We’re calling time on the assumption that good, wholesome food means unsatisfying, bland meals that cost a bomb. Because truth is, across the capital, healthy cafés and restaurants are serving up tons of innovative and delicious meals that won’t put a hole in your wallet. So, we’ve rounded up the best, tried and tested hot spots that’ll help you fuel your active lifestyle. On that note, bon appetit!
New York’s trendiest plant-based restaurant now has not only one, but two London locations in Covent Garden and Tower Bridge. And if you think eating vegan means compromising flavour, taste, or satisfaction… forget about it. Everything on their menu is made daily, from scratch, using locally-sourced and natural ingredients (and it’s all absolutely delicious). Expect hearty and nourishing comfort foods in the form of burgers, fries, and salads. If you’re thinking of skipping the mac ‘n’ cheese (made with sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce) — don’t.
A holistic and healthy, yet comfortingly simple, approach to Australian cafe culture: Farm Girl values fresh and nutritional ingredients. With locations in Chelsea, Notting Hill, and Sweaty Betty’s flagship store in Soho, consider this place your new go-to for good-for-you eats. Try a Liquid Gold Latte and hefty superfood salad bowl. And don’t worry if you’re vegan, dairy-, nut-, or gluten-free — their menu includes clearly-labeled options for all.
Raw Press’s products fill fridges throughout London — you can find them everywhere from Selfridges to Planet Organic. Best place to find them, though, is at their cafes in Chelsea’s Ellis St. and Kings Cross’ Stable St. where they serve (have a guess…) fresh-pressed juices. But you can also find an array of nutritious food made on site, including a selection of plant-based and gluten-free salads and a daily soup. For breakfast, grab an açai bowl, avocado on toast, or vegan buckwheat waffles. In need of a quick snack? They also have a range of raw and refined sugar-free treats perfect for a midday pick me up. Fitt Tip: Raw Press leaves toasters on their tables so you can make sure your artisan toast is made exactly to your liking along with all the nut butters imaginable.
If you’re a protein fiend who thinks finding clean food means you’re often left hungry unless you drop a mortgage on a decent portion — think again. Farmer J on Leadenhall, King William St., and Canada Place is focused on serving up protein-packed food made with seasonal ingredients sourced from high-welfare farms. And you can bet they don’t skimp on flavor. Flank steak with spiced roast sweet potatoes and honey-charred broccoli on a bed of freekeh — yes, please!
Centrally situated in the picturesque Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, and another located on Upper St., Islington, the Wild Food Café is a ‘raw-centric’ restaurant chain with a menu suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Their ethos is centred around well-being and focused on locally-sourced, freshly-foraged wild and artisanal ingredients, slow raw-food processes, and a commitment to organic, heirloom produce. So, naturally, all items on the menu are freshly prepared daily. Fitt Tip: they even offer raw food cookery classes for when you fancy hosting a dinner party.
If you’re serious about healthy eating, you’ll be totally nuts about Squirrel. This South Kensington hot spot has undergone an Instagram-worthy refurb featuring ‘tree-house’ style interiors and botanical touches, and we’re totally digging it. They serve up protein-packed ‘acorn’ bowls that are both delicious and affordable and made with seasonal, good-for-you ingredients specifically selected by their in-house nutritionist, Zoe Stirling. The best part? All of their menu items are made right in front of customers, making it easy to customise any dish according to taste or dietary preference. And if you're not in the neighborhood, you can also find them in Victoria.
Mildreds has been serving the veggie-loving masses for over a quarter of a century, but fear not carnivores: they’ve got an array of dishes that will tempt even the most dedicated meat-lovers. Cue their Southern Deep-Fried Vegan Buttermilk and Panko Mock Chicken. They pride themselves on healthy ingredients with Asian and Middle Eastern influences — and even the wine, coffee, tea, and milk is organic. You’ll find them in the heart of Soho, Camden, King’s Cross, and Dalston. Fitt Tip: they’re pretty popular, so expect a little wait if you show up during peak hours.
