Fish and chips? Please. Real Londoners save all their calories for beer and half-price cocktails at Dirty Martini’s happy hour. That means the days are spent drinking kale and cucumber juice while shopping for new yoga pants before dining at that new paleo diet restaurant. Your New Year’s Resolution to eat healthy and lose weight would be going just fine if it weren’t for the fact that London has damn good junk food.
Personally I don’t save my calories for cocktails. Instead I save them for that exciting day every dieter looks forward to: cheat meals day. Wait, that’s not right… it’s just one cheat meal, right?
The struggle is real, people. To fit into my pants that is.
The King, Red Dog American Sandwiches
There are those hot dog toppings you look at and think ‘gross’ and then your friend persuades you to try it and you have dreams about it for weeks. I am that friend and The King is that hot dog. It has peanut butter and jelly, with a bit of bacon sprinkled on top. I mean it: dreams. For weeks.
Salted caramel chocolate tart, Pizza East
Sure, you go here for the pizza but stay at Pizza East for the dessert. This indulgent chocolate fantasy will make your mouth water and, well, remember the diner scene in When Harry Met Sally? That will be you, but for real. I actually went here twice to take a picture of it for a blog post and was so excited that I forgot to take the picture.
Onion rings, Byron Burger
I don’t know what it is about them but onion rings is one dish the Brits just can’t get right – they’re always not battered enough, too doughy, or too soggy. Except at Byron Burger. Proudly crush that burger with a side of onion rings on your #fitspiration day off — they count as one of your five a day, right?
This isn’t a restaurant but a pop-up you’ll only find at markets. Bokits are French Caribbean sandwiches made with deep-fried bread. Yes, you read that right – they deep fry the bread and fill it with all the delicious tastiness you’ve ever eaten. For this reason, cheat day is Sunday.
Arancini balls, Arancini Factory
If you’re sensing a trend here, I will confirm: deep-fried is the cheat day way. Perfectly sculpted and breaded risotto, cooked until they’re a crispy golden brown. Dip one in that garlic mayo and notice your eyes roll back into your head.
Salt beef bagel, Beigel Bake
There are two bagel shops right next to each other on Brick Lane. Don’t be a mug, always choose the one on the right. Beigel Bake has been serving up salty salt beef on perfectly boiled bagels for years. There’s always more juicy salt beef than bread and a dollop of strong mustard. Relish in the fact that it’s high protein and delicious.
Lobster roll, Burger & Lobster
You only have three options at this restaurant but on a cheat day you choose the lobster roll. The reviews are true, people: it’s tasty Canadian lobster doused in Japanese mayo, served in a lightly toasted brioche with melted garlic butter on the side. You just licked your lips, I know you did.
Malbec & Berries sorbet, Freggo
You’ll never stumble upon this place, it’s tucked away in a back street near Piccadilly Circus. They serve sorbet that tastes like wine. Wine! Oh, and berries are an antioxidant, so there. Healthy, not healthy.
Wings with a side of wings, Red Dog Saloon
Yes, I already sort of mentioned this place (Red Dog American Sandwiches is the take-away joint attached to this restaurant) but honestly, Brits don’t do wings right either! But with Red Dog Saloon, you get perfectly juicy wings slathered in sauce and a side of – you’d never guess – blue cheese sauce. The chefs spent a lot of time exploring the good old US of A to get this recipe right. The only way to thank them is to order two portions.
BBQ pork Bahn Mi, Keu Deli
If there was one great thing that the French gave the Vietnamese it’s the ability to make a damn good baguette. Keu’s melt-in-your-mouth baguette is filled with honey glazed pork, spring onions, cucumber, and cilantro – one bite and you’ll be hooked.
In all honesty, this is just the tip of London’s naughty food iceberg. What are some of your favourite ‘cheat’ meals?
All photos CC-licensed or public domain at time of publication.