Fish and Chips in London

Fish and chips is a British food institution, and the nation’s capital has no shortage of fantastic places to find fish and chips of the best quality. 

Whether you want a cheap and cheerful option for takeaway or you’re looking for a sit-down dining experience in a restaurant, you’ll find it in London. 

Here we take a look at the history of our beloved national dish and give you some recommendations on where to find great fish and chips in London.

And if you’re looking to explore London’s foodie scene even further, please have a look at our range of London Food Tours

Traditional British Fish & Chips

The History of Fish and Chips in England

When we think of English cuisine, the one dish that comes to everyone’s mind is fish and chips. And like a lot of (read, most!) English food, the dish initially came to our shores with the arrival of refugees. 

Yes, folks, our most famous dish isn’t entirely British. However, the internationalism of the UK food scene is unquestionably its greatest strength. (Take our London East End Food Tour to learn more about London’s multicultural culinary landscape.)

In the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese Jews arrived in England after fleeing persecution in their homelands. With them, they brought a dish called “Pescado Frito”, which literally translates as “fried fish”. 

The fish used was typically cod or haddock, which are plentiful around our shores. The fried fish was described as being cooked in “the Jewish fashion” (coated in flour before frying).

In the 17th century, London welcomed another group of refugees, this time French Huguenots. This group of Christian Protestant immigrants (also fleeing persecution in their homeland) brought the tradition of frying potatoes with them to England.

It was in 1860 that a Jewish man called Joseph Malin opened a shop right in the heart of London’s East End that combined the two delights – fish and chips was born! 

Fish and chips is so important in our culinary history that in both WW1 and WW2, the British government safeguarded the dish from rationing. It was believed that a good portion of fish and chips would keep the people’s morale high.

Today, the dish sits alongside pies, tea (another long and winding history!), cooked breakfasts, and the Sunday Roast, as a quintessentially British foodstuff. 

If you’re travelling in the UK for the first time, you must indulge in a portion of fish and chips. If you’re a UK native enjoying some time in the nation’s capital, don’t miss out on some of the best fish and chips you’ll find in the south. 

British Fish & Chips Board

Where to Eat Fish and Chips in London?

Our Eat the East End Food Tour features some truly delicious fish and chips!

We visit the famous East End fish and chip shop Poppies. The boss, Pat “Pop” Newland, has worked in the fish and chip world since 1952. The original Poppies is located in Spitalfields, but you can also find them in Soho and Camden. Although Poppies offers wallet-friendly prices, all the fish is cooked to order. We’re here regularly, and it never disappoints!

If you’re in Soho, you can also try Golden Union. These guys have been serving fish and chips since 2008, and they estimate that they’ve served almost 2 million customers. Known for their mammoth portions, you won’t leave this Soho favourite hungry. 

Want to dive deeper into the world of fish and chips? Have a read of Timeout London’s Best Fish and Chips Restaurants and discover a further nine top-class fish and chip shops! 

Explore London’s Food Scene

If you’d like to explore the back streets of London, trying out some of our favourite dishes, book a food tour with us!

Our popular Eat the East End food tour explores Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Spitalfields.

Additionally, we also have Team Building And Corporate Activities In London – organise a truly unique London experience for your colleagues or friends.

On each of our tours, you can try a fantastic array of dishes while learning about London’s fascinating history and culture.

Shoreditch fish and chip shop

Spitalfields Market

One of our favourite places to take guests on our Eat the East End food tour is Spitalfields market. Here we talk about the history of the market and what you can expect to see when you visit today.

The Beginning of Spitalfields Market

After the great fire of London in 1666, the areas to the east of the city became hubs for markets and trade. 

In 1682 King Charles II granted a royal charter that allowed a market to take place every Thursday and Saturday in Spital Square. The market quickly established itself as one of the city’s most popular fruit and vegetable markets.  

Business throughout the 18th century flourished. For this reason, the area attracted French Huguenot immigrants weavers. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 meant French Protestants were forced to flee France.

Those who arrived in the East End of London brought their silk weaving businesses with them. Some of the weavers’ homes can still be found today on Fournier Street. 

The French weavers were later followed by Irish weavers who had to emigrate from Ireland due to a decline in the linen trade. This influx of people led to the building of a church in the Spitalfields area – Hawksmoor’s magnificent Christ Church, a site we recommend you visit.

Spitalfields’ Decline

During the 19th century the market declined and it became known for cheaper, less desirable goods. 

The low costs made it an attractive area for new immigrants to settle. It was at this time that many Jews from across Europe settled here, many fleeing anti-semitic attacks in the Russian Empire. The area became one of the largest Jewish districts in probably all of Europe, home to a staggering forty synagogues. 

But the Jewish community would also gradually move out as other areas of the city came into their own, enjoying their own boom periods. By the mid-20th century, the area was a shadow of its former self. 

Towards the end of the 20th century, the market itself was closed down and moved to the outskirts of London.

Spitalfields Market Today

Spitalfields Market Today

The area began to go through a period of cultural renewal in the 1970s as large numbers of Bangladeshis arrived, bringing with them their vibrant culture and amazing cuisine. Conditions, though, were still far from ideal. 

