The basics
THE UK: Essentials - Must read

Essentials: Food, drink and cuisine in the UK

Learn about British cuisine, including the traditional Full English Breakfast and more recent additions like the Indian takeaway...

Food in the UK - Roast dinner

One of the most unique things about the UK is its diverse range of food and culture. While as a nation the UK is known for some interesting combinations (jellied eels or haggis anyone?) the British do have a penchant for welcoming any food combination onto their culinary high-street. As well as the "meaty" dishes which the British are known for like roast dinners and fish & chips, the UK also celebrates cuisine from a wide range of countries such as China, Japan, Thailand, Italy, France, Spain, India and America.


Eating out

If you’re trying traditional British food for the first time, the best place to sample it is at a pub of some sort. The food here will be cheap and cheerful; so while you wouldn't bring a date here or expect a night of luxury, it will do. The pub is a cornerstone of many social UK communities, so as well as sampling our fantastic cuisine, you will also find it a fantastic way to meet the locals. Look for your local Wetherspoons pub, also referred to as simply a "Spoons".

Of course, if you’re looking to experience other cultures, or you simply fancy something a little more high-class, there are a wide range of restaurant chains around the country for you to try which promote a number of different cuisines. Chain restaurants such as Wahaca (Mexican), La Tasca (Spanish), Cafe Rouge (French), Zizzi (Italian) and Wagamama (Japanese) are all popular restaurant chains in the UK, with many chains across London and other major cities. Nandos has become a bit of a British institution in recent years too.

The UK is also home to many international chains found around the world such as Subway, Starbucks and McDonald’s; so if you find yourself looking for something familiar (and quick) then you can always rely on these.



Whether you’re an amateur chef or not, the probability is that during your time at university you will become well acquainted with your local takeaway. This is fantastic if you want to sample as many different cuisines as possible (though not so great for your bank balance, be warned). The most popular choices for takeaway in the UK are Chinese and Indian.

Many UK restaurants these days offer a takeaway service and you'll find a range on most highstreets in cities and towns (maybe not so in villages and small towns though). It is definitely worth exploring your local area on foot to try and see what is available. Additionally many local takeaways will advertise on campus. 

If you need help finding a takeaway near you, you can always consult a take-out website such as Just-Eat or Hungry House. These sites are simple to use; all you need to do is enter your postcode and your food of interest and they will supply you with a list of takeaways and allow you to place your order online.

However, too many takeaways and you'll find yourself suffering from the dreaded "Fresher's Fifteen"


Are you missing home?

There’s no denying that living in a foreign country is hard, particularly if you’re not used to the cuisine; but there’s no reason to worry about this too much. When you start university, there will be many students in the same situation (and if you're in a big city like London, you'll be surrounded by familiar faces and accents)! 

Cooking your own national cuisine in the comfort of your own home may seem difficult, particularly if you find that key ingredients are not readily available at local supermarkets. However, most major cities will have special regional supermarkets that specialise in selling these. In fact, major cities will have whole areas or neighbourhoods with thriving communities made up of a few key ethnicities and nationalities, so there will be businesses to cater for them. For example in North London, there is a larger Middle Eastern community with local shops selling produce which is imported from that region.

Plus you can cook for your new domestic friends and housemates, and teach them about your culture.


Making the most out of your local area

Talking about food is a wonderful way to bond with new people (as well as the actual eating!). Ask those around you for recommendations as to where to eat - they may even offer to take you!

If you’ve yet to meet local people or potential food advisors, then why not have a look at some review sites? Thanks to the popularity of the internet, many people often review and rate restaurants online at sites such as Trip Advisor.


Start your journey to studying in the UK - browse popular and highly ranked institutions, read guides and search for courses in the UK.


Read more:

'The British higher education system...simplified'

'Tuition fees in the UK'

'Applying to study in the UK'

'Applying for a UK student visa'

'Student accommodation in the UK'


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About Author

Food in the UK - Roast dinner

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.


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