The best Full English alternatives in London

From Scottish to Jamaican: Your brunch doesn’t have to be a greasy spoon


There’s no denying it. We all love a good Full English Breakfast. It’s a traditional that’s ingrained into our culture, and it’s pretty much the only thing we look forward to on a Sunday morning.

Whether you’re a bacon, sausage and black pudding lover, or you prefer a meat-free option, I’ve lined up the top ten destinations for a full English breakfast in London, so no matter your dietary needs, you’ll find somewhere that caters to you, so fear not coeliacs, vegans, or lactose-intolerants, there’s somewhere for all of you in the capital.

Veggie

The Ivy Market Grill, Covent Garden

Located in the West End is Covent Garden, one of the most famous London destinations for both tourists and Londoners. It has it all – from theatres, restaurants, bars and shops, to nearby sights such as the ROH, Covent Garden Market, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Somerset House and more.

The Ivy Market Grill, in Covent Garden offers a breakfast menu every day, from 8am ’til 11.30am, and their veggie breakfast is to die for. If you don’t want to settle for eggs on toast, this is the breakfast for you. With grilled halloumi, avocado, poached eggs, hollandaise, hash browns, flat mushrooms, roast plum tomatoes, watercress and baked beans, alongside white, granary or gluten free toast, you won’t be disappointed.

It’s not cheap, at £12.50, but this Full English is well worth splashing out for. There’s also an eggs-only menu (from Truffled eggs to Avocado and spinach Benedict), and a light & healthy option if you don’t want anything heavy.

Vegan

Black Cat Café, Hackney

Vegans, you’re in luck! Black Cat Café, based in Hackney, North-East London is 100% vegan, and serves up breakfast and brunch from 12pm until 9pm on weekdays, and 11am until 8pm on weekends, so you can get your fill whenever you like. Not only is Black Cat completely vegan, their vegetables are also organic, and the majority of their foods are made using organic and ethical ingredients.

Their menu often changes daily, however, their full English is a staple every weekend, and doesn’t finish until 4pm, so you can have lie-in. At a mere £7, you can enjoy scrambled tofu, seasoned beans, tomato, mushrooms, vegan sausage and toast. Soya milk is used in all their hot drinks, and there are herbal teas galore. Plus, you can buy vegan food in-store, such as vegan nougat pralines, vegan eggs and vegan cheese, and you can even pick from their book selection, if you fancy some literary stimulation whilst you’re tucking in.

Dairy-Free 

The Gallery Café, Bethnal Green

Bethnal Green is home to The Gallery Café, a not-for profit, vegetarian and vegan café, which often hosts live events from film screenings to live music nights, art exhibitions, and has a terrace and garden for the summertime. Almost all the options on their menu are vegan (therefore, dairy-free), and the café aims to be as eco-friendly as possible (with 100% recyclable packaging) and to use local suppliers, from seasonal ingredients that are locally sourced (many of their vegetables are bought from Old Spitalfields Market, and stocking ethically responsible brands such as Teapigs, and using organic milk (there’s soya, too).

The Gallery Café is open weekdays from 8-8, Saturdays 9-8 and Sundays 9-7, and bookings aren’t taken, so you can just drop in and grab a seat. For £8.50, and until 12pm every day, you can enjoy the Full English, which consists of sourdough toasts, scrambled tofu, baked beams, mushrooms, vegan sausage and hash browns. Their other breakfasts include vegan pancakes and avocado on sourdough toast, all for under £6, and their lunches, including their vegan pulled-pork wrap and classic vegan burger are affordable at under £10 each (there are plenty of gluten-free options, too), so this a great spot if your diet is dairy-free.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BGhkAa7J3x9/?taken-at=556526562

Gluten-Free 

26 Grains, Covent Garden

26 Grains, based in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden in West London, offers a wealth of breakfast choices for coeliacs, or those who follow a gluten-free diet.

Instead of toast and hash browns, however, there’s the asparagus, pea, quinoa and mozzarella option, or the egg and kale dish (which comes complete with avocado and Sriracha), and if you don’t fancy this, there’s gluten-free waffles or smoothie bowls, amongst other healthy options. If the chai latte, coffees, smoothies, hot turmeric chocolate and healthy juices aren’t for you, there’s even drinking vinegar, so you’re sure to find what you like.

Non-Traditional 

The Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell

Tired of the same old, traditional English fry up? If you fancy updating your full English, head to Clerkenwell’s The Modern Pantry. Why have fried tomatoes and vegetable-oil-fried mushrooms, when you have slow-roast tomatoes and buttered mushrooms, instead? There’s everything for the 21st-century English-breakfaster here, whether you fancy halloumi and wilted spinach, grilled chorizo and plaintain fritters, or sugar-cured New Caledonian prawn omelette, green chilli, spring onion, coriander, smoked chilli sambal and toast.

