London’s Hippest Places To Eat Right Now

London‘s food landscape is constantly changing. As new restaurants come and go, it can be hard to keep up with what’s hip and happening. If you happen to be stopping through in the next few months, here are some of London’s trendiest restaurants right now.

This small Soho restaurant is London’s only pisco bar and cevicheria. Besides plenty of Peru‘s national drink and dish, visitors can dine on small plates packed with flavor, including chancha (crunchy corn), yucas (fried cassava), lomo saltado (sirloin marinated in soy sauce and spices), octopus skewers and quinoa salad. Just don’t come expecting servers donning hokey ponchos and serving roasted guinea pig to a background of music on the pan flute: here you’ll find a chromed-out bar that resembles a fish market and walls filled with screen-printed posters from classic and modern Peruvian artists, all of which were handpicked by proprietor Martin Morales. Morales makes sure all of the music is 100 percent Peruvian, from ’60s psychedelic rock to the latest Afro-Peruvian electronic music, and he even goes so far as to put some of the bands out on vinyl under his record label Tiger’s Milk, a moniker that gives a nod to the nickname for leftover ceviche marinade.
17 Frith St., London W1D 4RG

Duck & Waffle

This new restaurant serves tasty British-influenced dishes, but what really draws visitors are the amazing city views. The restaurant is perched on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, a high rise in the heart of London near busy Liverpool Street Station. The building is set very close to London’s famous Gherkin, and from high above you can see all the landmarks along the Thames River. Even better, you can take in the birds-eye-view morning, noon and night: this place is open 24/7, meaning you can stop in late after a night of club hopping or drop in early to get breakfast before a day of sightseeing. If you stop in for breakfast, the steak & egg benedict (above) was perfectly poached and smothered in delicious hollandaise sauce, and you can’t go wrong with an English breakfast, a traditional dish that includes two eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, trotter-braised beans, hash browns and Scottish black pudding.
110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

Evans & Peel Detective Agency
An American phenomenon is taking a hold on London: speakeasy-themed bars and restaurants set in 1920s prohibition-era hideaways. One such place is Evans & Peel Detective Agency, a restaurant under the guise of a private investigation agency. Visitors need to make an advanced “appointment” with a detective and state their case before even being approved for their reservation. The unassuming entrance is to the side of busy Earl’s Court Road, and diners are buzzed down into a room where a stern detective leads an interrogation about your case (it’s okay if you giggle while lauding him with a made up tale about your search for a runaway husband, like my friend and I did). From there, I won’t ruin the experience for anyone wanting to check this out for themselves, but I will say the owners spared no expense at making this seem like a real, candlelit safe house for illegal boozing. The menu is mostly American-style finger food, plus some inventive cocktails using whiskey as the main ingredient.
310c Earl’s Court Rd., London SW5 9AQ

The Wilton Way Café
This independently owned cafe is filled with young artists and bohemians who inhabit Hackney, one of London’s up-and-coming hipster havens. The tiny cafe is notable because it is also home to London Fields Radio, a station broadcasting podcasts filled with eclectic musical selections and conversations about London’s creative community. If you want to find the pulse of London’s creative heart, this is the place to be. Luckily, the food and coffee match the vision of these creative types; Wilton Way Cafe serves up fresh croissants and cakes from nearby bakeries, and makes their coffee with locally roasted Climpson & Sons beans.
63 Wilton Way, London E8 1BG

Sunday (Up)Market
If you find yourself in London on a Sunday, heading to Brick Lane is an absolute must. Rain or shine, young Londoners flock here to shop for new and second-hand wares, making sure to stop for a bite to eat at what is called the Sunday UpMarket inside the Old Truman Brewery. Here, you’ll find a collection of small but tantalizing food stalls, each with artfully crafted displays of everything from hand-rolled sushi to Spanish paellas and empanadas. You’ll also find Mexican, Ethiopian, Turkish, Indian, Argentinian and more. My suggestion is to bring a friend so you can sample more than just one type of cuisine. When you’re finished, browse more than 140 stalls selling fashion and accessories, also located in the building. If you’re up for more, Old Spitalfields Market is also nearby.
The Old Truman Brewery, London E1 6QL

If you’re looking for additional suggestions on where to eat in London, check out Visit London-I found several of the above restaurants through their website.

