Just like knowing which part of the carriage to get off at Green Park for a prime transition to the Victoria line, having a local delicatessen that you can rely on is an essential part of being a proper Londoner. In fact, we're firm believers that everyone needs at least one place where they're known on a first-name basis. Somewhere that knows your sandwich order before you even utter the words: "BLT with no mayo, please". Your personal trainer probably has other ideas about that. But who are you going to listen to: them or us?
While London doesn't exactly lack a plethora of one-stop shops, finding a deli that you can trust with both your weekly shop and late-night snack run isn't all that easy. Finding one where you can also sit down and enjoy a nice latte is even harder.
Choosing a local deli over a big brand supermarket also shouldn't have to feel like a second-choice. After all, giving back to the local community feels genuinely good. And, it's not like we need to tell you this, but eating and drinking quality produce also feels pretty good, too. Just don't get daunted by consecrated terms like 'organic', 'fairtrade', and 'provenance'. Even if your favourite deli is Alli, this list is still for you.
I Camisa & Son
61 Old Compton Street, W1D 6HS
Opened all the way back in 1929, I Camisa & Son is a Soho stalwart that's not going anywhere anytime soon. That is, unless the whole world loses its mind and suddenly decides that rosemary focaccia is no longer delicious. Which isn't ever happening. Face it. This deli is one of the best places in London to pick up proper Italian produce. Get your mitts on real Italian mozzarella, ricotta, and salumi for an authentic grocer experience that you'll struggle to find outside of the motherland. Mortadella straight from Modena? That's I Camisa & Son for you. Camisa's freshly-made sandwiches sell out fast so get your skates on early unless you want to leave lunch-less.
Unit 114, Stable Street, Kings Cross, N1C 4DR
Bodega Rita's is a deli inspired by the corner store bodegas dotted across the US, serving takeout lunch and sandwiches by day, and mixed drinks and small plates by night. Owners Gabriel Pryce and Missy Flynn – who brought the hugely popular and hugely hip Rita's to Hackney in 2016 – have opened up in Coal Drops Yard to bring that classic "noo yawk" bodega vibe to King's Cross. Sandwiches like the 'Highway Dan' (hot bean devilled egg salad with sesame, celery and cress on Dusty Knuckle sourdough) and 'The Tingler Tower' (Szechuan chilli chicken, cucumber, sesame mayo on a brioche bun) are worth every napkin-soaking moment of bliss. The option to stock up on North American comfort food accoutrements like Valentina's hot sauce, and decadent foreign imports such as Tony's Chocolonely chocolate? That's just the maraschino cherry on top.
18 Brewer Street, W1F 0SH
With its candy cane-style striped awnings and tiled exterior, you'd be forgiven for thinking you've stepped back into the 1950s when you enter this Italian deli. Lina has been in Soho since 1944, when Lina herself came over from Genova. 70 years later, and this picture-perfect store is still importing authentic Italian produce, making fresh pasta, cakes and sandwiches on site and offering a tightly curated selection of cured meats, cheese and antipasti.
13 Bonnington Square, SW8 1TE
Looking for an Italian delicatessen where you can sit and knock back a Peroni with ease? Look no further than Italo on Bonnington Square – a deli that's come straight from the clever, clever minds of the famous culinary Boxer clan. Charlie Boxer, father of St Leonards and Orasay chef Jackson, runs the quirky shop. Located just around the corner from Jackson's Brunswick House restaurant, Italo is a local favourite that stocks unique Italian produce and serves a host of cracking dishes to OAPs and hip 20-somethings alike. We loathe the word 'rustic' around here, but there aren't many other synonyms that do this joint justice. Fresh and organic fruits and vegetables make Italo worthy of an idyllic weekend trip regardless of which part of London you reside.
174 Bellenden Road, SE15 4BW
The General Store isn't about all the bells and whistles. It's more about having a single bell, and a single whistle, and making them really, really shiny, instead. It's a Peckham deli that sells cheese, bread, coffee, wine, beer, seasonal fruit, vegetables, and lots of store cupboard essentials. All of which are supremely high-quality and the sort of products that you want people to notice when they come round your kitchen for dinner. Purchase one of General Store's bespoke hampers for your significant other to show them that you love them and local produce.
The De Beauvoir Deli
98 Southgate Road, N1 3JD
Opened in 2009 by Dalston resident, Harry Davies, The De Beauvoir Deli is a proudly independent deli dishing out excellent pastries, coffee, and a spate of some of the city's finest artisanal and local produce. Help yourself to Harry's famous (and well-seasoned) scotch eggs and sausage rolls for a proper British deli experience. Then help yourself to one of De Beauvoir's freshly-made sandwiches, too. Because Neal's Yard Creamery goats' curd and roasted beetroot with dukkah and watercress on sourdough? We're not going to say no to that, are we?
