Maybe you’re in Shepherd’s Bush for a gig. Or maybe you work in the area. Or maybe, just maybe, you forgot your nephew’s birthday and you’re about to run the length of Westfield like you’re Forrest Gump on a mission to find the last remaining Baby Shark song doll in London. It doesn’t really matter why you’re in W12, what matters is that there are plenty of great places to eat around here. From one of London’s oldest Thai restaurants on Uxbridge Road, to a 16-seater omakase restaurant inside the old BBC Television Centre, this is where you should be eating in this part of west London.
When you first sit down at this 18-seater omakase restaurant on the top floor of the old BBC Television centre and Endo, the sushi master, emerges through a curtained side door, you’ll feel a kind of buzz we imagine is akin to watching The Beatles play Here Comes The Sun in ’69. This place not only has views across west London but everything from the Tokyo oyster, to the Cornish squid, to the Spanish otoro nigiri is exceptional. Plus, it’s all made directly in front of you, and then handed straight to you to eat. You should also expect big prices: £60 for a 10-course lunch, and £180 for an 18-course dinner - but both are entirely worth it for this kind of once-in-a-lifetime meal.
This Algerian street food spot inside Shepherd’s Bush Market is making some of the best sandwiches around. There’s a simple menu with five meats to choose from, including lamb’s liver, merguez, marinated chicken, and a fish fillet. And while all of the sandwiches are great, our favourites are the chicken and the minced meat. You’ll find regulars appearing out of nowhere and leaving with hefty sandwiches to-go, and you can watch as your meat of choice is fried to order. Harissa and mayonnaise is brushed onto the bread, and each sandwich is topped off with chips, a fried egg, and salad. They’re generously filled, make a great lunch, and once you try one, trust us, you’ll be back to taste everything on the menu.
Shikumen is one of the best restaurants in Shepherds Bush and unless you knew it was there, you’ll probably have walked past it dozens of times without knowing it. It’s a posh Chinese restaurant that just happens to be located inside the swish Dorsett Hotel, but don’t let that make you think it’s either ridiculously expensive nor pretentious. It isn’t. We’re not saying you should use it to drop in for a cheap bowl of noodles, but considering how good the food is, it’s a price we’re more than happy paying every now and then. The roast duck is very good, and you should absolutely come here for dim sum at the weekends, when the room’s bumping with Chinese families and the odd east London tourist. Book a date or group dinner here with confidence.
This spot on Uxbridge Road is apparently RiRi’s go-to Caribbean spot in Shepherd’s Bush. Their menu has everything from fish tea soup, to curry goat and jerk chicken, and excellent Jamaican patties with a choice between meat, chicken, fish, and vegetables for £2.50 a pop. Our favourite of the patties is the meat. It’s peppery, warming, and - surprise, surprise - meaty, but the chicken is also a great choice, and a little lighter. You’ll always find a queue of at least two people before you, but the wait is usually quick, and the food is definitely worth it.
The Uxbridge Road isn’t the prettiest stretch of road in Shepherds Bush, but it’s where some of the best action is in the area. Case in point, Bush Hall Dining Rooms, a pretty and relaxed diner with a very chilled ambience and anything you would conceivably want to eat on any given night. It’s a brilliant little neighbourhood place that’ll do you crab cakes or a tasty hamburger in a snip, and their pizza game is pretty good too. Hit it up for dinner with friends in the evening, or for their brunch.
Somewhere in W12, there is a dumpling burger waiting to be eaten. Why does that affect your life? We’ll tell you why. At this spot on Goldhawk Road, you can get some great jerk chicken sandwiched inside a fried dumpling. The dumpling is fluffy, and we could eat a whole batch of them alone (which they do sell), but the Caribbean jerk spiced chicken inside is saucy and full of flavour. You can add things like fried plantain, avocado, and cheese, or you can keep it simple. It’s a popular spot with limited seating, so if you’re in a rush taking it away is the better option.
Shepherd’s Bush isn’t lacking options when it comes to Lebanese restaurants and bakeries. But if you’re only going to try one, it should be Zeit & Zaatar. This little spot on Uxbridge Road has been specialising in manakeesh for over a decade, and it shows. They’ve got all the classics like zaatar and labneh, and halloumi, as well as some Z&Z specialties like basterma with cheese, and cheese and honey. What’s more, most of them come within the £3 to £5 range. You can’t go wrong with a classic lahm beajin or spinach, and we like to ask for some cheese on them, because... well... melted cheese.