All of The Modern Pantry’s cooked breakfasts can be served with gluten-free toast, and they’re all pretty affordable, at under £10 for each of their selections. What about their drinks? Well, if you can’t decide between their five fresh juices (spinach and cucumber are in there), fruit-packed smoothies, eight teas (including iced and herbal) or their numerous coffees (Matcha latte included), then you’ll definitely be tempted by their hot chocolates – if the classic doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s always Urfa chilli and liquorice, or malt and caraway flavoured ones, and of course, there’s soy, almond and coconut milk, if cows’ milk isn’t for you.

Halal

Makan Café, Portobello Road

Notting Hill’s Portobello Road is well-known for its buzzing market, which boasts antiques, fashion and accessories (both vintage and new), homeware, bric-a-brac, food and more, and runs nearly every day. The real gem, however, is Makan Café, a café/restaurant, serving both authentic Malaysian food, and full English breakfasts.

For only £5.20, you can enjoy all the favourites – fried egg, mushrooms, hash browns, beans and toast, alongside Halal meat, in the form of chicken sausages and turkey bacon. Make sure to try the sweet tea, too. On top of this, Makan is open daily from 9.30am until 9.30pm, so you can enjoy your Full English at all times of the day!

Healthy 

Blend, Harringay and Notting Hill

Blend opened its doors in 2013, and has since proved a popular spot for brunch. There’s both a Harringay branch, and a Notting Hill branch, so you can head to either North or West London for your Full English. Instead of your usual fried eggs, tomatoes and beans, Blend offers poached egg, asparagus and charred sourdough with hollandaise. For those who like some meat in their fry up, you can add prosciutto, and for fish lovers, there’s smoked salmon (both only cost £1 to add to the meal).

Served up from 9am til 3pm, there’s plenty of time to dig in. Not only does Blend have a weekday option, it also boasts two weekend fry-up specials; The Blend and The Veggie. The Blend offers chipolatas, streaky bacon, espresso black beans, fried eggs, roasted cherry tomatoes, sautéed potatoes, sweets and beats, and charred sourdough (not as healthy as the weekday, but not like your normal greasy spoon) and The Veggie offers the same (minus the meat, and with homemade kale chips). Both the Harringay and Notting Hill branches offer both vegan and gluten-free options, alternative milk options (soya and almond), have WiFi, offer loyalty cards, and are dog-friendly.

Family #symmetrybreakfast #blendharringay

A photo posted by Sophie Harper (@sophs90) on Dec 12, 2015 at 4:07am PST

Continental 

No 67, Peckham

South-East is well known for its great fry-up eating spots, however, this café/restaurant offers a twist. There’s the usual Full English, and the Veggie breakfast makes a cameo appearance in both the breakfast and brunch menu, but it’s the Full Spanglish that you should try.

If you want to spice up your typical fry-up, try out this option, which comes with fried or scrambled eggs, chargrilled chorizo and morcilla, beans, roast mushrooms and toast. Open from 8am on weekdays, and 10am on weekends, you can indulge in this Mediterranean-inspired dish. As The Peckham Pig says below, who cares about Instagram aesthetics when you’ve got this under your nose!

Jamaican 

Banner’s Restaurant, Crouch End

Banner’s has been open since 1992, and is a family favourite in North London for not only breakfast, but brunch, lunch, dinner and sweet treats, too. Like many fry-up spots, Banner’s offers bacon baguettes, scrambled eggs with chorizo and cheese, maple syrup and bacon hash browns, a Meaty Full English and a Veggie Full English. However, what you have to try is the Jamaican breakfast.

If you love Jamaican food, whether it’s rice and peas with jerk chicken, or ackee and saltfish with dumplings, you’ll love this. The Jamaican Breakfast is only £8.75, and comes with ackee, bacon, boiled eggs, spiced beans, hash browns and warm roti (flat bread, that’s often eaten with curry). If that’s not good enough, there’s over 10 options on the breakfast menu, from buttermilk pancakes to quesadillas, and you can even design your own breakfast.

Scottish 

Roast, Borough Market, Southwark

Borough Market is full of surprises, from Elliot’s of London (which I featured in my last article on gluten-free eating spots in London), which offers all sorts of yummy gluten-free dishes, to ostrich burgers. Roast is no exception, offering not only a jam-packed Full English and a delicious-sounding Veggie option, but also a Scottish-inspired Full English. The Full Scottish, as it’s rightly named, includes smoked streaky bacon, Ramsay of Carluke’s black pudding and haggis, Roast recipe sausages, Lorne sausage, tattie scone, grilled tomato, field mushroom, and poached, fried or scrambled eggs.

It’s the priciest of the bunch, coming in at £16.50 each, but it’s the sort of breakfast you’ve got to try at least once. Roast also have an abundant selection of teas and coffees, to go alongside your breakie. Served Mon-Fri between 7am and 11am, and Saturdays between 8.30am and 11.30am. Like a discount? If you go between 7am and 8am between Monday and Wednesday, or between 8.30am and 9am on Saturdays, Roast offers a 2-for-1 discount for up to groups of four people.

Breakfast of Champions #roastboroughmarket Thavk you @sophielfry #sausages #eggs #fryup

A photo posted by Lucie Clifford (@luciecliffordstylist) on Nov 20, 2015 at 2:53am PST