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London: Tasty English Breakfasts for Cheapos

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Regency Cafe, London
Regency Cafe, London. Photo by niznoz

By Neha Gadhvi in London—

If Barcelona has tapas and Rome knows how to make a pasta dinner then surely London’s coveted culinary must-have is the essential English breakfast. Today, many cafés and restaurants specialize in this national treat consisting of crispy back bacon, outdoor-reared sausage, eggs, whole-cup mushrooms, crispy hash browns, tomatoes, Heinz baked beans and toast on extra-thick bloomer bread.

If that’s not enough to entice you, you can now sample high-end English breakfast in grand, glam restaurants (transforming the first meal of the day into a fabulous event!) without paying a high-end price. After all,  breakfast—the kind typically served on a cheque table cloth by a charming waitress—shouldn’t cost you the price it would to own a farm and rear the contents yourself! The true appeal of English breakfast is that it is the perfect, satisfying, cheap treat.

London is ripe with traditional greasy spoons which open their doors each morning for serious plates-a-food. Here are a few of my favorite breakfast spots by locale:

East-End

Family-run east-end café E Pellicci (332 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AG) has fed gangsters (the Krays), artists (Gilbert & George), taxi drivers and families for over a century. A tiny time capsule of a ‘caff’ that has stood in the East End of London for 105 years, Pellicci’s has its own place in popular culture and is a social hub of the area. Sample the old fashioned English fried breakfast all day in the cozy, relaxed dining room. Breakfast here is amazingly affordable. Expect to spend: £5-8.

Northern Delight

For some decadence: a single artisanal Lincolnshire sausage, a slice of Old Spot bacon, a perfectly presented free-range poached egg, look no further than Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany (127-129 Parkway, Camden Town NW1). A hotel-cum-restaurant-cum-local beer pub, the York & Albany is within walking distance of the London Zoo and Camden High Street. Less greasy than other breakfasts in town, the food here still satisfies. Expect to spend: £12.

English breakfast

English breakfast. Photo by Iban

South London

Tucked away on a quiet street, the Regency Café (17-19 Regency St, Pimlico SW1P) is an old-fashioned English restaurant typically full of working men in need of a hearty meal for the day. The proper British style ‘caff’, halfway between Westminster and Victoria, is also famed for a scene in the film “Layer Cake” in which Daniel Craig enjoys a special early morning feast with Freddie Hurst. Regency serves up everything you’d expect: big portions, good solid fresh-cooked food, and comforting English tea! Expect to spend: £4.

About the author

About the author: Neha Gadhvi is a perpetual traveler, adventurer, and general-mischief-and-pleasure-seeker. A London-based travel editor and freelance writer, some of her favorite things about the city include leafy green parks, unusual market stalls, cultural diversity and afternoon tea.

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