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Updated August 2017
There comes a time in your visit to London when you are hankering for either a decent coffee or an edible bite to eat that won’t do major damage to your budget.
And invariably you are standing in front of the golden arches, any one of its competitors or the local tourist trap knowing you are going to regret the decision later.
With this in mind, here’s my list of the best chain restaurants in London with multiple locations.
I’m not a big fan of chain eateries as a general rule and this is in no way Michelin starred dining. But I wrote this post wanting to save you from expensive soggy fish and chips and burnt coffee. Sightseeing is hungry work right?
Wahaca – Mexican street food in London
Mexican street food is on offer at eight Wahaca locations across London. Wahaca serves tacos, tortillas and burritos with delicious fillings as well as some more interesting specials.
The sharing menu is fresh, tasty and very reasonably priced. If you are in need of a cocktail or some chocolate dipped churros they can help with that too. Yum.
Comptoir Libanais – tasty Lebanese dishes
You can’t miss the lively coloured Comptoir cafes throughout London. I love their branding but their Lebanese menu is equally fresh and delicious and a break from European style fare.
Serving breakfast through to an early dinner you can grab a snack in the form of mezze, wraps or pastries or try their tagines and roast chicken for something more substantial. I also happen to think they do the best babychinos in London.
Fast and healthy eating options in London
Travelling can be a very unhealthy business at times. Luckily London has some innovative options to offset those splurge days. At Itsu you will find light, nutritious and healthy dishes inspired by Japanese and Asian cuisine. There are 70 Itsu venues across London serving sushi, super salads and noodle dishes.
For tasty, fresh and delicious food Leon is a favourite. You can find this chain at 12 spots across London and are guaranteed healthy food with international flavours. There is a varied menu full of salads, curries and wraps. Leon caters for many dietary requirements and has extensive gluten free options. My kids love their porridge for breakfast.
Carluccio’s – Italian restaurant chain London
Sometimes all you need to get you through another few hours of sightseeing or shopping is a hearty plate of pasta. Carluccio’s has a great pasta menu as well as antipasto, Italian style grills and of course lovely coffee and can be found at 12 locations across central London.
Most branches are open from breakfast through to dinner. They cater brilliantly for families too – a great kids menu with Italian favourites, healthy options and treats.
Jamie’s Italian – Simple and tasty
Pasta,pizza and simple Italian fare is also on the menu at 12 Jamie’s Italian venues in London. Great for larger groups and family travellers, the restaurants owned by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver have tasty menus and reasonably priced kids options.
Best London bakery chains
Looking for fresh French pastry? Head to Paul – there are lots of outlets around London. Many have ample seating areas so you can sit down and enjoy baguettes and patisserie to recharge for further sightseeing.
Le Pain Quotidien has pastry and wholesome options including eggs for breakfast if you are trying to cater for different needs among your group.
Dedicated to baking great bread – I love their sourdough – Gail’s Artisan Bakery has breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea covered at 10+ locations across London
Marks and Spencer – high street grocer and more
British high street stalwart Marks and Spencer is a great place to pick up snacks on the go or make up a picnic. They have some interesting take away salads and sandwiches and my husband loves their coffee.
If you are staying in an apartment head to M&S for dinner and breakfast items too.
Peyton and Byrne – cafes in London
You are likely come across Peyton and Byrne bakeries and cafes as they are located near London’s major tourist attractions. They are even the in-house caterers for some of the larger museums and galleries such as the British Library and National Gallery.
The menus vary but expect to find seasonal salads, thick cut sandwiches and delicious sweet treats. They serve decent coffee too.
Pret A Manger – London’s favourite fast fresh food
Just “Pret” to the locals, you really can’t go anywhere in London without spying Pret a Manger on a corner. Here the coffee and milk is organic and quite drinkable (depending on the barista.. of course).
And the meals and snacks are varied with many healthier options – soups, salads, sandwiches. There is also an extensive breakfast menu. It’s definitely fast food but you can eat well and save your pennies for a splurge at Liberty!
Burger restaurants in London
We like Byron Burger for those moments when only a hamburger will do. Byron Burger has over 40 venues across London and offers an extensive menu catering for most dietary requirements. Many of their venues are large and can handle strollers and buggies. Coupled with a great kids menu with healthy swap outs it’s our pick for a family burger splurge
Patty and Bun [9 outlets] has premium ‘grown up’ burgers like their Lambshank Redemption’ Burger with pickled aubergine/eggplant and cumin aioli. Seriously delicious.
Honest Burgers [10+ outlets] keep their burgers simple – chicken, beef or vegetable – using the best British produce. Just add your favourite toppings and sides
Need a coffee?
I do NOT recommend Costa, Starbucks or Caffe Nero for coffee. They serve hot coffee flavoured milk if you ask me. Instead head to any of the four Grind & Co branches or Pret and Marks and Spencer (trust me).
Tip – I always ask for a flat white in London as they tend to come with less milk
More on my favourite coffee spots in London here
Londoners – are there any of your favourites I have missed? Where are your go to cafes and restaurants in London for when you are super hungry and you have no reservation?