The good old ‘Chippy’, about the most lovable nickname one could ever dream up for a ‘fish and chip shop’ has come to epitomize the true essence of British cuisine for over a century. NO! Not because it’s calorie laden and greasy, no! We mean because it’s such a simple dish of wholesome, comfort food which (when cooked to absolute perfection) can truly feed the soul!
The humble Chippy has a long and illustrious history in London, so much so that most locals feel they are as indicative of the city as their double-decker buses and unique black cabs. A survey done just three years ago revealed that most Londoners believe a plate of fish and chips to be more iconic than either the Queen or the Beatles. Who would argue?
That’s why we believe absolutely no London visit is ever complete without a super delicious feasting from one of the city’s superlative Chippies.
Starting to salivate at the thought of a beer battered fillet of your own? Well here’s our pick of the very best Chippies in London. In making our selection we’ve prioritized freshness (both fish AND chips must be fried on demand), quality of batter (thick but not so thick that it overpowers the taste of the cod or haddock) and lack of excess grease (oily fingertips = good, grease fountain down your chin = bad).
If you’re aiming to go on a chippie-crawl then you really ought to start at the beginning. This Soho establishment is touted as the very first fish and chip shop in London since like...forever. The technical jury is still out on that, due to the fact that there were numerous establishments which opened around the same time in the 1800s. However, as opposed to all the others, this place still kicks some exceptionally good cod-ass. The guys at Rock and Sole have been battering and frying fillets for over 150 years and it’s for respect alone that you should at least pay them a visit. Oh yeah...and the fat hand-cut chips do a good job of ensuring you return for seconds. It may not be the cheapest joint in town, but then again, you’ll be eating in Soho! Go on a glorious sunny day (good luck with that) and take advantage of the super comfy outdoor seating. We bet you’ll be staying a while.
Poppies has become a bit of an icon in its own right in London, the original Spitalfields store became so popular it spurred the opening of a second, equally popular, branch in Camden. There is something ostentatiously Brit about the decor and, it must be said, the service too; but if anything it proves that the main reason why Poppies has become a household name in London it’s due to the fact that they serve some flamin’ good fish and chips.
The owners pride themselves on offering only the very best quality fish London has to offer, and on purchasing all of their produce only from sustainable traders. You can really gorge without guilt! Head here on a Friday or Saturday night and you’ll enjoy some live music with your delectable dinner.
George’s Portobello Fish Bar, 329 Portobello Rd.
This quite unassuming Chippy was doing quite well for itself on Portobello Road. It had been trading for decades, run by a family and revered by locals for its consistently good service and excellent quality fish’n’chips. If that wasn’t enough, out came an exceedingly famous celebrity chef and claimed it to serve the best fish and chips in London. Jamie really did let the cat out of the bag! Head to Fish Bar nowadays and you’re likely to need a booking for take-away, yet if you do manage to nab a chair your efforts will be handsomely, and deliciously, rewarded. The batter is traditional, servings generous and the service friendly. George has remained humble despite his newfound fame, although he does like to polish those Jamie photos rather often!
Top tips (how to tell the good from the bad)
When all is said and done, it’s great to know that considering the popularity of the fish & chips phenomena in London, it is highly likely you’ll find a simply divine chippy in every single corner of the city. Many markets also play host to fish and chips stand.
You need not spend big or even go with our suggestions just because we happen to like them. Finding your own ‘best chippy in London’ is easy, but here are a few more tips on what you should be on the lookout for.
Whatever you do, never accept fish that is fried already by the time you show up. Never mind the ‘it came out of the oil 20 seconds before you turned up’ plea by the shopkeeper, insist on your meal being freshly battered and fried, right before your eyes. Anyone begrudges this? That’s how you know you’re in the wrong place.
Freshness of produce is important in every meal, yet it becomes quite imperative when one talks about fish. A tomato that has already seen its best day is one thing; a fillet of cod that does the same is a disaster. Whatever place you pick, just make sure it is busy if not jam packed with people. Having to wait for your fish is infinitely better than your fish having to wait for you, if you catch our drift.
If ordering take-away always ask for an open packet, as opposed to a closed one, that way your chips and the batter won’t get all soggy.
The only reason you should EVER order fish and chips take-away is because you’re a student on a budget and you want to eat your meal standing up outside the shop. Never walk more than 10 metres before stopping to feast...even the very best fried fish will wither within 10 minutes or so.
Don’t forget the tartare sauce on the fish and vinegar on the chips!