In the early 2000s, a process of redevelopment was begun and today Spitalfields Market is a must-visit for food lovers in London. 

Open every day, the market is full of some of London’s most well-loved food stalls. You can find anything here, from artisan pizza vans to Sri Lankan curry stalls. The market’s historic roof has been kept which gives a really cool atmosphere.

There’s also a really good section for local artists and fashion designers. It’s the perfect place to find that unique gift to take home!

Next door, there is also the Old Spitalfields Market, another space offering unique gifts, vintage items, and unmissable food and drink. 

Though often thought of as one market, Spitalfields Market and Old Spitalfields Market are two separate entities. However, they’re right next door to each other and both offer a dizzying amount of choices! 

What to Eat in Spitalfields Market?

On our London food tours, we like to come to Spitalfields and try some amazing dishes. A great place to visit is the Dumpling Shack. These guys make amazing Shanghai dumplings. There might be a queue but it moves pretty quickly and is well worth joining. 

We also love the Chai Guys who have a small stall knocking out some amazing Chai. Perfect for a cold London morning.

There are always some new stalls popping up so it’s worth a walk around before you choose what to eat.

To find out more about Spitalfields market and all of the delicious food offerings there, consider joining us on our London East End Food Tour – a great way to discover London and some of its hidden food gems!

If you have any questions regarding this blog or our tours, please get in touch

A bowl of Dumpling shacks famous dumplings.

Brick Lane: A History

Brick Lane lies at the heart of London’s rich culinary culture and is the main destination of our own London East End Food Tour. The area is renowned for its vibrancy, offering travellers of all types plenty to do. 

Possessing a fascinating history, the area is today famous for being home to the Brick Lane food market, top-class Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants (and plenty more international cuisine), vintage shops, and colourful street art. 

Whether you’re heading out for something to eat and a few drinks or simply want to spend an afternoon getting a feel of authentic London life, Brick Lane is an excellent part of London to explore.

Why is it Called Brick Lane?

In the 15th century, Brick Lane was known as Whitechapel Lane. It wound its way through fields on the eastern edge of what was then the City of London. 

The name Brick Lane came about following the Great Fire of London in 1666 as the area is situated on ground rich with clay, making it the ideal spot for the manufacture of bricks. 

Following the devastating destruction of the Great Fire, there was a huge amount of construction to be undertaken and so a brickmaking industry grew up here.

Brewing Comes to Brick Lane

Another early Brick Lane industry was brewing. 

Just after the Great Fire of London in 1666, a huge brewery opened up on Brick Lane. The site was first established by the local Bucknall family and in 1666 they hired the services of brewer Joseph Truman, who would take over the operation completely from 1679. 

The early brewery was known as the Black Eagle Brewery due to its premises being on the corner of Black Eagle Street and it came to establish itself as one of the world’s largest breweries (by 1748 the Black Eagle Brewery was producing 40,000 barrels of beer annually). 

By the mid-18th century, the presence of Huguenot immigrants from France greatly increased local demand for heavily hopped beer (much production before then would have been in unhopped ales). 

It was also around this time that the porter style of beer was developed, taking its name from the fact that the heavy-tasting beer was popular with local street and river porters. 

The Truman family initially imported all their hops from Belgium but before long Kent farmers were producing their own hops to meet the rising demand. By 1898, Brick Lane’s brewery covered an incredible six acres of land. 

Sadly, the long history of the brewery came to a halt in 1989 when production was stopped. As with many of London’s traditional industries, large multinationals had a monopoly on beer production.  

However, the story doesn’t end there. The Truman brewery is still on Brick Lane today, though many of the historic buildings are being used as an arts and events centre. 

Recently a group of local beer lovers purchased the Truman name and have had success in reviving the Truman brewery.

Early Immigration and Brick Lane

As touched upon above, in the 17th century French Huguenots escaped religious persecution in France and came to London. Brick Lane was where they settled. 

The Huguenots were skilled weavers and many of the weavers’ houses can still be seen on the roads around Brick Lane. You can see the top floors have large windows to allow as much sunlight in to help the weavers see their work. 

In the 19th century, many Jewish people arrived in London, escaping from pogroms within the Russian Empire. Again Brick Lane (being close to the docks) was a popular place to set up home. 

Today Brick Lane boasts two of the most famous Jewish bakeries in London and people come at all hours of the day to try their famous Beigels. 

You too can try them on our Eat the East End food tour.


The most recent wave of immigration into the area has come from Bangladeshis. 

Since World War II, many families from Bangladesh have escaped the troubles back home and moved to London. 

This wave of immigration has brought with it an exciting food culture and gifted Brick Lane with one of its greatest attributes: lots of fabulous curry houses!

Yes, the vibrant, bustling streets around Brick Lane are the perfect place to sample amazing curries in London. Of course, being a tourist centre, the quality can vary dramatically, so we recommend doing some research before choosing where to eat. 

We previously wrote a blog that could be of help: What Is The Best Indian Restaurant On Brick Lane, London?

