You’re rising from your slumber on a Saturday morning, you may or may not be hungover, you’re craving…something…something…with eggs and potato and meat but also rocket, and maybe some chilli and lemon, also chocolate. Coffee, a coffee. And a freshly pressed juice. You need brunch.
Brunch is our favourite hybrid meal - even more so than brinner - because it’s a very specific need that’s fulfilled by a seemingly random array of delicious ingredients. When else do you get to eat confit pork, poached eggs, avocado and shoestring fries? How often do you get to eat fried chicken, potato rostis, maple syrup and a fried egg? It’s genius. It’s brilliant. It’s not even lunch so you get to have lunch later as well.
There’s a lot of brunch options to choose from in London so we’ve written this guide, split by areas, to help you when you need help finding the perfect brunch spot.
People love to queue at the same few places in central London like there’s some sort of shakshuka shortage. But you’re a strategist, which is why you skip the queues and head for Nopi instead. This is our favorite Ottolenghi establishment for brunch, thanks to the fact that you can book ahead, and also that you can eat things like corn and polenta cakes with avocado salsa, and French toast with star anise sugar and orange yoghurt. That’s how real adults brunch.
Your old mate Gemma (you know, the screamy one) is in town, and she’s come expecting to see Cara Delevingne and Snap the whole bloody thing to show off to her friends at home. You, on the other hand, can’t be arsed. Take her to Chiltern Firehouse for a trendy brunch, where she’ll love the pretty garden and fancy person vibe, but you’ll still get a very good breakfast out of it too. Order some pancakes and enjoy the fact that the waiters will make you feel as though you have a trust fund, because they probably assume you do. Don’t spend it all at once, which is easily possible here.
The Riding House should be one of your go-tos in central London for solid versions of things like pancakes, french toast, and eggs. You’ll sit in a spacious, smart-looking brasserie with loads of bright leather sofas and a pretty bar, and it’s the kind of place you’d be chuffed to sit on a sunny day. Their lineup of healthy-ish and vegetarian dishes is good, and It’s also an excellent choice if there are a few of you.
It isn’t hard to find a passable brunch in central London, and that’s exactly why The Black Penny’s so special. Because even though there are huevos rancheros and mimosas on every corner in this part of town, The Black Penny doesn’t do passable - it’s straight up excellent. There are scuffed tables and a library of books that give it a properly homely feel, and everything on their extensive brunch menu is very good. The french toast with rhubarb is excellent, and their home-made baked beans are a good call as well. You might have a bit of a wait, but it’s absolutely worth the bother.
Breakfast at The Wolseley is definitely an occasion, and between the soaring ceilings (it used to be an old classic car showroom) and shiny tableware, it might all be a bit much to take in if you’re still feeling a bit bleary. But the food is excellent, and everything from the pastries to the classic omelette Arnold Bennett (eggs with smoked haddock) is worth the price of admission. Save it for an occasion, a big time breakfast with a potential client, or when your mum’s visiting, and be sure to remind her about it the next time you forget Mother’s Day.
You could make a solid argument that Timmy Green is the best thing to happen to Victoria in recent history, and we wouldn’t dispute it. Amid the skid mark that is Victoria bus station, this place is a ray of light. It’s a brilliant spot to meet friends for an Aussie-style brunch, and while there’s a healthy eating shtick here, all of the food is very good regardless of whether you give a toss about spirulina. The coconut French toast is a must-order if only because it tastes like cake, and the bacon roll is also excellent.
Dishoom is one of the best brunches in London, and a power move if you want to both please a crowd and sound like you know things. Things about brunch. We particularly like hitting this location - the brightest and airiest - for Anglo-Indian things like eggs on chilli cheese toast. The bacon naan roll is justifiably famous, but don’t sleep on the spicy scrambled eggs.
Caravan is one of London’s original brunch destinations. And though they take their coffee very seriously (even roasting their own beans) they also have a solid menu full of things like baked eggs with merguez sausage and jalapeno cornbread. The space is an old, massive warehouse and can fit literally half of Central St Martins in it, but it does still get rammed at the weekend. The earlier you show up, the better.
