El Pastor – London

Another day and another London eatery to share with you!

Now, who doesn’t like tacos? Pretty much no one! And if you are not a Mexican food fan but are still looking for a nice place to eat in London I recommend you check out this link where hopefully you will find something you like better! For the others, today I am taking to El Pastor a little taqueria lost in the back streets of Borough Market.

El Pastor London

It had made some noise the past few months with a fair amount of decent reviews so I thought I would check it out! I headed there on Tuesday using the excuse of a girlfriend catch-up and Tacos-Tuesday (I lived in the US for a while, can you tell?) to try El Pastor.

El Pastor London

Similar to Padella, the queue can be the killer here. Do not expect to get a table straight away. Add your name to the list, go grab a drink at Flat Iron Square and wait for the text announcing that you are finally allowed to eat.

Once sat, we both ordered a Pacifico beer, which for two people who never drink beer, tasted appropriately beery and fresh.

El Pastor London

We decided to give the mains the lead role and skipped both starters and desserts. It is also good to note that the staff was great at managing my food allergy to avocado (one terrible human tragedy I know) with all the guacamole flying around.

Kitchen at El Pastor London

There are 2 tacos per portion which is perfect for sharing. We order a good variety of mains and there were some disappointments but also some great surprises!

***Warning the pictures that follow are a bit graining but the place is fairly dark and my camera on its last stretch! ***

We ordered the Al Pastor, the signature tacos with marinated pork, caramelised pineapple and guacamole. I had to have it without the guacamole which made it a little dry. The meat serving was generous and tasty but the pineapple piece was too much on the small side. Good but not mind-blowing.

Al pastor pork tacos El Pastor London

We then had the mushroom tacos, which were… DE-LI-CIOUS! I am making the effort of trying more of the vegetarian options at restaurants and this one did not disappoint. The mushrooms were juicy but not watery, the cheese was tasty but not overpowering. A real and very pleasant surprise!

Mushroom tacos El Pastor London

We liked it so much that we ordered another portion of these!

We tried the Choripapa tacos, a mix of chorizo and potato served with salsa verde. It was tasty and the potato felt surprisingly present to the palate against the spiciness of the chorizo.

Choripapa tacos with chorizo and potatoes El Pastor London

Finally, we shared the Gringa quesadilla. The pork quantity was very generous but it could have done with more cheese and been a bit bigger. One quesadilla is just enough for 2 people to share.

Gringa pork quesadilla El Pastor London

All mains are between £6 and £8 so you can eat for around £30 with a drink which is not too excessive in London.

So if you are looking for gastro-gourmet tacos on a Tuesday evening, head to London Bridge and add your name to the list. ¡Buen provecho

El Pastor London

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Mercato Metropolitano – London

One of my favourite food markets in London is Mercato Metropolitano, and this is a big statement knowing how many street food places there are in London!

Mercato Metropolitano entrance London

Mercato Metropolitano is hidden in an old warehouse of Elephant & Castle and just a stone’s throw away from the famous Ministry of Sound. From the outside, it may look deceivingly small, but don’t get fooled by the narrow entrance. Once inside you will be surprised by the scale of this place!

Mercato Metropolitano entrance London

There are three main areas in Mercato Metropolitano, the warehouse where most of the food stalls are. Prezzemolo & Vitale, the Italian deli, a big store full of delicious fresh products which you can either take home or consume on site (including the wine!). And there is the outdoor garden area, a great place to hang out in the summer evenings with a glass (or jug!) of Pimms.

Mercato Metropolitano LondonMercato Metropolitano Italian deliMercato Metropolitano London outdoor area

My routine is as follow when I go there. And yes, I do have a routine because I am massively a regular- I just love this place so much!

Mercato Metropolitano London

First stop is the Italian Deli where we will buy a bottle of wine to enjoy in the market. The staff is amazing and will happily make you taste different options before you buy a bottle. I even converted one of my friends to red wine in this shop!

