Unpacking the Traditional English Breakfast: Everything You Need to Know

It goes without saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For us in the UK, this usually consists of the traditional English breakfast while propped in front of the telly. 

As they say, traditional English breakfast is a national institution at this point. It’s a quintessential part of British culture. 

If you’re a tourist, you can’t miss the chance of trying this dish. If you’re an immigrant, you might as well get acquainted with this dish because it won’t be going away anytime soon. 

In this article, we unpack everything you need to know about this traditional dish. We look at its history and check out the restaurants that serve it best. 

What are we waiting for? Let’s dive right in. 

What’s in a traditional English breakfast? 

A traditional English breakfast, also known as a ‘fry up’, consists of the following: 

  • Fried eggs
  • Back bacon
  • Tomatoes
  • Sausages
  • Mushrooms
  • White or black pudding
  • Baked beans and/or hash browns 

It is also usually accompanied by a nice cup of tea or coffee and hot, buttered toast. 

What’s the history of the traditional English breakfast? 

The dish dates back to the 14th century. Back then, the traditional English breakfast was actually seen as a luxury enjoyed by the wealthy and the English gentry. 

The gentry were known for their extravagant breakfast feasts and their rich hospitality. The tradition of eating a full English breakfast before a day of hunting or a long journey started at this time. 

When Queen Victoria came into the throne, the gentry as a social class were declining. During this time, a new wealthy class made up of industrialists and merchants took their place.  

They saw the importance of eating a full English breakfast and adopted the tradition of eating it  from the gentry. At this time, the serving of this breakfast is considered an elegant affair by the wealthy and a wonderful way to start the day. 

Then came the Edwardian era that is characterised by garden parties and long breakfasts enjoyed leisurely. It was during this period that the English breakfast became a staple in hotels and bed and breakfasts across the country. 

At this time, the English breakfast is no longer just reserved for the wealthy. The middle class has adopted it as well and made it a part of their daily menu. 

It then reached the working class and reached its peak in the 1950’s. At this time, around half of the population start their days with a proper English breakfast. 

It continued its spread and truly became a national dish served across all social classes. 

Where can I get a traditional English breakfast in London? 

At this point, you’re probably craving this dish as much as we do. That’s why we listed the best places in the city to enjoy a traditional English breakfast. 

1. Regency Cafe

Regency Cafe

Image from JJ Media

Website: https://regencycafe.has.restaurant/ 

Address: 17-19 Regency St, London SW1P 4BY, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +44 20 7821 6596

Operating Hours: Monday-Friday (7AM-2:30PM); Saturday (7AM-11:45 AM); Closed on Sundays 

This greasy spoon has been serving the community since 1946. Through the years, it has made its name as a restaurant and was ranked the 5th best eating place in London on Yelp in 2013. 

With its art deco style and nostalgic interior decorations, it’s definitely a living museum at this point. It has even been featured as filming locations for some great BBC series like Judge John Deed, Rescue Me, and London Spy. 

The best thing about this cafe? The traditional English breakfast is just £6. 

If you want to have something extra, just add an additional £1 and get either black pudding, bubble and squeak, or hash browns that are just delightful. 

This place is great if you want a no frills breakfast with a good price point. 

2. E Pellicci

E Pellicci

Image from Esquire

Website: https://epellicci.co.uk/ 

Address: 332 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AG, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +44 20 7821 6596

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday (8AM-4PM); Closed on Sundays 

Open since 1900, this greasy spoon has become a landmark in the East end. It’s the oldest family-run cafe in London and for good reason. 

Their full English breakfast has Cumberland sausages that will make your mouth water. If you’re vegetarian, they have a veggie breakfast as well so you can enjoy the traditional breakfast meat-free. 

With its ornate panelled wooden decor and charming atmosphere, you’ll easily be drawn to this place. There’s something about this cosy cafe that feels like coming home. 

