If you work in the City, then you’re probably reading this on the job. The hours are brutal, the workload unrelenting, and you still can’t find a pair of shoes that are 100% comfortable to go with your suit. The least you can do is take a few minutes to sit down with something that tastes good, and pretend you’re somewhere that’s nicer than your desk for a few minutes each day. Here’s where to grab a quick lunch.
If you’re having a bad day then you need to head to the Bad Egg for lunch. This all-day diner has everything you need when you need to eat and drink your problems away. Their burgers are perfectly formed, and not of the sloppy variety, unless you get an egg involved. The buffalo wings are decent enough, and the milkshakes are exactly what you need on any kind of day.
This excellently named South American joint is famous with locals for its grilled chicken in special sauce, and it’s a great choice for a Friday lunch. All you have to do is choose how much chicken you want, your side, and whether you want Tabasco or green coriander sauce. Simple as that. Although the chicken and rice isn’t pretty to look at, it’s good, and as a bonus, you’ll probably have enough left over for a sly snack later when no one’s looking.
At City Càphê, a Vietnamese cafe close to Bank Station, there’s always a big queue at lunch for a reason - the food’s very good. Mercifully, the line moves quickly, too. The pho and summer rolls are excellent, and they also have noodle salads that are much better than anything you’ll find at a chain. At a place this busy, you’re definitely going to want to get takeaway - just know it’s cash-only for orders under £15. They also have a sister takeaway called Moi An close to Chancery Lane station, if your office is out that way.
You wouldn’t think that a butcher shop off Cheapside would have some of the best to-go lunches in the City, but Porterford has been cranking them out for ages. The draw is inexpensive, high-quality meat, which is why there’s always a (fast-moving) queue. You can get a wagyu beef burger for a fiver, and a hot bacon sandwich for the price of a latte.
It’s only 11am and you’ve already fallen asleep at your desk. Twice. The tom yum soup at Oie Thai is a dead cert to wake you up, and at £6, it’s also the kind of thing you can look forward to eating regularly. This Thai cafe is easily identified by the massive queue that blocks Liverpool Street arcade each day at lunchtime, but don’t be put off, as it moves quickly and their staff will take your order in the queue to save you a few minutes.
If you ever thought that the one thing the Square Mile is missing is a Munich style beer-hall, you’d be wrong. It does have one. Bierschenke is a vast underground bunker of a place, and as well as being filled with City boys and City girls guffawing about their bonuses while swilling their steins of beer, it serves one of the best schnitzels in London. It comes in chicken and veal, large and small, and is served with a very good potato salad. There’s also currywurst, weisswurst, and other seasonal specialties, and there are some pretty good value lunch offers every day of the week.
The original Kêu in Shoreditch is one of our favourites for banh mi in London, and their City shop on London Wall is just as good as the original. We usually go for the classic sandwich with mortadella and terrine, but you can’t really go wrong with whatever you choose. Their rice bowls are good, too, if a bit pricey.
Remember the last time you went to an EAT or a Tesco Express for a takeaway sandwich? Sad, wasn’t it? Instead, we’d suggest wandering over to Earl’s, a classic deli off Fenchurch Street that makes sandwiches the old-fashioned way - they’re massive, satisfying, and perfect for lunch al desko. The tuna melt and roast beef sandwiches are the ones to get, and you can grab a Scotch egg for the walk back to your office.
Let’s say that you have 20 minutes to go outside and grab something to eat. You’re definitely better than standing in the queue at Pret for another hummus wrap. If it’s a Thursday, fortunately there’s a much better alternative: KERB sets up shop at the base of the Gherkin with a few stalls, and there’s plenty of room to sit and catch some banter with your mates outside while you eat. The lineup of vendors changes all the time, but rest assured that it’s always excellent - you can expect to find crews like Mother Flipper burgers, and Stakehaus for steak and chips.
Bleecker makes the best burger in town, and there’s a stand conveniently located in Spitalfields Market. The bacon cheeseburger is good, but the double cheese or Bleecker black (which comes with a wedge of black pudding shoved in between the patties) are the special ones.