There are few things in modern life as stressful as shopping. It’s the 21st century human savanna. Grown adults desperately pacing the perimeters for an exit, parents protecting their young from free pretzel samples, hysterical teenagers high on freedom and their first spritz of Lynx Africa, and all it takes is someone to side-step the queue and you’ve got a full scale riot on your hands. Sometimes you have to venture into these dangerous territories for survival, and maybe a lavender scented candle or two, but before you know it you’re at the mercy of a store manager who might hate their job, but definitely hates you more.
It’s no wonder you end up eating a dodgy ten pound burger in a chain that doubles as a shoe shop and a DJ booth. That’s why we’ve made this guide. So that whether you’re in need of somewhere to rest your bags and a good sit down, or several cocktails to avoid a breakdown, you’re guaranteed a good meal too.
where to eat when you're shopping near oxford circus
You did it. Yes, you never knew a non-stick pan could be this expensive, but you finally found a birthday present for that aunt that doesn’t drink, hates chocolate, and mysteriously only takes showers. Job well done. Now you need to sit down for approximately one hundred years and feel distinctly rich, despite suddenly being very poor. This grand brasserie in Soho has a prix fixe that includes a steak with fries for £13.50, and a whole lot of marble and gold detailing. Lovely.
Most Londoners would rather kiss a pavement, or, worse, compliment their ex, than spend even a single, solitary second at Oxford Circus. But, when you do find yourself shopping on London’s most rage-provoking street, you can find solace in the fact that Rovi is just a short walk away. This place is anti-rage. It goes down like a shot of vegetable valium, complete with comfy red seating, lapsang old fashioneds, and enough room for all of your shopping bags.
After a tourist stopped directly in front of you to take a picture of a pigeon, and you encountered your fourth set of street dancers in under a mile, a vein you never knew you had is trying to break out of your temple. Before you physically implode, head to Pastaio. This place does great handmade pasta, and they’re open from 12pm until late. It can get a little busy around dinner time, but it’s a great spot to swing by mid-afternoon.
Look, if you spend longer than 20 minutes on Oxford Street and then try to go somewhere super zen, you’ll freak out. It’d be like putting a hyped-up kangaroo in a sauna. It’s only going to end in tears. That’s why heading straight from Oxford Circus to pumped up, loud and proud diner, Meatliquor W1 is a great idea. This place has some seriously banging burgers, dirty fries, and wings, as well as a ‘poke for jager’ button. Come here with a friend when you need commuter mayhem to turn into liquor mayhem that can accidentally end up going on until 3am.
where to eat when you're shopping at westfield london
You were ambushed by one of those perfume spritzers in Debenhams, and now you smell like something that should probably be called ‘Fleur, Forever. And Ever’. Luckily, Kricket in the old Television Centre has enough spice in the air to cover your new scent, a big open kitchen to distract from the fact your phone died twenty minutes ago, and some great Indian small plates.
If Westfield is a planet, then Shikumen is the nice moon that we all escape to when a riot in Primark’s sale section triggers the complete collapse of civilisation as we know it. This is arguably the nicest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush and works for a quick dim sum lunch before heading back in to the belly of the beast, or a full-blown roast duck extravaganza once you’re finally done.
This place is all about brunch food, or, as we like to think of it, things we like to eat with coffee. There’s eggs, avocado toast, pancakes, shakshuka, and yet more eggs. It’s the kind of spot you escape to for a coffee, then find yourself eyeing up a danish, and end up leaving an hour later, far happier and full of blueberry pancakes. They close at 5pm, but it should definitely be on your radar if the thought of hearing ‘grande latte extra foam’ being shouted in your direction makes your skin crawl.
where to eat when you're shopping in notting hill
You know it sounds somewhat insane, but you’re pretty sure your carrier bags are breeding. Head for a big, red leather booth at Electric Diner. This place gets pretty busy at nights, but during the day there’s plenty of space for you and your seven, wait, no, eight bags.
Okay, we’ll be honest, this restaurant-cum-bookshop is quite small so don’t rock up here with your whole yoga class and half the contents of Portobello Street Market. But what it lacks in group practicality, it definitely makes up for in gift possibility. They have an impressive collection of cookbooks (seriously, there’s thousands) and you’re bound to find something you like. The single item menu changes daily, but you’re pretty much guaranteed a decent meal.
Linger on the name of this place too long and you’ll start considering how much actual gold you could have if you weren’t addicted to buying stationery from Muji. Stop it, that thinking doesn’t help anyone. Just head for this sophisticated three-story pub and dining room on Portobello Road. It has a lot of linen banquette seating to relax on with your shopping bags and excellent seasonal dishes like wood-roasted whole sea bream and Tuscan ham with burrata and charred peaches. Be warned, it’s more expensive than your average local (see name) and the secret-garden-feel downstairs conservatory gets busy, so book ahead.
