The Best Restaurants In Wembley

Not just the home of football, Wembley is also where you'll find some of London's best South Asian restaurants too.
A vegetarian thali plate at Asher's Africana with a mango lassi on the side.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Wembley is probably best-known as being the home of English football, but its arch isn’t even the most impressive structure within a two-mile radius—just down the road is the Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir, an astonishing, intricately carved Hindu temple. The point being, there’s lots to Wembley beyond the stadium and that extends to its restaurants. Mumbai street foods reign supreme, from pani puri huts to incredible three-bite vada pavs, or you can just as easily sit down for Gujarati thali, as you can a fish fry Goan spread. So whether you’re nearby, coming for an event, or want to get out of your usual area, this part of north west London is worth lots of attention.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

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One bite of a £1.50 vada pav is all you need to wonder why these delicious vegetarian Mumbai street snacks aren't available on every corner in London. A corner is where you’ll find Amols Vada Pav, mind. This little spot is just up from Alperton station and is a popular sit-down rest stop for a cup of chai and a little pick-me-up. Like most fast food shops in London, it’s a little scruffy around the edges and the lighting isn’t exactly Vogue-ready, but the food is carefully made. The buns of the vada pav are just crisp on the outside but soft enough to absorb the chutneys and soft fried potato after one bite. Inhale one and then look towards adding cheese, the pan puri, or maybe a samosa. This is a vast menu that deserves exploring.

Some restaurants are just as good alone as they are en masse, but Taste Of Peshawar is not one of them. The Pashtun restaurant near Stonebridge Park is an expert in platters that would have Fred Flintstone slobbering. These comically large piles of food—charred and juicy chapli kebabs, garam masala-heavy lamb chops, glowing chicken wings, and a load of chips for good measure—are what big groups dive into on a nightly basis. Tables are often tight-knit in the plainly decorated room, all eyes on a pile of kabli pulao and noses picking up the scent of a charsi chicken karahi coming from elsewhere. There isn’t anything else you’ll want to focus on.

Plenty of tea is spilled between friends at Asher’s Africana but never the excellent chai. The humming, cash-only vegetarian Gujarati spot in Wembley has a warm, laid-back, canteen-ish feel to it that’s only heightened by groups of friends, old and young, trading stories over ludicrously thin rotis and crispy samosas. There are a few choices to make but going with a thali is a safe bet. The Gujarati special includes five ghee-smothered roti, a choice of two vegetable curries, samosas, lassi, and yoghurt. The curries change not just daily, but hourly, depending on the mood of the hectic kitchen. It’s worth having a chat if you’re after something on the spicier side, or something that’s straight nourishing.

This Goan spot in Wembley Central is all plastic tablecloths and maternal service mixed with the sizzling sound of deep-frying from the kitchen. Joking friends and solo workers stretch their lunch break to the limit in this low-key room and it’s easy to do the same with deep-fried tilapia and prawn thali. The tray arrives with an artful mound of rice, a pot of fragrant fish red curry, pickles, kisum, sol kodi, and crunchy semolina fried fish. It’s sweet, sour, a little spicy, and a generous meal for one.

Although you don’t necessarily come for decor or lively atmosphere, you certainly come to Aunty Jenny’s Kitchen for the food. The jerk chicken here leans moist and tender, rather than smoky and charred, and it’s something you’ll definitely want more of. Rice and peas are soaked in gravy with hunks of carrot and cabbage, and a subtle taste of coconut running throughout. As is often the case with great cooking, a sauce brings it all together. This jerk gravy has flecks of chilli and the sweetness of ketchup throughout but is none too overpowering either way. Pour liberally and with confidence.

An old-school Wembley favourite that’s best-known for its buffet (yes, we said buffet), Sakonis is a big, comfortable, bungalow-feeling Indian vegetarian restaurant that’s been feeding friends and families since the mid-'80s. Like any buffet setup, some things blow hot and cold, sometimes quite literally. The chickpea curry has plenty of depth and the paneer masala is a vivid orange comfort blanket of a dish. Look around the room and most tables—be it elderly friends, several generations of family, or roaming kids—are eagerly sharing plates of chilli paneer and Szechuan noodles. The Indo-Chinese dishes are definitely worth ordering fresh, as are the excellent crispy bhajiya.

Petrolheads and those with horsepower kinks will already know about Ace Cafe. The massive roadside cafe is just off of the North Circular and has been about in some form, always serving restorative fry-ups and scalding cuppas, since 1938. These days this roomy checkerboard British diner is something of a pilgrimage stop for Harley-Davidson meet-ups, mods, and rockers past and present, and anyone in the area looking for a good-value, carb-heavy meal. Bacon sizzles, chips come as standard, and you can pile your jacket potato with as many toppings as you so wish—as long as your leathers can take it. A black hole-looking cup of coffee will set you back a few quid but, if you so wish, there are beers on tap and drinks behind the bar. Just remember, never drink and drive.

Outside of the realm of chicken shops, it’s unlikely you’ll find a restaurant name quite as exciting as Maru’s Bhajia House. A house of fried potatoes? Yes, please. This legendary Wembley spot is an offshoot of the original in Nairobi, birthplace of puck-sized crispy fried potatoes. Since then the Gujarati snack spot has changed hands and so too has the quality. The fry on the potatoes is inconsistent, sometimes charred and acrid on the edges, sometimes golden and crispy. Every now and again you’re likely to get a good batch and the house-made tomato chutney is a slightly sweet, slightly spicy winner. It’s a big, comfortable space to swing by and split a plate of bhajia. Just cross your fingers the fryer is on form.

Dosa Street is a vendor in Trader Wembley, a new-build food court that could be very easy to wander past. But go in, climb the stairs, and you’ll find a handful of different South Asian vendors worth your time. That and a giant projector playing Sky Sports. Pop in to Dosa Street and order an expertly made masala dosa, grab a spot on the shared tables, and wait for your buzzer to go. Crispy, softly spiced and served with a potato masala, coconut chutney, and a red chutney, it’s a brilliant-value lunch or dinner.

The Wembley branch of Shree Krishna Vada Pav is boxed away in the top corner of glassy food hall Trader Wembley. Like other outposts of SKVP, it makes all kinds of vada and pav combinations, as well as a handful of curries. The Maharashtrian slider-sized snacks are always satisfying but, depending on the size of the crowd, aren’t always the most consistently made. Still, it continues to make a strong argument to be the best chain around and if every major train station in London had a SKVP, there’s now doubt this city would be a happier place.

This tiny luminous yellow Caribbean takeaway shop is around the corner from Wembley Central and well worth knowing about when you’re after a flavoursome meal on the go. Satta’s jerk chicken is carefully smoked on the grill—the skin blackened, meat soft—and its gravy has a silky consistency that hides a gentle scotch bonnet kick. A regular portion is great-value at under a tenner but if you want something even more cost-efficient and delicious, get a gooey cheese and beef patty.

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