14 Great Places To Eat Something Light And Kind Of Healthy
Where to go to when you want to eat something tasty, but you also want to be kind of healthy.
Listen, we regularly have double lunches in the name of “research” and we’ve dedicated a whole guide to chocolate cakes, but sometimes, on a quiet Tuesday night, we crave something a little healthy. That doesn’t mean a sandwich bag full of nuts either. No. It would just be nice to go for a good meal and not feel like a pug on valium afterwards. That’s why we’ve written this guide, so you know the places where you can keep it kind of healthy, that are still real tasty.
We’ve done the maths, and before you even get to your premium extras at Atis, you have to make a choice between 18 million possible salad outcomes. OK, we didn’t do maths, but that’s how it feels when you first try to take in all the bases, ingredients, crunchy things, dressings, and extras on offer at this all-day Shoreditch salad spot. Fortunately there are some set options if you’re feeling indecisive. We particularly like the Azteca (romaine, spinach, black beans, feta, avocado, tortilla shards, coriander lime dressing), and we’re not against adding extras like sesame miso tofu or blackened chicken. You could perch and eat here, but if you live or work locally you’ll more likely want to grab and go. The salads are huge, they’re made to order, and everything tastes good.
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
On first glance, Persepolis is a bright yellow corner shop in Peckham, but inside you’ll find a vegetarian Persian-inspired deli and cafe. You won’t get booze or a limited edition Kit Kat Chunky here. Instead, walk through to the back and get a delicious meze plate of falafel, tapenade, salad, and a load of dips. There’s even a token Wotsit stuck into the hummus—a pour one out the packet homage to all other corner shops. This plate, warm pitta included, is £6 for a single person portion. It’s as wholesome as it is good value, which is the gist of everything here.
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photo credit: Noemi Scavo
Yotam Ottolenghi is the OG G of kind-of-healthy food in London. He’s Tahini-Pain. He’s Cardamom B. He’s Lil Za’atar. And Rovi is his gone-platinum release. It’s a predominantly vegetarian restaurant in Fitzrovia, serving food that’s heavy in flavour. Think tempura herbs, hot tomatoes with yoghurt, or celeriac shawarma. This isn’t just one of our favourite restaurants in the city to eat something kind of healthy, it’s one of our favourite restaurants full stop.
If you’re looking for a place to eat a few delicious and unusual salads, while drinking probably a little too much wine, then Leroy is where you should be heading. There’s something about this light and buzzy Shoreditch bistro that’s perfect for lazily eating a salad piled with cheese, or picking on some smoky charred beans with peaches. It’s extremely tasty, pretty healthy, and about as low lift as a meal can get. There’s also a very good steak tartare on toast if you fancy it as well.
The Peruvian food at Pachamama East is ideal when you want something zingy. The menu at this big spot in Shoreditch is split into soil, sea, and land so whether you go for the sprouting broccoli with nori mayonnaise, a bashed cucumber salad, or the sea bass ceviche, you’ll be feeling much fresher by the time you leave. Heads up, there are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options too.
Tonight, you’re going to go hard. We’re talking four courses, several rounds of free bread, fuck-it-another-negroni-is-in-order level hard, so for lunch you need to be strategic. Head for Nandine in Camberwell. The mezze at this bright Kurdish spot is exactly the kind of food you can graze on when you’re saving room for later. Bit of stuffed grape leaves here, nibble of red cabbage slaw there, a couple bites of falafel, and aubergine qawarma to finish you off.
Finally, you’ve figured it all out. You’re not tired because you average four hours of sleep a night, it’s because you don’t eat enough vitamins. Of course, how silly. It all makes sense now. Well, we can’t really say whether the excellent Nordic food at Aquavit in St James’s will help your energy levels, but we do know that their smörgasbord options make for some of London’s best light bites. Being a Scandinavian casual fine dining spot, you’ll also find plenty of fresh fish and lingonberries on the menu, as well as juices. We’re sure you’ll feel like a new person and wide awake afterwards. Probably.
“Ooh I’m really craving some eggs with dandelion greens, almond cream, piquillo peppers, and dukkah”, thought (almost) no one ever. Well, more fool us, people. Because Esters thought it. And it tastes really, really good. This Stoke Newington breakfast/lunch spot makes inventive, healthy, and tasty food. Be prepared to queue and compete for a table with some ultra-groomed, baby-monitor-on-my-Apple-Watch sorts. But it’s worth it.
Like its sibling restaurant Andina, Ceviche is a Peruvian restaurant focused on fresh, feelgood food. Their Soho spot is the original, and is ideal for a kinda healthy dinner with some kinda healthy pisco sours. Come here with a few friends and share a lot of everything.
Morito Hackney Road
A vegetarian, a pescetarian, and a flexitarian walk into a restaurant. They sit down and order with no problems. That’s because they went to Morito on Hackney Road. The Spanish/North African small plates here are perfect for all kinds of diets, and no one is ever going to miss out because it’s all delicious. From fried aubergines with feta, to grilled lamb chops, or charred halloumi and chickpea salad—Morito cooks the kind of food that you’d happily eat all day every day.
Mildred’s is vintage Soho. It’s like your parents, or anyone who talks about the ‘glory days of London’. Don’t worry though, because Mildred’s continues to be a place worth eating at. With locations in Soho, Camden, King’s Cross, and Dalston, you can get their delicious pies, curries, and small plates all over London. This is good value, good tasting vegetarian food.
Farm Girl Cafe
There are few things more confusing to Londoners than the concept of a farm. Stick a man in a cow costume, get him to run around on any bit of greenery north of Brent Cross, and within an hour you’d have a line of Upper Street residents willing to pay 20 quid for a visit. Someone at Farm Girl clearly recognised this, because this Notting Hill cafe is doing very well for itself. This is an ideal healthy breakfast and brunch spot for a catch-up over a salad.
Back in 2002, when Ottolenghi first arrived in London, some people were still looking at the inclusion of fruit in a salad with the same suspicion they would reserve for anyone calling the home phone post-8pm. Things have come a long way since then, but Ottolenghi is still one of the best places to get a very tasty salad. The kind you could only dream of making at home. With branches in Belgravia, Notting Hill, Spitalfields, and Islington, it should always be kept in mind.
You’ve watched 72 hours of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. As if by osmosis you have a sudden and dramatic need for poké with a side of colonic irrigation. Malibu Kitchen, in The Ned, is where you want to go to satisfy the edible elements of that craving. The salads, raw fish, and vegetable dishes are all reasonably priced, and the room is a really grand space. This is fun because you’ll feel a bit like a Kardashian in there without, thankfully, being one.