Maybe it was Friday night’s inevitable half-chicken and chips. Perhaps it’s the fact you’re going away next month and you still, insanely, have visions of having ‘The Bod’. Whatever it is, you need…no...want, to eat somewhere a bit healthier. 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 kinda healthy, that are still real tasty.
Yotam Ottolenghi is the OG G of healthy-ish 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 up food that’s heavy in flavour but light in every other sense. 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 in, it’s one of favourite restaurants full stop.
When you think of food on a stick you think of kebabs. You think of candy floss. You think of that time there was no cutlery in the office and you used a coffee stirrer to eat your spaghetti. You should also think of Peg though. This Japanese-inspired Hackney spot serves up superb yakitori skewers and a couple of changing salads that will have you eating sesame dressing with your cereal. It’s super casual, and you can order as little or as much as you want, meaning it’s perfect for a light lunch or dinner.
If you’re looking for a place to eat a few delicious and unusual salads whilst 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.
Last weekend you ate enough food to satisfy an army of stoned hyenas. You’re pretty sure that if auras are real, yours would be Domino’s blue and smell of a deep fat fryer. The Peruvian food at Pachamama East will help with that. 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. Head’s up, there are plenty of vegan and gluten free options too.
Tonight, you’re gonna go hard. We’re talking four course, 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 healthy-ish 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. Lunch sorted.
Finally, you’ve figured it all out. You’re not tired because you average four hours of sleep a week, 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 £6 cleanser juices. We’re sure you’ll feel like a new person and wide awake after their C Booster drink. 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 little sibling restaurant Andina, Ceviche is a Peruvian restaurant focused on fresh, feel-good 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.
The main association most people have with vegan food, providing they’re not vegan, is their vegan friend speaking about veganism and the fact - in case you’d forgotten - that they are vegan. That’s five mentions of vegan in one sentence. You know what we mean, right? The thing is, this shouldn’t be a negative when places like Cook Daily exist. This London Fields spot cooks all kinds of vegan things - from pies to jerk chicken - but we prefer the Asian options best. Especially their jungle curry.
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. 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.
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 twenty 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, and a cheeky doughnut.
Back in 2002, when Ottolenghi first arrived in London, British people were still scratching their armpits 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.
Alongside sounding like a group of vaguely intimidating girls who linger outside Westfield eating froyo and filming you and the other ‘normies’ for their Snapchat story, Honey and Co is also a very nice restaurant in Fitzrovia. And it’s an easy choice for a fresh Middle Eastern feast. Head there with a friend and share some little mezze dishes - fattoush, chicken shish, and the like - when you want something that both tastes good, and feels good for you.
This is Ottolenghi’s classy restaurant. It’s the one you take your family or date to. As with Ottolenghi’s other restaurants, there’s nothing flashy going on here though. They’re sharing plates that will make you weep at the lack of imagination you put into your weekly shop. And it’s as good a spot for brunch as it is dinner.
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.
In the Barrafina restaurants pretty much anything you order is going to be delicious. A tortilla? Oh that’s delicious. Don’t want something potato-y? Get some courgette flowers instead. Also delicious. And don’t forget the anchovies. They’re really delicious. The razor clams... you guessed it, delicious. This food is healthy. And you want to eat it all. It’s exactly what going out for a meal should be like.