Mercato Metropolitano Italian deli

The second step is to browse all the different food options before selecting your lunch or dinner. I highly recommend the meat platter from the Argentine Grill, the pulled pork burger at Prairie Fire BBQ, the charcuterie and cheese plate from Champagne & Fromage and the gelatos at Gelateria Badiani.

Mercato Metropolitano gelatoMercato Metropolitano London BBQMercato Metropolitano pulled pork burger

Finally, grab a table inside during the winter or on a rainy day (Mercato Metropolitano is opened all year round!) or outside on warmer and sunnier days.

Mercato Metropolitano foodMercato Metropolitano London outdoor area

End your visit by checking out all the cool street art going on in the venue and grabbing some Italian treats at the deli to take home. Get some houseplants at RootLabs or go watch a movie at the Backyard Cinema.

Mercato Metropolitano London street artMercato Metropolitano RootLabs bus

So make sure to pay a visit to Mercato Metropolitano, and if you have visitors in town bring them with you! They will be blown away by the place and they will find something they like no matter what!

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Restaurante Funky – Ericeira, Portugal

Neither Andrew or I are vegetarian, however, we do like to sometime skip meat or fish in favour of vegetables and fruits. Vegetarian food has evolved so much the past few years that, even for meat-appreciators like us, a plant-based dish can be very exciting. So when Andrew spotted Restaurante Funky, we knew we had to try it.

Restaurante Funky is hidden in a small street of Ericeira, a charming little fishing town on the west coast of Portugal. It does look a little … well funky, from the outside, and you will find some meat and fish on the menu but vegetarian dishes are the stars of the show here.

Restaurante Funky Ericeira

We booked a table and when arriving wondered why as it was fairly quiet, but it eventually got VERY busy so making a reservation actually was worth it. Another great tip if you travel to Portugal but don’t speak Portuguese: you can make almost all restaurants’ bookings through the fork!

To start I went for the tempura asparagus with anchovy sauce and red cabbage. It was flavoursome and the sauce original and tasty.

Tempura asparagus with anchovies sauce and red cabbage Restaurante Funky

Andrew had the fettuccine with salmon, cream sauce, lime and chives.

Fettuccine with salmon, cream sauce, lime and chives Restaurante Funky

For our mains, we couldn’t resist some fish. The seafood is excellent in Portugal and being in a fishermen’s town we just couldn’t say no to it.  I went for the roasted codfish with almond green crust, sweet potato and sautéed spinach. It was as delicious as it looked!

Roasted codfish with almond green crust, sweet potato and sautéed spinach Restaurante Funky

Andrew went for the curry with shrimps and jasmine rice which he gobbled in a couple of bites.

Curry with shrimps and jasmine rice Restaurante Funky

We both ended our meals with some dessert. I went for the chocolate mousse, simple and good. Andrew went for a praline and hazelnut cake which he loved.

Praline and almond cake Restaurante FunkyChocolate mousse Restaurante Funky

Restaurante Funky is a great option if you are vegetarian or fancy a little meat break!

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The Brockley Deli – London

I have recently taken the leap to leave my job and to give the freelancer life a go. That means that every day I am at home. I am quite a homebody anyway and like my own company, so most days I am happy! Sometimes though, I need to get outside and change the scenery to stimulate my creativity. I have therefore made it my mission to try all my local coffee shops while working – you can call it multitasking!

I mentioned the Good Hope Cafes before, and this week we are heading to the west part of Lewisham in Brockley where you will find the eponymous Brockley Deli.

The Brockley Deli

Part delicatessen, part coffee shop, Brockley Deli is a bright spacious place where your creative juices will be flowing while your stomach enjoys a nice pastry and a coffee.

The Brockley Deli toasted croissant

It is also good to note that the WiFi is very reliable, which, if you are in the same situation than me, is a detail but an important one!

The shop section offers fine foods and wines, and you can order tasty freshly-made sandwiches and nibbles at the counter. The Brockley Deli also works with local suppliers as much as possible and all their beers are from local breweries.

The Brockley Deli counter

My order of choice there is an almond milk latte with a delicious blueberry muffin.