[Photo credit: blogger Libby Zay]

Budget Guide 2013: Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio, is known as both “Cowtown” and “The Biggest Small Town in America,” nicknames that begin to shed light on the destination’s Midwest charm mixed with big city amenities. Relative to other urban centers, the streets are safe and the people are friendly, yet you’ll find restaurants, galleries, shops and other attractions that have Columbus competing with cities two and three times its size.

Contrary to many other cities across the nation, the population of Columbus has been growing steadily. This influx of new residents has led to many new business openings in the city, and kept healthy competition amongst both old and new proprietors. Here, the average price for a beer at a bar is a modest $3.50, and meals at reasonably priced restaurants will only set you back about $10 per person. The food scene is delicious, there are plenty of attractions to explore, and getting around is simple – whether you’re traveling by foot, bus, bike, taxi or even pedicab.

If you need more convincing, consider this: Columbus has been ranked a top shopping destination by Forbes, a top arts destination by American Style, a top city for biking by Bicycling Magazine, and the city’s Science Center, COSI, was named the number one in the country for families by Parents Magazine. On top of that, National Geographic recently named the city one of the top 10 best fall trips. Spend a long weekend in this city, and you might find yourself wanting to come back for more.


The Wayfaring Buckeye Hostel: Columbus is known for its mega-sized university, Ohio State, and this newly established house-turned-hostel is the place to be if you want to stay in the heart of it all. The whole place is ready to party: on the front porch you’ll find a beer pong table, the common area is outfitted with a projector screen for movies and a foosball table, and the back patio frequently hosts music performances. Despite the frat house atmosphere, managers keep the hostel clean, and visitors can also take advantage of free Wi-Fi, bicycle rental, laundry facilities and more. From $25. 2407 Indiana Ave.; 614-754-0945.

The Lofts: At this recently renovated boutique hotel in Columbus’ Arena District, old meets new: the hotel’s exterior is set in a historic former warehouse, yet inside you’ll find clean, contemporary designed rooms with exposed brick walls. Other amenities include an indoor swimming pool and an on-site restaurant. Be sure to check into package deals, as the hotel has been running a special where they throw in a third night stay for free, bringing the overall price tag way, way down. From $144 (before discount). 55 East Nationwide Blvd.; 614-461-2663

German Village Guesthouse: If you’re looking for something a little quieter, the cozy German Village Guesthouse is not only ranked as the top bed-and-breakfast in Columbus on TripAdvisor, but was also voted the “Best Hotel/B&B in Columbus” in the 2012 reader poll by 614 Magazine. Some of the rooms offer great views of the Columbus skyline, and on the ground you can explore the cobblestone streets and lush gardens of historic German Village, a neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Districts. From $195. 748 Jaeger St.; 614-437-9712

Eat and Drink

Grass Skirt Tiki Room: The newest oasis in Columbus’ downtown area is this tiki-themed bar, the brainchild of the city’s ragtag group of unorthodox restaurateurs, the Columbus Food League. Here you can chow down on a Loco Moco (traditional Hawaiian dish of burger patties over rice smothered in gravy and a sunny side-up egg) while throwing back a mai tai, or you could head to one of the group’s other restaurants: the Surly Girl Saloon, Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits, or Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails, where you’ll also get a dose of Ohio history. 105 N Grant Ave.; 614-429-3650

Bodega: Every Monday night hipsters flock to Bodega, when the restaurant offers $1 panini-style grilled cheese sandwiches. What money you save on dinner you can contribute to trying one of the restaurants 50+ craft beers on tap – which, by the way, are also half off from 4 to 8 p.m. Don’t forget to try the local suds, including Columbus Brewing Company, Buckeye Lake Brewery, Elevator Brewing Company, Hoff Hearted Brewing and more. The patio makes for a great spot to people watch, while the interior has an artsy, sophisticated vibe. 1044 N. High St.; 614-299-9399

