London Insider: Nuno Mendes on the capital's best bits

Ben Olsen
Market mentality: Nuno Mendes has helped reshape Old Spitalfields Market

With a glittering CV that's seen him head up the kitchen at Chiltern Firehouse, Viajante and Taberna do Mercado, Nuno Mendes is one of London's busiest culinary stars.

The Portuguese chef, who has made east London his home since moving from Lisbon, has just released Lisboeta – a vivid tome charting his home town's cuisine – and has been a major force behind this autumn's relaunch of Old Spitalfields Market, which has seen a new wave of high-end stalls boosting the area's dining credentials.

We caught him at the launch of Spitalfields' Christmas lights, where he spoke about his life in the city.

Taberna do Mercado in Spitalfields

What makes London a special city for you?

It's the first place where I felt at home. I fell in love with east London and this is now my home.

Which borough feels most like home?

Hackney for sure. The creativity, the bohemian side of it, the art galleries, the friends, the food scene, the family life and relationships that I have with people in this area. This is where I wanted to have children and now they are very happy here.

You've got a day off in the city – what do you do?

I don't get a lot of those but I usually spend them with the family around Hackney. Parks and play dates with friends during the day and grown-up fun at night. I like to eat out with friends in all the amazing restaurants here in east London.

What's your take on London's current food scene?

London is still booming and despite some setbacks this year, it's still a very exciting city for food and hospitality. We’re really lucky to have a great wine and bar scene in east London with the likes of P Franco, Noble Rot, Brilliant Corners and Bad Sports, to name a few.

Where’s the next exciting area for food in the city do you think?

Old Spitalfields Market of course.

Where do you like going to take in some culture?

London is full of great places for that. I love taking my kids to the Tate Modern, the V&A and the Horniman Museum & Gardens, which is such a beautiful setting. They love it and I do, too. We also go to quite a few galleries with them. The Barbican is still one of my favourite places in London.

Are any of London's biggest tourist traps worth the visit?

I still love to walk around Hyde Park and taking my kids to Harrods or taking them to the science museum or the Natural History Museum.. it's great fun but hectic!

Any secret favourite spots you're willing to share?

Tororó – a lovely Japanese cafe in the canal basin close to my house.

Best place for peace and quiet?

De Beauvoir Gardens. Or Broadway Market on a Saturday morning before the tourists arrive.

London's most inspiring view?

I love the view from the rooftops in Hackney facing the city.

​Lisboeta is out now. Find Nuno Mendes at Spitalfields Taberna do Mercado, 107B Commercial Street, www.tabernamercado.co.uk

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