Where To Eat When Cycling Is Your Whole PersonalitySpots that’ll make you clutch your GoPro and ask aloud, “Am I… in the Netherlands?”.
Do you tell people within the first few seconds of meeting that you’re King of the Mountain in a certain part of Crouch End according to the Strava leaderboard? Do you refer to yourself and the other cyclists who shoot off as soon as the light turns green as the ‘breakaway group’? Have you ever contemplated an Eddy Merckx tattoo? If you answered yes to any of these questions, we are sorry to inform you—cycling is your entire personality.
But even you need to eat. And no, that protein gel doesn’t count. Pry yourself away from your laptop and multiple mudguard tabs and head to one of these spots. They’re all close to bike storage, some have great cycling trails nearby, and all are casual enough to rock up in mud-splattered Rapha bib shorts.
Before you go full Chris Hoy at the nearby VeloPark, stop for a meal at Stratford steakhouse, Appetite London. It’s part butcher, part deli, and part restaurant, with an industrial-chic style and a menu of perfectly cooked meat with chips or salad. Expect a bish-bash-bosh approach with meats slapped down and jointed on a butcher's block, frequent shouts from the kitchen, and a peppercorn sauce that packs a punch. There are cycle stands and outside seating if you want to keep an eye on your Trek child. Bike, we mean bike.
If you go down to the woods today you’ll find something scarier than a bear—a pack of lycra-clad cyclists whizzing past you saying words like “cadence” and “derailleur”. Who knows. If you are one of those people, you’ll love Oyster Shack & Seafood Bar—a hut-cum-kitchen deep in Epping Forest. Grab a seat on the terrace outside and tuck into a sweet, salty scallop and bacon butty on thickly buttered rolls that soak up the juices from the surf and turf.
A bus nearly crushed you, there’s more glass by the curb than you have puncture repair kits, and you have been beeped at precisely 75 times by drivers who show more compassion to crossing ducks than their fellow man. Cycling in central London is a waking nightmare. Reward yourself with a meal at British restaurant, Rochelle Canteen. This restful canteen in Shoreditch is a converted bike shed and there are bike hoops close by, around Arnold Circus. It’s also a Garden of Eden where between bites of silky smooth cod’s roe and tender beef shin, no one will swear at you.
The bike storage situation at Ozone Coffee Roasters is enough to make you look around, clutch your GoPro and ask aloud, “Am I… in the Netherlands?”. This exemplary bike rack is tucked inside the coffee shop’s patio, off the road, and has plenty of space. Which is great because you’ll want to be at this Shoreditch cafe a while, with a smoked fish kedgeree in front of you, a slice of doorstop-thick banana bread, a V60 coffee, and a copy of Cycling Weekly.
You could have a Kryptonite lock and there’s still no way you are leaving your cost-more-than-my-car Bianchi chained up to some lamp post. For plenty of bike hoops and tasty food, head to The Original Caribbean Spice in Elephant and Castle. Over-ordering at this friendly Caribbean spot is inevitable when dishes are this tasty—slightly spicy mac and cheese, goat curry that’s rich and falling off the bone, and lamb patties stuffed right to the edges with crumbly meat. Bring a pannier bag if you have one, you’ll want leftovers.
This one goes out to anyone whose folding bike has ever taken on octopus-like properties and suddenly seems to have unwieldy, slippy limbs. At Spokesafe in Soho you can pay to store your bike, and they’ve got e-chargers, pumps, and a repair station. It’s also a seven-minute walk to Speedboat Bar—a fun and fiery Thai restaurant with a stumble-into feel about the dining room. Grab a canteen-style table close to the pool table and work your way through plates of lurid red, meltingly gorgeous beef tongue and tendon. The deep-fried 7-11 pineapple pie with taro ice cream is also a must-order.
You know what would be a hazard on the roads? Four Hundred Rabbits. Luckily, this is a pizza spot in Brockwell Lido, not a high-stakes obstacle course. Stop by for interesting sourdough pizza toppings—anchovy and rhubarb and goat cheese—and the chance to visit the nearby velodrome. There are bike hoops outside the lido but also plenty of space in the cafe for your two-wheeled friend, should the separation anxiety prove too strong.
If you’re the kind of cyclist who has a front basket and a mint green frame, you’ll love The Elder Press Cafe. This Stamford Brook spot is steps away from the Thames Path, on a street lined with white townhouses straight out of a Richard Curtis film. There are bike hoops outside, plus street-side seating and a courtyard. It’s ideal for a quick pit stop with other people wearing Gore-Tex, or for more relaxed meals where fresh orange juices are sipped and wholesome, Scandi-style plates of rye and smoked salmon are eaten by people propped up on pink cushions.
At Gurmani, a Georgian restaurant in Hornsey, you can swirl, dunk, and scoff warm hunks of bread until the burning in your calves stops. Whether you’re a Tour de France wannabe or just a reluctant Lime biker gripping the handlebars for dear life, every ride is improved by finishing it with bread. And this bread—khachapuri—comes hollowed out with a creamy mix of cheese and egg in the middle. Gurmani is the perfect cycling distance to Alexandra Palace and Park (15 minutes) and a rest here involves slightly bitter, soft honey cake with walnuts. No-brainer.