Happy multiracial friends walking on brick lane

The Art and Culture of Brick Lane

Brick Lane is a hive of street art. From the world-famous Banksy to lesser-known local artists, art is just about everywhere you look in Brick Lane.

There’s always someone creating something when we’re out on our food tour – this celebration of arts, colour, and all things creative is a central part of the Brick Lane magic. 

Indeed, some companies offer walking tours focused exclusively on street art, such as the number of things to see. And the best bit? There’s always something new popping up!

In addition to looking at art, Brick Lane is an excellent place to shop for local crafts, with the streets being home to an array of indie businesses.

How to Get to Brick Lane?

Getting to Brick Lane is super easy, whether you want to cycle, take the Underground, catch an overground train, or jump on a bus. 

If you’re already in areas such as Shoreditch, Spitalfields, or Whitechapel, you’ll be able to walk to Brick Lane in ten to fifteen minutes.

If taking the Underground, you’ll want to get out at Aldgate East. If on the Overground, your nearest station to Brick Lane will be Shoreditch High Street. 

For buses, consult local timetables with Transport for London – several bus routes serve the area. 

If you’d like to learn more about Brick lane and try some of the amazing food in the area, why not join us on our Eat the East End food tour.

If you have any questions about Brick Lane or any of London Bites’ services, please get in touch

Brick Lane street sign

Chocolate Heaven in London’s East End

Our Eat the East End food tour takes in many of London’s most talked-about food vendors. One of the most popular stops we make on the tour is Dark Sugars.

Dark Sugars is one of London’s premier chocolate shops. The shop can be found on the corner of Brick Lane and Bacon Street, right in the heart of London’s East End – it’s a spot you do not want to miss when you’re in town!

How Dark Sugars Began…

Dark sugars can trace their history to Spitalfields market. It was here where founder Fatou Mendy first began selling her (soon to become famous) chocolate truffles.

At the time, there were only two flavours: coffee and walnut, and stem ginger and honey. The stall was a roaring success, and it wasn’t long before Mendy moved to Borough Market, where she became a famous stall for 11 years.

Chocolate bar and peanuts and cocoa

Bringing the World of Chocolate to London

After working hard on her stall, Mendy decided on a change of pace. She decided to travel to a part of the world where cocoa is produced.

By doing so, she learned more about the crop and how the best chocolate is made. She spent a lot of time in Ghana, where she was able to work on a family farm and get to grips with the everyday challenges of cocoa cultivation.

Moving to Brick Lane

In 2013, Mendy returned to London and opened her first brick-and-mortar shop on Brick Lane.

The area has seen some significant changes over the years. One thing that has always held true though is its openness to communities from around the world and, in particular, their food.

Brick Lane is famous for its Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants (as we discussed in our recent What is the best Indian restaurant on Brick Lane, London? blog). Elsewhere, two Jewish beigel shops fight it out for the best beigel in London (they’re both great). And now we have truly wonderful West African-influenced chocolate.

Chocolate Heaven

When visiting the store on our London food tour, guests often don’t know where to look first. The shop contains different flavours and creations representing all parts of the world.

The Irish Kiss is a unique dark chocolate ganache with a pipette of Baileys that you squirt on the top. Some of our favourites are the sweet mangos dipped in dark chocolate or the chilli truffles, which use a Moroccan chilli blended into dark chocolate.

Whatever your taste, you’re sure to find something to surprise and excite in Dark Sugars. The shop is a real treasure trove of flavours, and it’s an excellent representation of the creativity we love to champion at London Bites!

Food should never be forgettable. Our food traditions stretch back hundreds – even thousands – of years, and food is capable of telling stories. At Dark Sugars you’ll be taken on a splendidly indulgent and sweet journey.

assortment of chocolates

The Health-Giving Qualities of Chocolate

As an aside, are you aware of the health-giving effects of chocolate (when consumed in moderation, of course)? Okay, we’re not going to tell you to go out and binge on chocolate, but treating yourself to quality chocolate could prove to be an excellent decision for your health.

You may have read about the Microbiome and our increasing awareness of its importance in recent years. The Microbiome is essentially the bacteria we carry inside us.

A diverse and healthy mix of bacteria is unsurprisingly good for digestive health, but scientists are now telling us how the biodiversity of our Microbiome can be linked to our mental health, blood pressure, and much else besides.

Dark chocolate (normally 85% cocoa and above) is now regarded as a fantastic food for maintaining a healthy Microbiome.

Other studies have shown that dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure, provides essential minerals, and helps us de-stress.

So, the next time you’re craving chocolate, remember this wondrous food, cultivated since the time of the Aztecs, may be just what your body and mind are after.

Join London Bites and Travel Through Food…

By joining a London Bites tour, you can be assured of delicious food and fascinating insights into local communities and cultures.

We’re all about using taste experiences to tell stories – there’s surely no better way form of cultural exchange than sharing lovingly prepared food rooted in tradition.

You can find out more about Dark Sugars and all the other amazing vendors of Brick Lane on our Eat the East End food tour.

Visit London Bites for more info and to book your tour places.

Chocolate that we try on our London food tour