Chunky par-boiled chips sodden with vinegar. Newspaper stains on your fingers. Performing that tantric "hot, hot, hot" breathing exercise when you've got piping chunk of cod in your mouth. Fish and chips are an evocative food, to say the least. You don’t order fish and chips because you want an artsy attempt at haute cuisine. You don't want a chip that shatters into a Jackson Pollock on your plate. No, you want a chip that's slightly limp and undercooked, complimenting your fried pollock with a mashy hug of starched comfort.
That bewildering nostalgia can, however, often make it difficult to take off your rose tinted glasses and judge a chip shop for what it really is. After all, the staff at your local chippy have seen you at your worst, at your most desperate, degraded and in dire need of something fast and deep-fried. But that doesn't mean what you're getting is quality stuff. Or fish that's coming from ethical and sustainable sources, either.
Although some people argue that you've got a better chance of finding hen's teeth than a decent chippy in London, we'd like to have a go at proving those naysayers wrong. Because whether you're looking for the best fish and chips in Covent Garden, the best fish and chips in Mayfair or the best fish and chips in central London, there’s actually plenty of great options out there in the capital. From traditional chippies like Fryer's Delight to more fanciful options like Kerbisher & Malt or Bonnie Gull, here's our guide (in no particular order) to some of London's best fish and chips.
16 of London's best fish and chips
1. Kerbisher & Malt
164 Shepherds Bush Road, W6 7PB
With a host of foods from different nations taking turns to be put one-by-one on the culinary pedestal recently, the humble British fish 'n' chips has often take a back seat. Not if Kerbisher & Malt has its way, however – the restaurant group is quietly turning the original British seaside staple into a seriously good dinner and a meal that's worth having a proper sit down over. Yes, this is fish and chips that's worth putting your pants on for. This isn't the sort of cod you order while thumbing through Deliveroo when you're three tins in, watching Friends re-runs for the hundredth time. This is that good shit - hence why it's made the cut in our round up of London's best fish and chips. Prices aren't the cheapest, but the portion sizes are generous and golden.
63-65 Parkway, NW1 7PP
"Well, this is rather nice isn't it?," is something you might say when you enter Hook's Camden outlet. Panko breadcrumbed fish and seaweed salted chips aren't exactly traditional, but they are nice. And – come to think of it – the whole ethos behind Hook is rather nice as well. Hook only works with 100% sustainable small fisheries and local suppliers to ensure everyone is treated fairly. Even all of the cutlery Hook uses in its take-away packaging is made of 100% biodegradable corn starch. Yes, Hook strays slightly from the formula in terms of flavour, but if this is the future of eco-friendly fish and chips, we're all for it.
3. The Fryer's Delight
19 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8SL
Chippies don't get much better than Holborn's The Fryer's Delight, which has served some of London's best fish and chips for donkeys years. From the formica-coated tables and chessboard tiled floor to the crisp battered cod flung to you over the counter, Fryer's Delight has been a favourite for fish and chips ever since it opened up its shutters back in 1962. The portly chips are fried in beef dripping, the saveloys are a firm and delicious fire truck-red, and it's simply not hard to see why The Fryer's Delight is a hit with everyone from PhD students to senior citizens.
4. Cannons Fish
Cannons Fish knows how to treat its fish. Whether you're opting for skate, plaice, cod or haddock – each seadweller is lovingly fried till its all crunchy, pert and asking politely to be devoured. Every piece of fish that leaves a Cannons's kitchen is given the same expert treatment and, considering that are now three Cannons Fish outlets dotted across North London, you'd be remiss not to try at least one out at some point. Home-made cod bites are the fish goujons of your dreams. And the option to order a side of battered halloumi? Well, that's North London for you.
