Monday, January 16, 2012

Jonesing for American Food

I've not been back to the US since September, and it will likely be several months more before I go back.  As you can imagine, I'm beginning to miss some of the food that I always enjoy eating when I go back to the US.

So, it got me thinking...when I'm jonesing for some American food in London, where oh where do I go?  The list is short-but in truth, when I crave 'American Food', it usually takes only one of three forms:  burgers, BBQ (I am a Southern girl, after all!), or Mexican (that's technically 'American', right?..):

Burgers.  The most challenging of all.  I think I've mentioned more than once that I struggle with British Beef (my shortcoming, not British Beef's...). Until recently (hello, Byron!), I can count on two hands the number of burgers I've eaten in my four years in the UK.  So if there's one thing I truly crave as a food symbol of 'home', it's burgers.  Luckly, there are a few places in London to satisfy-and they seem to be ever-increasing in numbers (uh-oh):

  • Automat.  Truly 'American'-they import and serve USDA beef.  Not the greenest burger in the world, but desperate times call for desperate measures, people!  Rumor has it, this is where Renee Zellweger would come eat when she was packing on the pounds for the first Bridget Jones movie. It's understandable why. Their burgers are incredible, as is everything else I've had on the menu.  They ain't cheap, but sometimes, you have to splurge.
  • Byron:  A fairly new arrival on the London scene.  Their first shop opened in 2007-and in truth, I'd never heard of them until last year.  I'd never even set foot into one of their shops until just a few months ago when they opened a shop in the bottom of my office.  Sadly now, I'm averaging a burger there every 10-14 days.  This isn't good-but oh, their burgers SO are!
BBQ:  You can take the girl out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the girl.  And god knows I love a good pork BBQ (pork.  not beef..don't even get me started...;)). This can be difficult enough to find in the US when outside of North Carolina, never mind the UK!  Thank goodness there's Bodean's.   I first discovered Bodean's fairly early in my move to London, as there was one not too far from where I live.  I've spent a lot of time at Bodean's over the years-watching Tarheel basketball, joining friends for a bit of 'cue while watching an NFL game-and even most recently, spending Thanksgiving there.  They've been a great 'home away from home' in terms of food and entertainment, and I for one am a huge fan!

Mexican:  Ok. Ok.  I know this technically isn't 'American Food,' but I think any American Expat at some point in time comes to realize just how freaking difficult it is to find good Mexican food outside of the US (or Mexico.  ahem...).  This one is probably the most contentious in terms of which place is best in London-and goodness knows, I've read enough debates on expat forums on the topic.  But for me, when considering authenticity and location (read:  isn't an hour away from home...), one of my favorites in town is a place called Crazy Homies.  The name alone should be enough to pique the curiosity. :)  Next door and owned by the same chap who owns Lucky 7 Diner (another outstanding American-style eatery), Crazy Homies serves tasty Tex-Mex, and in particular darned good guacamole. 

I'm getting hungry just writing this post-and should scoot out and get some dinner.  But, it's something I've been meaning to post about for some time.

Where else?  Where else?  I'm sure I'm forgetting tons of places/categories (Brunch probably being a big miss...).  So what am I forgetting people? Give me some inspiration of places I need to hit up!


  1. I live around the corner from Bodeans but have never been! Will go for the Superbowl though I think.

    Cantino Laredo in Covent Garden is one of my fave Mexican places in town - I'm not a huge fan of Mexican food, actually, but another American expat took me there after raving about it and I was sold!

    Proper American brunch is the hardest to find in London - even if the menu ticks all the boxes, they'll only serve from 9-12 or something crazy like that! EVERYONE knows that a proper brunch doesn't start till late morning and goes for HOURS (and, if possiblem involves unlimited mimosas). The search is on...

  2. As a fellow American expat, I feel your pain when it comes to finding good American food in London! I recently moved to India for a few months, but cannot wait to go back to the following places once I return to London:

    1) Meatliquor ( - more info at

    2) Lucky Chip ( - more info at

    1) Pitt Cue Co. ( - more info at

    1) Daddy Donkey -

    2) Wahaca -

    Now if only I could find any of these foods in Delhi!

  3. I am a Texan so I have VERY high standards for Mexican food. Crazy Homies, and Cantina Laredo (a chain that even has a location in downtown Fort Worth TX) are the best I've found. Cantina Laredo has the edge for having queso on their menu. Wahaca and Taqueria are also good although they are less Tex-Mex. Do not ever go to Cafe Pacifico, it is garbage.

    You know there's a Chipotle here now right?

  4. Oh CHIPOTLE!! After moving to London from Texas in October, my husband and I missed American food immediately, especially after finding out that people don't really know what "Mexican" food is, despite the restaurants. We took a special trip to the one Chipotle in this country (near Leicester Square, I think) and were in heaven. Another good place, that seems to try to make itself more American, is Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK). They use Scottish beef, and their dill pickles taste sweet, and they put a sweet chili relish on most of their burgers, which could do without, but they TRY! They have free water (and peanuts), and call chips fries. If both places weren't relatively expensive, I think I'd go there every day!

  5. Hi! I have been reading your blog for a long time, and now I am in Birmingham doing a masters degree. I completely agree with you about the lack of good mexican food! I am from San Diego,CA so I might be spoiled on the quality of mexican food I get access to! There are some good attempts but I haven't found anything that comes close so far in Birmingham. I did find some good burgers at All Bar One and Handmade burger co. at Brindley Place in Birmingham. Thanks for the info, I can't wait to find chipotle next time I'm in London!

  6. Is there some reason they spell Oaxaca as Wahaca? That's funny!

    1. At Wahaca they also pronounce "chorizo" as "choritho," like people in Spain would...though they call themselves a Mexican restaurant....muy dissapointo, Wahaca.

  7. Thanks, everyone for the suggestions! Looks like I'll be making the jeans a bit tighter over the next few weeks. hee..
    @err...I hadn't noticed before, but you're right. Your comment made me laugh out loud!
    @Neha...I just read about Pitt the other day-that's actually what inspired this blog post. Thanks for confirming that it's defo a place to check out!

  8. Hi ! I just discovered your blog and I have learned so much ! My other half and I will be relocating from Seattle to London next month for his job. It has happened very quickly so my stress levels are rising daily ! I would love to ask your opinion on a few things such as; the cost of living increase from Seattle to London ( roughly)?

  9. MMMMM...BUUUUUURGERRRRRRS!!! Thank you for this post. I have a page in my "After You Move" notebook titled "Places to Get A Burger". Of all the fun things I'm able to cook, a good burger isn't one of them, so when I go out to eat here in the U.S. burgers are what I go for, and I don't expect I'll be improving my burger-making abilities once I've moved, so THANK YOU!
    That's so funny that your idea of BBQ is all pork. I'm a Northern girl and never knew that people did BBQ with pork until a few years ago. I had a friend offer me "pulled pork" (sp?) once and I didn't eat it because I didn't know what it was, haha!!

  10. We just moved to the UK from Texas and I've been devouring expat blogs for months. Yours was a favorite! So thank you!! I've linked to it on my new blog... I hope you don't mind. We will be in London next week for interviews and will be searching out some good Tex Mex!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. @Selina. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog-and I'm flattered that you would link to me. Thank you!
    @Gennifer6...pulled fave. It's basically shredded pork-as opposed to sliced. Yum. coming your way!