Shopping is hard work. Kind of. Well, not really. But if that’s what you’re telling yourself, then Mazi is the Santorini holiday you deserve for all of your effort. This grown-up Greek spot near Notting Hill Gate station has a cute white-walled outdoor garden, some very decent tzatziki, and plenty of seafood and a bottle of white potential. Don’t miss their desserts, the frozen Greek yogurt sandwich is excellent.
where to eat when you're shopping at spitalfields market and brick lane
Duck & Waffle
Look, you’re innocent here, you just wanted to have a look around the market. But apparently eight thousand tourists had the same idea, each with a personal mission to take a selfie with every dog, coffee cup, and stall from here to Beigel Bake. No, no no no, what you need now is to be away from all the people, or better yet, 755 feet above them. Duck and Waffle is a swish, 24-hour restaurant at the top of the Heron Tower where you can get posh British cuisine with a bit of a twist. There’s plenty of snacks, small plates, and sharing plates to choose from, but if you don’t get the spiced duck doughnut with charred pineapple jam, then you’re doing it wrong.
Alright, you’ve made some questionable purchases, but you can just go ahead and blame that on the delirium caused by the music that boutique was pumping out at 150 decibels. Luckily, it’s hard to go wrong with a curry at Lahpet. Their Burmese specialities are available for lunch or dinner, but if you’re just stopping by between shops, grab the shrimp paste dumplings.
Against your better judgement you’ve ventured out to Brick Line after work to go to a designer sample sale, but, shockingly, that 20% discount still doesn’t make you rich enough to buy that coat. You’re tired, your feet hurt, and, crucially, you’re very hungry. St John Bread and Wine will save you. Stop in for a bacon sarnie. It’s one of the best in London.
WHERE TO EAT WHEN YOU’RE SHOPPING NEAR Covent Garden
Yes, actually, you are crying because that middle-aged street performer dressed as Tin Tin scared you. And no, you don’t want to talk about it. You just need to get to Jacob The Angel in Neal’s Yard, an all-day coffee spot that’s as quaint and calming as it sounds. Although they close at 5pm, this is one of our favourite spots to sit down with a bagel for lunch, or even just to grab a coffee and coconut cream pie when the chaos of the area is all a bit too much.
Covent Garden is an exhausting place. Chances are you’ll end up in the background of some poor tourists video, effing and blinding, as your paper shopping bag rips apart with the last of your patience. That’s why it’s so important to know about fried chicken specialists - yes, that’s a thing - Chick ‘N’ Sours. This cool and casual basement has all of the K-pop chicken sandwiches, beef dripping fries, and sour cocktails you could need after a day of stressful shopping. If you’re after a quick pint and something light to keep you going, you’re definitely going to want to get involved in the disco wings.
A two minute walk from the high-tech Apple store, is high-tech dim sum spot, Redfarm. This kitsch little restaurant serves creative, and somewhat mad, dishes like a pastrami egg roll, cheeseburger spring rolls, and their popular pac man shrimp dumplings. Although prices here tend to stack up quickly, you can’t go wrong with a round of their pork and crab soup dumplings. They’re the best thing here.
where to eat when you're shopping at westfield stratford city
You thought you looked pretty damn good this morning, but that was before you faced off with an 8000 watt dressing room lightbulb, and more reflective surfaces in a single square mile than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Just take yourself off to Hand Cafe for a strong cuppa, and some delicious Greek-inspired brunch food.
Stratford, booze, and a rooftop. It might sound like the recipe for the Eastenders christmas special, but Roof East is actually a bar on top of the old Stratford shopping centre. It’s a great spot for blowing off a little steam after walking in a circle for a solid four hours, but buying nothing. There’s pizza, there’s hotdogs, and there’s a giant soft play area for adults. That’s right, an adult play area and booze. You’ll be set.
where to eat when you're shopping on the king's road
We’re pretty sure that if we went shopping with the chefs that run this place - otherwise known as the ‘mammas’ - we’d end up spending the entirety of our savings after being bombarded with ‘bellissimos’ and feelgood air kisses. This place not only serves one of the best cacio e pepes in London, it’s also just generally a lovely, upbeat place to be. Expect excellent regional Italian dishes, affordable set menu options, and plenty of friendly banter from the mammas.
Bad news, after trekking all the way to the King’s Road, it turns out that t-shirt you wanted has actually sold out. Before you unleash your ultimate form on an unsuspecting teenager doing a trial shift, maybe you should just go for a burger instead. VQ is a 24-hour café that’s perfect for a nice sit down and some eggs benedict from their all-day menu. There’s also a 24-hour liquor license, so should your t-shirt grief strike before lunchtime, go ahead and have a glass of prosecco with your pancakes. Nobody will judge you.
You just faced a firing squad of compliments from a group of sales assistants, but it’s all over now, you made it out, safe in the knowledge that, actually, that jumper was ugly. Head to Beaufort House and throw some of that money you saved on some pan fried scallops. That’s right, you’re the kind of person that can eat scallops whilst shopping. Of course, this being Chelsea, it’s not going to be cheap, but if you don’t want to spend too much, it’s also a fine spot for a coffee or a cocktail.