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  • Writer's picturehungryforlife

HFL's Restaurant Hot List: January

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Each month, I'll pick out the "Top 5 Restaurants I'm Dying to Try" and here's why...


As you know, it's January and I live in London. Which means it's quite cold, cloudy 9 days out of 10 and did I mention it gets dark around 3:30PM. So it's no wonder I'm craving to go to some super casual joints this month. I'm talking comfort all the way where the food comes to your table in a basket and majority of the menu items are deep fried.

Now, when you hear fried food you think of American cuisine, right? Well the first 3 restaurants I've selected are creative, state-inspired concepts featuring burgers, hotdogs and classic fried chicken on their menus. I guess I'm excited to be going home in the next few weeks to visit my family because I typically pick restaurants that are more outside-of-the-box like the last 2 spots on my list. Pastaio and Ugly Dumpling are serving up comfort in the form of fresh pasta coated in rich sauces and juicy dumplings made with seasonal ingredients. Let me tell you more about my January Hot List.

1) Bubbledogs

If I could choose a spirit restaurant much like a spirit animal, Bubbledogs would be my choice hands down and I haven't even been there to try the food yet! Side note, who thinks I should try to make "spirit restaurant" happen? Haha that's how strongly this concept speaks to me. I mean what an amazing, clever and unexpected idea to combine something so luxurious like champagne with the unapologetically simple hotdog; however, Bubbledogs' hotdogs are anything but plain. Menu stand outs include the macaroni and cheese loaded Mac Daddy hotdog and the Small Eye that's topped with pickled veg and toasted peanuts. YES PEANUTS! And lastly, if you're in need of a little chuckle, go on their site to take the find your perfect champagne quiz. Apparently, I'm in urgent need of a bottle of Forget Chemin Special Club, 2009.

70 Charlotte St, Bloomsbury, London W1T 4QG

2) Maxwell's

Maxwell's is giving me all kinds of retro diner and soda fountain feels this January. It first popped up on my Instagram feed during one of my lengthy scrolling sessions and I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a photo of their Cheesebomb Burger. Imagine ooey gooey cheese sauce being poured over a massive burger with all of the fixings. Unfortunately, I was devastated to learn that this burger is currently not available however there are plenty of other fun items to choose from like the barbecue combos or sizzling fajitas. Maxwell's is also home to the freakshake, a thick milkshake overflowing with syrups, whipped cream, cookies, brownies, candies, you name it! I'm dying to try the Freakshake from Mars but I think that will be the only thing I eat that day or for the rest of the week ... a worthy sacrifice.

34 King St, London WC2E 8JD

3) Spuntino

You can go to Spuntino for a small-plate lunch, several strong cocktails or a laid-back dinner but I've read fabulous reviews about their weekend brunch (Saturday - Sunday, 10AM - 2PM). Today, brunch has a fancy, girly stereotype, but at Spuntino's they are breaking all the rules with hearty dishes like steak and eggs, truffled egg toast and a huge dutch baby pancake. Spuntino also claims to have the "best bloody mary in London" which I can't wait to try because all other bloody mary cocktails I've had since moving have been watered down tomato juice (yuck).

61 Rupert St, Soho, London W1D 7PW

4) Pastaio

Don't get it twisted, I absolutely despise restaurants with a no reservations policy; however, I'm willing to make an exception for Pastaio because my loves for perfect pasta and authentic Italian food slightly outweigh my hatred for waiting on a table. Plus, is there anything more comforting than pasta in the winter? The wild mushroom tagliatelle, prawn and chilli spaghetti and beef shin reginette are all calling my name. "Emily, Emily, come to Pastaio now, you need delicious pasta in your life ASAP!" But to avoid the crowds, I think Kalo and I will be enjoying the early bird special ;)

19 Ganton St, Soho, London W1F 9BN

5) Ugly Dumpling

Ugly Dumpling is one of those darling, rounded-corner restaurants that you can only find in London but you may miss it because it's so tiny (I know I have). But the next time I'm in Soho I won't walk past, I'm marching straight up to that teal door to get street food classics, tempura aubergine (eggplant for all of my US friends) and for dessert the nutella dumplings. Surprisingly enough, I've heard that the vegetarian options are more impressive than the meat-filled variations but I'll be the judge of this. So whether they are called dumplings, potstickers or gyoza, whether they are fried or steamed and whether they have meat or veggies inside ... count me in!

1 Newburgh St, Soho, London W1F 7RB

Quick note. As you click on all of these links and start doing some exploring of your own, you'll notice all of the restaurants on my January Hot List are located in the Soho and Covent Garden areas. Remember these names if you're visiting London because these neighbourhoods are truly restaurant heaven on Earth.

So hey if you workout hard during the week, have mastered the art of indulging (like I have) and believe that life is too short not eat big bowls of pasta then check out these restaurants with me. And stay tuned in to Hot Lists for more suggestions and reviews.

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