3. The Wolseley

The Wolseley

Image from Open Table

Website: https://www.thewolseley.com/ 

Address: 160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EB, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +44 20 7821 6596

Operating Hours: Monday-Friday(7AM-11PM); Saturday (8AM-11PM); Sunday (8AM-10PM)

Although a bit pricier than most restaurants on this list, The Wolseley is another fantastic place to have an iconic English breakfast for £22. 

The European interiors here are absolutely beautiful. That and the scrumptious food make The Wolseley one of our favourite spots in the city. 

Open during the weekends, it’s a great place to bring friends and family to enjoy breakfast early or to lounge around in the afternoon. 

Do take note, however, that the operating hours are inconsistent. So make sure to check the schedule for the day before making a reservation. 

4. The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club

Image from Daily Info

Website: https://thebreakfastclubcafes.com/

Address: 12-16 Artillery Ln, London E1 7LS 020 7078 9633 (Spitalfield)

Contact Details: +44 20 7078 9633 (Spitalfiel)

Operating Hours: Monday(8AM-4PM); Tuesday-Saturday (8AM-9:30PM); Sunday (8AM-5PM)

Breakfast is in their name and it stands for what they do best. They have quite a few locations across the country. 

They’re known for their Full Monty, which is a big and beautiful plate of sausage, black pudding, bacon, sausage, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs, beans, and toast. 

You can even spice up your brunch by pairing your meal with booze; grab a pint of pale ale or cocktail.

5. Caravan King’s Cross

Caravan King’s Cross

Image from OpenTable

Website: https://caravanrestaurants.co.uk/kings-cross.php

Address: 1 Granary Square London N1C 4AA

Contact Details: +44 20 7101 7661

Operating Hours: Monday-Thursday(8AM-11PM); Friday(8AM-12AM); Saturday(9AM-12AM); Sunday (9AM-10PM)

This one’s for you coffee drinkers! King’s Cross has an in-house coffee roastery that makes the best coffee, which can be perfectly paired with their full English breakfast. 

You’ll get a big full plate teeming with poached eggs, crispy bacon, yummy grilled field mushrooms, and sourdough toast combined with their own version of tomato compote and boar sausages.

They are also ready to accommodate vegetarians with their jalapeno cornbread, fried eggs, black beans, and guindilla peppers.

FAQs About the Traditional English Breakfast

Why do Brits eat baked beans for breakfast?

British people eat baked beans because of tradition. It has always been a part of the traditional English breakfast. 

What’s the difference between a Welsh and English breakfast?

There’s only one main difference: seaweed, also known as laverbread, is added to a Welsh breakfast. 

What is black pudding in the UK?

Black pudding is actually made with pigs’ blood. Pure blood sausages may be common in Europe, but Britain has a tradition of adding milled grains like oats to these sausages as well. 

Is black tea the same as English breakfast?

English breakfast tea is made of a blend of different black teas and is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. 

How much is breakfast in London?

A traditional English breakfast from a cafe or greasy spoon will cost you around £4- £8. Still, it would primarily depend on where you go for breakfast. 

Some cafes are more expensive than others. If you go to The Wolseley, a traditional English breakfast will cost you around £22. 

How many calories are in a full English breakfast?

A traditional English breakfast typically has over 807 calories.

Can I have something substituted in my English breakfast? 

Absolutely! Just inform your server of any allergies or intolerances before you order.

Some cafes cannot guarantee that their product is 100% free from any allergens because of cross-contamination.

Say we have breakfast in London. Do we have to tip? 

Usually, people in London tip around 10-15%. Some cafes add this automatically to your bill as the “service charge”. 

What’s a Scottish breakfast?

It will depend from place to place but it most likely be composed of the following: 

. Link sausages
. Fried egg 
. Square lorne sausage 
. Streaky bacon 
. Baked beans 
. Black pudding/haggis 
. Tattie scones 
. Mushrooms
. Fried tomatoes
. Toast 

This is then usually paired with tea or coffee. 


That concludes our feature on the traditional English breakfast. We hope we were able to help out our fellow foodies out there! 

Did we miss out on any good places for an English breakfast? Let us know in the comments! 

By the way, check out the following articles: 

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