It sounds obvious, but there are lots of people doing lots of things around Bloomsbury and Holborn. You’ve got multiple universities. You’ve got Great Ormond Street. You’ve got the British bloody Museum. Basically, it’s non-stop and everyone tries to be as efficient as possible. Which is reflected in a lot of the restaurants around here. This is the guide to use for when you just want a late-night pizza after work, a big noodle-filled group lunch, the best restaurant in London, or just to pick up a pie on the way home.
Master Wei is the second restaurant from the folks who run Xi’an Impression. Need we say more? Probably not, but we will anyway. It’s got the same Chinese specialities that we know and love - cold liangpi noodles, rou ji mo buns, biang biang noodles - only in a bigger and slicker space in Bloomsbury. It’s super casual and walk-in only. Though, after the first time, you’ll find yourself walking in again and again.
Holborn Dining Rooms is a big faux-old brasserie attached to the Rosewood Hotel. The room itself is always buzzing and the menu is pretty extensive and full of price-hiked British classics. Ignore all these distractions and focus on one thing only: the pies. This place is home to London’s finest filled bits of pastry. Whether it’s the potato, comté, and caramelised onion, or the curried mutton, every pie is pretty magnificent. Best of all is there’s a little pie hole outside, meaning you can pick these guys up to go from the counter for under a tenner.
When it comes to Ciao Bella, we’re still slightly suspicious that someone stole an entire restaurant from an Italian coastal town and dropped it down on Lamb’s Conduit Street. This old school Italian restaurant has been here since the 80s, and everything from it’s nightly pianist Norman, to the banging atmosphere, and outdoor terrace, means that you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time here. Don’t miss their spaghetti al cartoccio, a big portion of pasta and seafood in a white wine sauce that arrives on your plate in a greaseproof bag. See, old school.
There’s nothing like a bit of theatre. And Abeno is a restaurant that understands that. Not in an am-dram, jazz hands way, but in a ‘wow, look at what that server can do armed with only a metal spatula, a hotplate, and some eggs’. They specialise in okonomi-yaki - a Kansai omelette situation - that they cook at your table, but they also serve other classics like notto, beef kara-age, and some very tasty tempura and yaki-soba. The tables are designed for twos and fours max, but the chill, slow-paced, casual feel makes it perfect for a lowkey birthday dinner, a long lunch, or a getting-to-know-you-better date.
The Fryer’s Delight is the most aesthetically pleasing chippie in London. We know we’re not meant to care about these things, but, honestly, it’s hard to resist a little smile when you sit down in one of their bright red formica-tabled booths. This place isn’t trying to be old school, it just is. The fish and chips themselves are tasty enough, though by no means the best we’ve ever had. It doesn’t really matter though as a solid portion of haddock, chips, and mushy peas is well under a tenner, and also a bit priceless in a place like this.
You’ve probably got lots of big, important things on your bucket list, like skydiving, making a family, and finally watching the entirety of The Wire. But no matter what else you’ve got planned for your life, a trip to Noble Rot should happen. This wine bar on Lamb’s Conduit Street is so much more than just a restaurant. There’s bread that’s so good the memory of it will appear before you as a mirage whenever you’re hungry. There’s the kind of classy but friendly service that ensures you’ll have a good time whether you’re here for a full dinner or just a glass of wine in the bar area up front. And, there’s the kind of atmosphere that makes it near impossible to leave. Even if you’ve got plans to watch The Wire.
Pizza Sophia is the exact kind of restaurant every non-stop area in London needs. This is a cute, family-run pizza spot that doesn’t overthink things. The pizzas are the kind with a fat, charred, and doughy crust, and a super thin slightly sloppy base. They’re an absolute snip at £8 for a margherita, considering how good they taste. Unfortunately this spot is no secret, and this place is usually chocka, so call ahead if you’re going at peak lunch or dinner time.
Everyone knows the worth of a place that you can just walk into and sit down, no stress, at any time of day or night. Especially one that actually serves good food. Chang’s Noodle is one of those. This Chinese spot in Holborn is one of our go-tos when we’re in need of some hand-pulled noodles, alone or with other people. Although we like a lot of the menu, it’s the shan xi yo po that we keep coming back to. That said, don’t sleep on their sweet and sour pork. It’s some of the best we’ve had.
Bloomsbury has plenty of coffee shops, but few have the charm or utility of Fleet Kitchen, which occupies the front corner of an old hotel on Tavistock Square. Lunch here is fine, with a range of salads, quiche and frittata type things generally on offer, but as a place to hang out, do some work, or just drink coffee whilst eating some excellent sweet baked treats, this spot is unrivalled in this part of town.
You should expect two things from Seoul Bakery. One is a queue. And the other is the kind of kimchi rice that makes you understand exactly why there’s a queue. The walls of this little Korean spot are covered in graffiti from previous visitors, there’s communal seating, and a K-Pop memorabilia store downstairs. Basically, it’s cheap, it’s cheerful, and the food is great. Be warned, it’s cash only and they close at 7.30.
North of the Euston Road isn’t officially Bloomsbury, but it’s close enough, and Malaysian restaurant Roti King is well worth crossing a road for. The speciality here is roti canai - soft, flaky flatbreads served with a bowl of curry, and at around £5 it’s one of London’s best cheap eats. It’s walk-in, BYOB, and cash only, but, be warned, it gets very busy at peak hours.
Murger Han does indeed serve a pretty great murger - a traditional Chinese food that involves slow cooked meat in a flat bread - but they also serve a lot of other things. There are clay pot dishes, dumplings, soup, and some excellent biang biang noodles that you should definitely get involved in. This place is perfect for a laidback dinner with a couple friends, a speedy lunch, or to swing-by mid-afternoon for some top Xi’anese dishes.