Having worked for the past four years in the city I have tried my fair share of food joints on the never ending quest for a satisfying city lunch. The triangle area formed between the Underground stations of St Pauls, Bank and Liverpool Street probably has more Pret a Manger’s than any other area in the world (this is based on pure conjecture – no efforts to validate/nullify this statement have been made). If like me you spend the time between 10.30am – 12:00pm debating what to eat for lunch that day and need some Halalspiration so that you don’t end up going for the same old Falafel and Haloumi wrap from Pret then please read on as I have compiled a list of my favourite Halal spots for lunch in the city ranging from quick grab and go’s to sit down meals for those Friday pay days. Please note I have purposefully left out the famous curry houses of Brick Lane/Whitechapel – that needs its own dedicated blog post!
Over the Counter Food
Pod is the sort of place that always exists right next to a Pret, Eat and Itsu in the city however has the marked advantage of serving Halal chicken in all their foods across all their stores. Serving up baguettes, soups, salads and my beloved hot pots (Chicken Thai Green curry with rice and salad…Mmmm) it’s a great option for when the egg and cress sandwiches just don’t cut it, and with so many branches in the city you should find yourself within walking distance of a store. Their breakfast options are also great for when you have the luxury of time and aren’t running late to work.
Pod’s Thai Chicken Red Curry
City Locations: Fenchurch Street, Bank, St Pauls, Liverpool Street, Mansion House, Moorgate
Wrap It Up
Did you know that Subway has the most stores in the WORLD? Yes, more than McDonalds. And do you know why? Because people love the ability to customize their food and have a sandwich made just the way they want. This concept of customization is what Wrap it Up is all about. The menu provides options such as Portuguese Peri Peri, Caribbean Curry Chicken, Turkish Lamb Shish, Lebanese Falafel (you get the idea) and your wrap is made there and then in front of you to your sauce, salad and spice liking. Everything on the menu here is Halal and the Caribbean Curry chicken and Turkish Shish are favourites of mine.
City Locations: Monument, Liverpool Street, Aldgate
Banh Mi Bay
The Vietnamese food revolution started a good few years ago in London and has become so mainstream now that Pho chains are everywhere and Vietnamese baguettes have become permanent fixtures of menus at places like Eat. That’s all well and good, but where can you find a good quality Halal Vietnamese baguette for lunch in the city you ask? Well none other than Banh Minh. Located in St Pauls with a nice sit down area and order to go section you can order a Halal Grilled Chicken Satay Vietnamese baguette (this is the only Halal item) complete with all the trimmings –pickled carrot and mooli, cucumber, coriander and fresh chilli…all in the deservedly famous Vietnamese baguette..yum.
A few bites into my grilled satay chicken baguette
City Location: St Pauls
Market Style Food
For those lucky enough to work walking distance from Spitalfields market there are a number of food options to keep you satisfied – Konditor and Cook with, Hummingbird Bakery, Lola’s cupcakes…ok I digress they’re all dessert places. Back to lunch – lots of restaurants to choose from with the Real Greek, Giraffe, Las Iguanas, Leon etc etc but for some good Halal home cooking my go to place is Cafe Caribbean (also featured in our Top London Cheap Eats post here). Wholesome plates of jerk chicken, rice and peas, salad and potatoes will leave you feeling warm inside and utterly fulfilled. This is a stall in the market so food can either be taken away in take away boxes or eaten on nearby seating area which though covered is still outside so can be cold in the winter.
Jerk chicken, rice and peas, potato and salad – bliss!
City Location: Old Spitalfields Market (Shoreditch and Liverpool Street Stations)
Sit Down meals – Informal Lunching
Rosa’s Thai Cafe
Rosa’s Thai started off as a market stall in Brick Lane and has grown into a chain of restaurants across London – from East to Central London. The spitalfields restaurant is a lovely small informal dining set up that is ideal for lunch. Serving Halal chicken this it provides homely, good quality Thai food walking distance for those in the Liverpool Street/shoreditch area.
Thai Red Chicken Curry Photo Credit: Rosa’s Thai Cafe Instagram account
City Location: Spitalfields (Shoreditch and Liverpool Street Stations)
Team Lunch Restaurants – Halal options Galore!
