A food tour of the British Isles via Los Angeles


Maybe you've just finished a marathon of Doctor Who on BBC and aren't feeling standard L.A fare. Maybe you just got back from London and have a mighty need for some fish and chips or beans and toast. Maybe you just want to give something beside Walker's shortbread the old college try. If you do, I've got the food tour for you.

It might just be the most unique pub crawl you've ever been on. We begin our journey through the British Isles with breakfast, the most important meal of the day...

Ye Olde Kings Head - Santa Monica
The weather is a little warmer and sunnier than you're likely to find in London, but the English breakfast here can't be beat. There are 4 traditional British breakfasts to choose from: Queen Size, King Size, Vegetarian and a British Omelette. You can't substitute items, but you won't need to. It's got toast (or fried bread, try the fried bread, it's pretty good), bacon, eggs, bangers, baked beans and a grilled tomato. If it sounds hearty, that's because it is. You'll need that energy to carry on. Added bonus about this place: they're big on soccer and rugby so it's a great place to watch the game(s).

O'Brien's Irish Pub - Santa Monica
Are you hungry yet? Because this place has fish and chips to die for. You'd think it's hard to go wrong with such a simple dish, but O'Brien's is always crispy and never greasy or soggy. Throw in a Guinness and you've got yourself a proper Elevenses. If Guinness isn't quite your speed, they've got 4 Irish beers and between 8-11 craft beers on tap at any given time. The best thing about O'Brien's might not be the food or drink, though, it might be the vibe. As soon as you walk in, doesn't matter where you're from, you'll probably feel like you're home. So on that note, it might be tough to leave, but the next place is worth it. So hop on a bus or grab an Uber, the next stop is West Hollywood.

Credit: Megan Cooper

The Pikey - West Hollywood
The Pikey is a little slice of Britain tucked into Sunset Boulevard. I'd Googled "Welsh Rarebit" after seeing it featured on a cooking show and somehow found The Pikey in the process. I dropped in and gave it a try. It was weird, but I liked it. Basically, it's hot cheese on toast, sometimes poured, sometimes crafted like an open faced grilled cheese (as the one at The Pikey seemed to be). The cheese is mixed with a blend of spices, most likely paprika, mustard, and some Worcestershire. The Pikey's has this excellent hint of horseradish that complemented the cheese in a way I didn't expect.

The Pig N Whistle - Hollywood
I couldn't call this a true tour of U.K. food if it didn't include a Shepherd's Pie. The Pig N Whistle has been a Hollywood staple since 1927 and after a taste of their fare, you might see why. Their menu is good overall but the Rustic Shepherd's Pie is a standout. What really sold me on it were the mashed potatoes and gravy. So simple, yet so easy to do wrong, these guys nailed it. It's smooth, it's not too salty, and when you toss in the carrots, the peas and the cheese, it's divine.

The Tam O'Shanter - Tropico
This place is a quick car ride from The Pig N Whistle, but a must-visit. Why? Fortune favors the bold and the bold try haggis. The Tam O'Shanter serves the Scottish classic, and it's one of those things you need to try once. You can brag about it if you do, trust me. If you're not feeling haggis, their Toad in the Hole is a little tamer, but just as tasty. It was my first time trying anything described as a "pudding" (in the non-USA sense), and I like it better than what we call a pudding here. Top it off with filet mignon (which was cooked to perfection) and mushrooms (gotta have those veggies!) and you got a winning dish straight outta Scotland.


Credit: Megan Cooper

Molly Malone's - Miracle Mile
It's time to do something besides just eat. A stop at Molly Malone's is in order. They have a long history of live music, including a few notable acts like Flogging Molly, Joanne Osborne and Lenny Kravitz. While they don't have star-studded talent like that every night, they play host to up-and-coming folksy bands that are just as entertaining. Grab their hot corned beef sandwich and gather your strength for a game of darts. Darts is the thing at Molly Malone's, so bring your game.

Tom Bergin's - Miracle Mile
You gotta end the tour with a night cap, and what's better than some Irish coffee? Tom Bergin's aka the House of Irish Coffee is renowned for the cocktail. Is it the best in town? Probably. San Francisco columnist Stanton Delaplane brought the recipe with him from the Shannon Airport in Ireland shortly after the drink was invented. It just seems right to make a toast in his honor before you take your first sip. Without him, Tom Bergin's wouldn't be the House of Irish Coffee, and you wouldn't have a place to chat with your friends about all the great food you just had.

Megan lives in Los Angeles and enjoys running and eating her way around the city. She's here to write, follow along on her website.