“I want to eat something tasty, but anything in Fitzrovia except Pret is way over budget”. It’s happened to all of us a billion times, or it definitely will at some point during our stay at UCL.Well… that’s about to change. The truth is, between three Michelin star and “posh-and-not-even-that-good” restaurants, the area around campus has a number of hidden gems to offer. There really is choice for everyone: from the healthy, vegan spot to the hearty, family-run favorites. So, in case you’re looking for some inspiration for your next food hangout, here’s what I recommend. FYI everything is below 15 quid, obviously and the list is in no particular order!
- Santa Maria Pizzeria
Admit it, queueing at Franco Manca is annoying because it takes so long to get a table. And sometimes you just need a change. If you’re a pizza-connoisseur like myself (my Italianness compels me to), your best choice is Santa Maria. A young business offering authentic Neapolitan pizza. The real deal, with ingredients from Southern Italy and all the trimmings. Santa Maria offers a wide selection of vegan options, so that you can eat pizza and save the environment at the same time! No need to queue for hours on end, you can make a reservation.
(Margherita £8.50, all other pizzas around £11)
Keeping it on the carb side, Fortitude is a truly hidden beautiful bakery behind Russell Square. They make fresh pastries as well as sandwiches, galettes and paninis for lunch, all stuffed to the brim. And if you’re looking for the healthy option, there’s also salads to choose from, different ones every day to keep things exciting. It is really worth paying a visit, but be careful: they’re closed on weekends!
(Canapes and pastries £2 to £4, sandwiches £5 to £7)
- Half Cup
If you are familiar with Garden Halls, you’ve probably noticed this café around the corner from Cartwright Gardens. Aside from the Insta-worthy interior, Half Cup also serve some of the best brunch you’ll ever try. The pancakes are insanely fluffy, and their avocado toast is worth every penny of your student loan. The portions are very generous, so it’ll keep you full for the long library hours.
(Avo toast £9, full English breakfast £11 and pancakes £10)
- Roti King
Just next to Euston Station is this small, basement restaurant which will warm your heart, as well as your palate. The signature dish is the Roti Canai, a Malaysian dhal curry served with roti bread, oven-baked fresh in front of you in the minuscule open kitchen. It’s comfort food at its finest, especially for your wallet (the Roti Canai is £5). Then again, it’s quite well known among locals, so be prepared to queue (but perhaps not as long as you would have to for Franco Manca).
This takeaway Indian place serves some of the best lunchboxes around. You can make your own, choosing from chicken, lamb or a dreamy paneer (not biased, I do still dream of it at times), and a range of toppings. For £7 you also get naan balls and a drink. And Pilau donates part of their earnings to help children in poverty living in India. They are currently aiming to work with Akshaya Patra to feed one billion children. Have I persuaded you to eat here?
- Detox Kitchen
If you need your fitness-blogger healthy fix, Detox Kitchen is THE place to go. Pink-ish interiors and build-your-own dishes featuring sweet potato falafels, cashew hummus and poached salmon. Healthy but not dull at all, and if you’re feeling sweet, they also offer a selection of vegan desserts. All you need to really feel the London vibe.
(Soups £3 to £5, salads £6 to £9)
- Ahi Poke
You will want to try a poke bowl once in your life, just to see what the fuss is all about. I’ve tried many. And I have to say that Ahi Poke stays the best in terms of flavour, quality and price. If you don’t know what a poke is, think of a sushi bowl with a variety of toppings (including the signature Ahi crispy onion to sprinkle on top). A must!
(Signature bowls £8 to £11)
- Seoul Bakery
I couldn’t not include some good ol’ Asian. Seoul Bakery is a family run bakery is a trip to the authentic Far East, featuring their jeon (Korean pancakes), bibimbap, fried rice and a lot of other dishes which names I cannot pronounce and which ingredients I am not aware of. But it’s good, and traditional. Worth a visit.
(Korean pancakes £6 to £7, fried rice and noodles £5 to £6)
- Scandinavian Kitchen
A local favourite, this small Scandi place makes a selection of open toasties with extremely Scandi toppings such as meatballs, cabbage, herring and beetroot, with the possibility to combine them to salads and make a for a complete lunch. Otherwise, just go for the legendary meatballs and mash. Or the best cinnamon bun around. You’ll smell anything from the Scandinavian Kitchen from across the street. Word.
(2 sandwiches and salad £7, meatballs and mash £6.99, cinnamon bun £2.50)
- Jardin du Jasmin
Last but not least, Jardin du Jasmin offers some nice Middle Eastern food, because the list would not be complete without it: hummus, falafel and halloumi. Generous portions, satisfying options for all shapes and sizes and the cutest interior of them all: airy, full of light and plants hanging from the ceiling, exactly what you’d expect in Fitzrovia.
(Main and 2 salads £12,10, wraps £9.25)
No more complaining that Pret is the only affordable place to eat compared to the three Michelin star and “posh-and-not-even-that-good” restaurants . You now know the hidden gems to offer around the UCL campus area!