The Brockley Deli coffee and blueberry muffin

With a novel author on the left and two digital nomads on the right, you won’t feel lonely! The Brockley Deli is a great place to settle for half a day as a freelancer. They are open from 8am to 7pm most days, so you can even make it a full working day if you fancy! You can even reward hours of hard work with one of their cocktails, because why not?

The Brockley Deli

They say you should work hard and play hard, well I do it the foodie way!

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Antonio Delicatessen – London

You have been to Italy before and love getting lost in the lively food shops and farmer markets there? You love Italian food but you find the supermarkets’ mozzarella disappointing? Me too! Unfortunately, we cannot just jump on a plane to Rome when we are craving the flavours of Italy. Not very budget-friendly neither environment-friendly.
The great news is that if you are in London I know a place where, for a short period of time, you will feel like in a shop in Florence. Lewisham city centre is definitely not the most pleasant place in London. It can be grim and a little rough around the edges so you would not think that a little piece of Italy is hiding there. Yet it is home to one of the best Italian delis!
Antonio Delicatessen Lewisham London
Antonio Delicatessen is in a street just off Lewisham shopping-centre and a short walk away from the station. A real hidden gem where you will be greeted by ‘Buongiorno!‘. There all the staff is Italian!
The shop is small but packed to the ceiling with Italian products. You will find all the types of pasta, sauces, biscuits and even drinks commonly found in Italian supermarkets!
Antonio Delicatessen shop
Head to the counter and order some delicious Italian pecorino and charcuterie.
Antonio Delicatessen charcuterie
It is good to note that by default the staff will talk to you in Italian, and when visiting you will quickly understand why. Most of the customers in the shop are Italian too! Now if this is not a sign of quality and authenticity I don’t know what is!
Antonio Delicatessen cheese and deli
Antonio Delicatessen products are very reasonably priced. This shop is not trying to be a fancy European deli. Its objective is to cater for London’s Italian community and make sure that their weekly shop is as good as it is at home.
Antonio Delicatessen shop
Luckily for me, I live a short walk away from Antonio Delicatessen. And if you don’t, yet still want to treat yourself to a tasty homemade Italian dinner, consider hopping on the train there. It will be a mini weekend adventure into the depth of South-East London and you will head back home with excellent burrata!
Ci vediamo lì, arrivederci !
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Flat Iron Square – London

It doesn’t happen often but sometimes looking for free wifi and clean toilets can lead to great things. It was the case for me recently while looking for a decent spot to work from, around London Bridge, before a dinner with my friends at Padella.

The Shard London

I was walking down the streets hoping to find a warm place with good coffee which was not a chain. I eventually saw a warehouse-like door opened with people coming and going and some music playing. I had time to lose so I thought I would check it out. One of the best decision I have made within the past 10 days (my life is not that exciting). This is how I discovered Flat Iron Square.

Flat Iron Square

Nested under some of the London Bridge train tracks, Flat Iron Square is an indoor/outdoor food market. It opened in 2016 so it is still fairly new and not too crowded. Part of me considered not sharing this address with you so it would remain fairly low key, but sharing is caring and I couldn’t let you miss out on this place!

Flat Iron Square

Flat Iron Square is part of London’s Low Line project aiming to open South London railway arches to local businesses.

Flat Iron Square

The first time I visited I took a sit indoor and grabbed a coffee and one delicious cinnamon roll at Burnt Lemon Bakery. Their sandwiches also looked amazing and I would definitely go back there for some flavoursome bread and tasty pastries!

Flat Iron Square

I actually liked Flat Iron Square so much that I went back with my friends Hemma and Camille for a drink (alcohol is on the pricey side there) and Andrew for a Sunday lunch.

Lupins in Flat Iron Square

The day we went with Andrew was absolutely freezing so we both opted for a warming ramen from Tatami Ramen. The ramen was decent, not as good as the ones served in Japan, but it did the job of keeping us warm and full.

Ramen in Flat Iron SquareEating ramen at Flat Iron Square

Be warned Flat Iron Square, I will be back! My plan is to try all the eateries under the arches, and by the time I am done maybe London will be warmer and maybe we will be able to sit outside.

