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A tray of fresh rugelach at Carmelli Bakery, a Jewish bakery in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

9 Great Restaurants in Golders Green

Where to find superb sabich, legendary bagels, luxurious latkes and revelatory rugelach

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While north east London is ever so edgy — Tottenham! Walthamstow! Green Lanes! — Golders Green has avoided the coolification of zone 3 north London. But cool, schmool — the food is excellent. Home to one of the UK’s largest Jewish populations, kosher cuisine dominates, so no shellfish, no pork, no combining meat and milk. So too does Israeli-style hummus and shawarma, and salt beef from the Ashkenazim of Eastern Europe. The main drag of Golders Green Road is not the prettiest of streets, but it makes up for it in sheer exuberance: Golders Green on a Sunday evening is as bustling as Shoreditch on a Friday night. Although perhaps don’t head for NW11 on a Friday night: Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, means that most of these nine restaurants are closed from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Pita

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102 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8HB, UK

With its white painted bricks, craft beer-lined bookshelves and exposed lightbulbs, this Middle Eastern street food bar could be straight outta, well, Shoreditch. Its actual inspiration is the pita-slinging takeouts of Tel Aviv, where incredible falafel fly out of tiny kitchens to a thumping soundtrack. Here, falafel, glaring green with coriander, is scooped and fried fresh to order; excellent hummus comes topped in umpteen ways — but really it’s all about the sabich pita, stuffed with fried aubergine, hard boiled egg and pickles, all drenched in tahini.

2. Hummus Bar

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82 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8LN, UK

Specialising in chickpea dip hasn’t proved fortuitous in 2018, but surely, hopefully, this restaurant is too good to fail? Dark wood decor and cheesy Americana beer signs don’t initially suggest greatness, and booking a table is essentially impossible (answering the phone is not a Hummus Bar strong point). But turn up on a hope and a prayer and they might reluctantly let you sit for what is probably the best hummus outside of the Middle East, submerged in a lake of tahini and topped with falafel, mushrooms, salt beef or, er, ground beef and BBQ sauce, ‘sloppy joe’ style.

Falafel on hummus at Hummus Bar, an Israeli restaurant in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

3. Likya

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68-70 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8LN, UK

This huge Turkish ocakbasi restaurant with its garden centre pine plank ceiling and faux-stone walls is so popular that queues for takeaway stretch long beside the huge coal-filled fire pit where chefs play foosball with the dozens of skewers moving down the line, and dining tables spill out onto the street. Fiery dips and the romesco-like cevizli biber are excellent, as is the house specialty of yogurtlu and iksender kebabs: lamb and chicken cooked with tomato and yoghurt-butter sauce, with ample flatbread for post-mortem mopping.

Yogurtlu kebabs at Likya, a Turkish ocakbasi restaurant in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

4. The Salt Beef Bar

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2 Monkville Ave
London NW11 0AL, UK
020 8731 7375

The interior of this miniature cafe is so retro — having apparently not been redecorated in the 33 years it’s been open on this unlovely junction of Finchley Road and the North Circular — as to be immensely hip in 2018. Formica tables sit down with tins of mustard; twenty year old adverts frame the walls and sports gently chatter on the radio. Essentially, it’s a greasy spoon, but with congealed egg and fried bread replaced by wonderful home cured salt beef, latkes, chopped liver and lokshen pudding, all served by the lovely Greek Cypriot owner, whose manner is as soft and gentle as the rosy beef he carves and stuffs into white, rye or bagel slathered with that mustard.

Salt beef sandwich at The Salt Beef Bar, a Jewish deli in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

5. Sami's Restaurant

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118 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8HB, UK
020 8458 7003

Where Pita is slick and shiny, Sami’s is the shabby, old school shawarma bar lurking at the far end of the main drag. The red and black signage makes it look slightly like a dodgy nightclub in Amsterdam’s red light district and service comes Israeli-style — that is, not necessarily the politest — but what it lacks in vibes, it makes up for in failsafe kosher food. Yemenite soup, thick with beef ribs and potatoes and turmeric, is a surefire cure all for colds, jet lag and hangover; after that, it’s all about the build your own pita/laffa bar. Put on the spot at the time of assembly, choices will fly out the window, but make sure to include the aubergine, fired to sweet juicy pulp, and both hummus and tahini. Top with superlative shawarma, more freshly fried falafel or chicken shaslik straight off the grill.

