A guide to London’s pie and mash shops. All the best spots for traditional pie, mash and liquor.
Pie and mash. An English staple, and more specifically for London, an East End tradition.
It all began with a massive working class of people living in East London and requiring a cheap feed.
What’s more affordable than mashed potato and meat pie? Well maybe eel, the other thing that many of these places still serve. We say still as most of the spots in our guide have actually been serving the stuff for generations, often passing the business on to younger members of the family.
If you’re in London for whatever reason, you need to sample a bit of what might be the city’s oldest culinary tradition, read on for the best pie and mash London has to offer.
Best Pie and Mash Shops in London
G. Kelly was founded in 1939 by East Ender George Kelly. The shop has stayed loosely in the family since, passing from George to his brother-in-law Bill, then from Bill to his daughter, Sue, who runs the shop today, with a little help from her son Neil.
This place typifies the types of pie and mash shops East London is known for. You choose one or two pies, they scoop mash onto your plate, drench it in liquor – a sauce made of parsley and butter (among other secret things) – and serve it up.
It was, and still is, working-class food. At G. Kelly, the other food on offer reflects that: jellied eel – served in a liquor stew or simple as is – and an apple crumble that is nostalgically reminiscent of the school canteen.
Cockney’s Pie and Mash
Some of the best pie and mash in London is found not in the East End, but in the west. To try it you’ll have to go to Cockney’s Pie and Mash. You won’t find many other places like this in Notting Hill, a neighbourhood that’s probably better known for its brunch spots and cafes.
Cockney’s is so old school it doesn’t even have a website, just a legacy of serving up a taste of home to any East Enders that have found themselves on the wrong side of town and a reputation for serving up some of the cheapest food in the neighbourhood.
F. Cooke has been doing business in various parts of east London since the 1860s. The brand has a couple of outposts but the most well-known is probably its Hoxton branch. That might have to do with the fact Anthony Bourdain ate there way back when he first started making TV with A Cook’s Tour.
The set up here is much the same as you’d find around the East End but done with a little more adherence to a recipe that’s been feeding the hungry for hundreds of years.
Pies here are light and crisp and you could probably eat two of them with ease. You’ll have to make sure to splash a bit of the chilli vinegar on top to give it that final kick though – it’s highly traditional.
The first thing you’ll notice about this place is that pretty much nothing has changed since, well, when? Good question. The Manze family came over from Italy in 1878 and broke into business in the ice cream trade.
It wasn’t until 1902 that they transitioned into pie, mash and eel – but it’s a transition we’re glad they made. The pies here are the main draw, loved for the slightly singed pastry and flavoursome filling.
M. Manze also do delivery to a pretty sizable chunk of the city, so if you fancy exploring all the best pie and mash London has to offer without leaving the sofa, you can.
Goddard’s at Greenwich
A.J. Goddard’s used to be part of a great pie conflict in the streets of Deptford, the rival being the Manze family whose pie shop is mentioned above. A.J. Goddard goes strong though, having been passed down through the hands of many a family member.
If you make the trip down here you’ll be rewarded with delicious pies almost wabi-sabi in their shape and topped with Goddard’s characteristic dark green liquor.
As a side note, mash portions here are probably bigger than anywhere else in our guide and the whole lot won’t cost you more than a tenner.
Noted Eel and Pie House
Noted Eel and Pie House began life as an East London pie and mash shop but moved its operations up to Leytonstone in 1978. They’re still doing the same thing they’ve always been doing: cooking traditional food of their restaurant’s name off a method that’s nearly 100 years old.
The pies here are pretty delicious, but unless you’re a true north Londoner you’re going to have a mission on your hands to get to them. If you’re willing to undertake it you will be rewarded with a very cheap lunch.
It’s also one of the very few places for vegan pie and mash London can boast.
Maureen’s Pie and Mash
Another East End pie institution is Maureen’s. They’ve been serving up what they call “the food of the gods” for over 60 years, as usual passing the family business on to the next generation.
Now it’s Maureen’s son who cracks on at 5am to start baking the day’s pies. A labour that you’re sure to greatly appreciate when you take a bite of what they’ve got to offer.
The liquor here comes thick and plentiful but that’s just what you’ll need to slop up a bit of Maureen’s salty mash. Those of you that demand a dash of chilli vinegar will find much to love here too – Maureen’s is some of their hottest in the game.
Harrington’s is a South London pie institution. It was opened back in 1908 and has been handed down through the family right up till now. The current owner, Beverly, is the great-granddaughter of founder Bertie. Is there something about keeping the B initial in the family too?
You’ll find plenty to love about the traditional pie and mash here. It’s got everything you want from this sort of venue. Where Harrington’s really separates itself from the competition though is by way of its apple pies.
These are made in the same filling as the meat pies you’ll be having for mains, then served swimming in custard (should you want it – which you should). They might just be the highlight of the meal.
BJ’s Pie & Mash Shop
BJ’s Pie & Mash Shop may look totally traditional and in keeping with all the rest of the places in our guide but they break from tradition in a way that would strike horror into the likes of Mr. Manza or George Kelly: they offer chips.
The chips are only an alternative – you can still have mash if you want – but they do a great job of slopping up the liquor and more importantly the gravy that spills out of their slightly overcooked pies.
The overcooking is part of the charm here, a cockney tradition that you’ll still find happening in some of the pie shops in this guide.
One top choice for us when it comes to London pie and mash is The Windmill. Sure it’s not a traditional East End pie, mash and liquor spot, but this Mayfair pub does have its own dedicated Pie Room and regularly takes home the British Pie Awards’ (yes that’s a real thing) gold and silver medals.
In the pie room, you’ll be treated to side-splitting portions that come with mash and cabbage and a healthy serving of gravy on the side. You can smell how great these pies taste the moment you cut into them, but the good cooking doesn’t stop there.
The menu of traditional British starters and desserts are also well worth trying if you can make the room.
Practical Tips for Exploring the Best Pie and Mash Shops in London
- Many of these pie shops serve a fairly standard offering. Unless you’ve got your heart set on one particular pie shop it might just be best to go the closest one to you. We’ve tried to include a good spread of them – though obviously, East London features a lot more.
- These places are great options for a good, fun meal out when you’re stone broke. It might be worth saving your pie and mash expedition until the end of the month when you’re down to your last tenner.
- You won’t need to book any of these places. They’re basically all walk-ins. Service is fast and so is turnover. You’ll be in and out within half an hour most likely.