Honey & Spice
52 Warren Street, W1T 5NJ
Plonked just across the road from its adjoining restaurant, Honey & Co, this deli is a haven for anyone even mildly interested in food of the Middle East. Tahini straight from Lebanon? Check. Traditional Arabic cardamom coffee? Check. Date molasses? Cheque, please. Not only do they stock great items for you to make your own dishes, but Honey & Spice's daily salad bar is also available from noon to show you how it's meant to be done. Grab a range of the kitchen utensils available from spatulas to falafel scoopers and you just might be able to match 'em in the salad department. The deli also host a regular 'Honey & Co: The Food Talks' series in which various food people are invited in to tell their story of making a life in food. The recording is then released as a podcast designed to be listened to when you're doing your dinner. Which you'll presumably be making using a decent amount of Honey & Spice's top drawer spices and produce.
There's no arguing that Yottam Ottolenghi has changed the way we eat. His name has become a verb, an adjective, a rap song, and a way of life to some. The Israeli-born chef's vegetable-forward ethos has also revolutionised what people consider a meal in London. Who else could make celeriac shawarma a buzzword in a city so obsessed with lamb döner? At Ottolenghi's shops and delis you can stock up on black garlic, pomegranate molasses, and an array of the other 2,546 ingredients that are usually included in his novella-length recipes. A trip to Ottolenghi is nothing if not extra. And nothing if not an absolute joy.
36-37 Upper Berkeley Street, W1H 5QF
Green Valley is the first port of call for Lebanese expats in London looking for a taste of home. Partly because a homely waft of roast nuts and coffee that greets guests as they enter. Partly because it stocks just about everything you'd ever want or need. You can find an array of produce at this Marble Arch deli ranging from freshly prepared dishes of whole roast lamb to tabbouleh salads and za'atar breads. Green Valley is additionally verdant with hard-to-source dairy products local to the Middle Eastern region including the likes of labneh and akawi. You could pretty much do your entire weekly shop at Green Valley. An extra benefit is the ability do it with a freshly squeezed juice in your grasp. Got a sweet tooth? Tempting sweets such as Turkish delight, baklawa and kunafa will hammer that into delicious oblivion for you.
59a, 61 Abbey Road, NW8 0AD
Bruno's is an old-school deli that's blessed with what might just be the most aesthetic awning in the whole of London. A bold claim, for sure, but it's one we stand by resolutely. Homemade ice creams, sandwiches, ciabatta bread, baguettes, and other Italian delicacies are all available here courtesy of Bruno's killer chalkboard menu. Sauntering up to the counter at Bruno's feels a lot like you've stepped into the set of The Sopranos. The cannellonis are so good you'll probably leave the size of Tony himself. If you don't feel like sticking around for long, simply grab a grailed flavour of San Pellegrino and a panini to-go for a brief-but-memorable Richie Aprile-esque experience.
Brindisa Shop at Borough Market
The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, Borough Market, SE1 9AF
The Brindisa shop at Borough Market specialises in Spanish produce and a frankly decadent selection of cured meats. We're talking Ibèrico and Serrano, baby. None of that processed "15% pork" nonsense you might find at the supermarket. As well as a giving you your fix of meat at its drool-worthy ham counter, Brindisa is also home to Spanish cheeses, tinned fish, nuts, olives, pulses and some exceptional olive oils and vinegars. All of which you can take home with you after you wolf down a freshly grilled chorizo sausage roll, of course.
Melrose and Morgan
Established in 2004 by Ian James and Nick Selby, Melrose and Morgan is a modern-day grocers in Primrose Hill and Hampstead that sell a wide range of products and foods, expertly sourced and hand-crafted in James and Selby's North London kitchen. Both shops are kitsch as can be and well stocked with produce that makes the most of local bakers, fishmongers and butchers. 60% of the food is additionally by M&m's in-house team of talented chefs. No matter what you're in the mood for, Melrose and Morgan's homemade jars of Seville and whisky marmalade and piccalilli are worth the visit alone.
North Street Deli
26 North Street Deli, SW4 0HB
North Street Deli (on North Street) has got more sandwiches and salads than you'll know what to do with. Don't be surprised if you find yourself standing in this deli, staring at the menu for an extended period of time with your hands on your hips in solemn contemplation. You'll probably follow that song and dance up with an order of the same pastrami sarnie you always get, but that's besides the point. Quiches and soups that change on the daily? Bad for your bank account but good for your stomach. The fact that the North Street Deli is also the closest deli we've got to Foodism HQ – and has saved the day on the numerous occasions we've left our packed lunch at home on the kitchen counter – is another thing it's got going for it, too.
349 Fulham Road, SW10 9TW
Luigi's first opened its doors in 1973. It's a homely sort of place where you can find everything from Italian farmhouse cheeses, cured meats and salamis to rare estate olive oils and vinegars. All which can be found in pleasingly close proximity to a great range of Italian wines. There's a reason this authentic deli has become a must-visit locale for anyone who happens to find themselves down Fulham Road. And it's not just because of the delicious hot dishes of freshly-made pasta. Tradition is a pretty big deal at Luigi's, so expect to get treated like another member of the family whenever you walk through door. Welcome to la famiglia.