Shawarma pita at Sami’s, a shawarma bar in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

6. Bella del Gelato

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62a Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8LN, UK

London does not lack gelato. Kosher gelato, on the other hand, is rarer — so this broom cupboard of a shop, whose volcanic core temperature in summer might well be a cunning business tactic, is constantly busy. All 16 flavours on offer are made on site, and while purist pedants’ lips might curl at the day-glo mounds of ‘Blue Moon Vanilla’ and ‘Pink Bubblegum’, a cone of bright strawberry or espresso dark Swiss chocolate, licked vigilantly on a summer evening stroll along Golders Green Road, is pure pleasure.

Gelato at Bella Gelato, an ice cream parlour in Golders Green, London Bella Gelato

7. Carmelli Bakeries Ltd

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126-128 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8HB, UK

The word ‘legendary’ gets bandied around a lot, but when a bakery makes the best bagels in London, it probably deserves the L word. Carmelli also claims to be the first British bakery to boil and bake its bagels by hand, resulting in the slightly sweet, super dense and crunchy exterior-ed excellence that former locals beg current locals to bring as gifts by the sackful. Bagels aside, there is cheesecake and baklava and still-warm rugelach to be prised straight from baking trays on the glass counter.

A tray of fresh rugelach at Carmelli Bakery, a Jewish bakery in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

8. Met Su Yan

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134 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8HB, UK

The name of this kosher pan-Asian restaurant is a joke. At first glance, it sort of looks and sounds Oriental. Actually, it’s a phonetic Hebrew translation for “excellent”. Don’t come expecting hyper-regional delicacies from remote provinces: this is unabashedly catch-all ‘Chinese’, albeit with some glatt (strict) kosher substitutes: chicken toast instead of prawn and a lot of lamb in black bean and Peking sauce besides the roast duck and sweet and sour chicken. Authentic? No. Comforting? Definitely.

A Chinese spread from Met Su Yan, a Chinese restaurant in Golders Green, London

9. Cafe Japan

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626 Finchley Rd
London NW11 7RR, UK

This light, slender canteen is a branch of Atari-Ya, which means the sushi comes with pretty slick pedigree: their wholesale operation T&S Enterprise supplies Mayfair’s flashest raw fish joints, from Nobu to Zuma. So when not in the mood to drop a grand in Berkeley Square, Cafe Japan’s toro and spring onion rolls, eel nigiri and teriyaki salmon make for a cheaper, equally delicious supper in a far more pleasant environment. As for that famous £42 Nobu black cod miso? £15 at Cafe Japan. Buy three and put the extra £3 down to smugness.

1. Pita

102 Golders Green Rd, London NW11 8HB, UK

With its white painted bricks, craft beer-lined bookshelves and exposed lightbulbs, this Middle Eastern street food bar could be straight outta, well, Shoreditch. Its actual inspiration is the pita-slinging takeouts of Tel Aviv, where incredible falafel fly out of tiny kitchens to a thumping soundtrack. Here, falafel, glaring green with coriander, is scooped and fried fresh to order; excellent hummus comes topped in umpteen ways — but really it’s all about the sabich pita, stuffed with fried aubergine, hard boiled egg and pickles, all drenched in tahini.

102 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8HB, UK

2. Hummus Bar

82 Golders Green Rd, London NW11 8LN, UK
Falafel on hummus at Hummus Bar, an Israeli restaurant in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

Specialising in chickpea dip hasn’t proved fortuitous in 2018, but surely, hopefully, this restaurant is too good to fail? Dark wood decor and cheesy Americana beer signs don’t initially suggest greatness, and booking a table is essentially impossible (answering the phone is not a Hummus Bar strong point). But turn up on a hope and a prayer and they might reluctantly let you sit for what is probably the best hummus outside of the Middle East, submerged in a lake of tahini and topped with falafel, mushrooms, salt beef or, er, ground beef and BBQ sauce, ‘sloppy joe’ style.

82 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8LN, UK

3. Likya

68-70 Golders Green Rd, London NW11 8LN, UK
Yogurtlu kebabs at Likya, a Turkish ocakbasi restaurant in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

This huge Turkish ocakbasi restaurant with its garden centre pine plank ceiling and faux-stone walls is so popular that queues for takeaway stretch long beside the huge coal-filled fire pit where chefs play foosball with the dozens of skewers moving down the line, and dining tables spill out onto the street. Fiery dips and the romesco-like cevizli biber are excellent, as is the house specialty of yogurtlu and iksender kebabs: lamb and chicken cooked with tomato and yoghurt-butter sauce, with ample flatbread for post-mortem mopping.

