London’s Best Healthy Lunch Spots
Just Opened London’s ‘Best Of’ series covers a combination of recently-opened venues and established London favourites to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and hard-earned cash.
There comes a point where we are forced to acknowledge that a diet rich in halloumi fries, doorstop-sized salt beef sandwiches, and sticky toffee pudding washed down with hot chocolate though fun, is not always conducive to a healthy lifestyle. And it’s at that point when our thoughts turn to lunching in a slightly more nutritious — yet still delicious — way.
If you, too, are keen to locate your waistline, are feeling like you need a few vitamins or, (heaven forbid) you genuinely enjoy healthy eating from time to time, then read on. Head to these places when you want to put your healthy hat on without feeling the need to neck a burger on the way home…
Honey & Co
Grazing on mezze-style Middle Eastern food at tiny Honey & Co on Warren Street, it’s hard to believe such tastiness can be so good for you, but the fact is that Israeli food largely centres on simple, grilled whole foods with big-flavoured marinades and plenty of fresh vegetables.
Try their interpretation of beans on toast, Barbunya beans and roasted peppers on Moroccan sourdough with a soft-boiled egg, or the ever-popular pomegranate chicken with cracked wheat, dried currant and herb salad — but of course everything is good. Good luck dodging the incredible array of daily cakes, pastries and puddings on the way out though.
Honey & Co, 25a Warren Street, W1T 5LZ
Malibu Kitchen at The Ned
Though sadly not a restaurant dedicated to everyone’s favourite coconut rum, Malibu Kitchen is almost as pleasing thanks to its out-and-out dedication to natural Californian style health and vitality. Situated within the giant — and oh so beautiful — old banking hall at The Ned, there’s a central sweeping bench from where you can see your ridiculously health-giving lunch being prepared at the kitchen station amongst avocados and various greenery.
Food is largely raw and plant based — summer rolls, courgetti with avocado pesto and the like — but there is also a more substantial element of flatbreads, yummy sea bream tacos and even a healthy take on a cheeseburger (grass-fed, potato bun, you get the picture). An all-day menu of imaginative smoothies and juices seals the deal.
Malibu Kitchen at The Ned, 27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ
Rude Health Café
Rude Health is a family-owned virtuous food and drink company whose passion for real ingredients has driven them to open a little café in SW6. Here, nothing is artificial or refined, and the menu leans towards the local and seasonal, with a handful of homemade sprouted, cultured and fermented food to make even the biggest health nut happy.
Essentially though, the food is tasty, natural and nutrient-rich and designed to make you feel good. Just looking at the café makes us happy thanks to its vibrant pink hue in an otherwise grey Fulham landscape — an al fresco area with sunny blue tables and a barbecue when the weather permits completes the picture. Whether you go for hardcore kombucha and kefir or munch on a rather more mouth-watering kimchi and cheddar toastie, rest assured your stomach will thank you.
Rude Health Café, 212 New Kings Road, SW6 4NZ
Considering the list of so-called superfoods native to Peru (quinoa, amaranth, maca, chia and so on), it’s really not surprising that Andina in Shoreditch is a natural temple to healthiness — and utterly delicious with it. Stuff yourself silly with some of the best ceviche in town, safe in the knowledge it’s high in protein, low in saturated fat and packed with vitamins.
There’s also classic colourful street food like tamales, and Andes-inspired grilled dishes like secreto Iberico, chancaca rocoto glaze and cauliflower, plus a roll call of health-giving sides, like the tomato party that is the tomatada Andina (tomato, tomato tartar, yellow tomato gelée, corn bread crumbs and avocado purée).
Andina, 1 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ
Should you find yourself in the vicinity of the Gherkin and in need of a perfectly-balanced lunch, then head to Farmer J for a bite you can eat in or take away. Their mission is to produce convenient, wholesome and affordable food for city workers, all responsibly sourced from higher-welfare (mostly British) farms.
All customers are given what they call a ‘field tray’, which can then be piled high with a freshly prepared main, a grain, two sides and a sauce. Winning combos include grilled miso chicken, field grains with lemon juice, cumin, roast veggies and herbs, broccoli with tahini and tamari, raw garden salad and punchy red pepper sauce. Phew. And all for £7.25.
Farmer J, 107 Leadenhall Street, EC3A 4AA
Just walking into Squirrel in South Kensington makes you feel like a paragon of health, as they’ve fashioned the little café and takeaway into a fairly convincing treehouse — complete with bespoke acorn bowls to eat from — to get you channelling your inner squirrel. It’s cute and quirky rather than cringey, and eating amongs the treetops is actually rather sweet, made better by the fact that the food is genuinely tasty with health at no expense of enjoyment.
Gluten- and dairy-dodgers are well catered for, as are veggies and vegans, but otherwise there’s nourishing bowls like Miami Rice (chipotle beef, brown rice, lentils, spinach, broccoli, shredded cringybage, carrot and lime) or Prawn Star (prawns, romaine lettuce shredded red cabbage, carrot, spring onion, red pepper, edamame, mint, coriander, sesame seeds and a chilli, lime tamari dressing). You’ll have no problem getting your five-a-day here, that’s for sure.