It’s basically impossible to get any work done in Shepherd’s Bush without asking one of the following questions: When did Ricky Martin start making music again? Where did all these children come from? And, At what point did human beings start using Primark bags as paper nunchucks? But Flying Horse Coffee in the old BBC Television Centre is actually a pretty peaceful place to send some emails, get a little life admin done, or contemplate how they’re managing to keep so many hanging plants alive. The coffee here won’t blow you away, but the wifi is fast and there are plenty of pastries and baked goods to choose from come lunchtime.
A lot of the things you can eat inside Westfield fall into one of three categories - disappointing, free, or a combination of both. But luckily, Master Bao is a grab-and-find-a-space situation on the main balcony food court that doesn’t fall into any of the above categories. From the people behind Mr Bao and Daddy Bao, this Taiwanese spot serves everything from dan dan noodles, to some banging fried chicken, to pork dumplings, and obviously, plenty of bao buns. Heads up, if you work in the area, their two bao and a side meal deal for £12 is always a great shout.
Esarn is a cosy local spot on the Uxbridge Road, with old-school 80’s decor and sweet service that will effortlessly guide you through the menu of homestyle Northeastern Thai food. Esarn’s an original for Thai cuisine in London, and the food isn’t for the fainthearted. The minced pork and bamboo shoot salad is very good, and the tom yum is as intense as it is in Bangkok. If you do happen to have less adventurous eaters among you, relax - there’s also massaman curry and pad thai on the menu.
The first thing you need to do when you sit down at Kricket is order the Keralan fried chicken. The second is to order a cocktail. This modern Indian spot is in the old Television Centre and serves small plates, the odd larger dish, and some creative cocktails. This is a great spot when you’re heading out with a big group of friends for a catch up that requires several solid hours of eating and drinking, or with several colleagues, including two vegetarians, and someone who insists on only drinking IPA. Kricket has something that’ll please everyone. Just make sure you get a round of that fried chicken in so you’re pleased too.
It’s not easy to find an authentic little candlelit spot in Shepherd’s Bush, but if that’s what you’re searching for, Bocconi’s will fit the bill. This is a proper little Italian joint with herbs hanging from the window, entirely dodgy upholstery, and some secretly excellent food. Is the music, and some of the decor slightly questionable? Yes. It absolutely is. But that’s a price worth paying for this breed of homemade cooking. The menu changes regularly depending on what’s in season, and focuses mostly on fresh fish and meat, but if you’re feeling indecisive, you can’t go wrong with their mushroom risotto.
There are few pubs in London that you can take someone to for date night without them thinking that you intended to take them somewhere nicer around the corner, but forgot to make a booking. Unless, of course, you’re at a pub like The Queen Adelaide. It’s a retro pub on Uxbridge Road, with wood-panelled walls, a domed fireplace, 20s chandeliers, a giant painting of Queen Adelaide herself, and the kind of atmosphere that’s far more ‘charming date night’ than ‘hardcore boozer’. They serve proper gastropub fare with small plates like shin of beef croquette, but you really want one of their pies on your table.
Hummingbird Deli is an easy peasy breakfast and brunch spot a couple of minutes from Shepherd’s Bush Market station. It’s a cosy spot that’s convenient for snacking, and at the weekends you won’t be wanting for smashed avocado and eggs. The coffee’s decent, and it’s a very appropriate spot for nursing a hangover.
If you can make it through an hour of shopping at Westfield, or as we like to call it, visceral hell on Earth, without needing a glass of merlot, then we salute you. But, if you’re anything like us then you’ll be happy to know that across the road from Westfield is a small wine bar with lots of cheese. There’s an upstairs dining room that serves charcuterie and bigger dishes, but, really, you want to be downstairs tucked in one of their church pews with a bottle of wine. Just be warned, it’s a popular spot, so book ahead if you’re swinging by with more than two people.
Every neighbourhood needs a steadfast joint. Your port in the storm when biblically hungover. A shoulder to cry on when you spent your entire pay packet in the first five days of the month. For Shepherd’s Bush, that place is Mr Falafel. It’s a pretty basic grab-and-go setup, but their classic wrap is under a fiver and it’s got to be one of the best falafels in London.
It’s Saturday morning, and you’ve woken up in Chez Boo with your questionable one night stand from the previous night. Press reset and wander over to Proud Mary’s, where you can decide if you actually like them as a human being over an Aussie-style brunch. It’s the only place in W12 where you can optimistically pretend you’re in Sydney (especially if the sun’s out and they’ve set up chairs outside) and more importantly, everyone likes brunch so you can see them at their best. If they manage to ruin that, then feel free to leg it to the station. Get the pancakes.