5. Toff's Fish
38 Muswell Hill Broadway, N10 3RT
Before you ask: no, this isn't an MiC-backed food venture a la Jaime Laing and his candy kittens. This Muswell Hill chippy was established back in 1968 before Georgia Toffolo was barely even a twinkle in her father's well-moneyed eye. Toff's Fish does just about everything right. Fried in an old-school combo of egg and matzo, the fish is crunchy, hot and fresh as it gets. Furthermore, Toff's is a member of the N.F.F.F (The National Federation of Fish Fryers), the British Potato Council and – unlike most fish and chip shops – has an alcohol license to boast about. A glass of house white to accompany your rock eel? Sounds like Toff's would top the list of London's best fish and chips hands down. Yeah.
6. Golden Union
38 Poland Street, W1F 7LY
Despite the fact it was only opened in 2008, Golden Union has gone fully in on the retro aesthetic. GU's potatoes are sourced weekly from the Fenlands of East Anglia before being peeled, cut and fried just the once. All that triple-cooked tomfoolery is left to the likes of Heston and his endless M&S sponsorship deals. Golden Union is all about doing the basics and doing them fucking well. So, go for the fish and chips, maybe even cough up for one of the homemade pies if you're feeling fancy. As the mission statement on its website says, Golden Union is about "no frills, just great fresh food and fast friendly service." We can't argue with that.
7. Fish House
128 Lauriston Road, E9 7LH
Located in the heart of Victoria Park Village, Fish House is a seafood restaurant and traditional takeaway that specialises in… fish. The clue's in the name. An ethically sourced menu comprised of seasonal ingredients and quality produce is what really takes this family-run plaice (sorry) up another echelon of the fish and chip food chain and earns it the title of one of London's best fish and chips joints. It's hard to justify messing around with fish this fresh and, as a rather happy consequence, everything at Fish House is made with a tad more finesse than your regular chippy. Unless, of course, Fish House is your regular chippy. In which case it's made with exactly the same amount of finesse.
8. Golden Hind
71a, 73 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2PN
Golden Hind has been serving fish and chips for over a 100 years. Add up the number of fish dinners it has served over that time period and the number might just tally up into the millions. Every fish is freshly caught on a daily basis before being cooked and served in the Marylebone fishery's famous homemade batter. Serving one of the largest slabs of cod in the city, Golden Hind fries all its fish in groundnut oil. When the oil is fresh, you'll have an absolute whale of a time; however, if you are feeling a bit more #wellness you could always get your fish steamed with olive oil and oregano. But, c'mon, where's the fun in that?
9. Micky's Chippy
2 Pellerin Road, N16 8AT
A change of owners late last year hasn't stopped Micky's Chippy from being an excellent location to tuck into top quality chish and fips. Fast and freshly prepared, any fried fish you go for at Micky's drums a familiar rhythm in the flavour department. If you've ever sat on a dock and fantasied about fish and chips in a proper pining Romeo-thinking-about-Rosaline sort of fashion, it's likely that the dinner you were dreaming of is the sort they serve at Micky's Chippy. Not a Shakespeare fan? Let's put it his way: if you had to explain to an alien what fish and chips tastes like, this is where you'd take them. Be warned though: queues on Friday night can be lengthy – so make sure to give Kang and Kodos an ample disclaimer about the wait if you do go down Stoke Newington way.
10. The Golden Chippy
62 Greenwich High Road, SE10 8LF
Greenwich's The Golden Chippy cooks some of the most picturesque portions of fish and chips you'll find in London. Every bump, crag and perfectly imperfect wrinkle of the fish crackles to the touch, giving way to reams of beautiful white fish that's been steamed in its lovely batter parka. Even the chips are perfect in their uniform inconsistency and ever-so slightly underdone-ness. Service is excellent and the prices are better than reasonable. Is it worth the trip to Greenwich? Abso-bloody-lutely.
