Thursday, 23 June 2016

Food: Lunch Breaks In The Square Mile

Working in the Square Mile, choosing a lunch location can feel like being in the Truman Show as every block features a Pret, an Eat and an Itsu. While I have nothing against these establishments I'm all for bringing some variety to a working day and so here is my guide for being a lady (or gentleman) who lunches, albeit within the confines of a working day and a sensible budget. As I know that it's sometimes nigh on impossible to get away from our friend The Desk and other times there's biblical rain outside (June I'm looking at you), I've included a range of options from a leisurely stroll to the market to not even having to leave your seat. Oh, and they're all appropriately Instagrammable, too:

1. Whitecross Street

While not strictly within the City of London, this street market spanning the length of the Whitecross Street is a firm favourite for suited city workers and Old Street Roundabout-ers alike. Bring cash, be prepared to queue and to face severe food decision anxiety as everything just looks so damn good. My favourites are Bubble Wrap for bibimbap in a wrap and Hoxton Beach for falafels. If it's a sunny day, nip through the alleyway next to the barbers and sit in Fortune Street park - Giddy Up Coffee will provide the perfect post-lunch boost.

2. Bahn Mi Bay

An authentic Vietnanese restaurant and take away, I love Bahn Mi Bay for their bun noodles and speedy service when dining in. The summer rolls are great too for take out and there is a vegan option which is my favourite. As their name suggests, they also do a range of Bahn Mi baguettes for which there's always a (fast moving and well worth it) queue for.

3. Bep Haus

Another Vietnamese option but I can't get enough of the spicy flavours. Located on Bow Lane which is a hidden oasis of city lunch options (the burrito stall here always has an insane queue), the bahn mi baguettes here are amazing. I tried the vegan tofu bahn mi and it was so good although bread makes me so sleepy in the afternoons that I'll opt for a tofu box next time. There are always queues out the door at lunchtime for this tiny café and it's takeout only so head down to the lawns outside St Pauls if its a sunny day.

4. Benugo (#BenugoDelivers)

A small chain of cafes, Benugo have branches in and around the Square Mile and now do delivery which is perfect if you're in need of food for a meeting or for a group of colleagues. I recently sampled their summer menu and it's like bringing the picnic to your desk even if it's pouring with rain and you're basking in florescent lighting rather than the summer sun. The deliveries are walked over from shops where possible so you know it'll be super fresh (and good for the environment). The watermelon aqua fresca is so refreshing and as bread is a rare lunchtime treat I happily tucked in to the goats cheese and fire-roasted pepper bloomer which was definitely a cut above sad office sandwiches. There are veggie and vegan options and you can also get breakfast delivered (ideal for making sure there's 100% attendance at those morning meetings).

5.  Oi Hanoi 

Located in Aldgate, just outside of the City, Oi Hanoi delivers speedily via Deliveroo (I know that a lot of companies subscribe to this for evening deliveries so that staff don't pass out or leave the office in search of sustenance). I tried their tofu bun noddles and tofu summer rolls which are both vegan, tasty and filling without being soporific. Chopsticks a-plenty are provided and the dishes are attractively presented - take-out has clearly come a long way from my childhood memories of "Chinese" food in plastic boxes...

 6. Taro

It's definitely no secret now that I love Asian food at lunchtime... Taro is a small chain of Japanese cafes which offer sushi, bento and hot dishes. I love a bento box for making me feel like I'm speeding along on a bullet train rather than trying not to be run over by a cyclist and dodging the umpteen free magazines that I'm forever picking up three copies each of. The bento boxes are good value compared with other Japanese-esque eateries - I don't actually eat tofu as much as this post implies but the tofu box is good and my dining companion equally rated the chicken box.

Need more inspiration? My post here has more favourites!



  1. So much Vietnamese to love here- I walked past Bahn Mi Bay the other day and was intrigued, now I'm definitely heading in!

  2. Everything looks so good - and super healthy too! I wish we had more places like this near where I live :D lovely food snaps, followed you on GFC! xx

    elizabeth ♡ ”Ice Cream” whispers Clara | (lets follow each other on bloglovin or instagram)

  3. Benugo is one of my favourite places to go for a quick lunch or breakfast. Their bar and restaurant is lovely too.

    - Elodie x

  4. I start work in the City in September so I'm definitely bookmarking this post! x

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Student Lifestyle Blog


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