The Good Egg is one of those spots that’s always busy, even at 10am on a Monday morning. Partly because the food is so consistently good, but also because everything about the bright, chilled location overlooking Stoke Newington Church Street makes it a place you never want to leave. You’ll eat dishes with a strong Middle-Eastern influence (like bacon and egg pita with date jam, or baked eggs with halloumi), and it’s best to order sharing-style. You’ll also want the honey-buttered cornbread on the table, because you are an adult and you make good decisions.
When you have a hangover or just want a nice breakfast near Angel, you go to Kipferl. It’s a cosy Austrian coffeehouse that predictably gets jammed at the weekend, so the earlier you can get there, the better. They’ll do you a comforting breakfast to soothe your pounding head, and they also have some excellent cakes as well if you just want a snack. Some of the best things on the menu are unpronounceable, like the Bauernfruehstueck (sort of an Austrian equivalent of a full English), so just point at the menu - with confidence.
The best pancakes in Islington can be found at Sunday. And despite being in the middle of nowhere, Sunday is ALWAYS packed at the weekend with people after those pancakes. Queues can often be over an hour long, even in the middle of the afternoon. Having said that, we often suck it up and wait in line for excellent versions of things like brioche french toast and chicken and waffles. It’s worth it.
First and foremost Ozone is a coffee shop, yes. But limiting it to just that feels like serious understatement. Ozone Coffee and Food Emporium would feel more accurate. Located in a big old space in Leonard Street, Ozone is an excellent brunch choice if you’re around Old Street or Shoreditch. Their menu is massive but in a very good way. It goes from pancakes with apple and butterscotch to smoked haddock kedgeree with a poached egg. Again, it’s pretty popular on the weekends but it’s all about timing. This is as far from your average coffee shop as you can imagine.
If you’re a Stokey resident and you haven’t been to Esters then we’re about to change your life. If you’re from anywhere else and you haven’t been, the same applies. Esters is a little cafe off Church Street serving what we think are THE best brunches in London. The menu changes daily but it’s always very creative and very good. Think French toast with whipped ricotta and cranberries, or poached eggs with charred cabbage, chorizo, and pistachios on toast. This is not your average brunch. It’s a no booking, no-way-to-avoid-the-queue thing, but get there bright and early and you’ll be fine. Either way, it’s worth it.
There are plenty of places to drop in for brunch around the Broadway Market area. The best of these is Morty and Bob’s, a cool-looking cafe and bar hidden up several flights of stairs in Netil House. The space looks like the London loft you’ll never be able to afford, with loads of plants dotted around and trains rumbling past from the nearby Overground line. The brunches are excellent - they’ll do you a solid smashed avocado, but you really want to get in on the cheese toastie action, as they have one of the best in town. Get one with a fried egg on top.
Blixen is worth making your friends schlep across town for, not just for the shiny Art Deco ambience inside, but also for the very nice brunch dishes they do in the mornings. The hot salt beef with eggs and a potato rosti is like a classed-up eggs benedict except way better, and there are also lighter dishes if you actually have things to do later on in the day. Even if ‘things to do’ actually translates to re-watching your favourite boxed set in your pyjamas.
You know the usual brunch spots - the tables are packed together, it’s loud, and the waiter will probably forget at least one of the things you ordered. The Spitalfields location of Ottolenghi, our favorite of those around town, is the opposite of that. It’s a calming, minimal place to grab something in the morning, and all of the food is great. The shakshuka here is legendary, and you should also get the sweetcorn and polenta cakes with a poached egg. You’ll also want to book ahead.
Morito’s location on Hackney Road makes it feel like a neighbourhood spot, but once you’re inside, it’s immediately clear that it’s the kind of place that would murder the competition anywhere it opened. It’s always busy, and that’s because the food is top-to-bottom fantastic. You’ll find a Mediterranean/North African twist on brunch, and it’s a good way to break the habit of standard avocado toast spots. The poached eggs with spinach and chilli butter is a must order, and the bougatsa - a Cretan filo pastry with fresh cheese, sugar and cinnamon - is very good as well. Get there early or be prepared for a wait.