Based in Notting Hill, aka health food central, Farmacy Kitchen offers plant-based dishes inspired by flavours from around the world. Plus, they support both vegan and vegetarian diets, and all of their menu items are free from dairy, refined sugars, additives, and chemicals. It might not be your cup of tea if you’re a strict meat and heavy-carbs eater, but if you’re looking for a wellness fix, their range of comfort foods, ‘clean cosmos’, smoothies, and matcha lattes have you covered.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s NOPI restaurant in Soho is exactly what you’d expect from the chef, food writer, and restaurateur powerhouse. The menu is divided into veg, fish, meat, and Ottolenghi trademarks — think colourful salads and platters packed with bold flavours. And the food here incorporates seasonal ingredients, so the menu changes accordingly –– but they like to keep around a few signature staples like the Courgette and Manouri Fritters, Coriander Seed-Crusted Burrata with slices of blood orange, and Valdeon Cheesecake.
Food markets are leading the way in convenient, healthy, and affordable options — and Savage Salads has made a name for itself as part of that movement. Proof that street food can be healthy, their dishes are stuffed with protein in the form of chicken or halloumi and are filled with super foods and seasonal veggies to keep you full and satisfied, all for a fiver. You can find them in Flat Iron Square in Southwark seven days a week, and Berwick Street Market in Soho, Strutton Ground in Victoria, and White City in Shepherd’s Bush Monday-Friday.
This meat-free eatery features a menu rich with options for those with almost every dietary requirement. Vegan, gluten-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free dishes are all covered and clearly labelled on their self-service buffet podiums. Their offerings are inspired from the diverse cuisines of Japan, Southeast Asia, Italy, Korea, India, Mexico, and Lebanon — and anywhere else that does brilliant veggie concoctions. Stop into their spot on Eastcastle St., only a short walk away from Oxford St.’s hustle and bustle, and choose as few or as many options as you like, building your own bespoke meal, before weighing your plate, and paying at the counter.
Natural Kitchen now boasts nine stores London-wide, including Waterloo Station and Baker St. Their store in the heart of Marylebone, however, features a grocery selling an excellent standard of fresh produce, sourced as locally as possible, and served in their airy, rustic premises. It’s worth a trip for the butchery alone — featuring meat brought in three times a week from a Kentish farm. Here, they’re focused on an ‘all day’ concept, so they serve up freshly-prepared, healthy dishes and hot and cold drinks any time of the day for you to enjoy in their restaurant or as a takeaway from their ‘food to go’ deli.
It doesn’t matter if you have dietary restrictions, need a fresh juice fix, or are looking for a healthy lunch option, The Good Life Eatery has you covered. They’re on a mission to help you eat healthier and happier, and we think they’re doing a pretty good job of it. Here, you’ll find all kinds of raw, vegan, gluten-, and dairy-free treats, as well as cold-pressed juices and smoothies. Not to mention dishes that are developed based on seasonal produce and are guaranteed to have no pesticides or fertilisers. Happily, they have stores dispersed across South West London, from Belgravia to St John’s Wood.
Hawaiian cuisine has taken the food scene by storm by way of raw fish salads packed with a choice of brown rice, quinoa, kale, and seasonal veggies. If you're looking to get in on the poke game, Ahi Poké in Fitzrovia, Victoria, Spitalfields, Bloomberg, Fulham, and Canary Wharf is the place to do it. The reason? Their fish is responsibly sourced and sustainably caught, so you know what you’re eating is the best quality. What’s more, they work closely with purveyors to ensure they provide only the freshest local vegetables and fruits for fellow poke fiends. Bonus points for the 100% biodegradable packaging.
In Covent Garden you'll find an all-avocado eatery that you have to try to believe. Of course, they serve the usual: avo toast and many a smoothie featuring the restaurant’s namesake, but then you’ve got much wilder options ranging from the Avo Bun Burger to avocado face masks (not for use whilst at the restaurant, incidentally). And if you still don’t know what an Avo Bun Burger is, we suggest you get yourself down there and find out!
**Updated April 2019.