If you are the kind of Halal foodie that has a phobia of vegetarian food options and not a fan of seafood than here are some suggestions for Halal restaurant chains that should also keep your non Halal foodie colleagues happy.
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Whether GBK can really still try to pass itself off as ‘gourmet’ – especially with the surge of refined burger joints popping up in every gentrified area – is not the subject of debate here (though the answer is no, GBK, just No). Options in the city are limited and whilst not the best burgers in the world, GBK is a good option for group lunching. Service is quick, payment is uncomplicated with everyone paying for themselves at the till and there are enough options – meat and veggie alike to keep most people happy. Please note only the panko breaded chicken burger is Halal at GBK, and make sure you check the voucher codes app as GBK is often featured for 50% off offers.
City Locations: Tower Bridge, Spitalfields, St Pauls
In a similar vein to GBK, Pizza Express is not exactly the most refined pizza joint in London. That said, with so many branches across the city and Halal chicken served it can be a handy option to have for those group lunches and caters well for both meat eaters and vegetarians. With a new 500 calorie or less addition to the menu, calorie counters and perpetual dieters will also be taken care of. As with GBK – Pizza Express often has offers be it Taste card or voucher codes so check to see if your closest store is signed up to receive further savings. A personal city favourite branch of mine is the Pizza Express in Leadenhall Market. Set in the historic covered market across two floors this branch has an ambience and feel that other branches don’t offer.
City Locations: St Pauls, London Bridge, Fenchurch Street, Liverpool Street, Mansion House, Tower Bridge
I recently stumbled onto Scarlet in Spitalfields whilst looking for somewhere to lunch with a friend. I was feeling something more Thai and she wanted Indian – and lo and behold as though by magic should appear a restaurant offering Thai AND Indian food. The concept of this place is great – they offer up lunch time bento boxes and you can choose either Indian or Thai. For £9.95 you can choose a starter, a main served with rice and fresh naan bread and a soft drink. This comes in a bento box so there are all these additional food items to devour also. This is great for good value food with a variety of options to choose from set in a smart sexy looking Japanese-esque restaurant (Indian and Thai food and Japanese décor? Trust me it works).
Thali style Indian/Thai food – very fulfilling and great value
City Location: Spitalfields (Liverpool Street and Shoreditch station)
Located on Gracechurch close to Bank, Monument and Fenchurch Street Stations, hidden in a small side passage is Bangalore Express. Split over two floors and with a ridiculously extensive menu and large portions Bangalore Express is a tried and tested city favourite. The curries are not the most authentic when it comes to Indian dining however I love their ‘small plates’ options providing tapas style dining which is great for larger groups wishing to sample a bit of everything. There is also a lunch menu serving things such as Masala Fish and Chips (great option, the masala chips are perfect and served with a delicious green mint/coriander chutney) and chicken tikka rolls in fresh naan. If you’re craving an Indian lunch but don’t have time to eat in you can call them to place your order to pick up – with neat takeaway boxes and prompt service it’s a great option for those in a hurry.
Masala Fish and Chips Lunch special Photo Credit: Bangalore Express Instagram Account
City Location: Near Fenchurch Street and Bank Stations
For those Friday afternoons where you can take a longer lunch and would like to be dined with good food, service and ambience than I refer you to the City lunch stalwart that is Haz. This Turkish establishment has embedded itself in the city so much that with branches in Fenchurch Street, Liverpool Street, St Pauls and Canary Wharf you would be hard pressed to find someone that works in the area that has never eaten here. The lunch menu is actually really good – my usual is the Turkish Lentil soup to start followed by Chicken shish served with rice and veg. At £12.95 the lunch menu is great value and will leave you full, especially with the complimentary fresh bread and dips provided. They even have an option for people in a hurry – the Mezze Lunch which includes a variety of Turkish favourite mezze style dishes. The a la carte menu is extensive and great for those wanting more variety.
Chicken Shish Lunch Special Photo Credit: www.hazrestaurant.co.uk
Liverpool Street Branch. Photo Credit: www.hazrestaurant.co.uk
City Locations: Fenchurch Street/Bank, St Pauls, Liverpool Street
If you have your own personal lunch favourites be sure to leave a comment and let us know – sharing is caring remember!