11. Masters Superfish
191 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UX
Just a short walk from the Tate Modern, Masters Superfish is a real work of art. If we could freeze the restaurant in time, package it up, put it in a museum while still getting to reap the benefits of its glorious fish and chips, we'd do it in a heartbeat. Having barely changed since its opening, Masters Superfish is a time capsule to a simpler time. Every piece of fish – brought in fresh everyday from Billingsgate – looks as if it's been sculpted out of bronze and could make for a worthy inclusion in the Tate itself. The fact Masters Superfish doesn't just work as a takeaway but also offers a lovely table service as well is just the cherry on top.
6-8 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR
Owner Pop Newland has been cooking up classic East-End fish and chips all his life, and some time ago he decided to ramp up the quality, bringing in fish from Peterhead Fisheries via Billingsgate Market and recreating a 1940s feel in his two restaurants and takeaway counter in Spitalfields. Jellied eels and whitebait round-off a menu of classic chip shop favourites done bloody well, making it, undoubtedly, one of London's best fish and chips joints. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
13. Gigs Fish & Chips
12 Tottenham Street, W1T 4RE
If you're talking the hardest fish and chip shops in London, Gigs better pop up in your thoughts as an artist. One of the rare few chippies that lets you create your own mezze platter, Gigs is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades thanks to its Cypriot influence but it doesn't let that stand in the way of delivering a strong spate of typically British fried fish. Cooked in ground-nut oil, the fish isn't overwhelming greasy and won't leave you feeling like you've glugged a gallon of oil afterwards. Fancy taramasalata instead of mushy peas? How about a Greek salad with your scampi? Gigs is the place for you.
14. Olley's Fish Experience
65-69 Norwood Road, SE24 9AA
You'd have to eat a lot of fish and chips before you stumbled across some of London's best fish and chips, but lucky for you, you've got this guide with all the insider info you'd ever need to know - and boy, are you in for a treat with Olley's. Let us be clear here - eating at Olley's Fish Experience is an experience unto itself. Everything from the cod to the Loch Duart salmon fillets are prime examples of what fish and chips is capable of when it takes itself seriously. Not only is the food at Olley's of the highest quality but it also works closely with its suppliers to make sure its seafood is ethically sourced and traceable back to sustainable or best alternative fisheries and farming practices. If you've got a particularly large appetite for sustainably stunning seafood you can always order the 'Cilla Black Experience'. It's a momentous medley of the sea that includes: haddock, three King prawns, three scampi and onions, served with chips and wedge of lemon. Take that takeaway treasure to the nearby Brockwell Park on a sunny summer's day for a hard-to-match meal.
15. Bonnie Gull
21A Foley Street, W1W 6DS
As a clean and crisp West London restaurant, Bonnie Gull is that strange rarity of a fancy fish and chips joint that actually serves decent fish and chips. Scottish scallop ceviche and battered haddock join forces for a tour-de-force of sustainable seafood. Yes, it's all a bit more frilly, refined and in Fitzrovia than your local chippy, but Bonnie Gull still takes care that it remains cognizant of the chip shop traditions. So yes, the chips might be triple-cooked, but they're also triple-cooked in beef dripping, delivering that old faithful flavour in a snazzy new package. Cheap? No. Worth it? Yes.
16. Nautilus Fish
27-29 Fortune Green Road, NW6 1DU
It doesn't matter whether you're looking to takeaway or eat-in, Nautilus Fish is West Hampstead's answer to any of your fish-related cravings. There's nothing fancy about the matzo-crusted pieces of fish you'll get at Nautilus. Flavours are simple and ungarnished but that means each ingredient is given its time on the taste pedestal. Every portion of cod comes out looking like a professional bodybuilder: tanned, muscular, slightly oily and waiting to impress. Nautilus' chips aren't anything to particularly write home – but, then again, that's the appeal of most chips from a chippy. They're a comfort blanket of warm, soft blandness that lulls you into a sense of nostalgia next to a lovely chunk of cod. Besides, douse anything in enough salt and vinegar and we'd happily eat it all day long.