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Padella – London

Just a stone’s throw away from London Bridge you will find Padella. Weirdly, I had never heard of this place before. I say weirdly because when we got there the queue was wrapped all around the building and the next table for 3 was available an hour and forty-five minutes later. So clearly Padella is a popular place!

After a nice girly catch-up and a few drinks at a close by venue, we finally took a seat around the bar with a prime view into the kitchen, where all the magic happens.

Padella kitchen London

And it is not any magic happening at Padella – it is delicious Italian-pasta-magic!

Being a girly catch-up dinner, we all ordered wine of course and we decided to share two starters – the burrata and the salame. Both were delicious and between three people the perfect amount of food to save our appetite for the pasta!

Burrata and salame Padella London

The burrata was creamy and filling and the salame had the flavour of real well-made charcuterie (for a few bites I felt like I was back in France).

A special mention to the staff, one of my friends doesn’t like parmesan ( I know, weird, but we are still friends). The staff went above and beyond to make sure she enjoyed her main and that there would be minimal traces of parmesan on her plate (rather challenging in an Italian restaurant).

We all went for a different dish but all tried each others’ so I can comment on all! It is also good to note that Padella is very affordable. A meal without drinks will only set you back a tenner!

Padella London menu

Hemma went for the spinach and ricotta ravioli. These were excellent and so creamy!

Spinach and ricotta ravioliPadella London

Camille went for Padella signature dish Pici cacio & pepe, a very satisfying and simple cheesy plate of pasta! Comfort food at its best!

Pici cacio & pepe Padella London

I went for something a little different, the tagliarini with chilli, anchovies and capers. I felt adventurous and wanted to try something new. It was really good, neither too fishy nor too sour. All the flavours were subtle yet noticeable and it wasn’t too spicy either!

Tagliarini with chilli, anchovies and capers Padella London

So is Padella worth staying in the queue for? Absolutely! And while you are waiting, make sure to go explore and have a drink at Flat Iron Square, another nice discovery I made that same day (I can smell another blog post)!

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Restaurante Noah – Santa Cruz, Portugal

On our first evening out of Lisbon, we headed north-west to the Atlantic coast and decided to spend a few days in the Torres Vedras region. The owner of Vila Louro recommended we grab dinner at Restaurante Noah in Santa Cruz which was only a 10-minutes drive from where we were staying.

Unfortunately, it was already dark when we arrived at Restaurante Noah. The restaurant is on the beach and I assume that the view during the day must be amazing.

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised by the very modern and nicely decorated venue. The place looks like if a beach-hut had a baby with a very sleek Scandinavian house. And you know me, I love good interior design!

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

After a long day on the road, we immediately ordered some bread while waiting for our drinks. It was good but a tasty mistake we would regret later. Don’t worry I will explain why.

Bread Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Our glasses of wine arrived, which made me very happy and we placed our order. After almost half a loaf of bread, we decided to share a starter and have a main each.

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

That is when we discovered that the first serving of bread had been a mistake… It was delicious BUT imagine our faces when we realised that the starter we had chosen, a local sausage, was served with another loaf of bread. We ended up full before our mains even arrived! So one tip for you: avoid the bread if you are planning to have a starter, a main and a dessert. The sausage was delicious though and we polished off the plate nicely.

Sausage Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Our mains arrived, squid ink linguine for Andrew and octopus for me (as usual). Both dishes were really good! The pastas had all the flavours of the sea (in a nice way). The octopus serving was very generous and had the right balance between the meatiness of the polpo and lightness of the vegetables and hazelnuts.

Squid ink linguine Restaurante Noah Santa CruzOctopus Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Our only disappointment was to not have room for any dessert, both of us were completely stuff!

I also want to give one bonus point to Restaurante Noah for the bill. When it arrives in such a creative container you are almost happy to take your card out!

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

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Lx Factory – Lisbon, Portugal

Some places are so unique that it hard to describe them! This is the case for Lx Factory, in Lisbon. Lx Factory is not a restaurant, not a food market, not a bar, not a shop or an art gallery… Lx Factory is all of the above!