Squirrel, 11 Harrington Road, SW7 3ES
Sack off your sad fridge-cold sandwich and wander down to Soho’s Berwick Street market for a £5 box of one of the most satisfying salads you can buy. The queue of hungry workers speaks for itself, but a glimpse of the rainbow-coloured salad selection of the day will whet your appetite well enough too. Choose four of the vibrant, nutritious and seasonal salads like red cabbage, kale and orange, charred aubergine, quinoa and pomegranate or anything else non-leafy, and top it with a generous handful of grilled chicken or halloumi. Warning: we’ve occasionally not been able to finish the whole box. You’ll never look at a salad the same way again.
Choose four of the vibrant, nutritious and seasonal salads like red cabbage, kale and orange, charred aubergine, quinoa and pomegranate or anything else non-leafy, and top it with a generous handful of grilled chicken or halloumi. Warning: we’ve occasionally not been able to finish the whole box. You’ll never look at a salad the same way again.
Savage Salads, Flat Iron Square SE1 1TD, Berwick Street Market W1F 0PH, and Strutton Ground Victoria SW1P 2JT
Sea Containers at the Mondrian
The fact that clean-eating macrobiotic fan Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan of the chef here speaks volumes, but no need to worry: it’s just seasonal, farm-to-table dining.
Go for a brilliant (and fairly glam) lunch starting with blistered Padron peppers or grilled octopus salad with smoked yoghurt, ice leaves (us neither) and seeds, or raw scallop with ginger, shallots, sesame dressing and olive oil — happily all shareable — then club together for a big corn-fed roast chicken or the seafood stew and enjoy the riverside views.
Sea Containers at the Mondrian, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD
Granger & Co
Bill Granger’s mini chain of London restaurants are always a good call for a non-gluttonous meal. Aussies are generally pretty into their health, and Granger & Co’s dishes reflect this, with global, fusion-style food and plenty of guilt-free choices like fragrant chicken, brown rice and mushroom broth, or sea bass with spinach and citrus salsa.
We love the good-fat-friendly ‘Fresh Aussie’, with jasmine tea hot smoked salmon, poached eggs, greens, avocado and cherry tomato, which will definitely not leave you hungry, but most things here are bright, nutritious and satisfying yet light — if you can manage to shun the odd deep-fried item.
Granger & Co, Chelsea SW1X 0BP, Clerkenwell EC1R 0HA, Kings Cross N1C 4AG, and Notting Hill W11 2SB
After a few years on the street food circuit, Island Poke now has two bricks-and-mortar sites in London where you can get your poke bowl fix. California-raised founder James brought the Instagram-friendly bowls to London after being unable to find the zingy, fresh poke he’d loved during childhood visits to Hawaii and you can expect house bowls of classic ahi tuna with pineapple salsa, sushi rice and wakame seaweed, as well as a salmon yuzu version or a beetroot based veggie one. Alternatively, build your own, choosing from a base of sushi or brown rice, greens or slaw, depending on your appetite and carb police. Pick your protein and go wild with toppings like bonito flakes or toasted coconut.
Island Poke, 8 Kingly Street, W1B 5PQ and Broadgate Circle, EC2M 2QS
Of course any Ottolenghi eatery would be suitable for a healthy lunch break, thanks to their dazzling piles of Israeli-style salads and the love and care given to even the most humble of vegetables, but our money’s on Nopi for the best of the bunch. Here, things are given just a little bit more polish, and dishes are slightly more formal and thought-through, but still have that signature global feel and plenty of little-known ingredients and sauces. Try the chickpea pancake with spiced peas, tomato, pickled chilli and yuzu, the mixed seed lavash with burnt spring onion dip, and even the Cabrito goat shawarma with pickled watermelon, kohlrabi and flatbread could pass the health test. Up the veg count even more with tempting sides like heritage tomatoes, mojama, nori aioli and shisho (easy on the aioli) or friggitello peppers, smoked garlic and jalapeno salt.
Nopi, 21–22 Warwick Street, W1B 5NE
Snaps & Rye
Those Scandis know a thing or two about healthy food, and a lunch at modern Danish restaurant Snaps & Rye will allow you to indulge your inner hygge rather than feeling remotely deprived. Food is foraged, rye and sourdough is home-baked, seafood is house-cured; the menu features a strong line up of small, medium and large plates of Danish delights in addition to a daily changing selection of Smørrebrød (open sandwiches). Ingredients like beetroot, pickles and of course herring, salmon and smoked trout feature heavily with a typically simple, pared-down approach to food. For a lunch a little less healthy, you could chase your Nordic Caesar salad with a splash of their homemade Aqvavit — it is the water of life, after all.
Snaps & Rye, 93 Goldborne Road, W10 5NL