On the surface, a US-style diner opening up in Dalston might sound like an awful concept dreamed up by someone with a trust fund and nobody who will tell them the truth. But Hash E8 is actually one of our favourite spots in the area for brunch because they make very tasty food that also happens to be Perfect For smashing after a heavy night of drinking. True to the diner theme, you’ll find filter coffee and classics like French toast, pancakes, and a chorizo and sweet potato hash that will cure what ails you. And not an avocado in sight. That’s a concept we can get behind.
Hit up this location of The Breakfast Club chain of restaurants for American-style breakfasts and a super serving of nostalgia. If eating breakfast in the 1980’s sounds like fun to you, or at least somewhat tolerable, this is a good place to dig in with a few friends and eat way too much butter and sugar.
We’re not sure how we feel about Foxtons carving up the city into neat little towns and villages they can package and sell to first time buyers, but we do know that Bermondsey Street has a small town feel that’s hard to beat in London. Village East would be the local brunch spot of choice then, for the solid brunch dishes but also equally for the ambience in the dining room, which looks like a warehouse and a member’s club copped off in the gents’. Get the campfire breakfast, which is essentially upscale pork and beans with a couple of eggs on top.
From the outside, The Table doesn’t exactly look promising - its name and location on a grey stretch of road behind Tate Modern make it seem about as exciting as having breakfast alone in a Novotel lobby. But inside, there’s some cracking food and one of the best brunches south of the river. The dining room’s modern and cosy, and it’s always busy with locals catching up over eggs benedict. The coffee’s very good, and you’ll also want to consider the pancakes and breakfast burger, both of which are excellent.
Putney getting a cool little coffee shop is like giving a rich guy a suitcase full of money. They already have plenty of nice things, so it seems a bit unfair that they get more. But we’re not the jealous type and are happy to say that the coffees here are Ground Coffee Society are solid, and you can also get a good plate of poached eggs or avocado toast, or a stack of pancakes. It’s a busy place to sit so you might have to share a communal table with other human beings, but as long as you’ve still got that suitcase of money, you’ll probably get along just fine.
Milk is the coolest spot for brunch in Balham, which is kind of like being the most talented one in Little Mix. Just kidding, we love Milk (and Little Mix). It’s actually an outstanding place for brunch and arguably the best in South London, both in terms of vibe and food. There will be a wait at weekends. though staff will bring coffee while you wait, and it’s a very nice place to sit outside and people watch when it’s warm. As for the food, everything’s made with the same attention to detail that most restaurants reserve for fancy dinners - the banana pancakes with maple and pecan are killer, and even the sourdough with goats cheese and honey is something special.
Notting Hill is one of London’s prettiest neighbourhoods, and the loveliest place to have brunch in Notting Hill is at Farm Girl. This cafe goes all-in on the Aussie healthy eating up to the point where you might find yourself eating “coconut bacon.” That’s not something we would typically condone, but we actually find all of the food here (even the weird shit) to be quite good. And we’re not the only ones - Farm Girl is pretty much always mobbed.
The Corner House is the cafe that we wish had opened when we were living in Brook Green as students. It’s shiny and modern-looking and has a glow of health around it, but more importantly it’s a relaxed place to get a plate of eggs and chorizo, something with avocado, and a nice cup of coffee. There’s a dining room with tables but we prefer the communal counter at the front, where it’s acceptable to perch and ignore your dining partner to read the paper, and there’s a posh deli selling stuff like organic olive oil and those colourful tins of tea that look really cool in your kitchen.
You’ve probably seen Bill Granger on the tellybox in some sun-drenched Sydney kitchen making sweet corn fritters, or things involving avocados and harissa. This is one of his signature restaurants (the others are in Clerkenwell and Kings Cross), and it’s just as good as he is at selling the laidback Aussie dream - think tasty brunch dishes like fluffy ricotta pancakes, or toasted coconut bread that’ll hit the spot. The price to pay is a not unreasonable queue on weekdays - it’s no bookings - that stretches to 30-60 minutes at the weekend.