Lx Factory Lisbon

Nested under the 25 de Abril bridge, Lx Factory used to be an old manufacturing complex which has been transformed into a trendy art and food district. The 23.000 m2 industrial site is now home to some creative companies, restaurants, bars, shops and art galleries. From breakfast to the last drink of the day, Lx Factory will keep you entertained.

Lx Factory Lisbon

We arrived there around lunchtime, after exploring the neighbourhood of Belem in the morning. On the hunt for a light bite to eat, we settled on LXeeseCake which had the most appetising salads on the menu. There are plenty of food options and you will find something for everyone’s’ taste.

Lx Factory Lisbon

Andrew went for a chicken salad, I went for a cheese and berries one. Both delicious and very welcome after days of eating fish, beans, rice and Pasteis de Nata.

LXeeseCake salad LisbonLXeeseCake salad Lisbon

We ended our lunch with some delicious yet slightly less healthy deserts. It is all about balance, right? I am not a cheesecake fan (I know, I know, how is that even possible?) but even I enjoyed it!

LXeeseCake cheesecake Lisbon

We went for a digestive walk and explored all the small alleyways of LxFactory.

Lx Factory LisbonLx Factory Lisbon

The street art scene is amazing in Lisbon, the locals fully embrace it and LxFactory really reflect this!

Street art Lx Factory LisbonLx Factory Lisbon

We visited all the shops! Some very trendy some… A lot more quirky!

Vintage shop Lx Factory Lisbon

We ended our visit on the south side and hopped on a train from Alcantara-Mar station back to Lisbon city centre.

Street art Lx Factory Lisbon

Lx Factory is definitely one of the trendiest spots in Lisbon and could easily compete with the very hype Shoreditch or Brooklyn. So make sure to add it to your Lisbon itinerary!

Street art Lx Factory Lisbon

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Good Hope Cafés – London

Can you imagine being able to eat breakfast and drink a warm cup of coffee for a good cause? Sounds a little too good and easy to be true? Well, not in Lewisham!

If you head to south-east London and are in need of a bite to eat or a warm beverage, make sure to swing by a Good Hope Cafés!

There are three cafés: one in Hither Green, one in Ladywell Fields and one on Lewisham High Street. My favourite is the Hither Green one simply because it is a bit cosier than the others. The three places support the same cause though!

Good Hope Café Hither Green London

The cafés were created following the passing of Jimmy Mizen, a young schoolboy who was attacked in 2008. Rather than revenge, his parents decided to focus on compassion and to invest in the local community to make it safer for young people. In 2009, they founded the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, now known as For Jimmy. The charity is working to involve the young local people so they feel part of any decisions affecting their lives. They are encouraged to change positively the communities they live in.

Good Hope Café Hither Green London

“I want you to take hope and encouragement from all that we do. Please don’t feel sorry for us, but take strength and determination to work for change. It starts with each one of us. Let’s work together to bring peace in memory of our fine young people who have lost their lives to violent crime.”

Margaret Mizen, MBE

A great cause and an important one, London has been struggling a lot with youth violence over the past decade. The type of attacks Jimmy was a victim of unfortunately often make the headlines in London and big cities in general.

Now, what about the food? Nothing too fancy here. The menu is simple but everything is tasty! For breakfast, you will find the regular eggs on toasts, breakfast muffins and pastries. For lunch, you can order nice toasty sandwiches which will keep you full until dinner.

Good Hope Cafe breakfast muffin

And if you are visiting between meal times you will find some tasty cakes! What’s not to like?

The best part is that all the cafés employ local young people, giving them valuable work experience to help them as they grow into adulthood. All the money collected is reinvested in the cafés and help support the various charity’s programmes.

Good Hope Café Hither Green London

Andrew and I live very close by and often go there for a tasty (and reasonably priced!) brunch. In addition to all the good For Jimmy is doing, we particularly enjoy going there as we believe it is important to support local businesses. Eat local, shop local, create local jobs and be part of the local virtuous circle!

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