’s favourite bougie butcher makes bits and bobs for its bakery in the traditional style, because — it says — historically, pastry was a way of making meat go further (see also: Yorkshire puddings). They do sausage rolls and hot pies, but the picnic pies are where it’s at. The ingredients in this one are layered up a treat inside a hot water crust, with jelly made the old-fashioned way with pigs’ trotters.

Borough Market, Borough High St
London SE1 1TL, UK

8. Beef and onion pie at M.Manze

105 Peckham High St, London SE15 5RS, UK

The Manze family knew they were on to something, so they divided and conquered. Michele Manze was Luigi’s brother and his legacy is in the south — in Peckham, Tower Bridge and Sutton. His places’ pie games are just as strong, too.

105 Peckham High St
London SE15 5RS, UK

9. Empanadas at Elephant Coffee

109 Elephant Rd, Elephant and Castle, London SE17 1LB, UK

Welcome to the hand pies. These rugby ball pleated Latin-Cornish pasties can be found dotted around the Colombian bakeries of Elephant and Castle. Look for them and they are impossible to miss, the colour of sunshine and filled with slow cooked strands of meat, ready to be liberally dipped in homemade aji. The best empanada of all in Elephant isn’t really an empanada, but the arepa de paisa at Elephant Coffee, a circular version filled with the entire contents of a bandeja paisa: chorizo, crispy chicharron, shredded chicken, black beans and plantain, a dumpling as neutron star — all for £3.

109 Elephant Rd, Elephant and Castle
London SE17 1LB, UK

10. Salteñas at Jenecheru London Restaurant

206 Old Kent Rd, London SE1 5TY, UK

Imagine someone pointing at a Cornish pasty and saying “soup dumpling. Essentially, that is the salteña, Bolivian versions of empanadas which are so much more than they appear. For one, they are baked rather than fried, and filled not with just meat but with gelatinous rich beef or chicken stew, often sweet with raisins, as well as chopped egg and a whole olive (sometimes dastardly unpitted), dribbling and squirting everywhere from the first bite. It’s possible to get versions of these around Elephant and Castle at many of the Colombian bakeries, but the real deal can be found at Jenecheru on Old Kent Road.

206 Old Kent Rd
London SE1 5TY, UK

11. Literally any pie at 40 Maltby Street

40 Maltby St, London SE1 3PA, UK

You heard.

40 Maltby St
London SE1 3PA, UK

12. Ham hock, mustard, and cider pie at The Quality Chop House Shop

90 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3EA, UK

Bite into this pie in situ and experience horror, for it is raw. Yes, there’s some work involved for the diner — the pie must be taken home and cooked, or ordered for delivery — but it’s a mighty contender for a cold night in. The chicken and leek and cheddar and mushroom versions are both strong, but this pie is filled with titanic tangles of ham hock, the texture of which lets them integrate better into the rich, piquant filling than their fowl counterpart.

90 Farringdon Rd
London EC1R 3EA, UK

13. A pie at Willy's Pies

352 Westgate St, London E8 3RL, UK

They’ve been a fixture of online delivery for a good while, but Will Lewis’s pies now have their own arch (and weekly appearances in some of east London’s better butchers and food stores.) There’s pie and mash here — sometimes kale, Ogleshield cheese, and shallot; sometimes chicken and leek — but also a range of Greggs-besting slices; sausa

352 Westgate St
London E8 3RL, UK

14. The pie at Rochelle Canteen

16 Playground Gardens, London E2 7FA, UK

Rochelle Canteen’s pies follow simple rules: they come in great oval tureens; they are richly filled and topped with friable pastry; they are to be spooned out in great hulking portions. After that, the fillings change seasonally, to add an element of the unexpected to what is otherwise a great constant.

16 Playground Gardens
London E2 7FA, UK

15. The pie at St. John Restaurant

26 St John St, Barbican, London EC1M 4AY, UK

St. John’s pies follow simple rules: they come in great oval tureens; they are richly filled and topped with friable pastry; they are to be spooned out in great hulking portions. After that, the fillings change seasonally, to add an element of the unexpected to what is otherwise a great constant.

26 St John St, Barbican
London EC1M 4AY, UK

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