Food Trucks: These days, it seems as though you can’t talk about cheap eats without mentioning meals on wheels. Columbus is no exception to the food truck craze, with nearly 100 roving restaurants circulating the city. Options range from creole to crepes, Indonesian to Italian, pierogies to pulled pork, or Jamaican to Korean, but the trend that has really taken off are taco trucks. More than 40 of these trucks cater to Columbus’ fastest growing population – Latinos – as well as anyone else who wants a quick, tasty bite.

Budget Activities

North Market: In the late 1800s there were four public markets in Columbus, each with a name paying homage to its cardinal direction. Today, only one remains: North Market. The current 36 merchants inside the building include delis, bakeries, pastry shops, ethnic restaurants, specialty goods sellers, produce stands and more. Even if you only pop in for a taste, don’t miss Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. This creamery takes the label “artisan” seriously, promising “[e]very single thing we put in our ice cream is legit.” Just last year, head honcho Jeni Britton Bauer won a James Beard Foundation Book Award for her cookbook, “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home” – a great takeaway if you’re looking to bring a piece of Columbus back home.

Experience Cafe Culture: It would be far-fetched to say Columbus is the next Paris, but this city has become obsessed with cafe culture recently. Artisan roasters and craft coffeemakers are popping up all over the city, promising a cafe on nearly every street corner – that isn’t Starbucks. Cafe Brioso and Staufs Coffee roast all their coffees in house, while Back Room Coffee Roasters operates out of a local bike repair shop and Thunderkiss roasts single-origin coffees in less than five pound batches. There are also mainstays such as Cup o’ Joe and Crimson Cup.

Swim with Stingrays: You no longer have to go to a place like Belize’s “Shark Ray Alley” to swim with stingrays. Last year, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium opened a new attraction, Stingray Bay, inside an 18,000-gallon saltwater pool that allows you to get up close and personal with the creatures. Touching the stingrays in Stingray Bay is perfectly safe, and it only costs an extra $3. Even better, you’ll be inside a top-rated zoo that was developed with great help from famed zookeeper Jack Hanna and is currently home to more than 9,000 animals. If that’s not enough, the zoo is adjacent to the Zoombezi Bay Waterpark. A day pass to both attractions is less than $30, and you’ll also save on parking!

Get Around

Columbus is easily walkable, with much of the city centered around the main north/south drag: High Street. Along this road you’ll find some of the city’s best bars, restaurants, art galleries and specialty shops. Several neighborhoods are worth a walk-through, particularly the Short North, the arts and entertainment district. If you happen to visit during the first Saturday of each month, the Short North hosts a free gala on fine art and food starting at 4 p.m., when all the galleries along High Street open their doors to unveil new exhibitions – and many offer small bites and samples of wine.

However, if you need to get from one end of High Street to the other faster than your legs will take you, the #2 bus operated by Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) can get you anywhere along this main artery for $2 per trip or $4.50 for a day pass. Since the city is flat, renting a bike is also a great option, or if preferred you can have someone else do the legwork by taking a ride in one of the many pedicabs that navigate the city.

Buses also service Port Columbus International Airport, which is six miles from Columbus. Use the trip planner on the COTA website to find the next bus, or just pop the address into Google maps to get bus directions to your starting (or ending) location. The next best option is a shuttle bus, of which there are many options to and from the airport.

Budget Tip

If you’re looking for a night out on the town without hurting your wallet, check out the Columbus-based website 20 Dollar Dates. There you’ll find plenty for two people to do, and you’re guaranteed to never spend more than a Jackson. Date ideas range from happy hour specials to nearby hikes to holiday-themed activities.

[Photo credits: Flickr user Jack Zalium (top image) and Flickr user codydean]