68-70 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8LN, UK

4. The Salt Beef Bar

2 Monkville Ave, London NW11 0AL, UK
Salt beef sandwich at The Salt Beef Bar, a Jewish deli in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

The interior of this miniature cafe is so retro — having apparently not been redecorated in the 33 years it’s been open on this unlovely junction of Finchley Road and the North Circular — as to be immensely hip in 2018. Formica tables sit down with tins of mustard; twenty year old adverts frame the walls and sports gently chatter on the radio. Essentially, it’s a greasy spoon, but with congealed egg and fried bread replaced by wonderful home cured salt beef, latkes, chopped liver and lokshen pudding, all served by the lovely Greek Cypriot owner, whose manner is as soft and gentle as the rosy beef he carves and stuffs into white, rye or bagel slathered with that mustard.

2 Monkville Ave
London NW11 0AL, UK

5. Sami's Restaurant

118 Golders Green Rd, London NW11 8HB, UK
Shawarma pita at Sami’s, a shawarma bar in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

Where Pita is slick and shiny, Sami’s is the shabby, old school shawarma bar lurking at the far end of the main drag. The red and black signage makes it look slightly like a dodgy nightclub in Amsterdam’s red light district and service comes Israeli-style — that is, not necessarily the politest — but what it lacks in vibes, it makes up for in failsafe kosher food. Yemenite soup, thick with beef ribs and potatoes and turmeric, is a surefire cure all for colds, jet lag and hangover; after that, it’s all about the build your own pita/laffa bar. Put on the spot at the time of assembly, choices will fly out the window, but make sure to include the aubergine, fired to sweet juicy pulp, and both hummus and tahini. Top with superlative shawarma, more freshly fried falafel or chicken shaslik straight off the grill.

118 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8HB, UK

6. Bella del Gelato

62a Golders Green Rd, London NW11 8LN, UK
Gelato at Bella Gelato, an ice cream parlour in Golders Green, London Bella Gelato

London does not lack gelato. Kosher gelato, on the other hand, is rarer — so this broom cupboard of a shop, whose volcanic core temperature in summer might well be a cunning business tactic, is constantly busy. All 16 flavours on offer are made on site, and while purist pedants’ lips might curl at the day-glo mounds of ‘Blue Moon Vanilla’ and ‘Pink Bubblegum’, a cone of bright strawberry or espresso dark Swiss chocolate, licked vigilantly on a summer evening stroll along Golders Green Road, is pure pleasure.

62a Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8LN, UK

7. Carmelli Bakeries Ltd

126-128 Golders Green Rd, London NW11 8HB, UK
A tray of fresh rugelach at Carmelli Bakery, a Jewish bakery in Golders Green, London Frankie McCoy

The word ‘legendary’ gets bandied around a lot, but when a bakery makes the best bagels in London, it probably deserves the L word. Carmelli also claims to be the first British bakery to boil and bake its bagels by hand, resulting in the slightly sweet, super dense and crunchy exterior-ed excellence that former locals beg current locals to bring as gifts by the sackful. Bagels aside, there is cheesecake and baklava and still-warm rugelach to be prised straight from baking trays on the glass counter.

126-128 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8HB, UK

8. Met Su Yan

134 Golders Green Rd, London NW11 8HB, UK
A Chinese spread from Met Su Yan, a Chinese restaurant in Golders Green, London

The name of this kosher pan-Asian restaurant is a joke. At first glance, it sort of looks and sounds Oriental. Actually, it’s a phonetic Hebrew translation for “excellent”. Don’t come expecting hyper-regional delicacies from remote provinces: this is unabashedly catch-all ‘Chinese’, albeit with some glatt (strict) kosher substitutes: chicken toast instead of prawn and a lot of lamb in black bean and Peking sauce besides the roast duck and sweet and sour chicken. Authentic? No. Comforting? Definitely.

134 Golders Green Rd
London NW11 8HB, UK

9. Cafe Japan

626 Finchley Rd, London NW11 7RR, UK

This light, slender canteen is a branch of Atari-Ya, which means the sushi comes with pretty slick pedigree: their wholesale operation T&S Enterprise supplies Mayfair’s flashest raw fish joints, from Nobu to Zuma. So when not in the mood to drop a grand in Berkeley Square, Cafe Japan’s toro and spring onion rolls, eel nigiri and teriyaki salmon make for a cheaper, equally delicious supper in a far more pleasant environment. As for that famous £42 Nobu black cod miso? £15 at Cafe Japan. Buy three and put the extra £3 down to smugness.

626 Finchley Rd
London NW11 7RR, UK

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