This is our rundown of London's great restaurants. Every place on this list has stood the test of time, continuing to turn out amazing food...
40 Maltby St London SE1 3PA
Here, chef Steve Williams (ex Ledbury and Harwood Arms) is quietly turning out extraordinary dishes that have fellow chefs and restaurateurs regularly citing this as one of their favourite places in town. And it's not just the food that's good, given that it's owned by Gergovie Wines, you can expect a very decent wine list here too.
Delivery: Takeaway only
70 Wilton Road, Victoria, London SW1V 1DE
Legions of London foodies can't be wrong. Andrew Wong took over his parent's traditional Chinese restaurant in Victoria back in 2013 and proceeded to shake up the SW1 dining scene in no uncertain way, and it now has two Michelin stars. The 10-course tasting menu in the evening takes inspiration from Chinese history, but what you really want to do is come here for the lunchtime dim sum menu.
53 Lexington St, London W1F 9AS
Originally starting out as street food, Bao hit Soho in a big way. A seat at the small restaurant quickly became - and remains - one of the hottest spots in town (but at least you can now book). Their signature bao buns have always made that wait worth the while (the pork bao is easily one of London's top dishes) but everything here is worth having.
Also try: You can find BAO in Borough, Fitzrovia and King's Cross too.
11-15 Swallow St, London W1B 4DG
For over 100 years this Piccadilly institution has been serving up oysters and other seafood to London's well-heeled clientele. Nowadays it's a more egalitarian establishment, presided over by chef-patron Richard Corrigan who has run things here for more than a decade. And while oysters are still very much the thing here - with an annual shucking contest to mark the beginning of the natives season - everything else is given just as much care and attention. They even smoke their own salmon up on the rooftop.
Also try - Daffodil Mulligan the chef's newest restaurant in Old Street
4 Redchurch St, London E1 6JL
Tomos Parry presides over the fire here in Shoreditch. This upstairs dining room (you'll find it above Smoking Goat) looks like it's been on this spot since Dickensian London, but the vibe couldn't be more of the moment. The turbot is very much the signature dish, but expect to find all manner of meats thrown on the wood-fired grill plus a top wine list from Noble Rot's Keeling Andrew & Co. Who needs a trip to Etxebarri when we have our own homegrown take on Basque food culture right here in London?
Also try: Brat x Climpsons Arch, their alfresco spinoff
20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED
Messrs Corbin & King's subterranean palace is a London wonder. The original hotel here aimed "to make the luxuries usually available to the very rich open to the less well-off". In its current incarnation, this huge restaurant does the same - offering starters at pre-decimalisation prices as well as one of the best prix fixe deals in town. Just off Piccadilly Circus, swanning down the stairs here always feels special - don't leave without ordering the singular Îles flottantes.
Also try: The many restaurants in the same group, The Wolseley being the most famed.
49 Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
Many of people have a real fondness for Brawn. Food writer Diana Henry declared, "Brawn and QCH. I'd eat in them both every week if I could." Owned and run by Ed Wilson, it's the archetypal neighbourhood restaurant, serving up a super seasonal and regularly changing menu - their pasta is particularly great.
Delivery: to local postcodes via their shop
2 Bellevue Road, Wandsworth Common, London SW17 7EG
Chez Bruce celebrated its 25th birthday in 2020 and this longstanding restaurant is top of many a restaurant critic's all-time favourites list. Co-owner Bruce Poole and his head chef Matt Christmas set out their stall thus: "We are not particularly into gadgets and tricks in the kitchen and there are doubtless some who view our food as slightly old fashioned in this regard. We take this as a compliment!" Back when Marina O'Loughlin was at the Guardian she declared her meal there as one which "encourages you to wallow in sheer, sybaritic pleasure".
Michelin House, 81 Fulham Rd, London SW3 6RD
Claude Bosi's two-Michelin-starred restaurant is in the actual Michelin building and certainly feels like it's at the pinnacle of fine dining in London. Expect the finest English and French produce given a dazzling twist by Bosi in this most beautiful of dining rooms.
Also try: The Oyster bar downstairs is a more affordable opportunity to ret Bosi's food.
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT
One of the best restaurants in town and one of the few to make it onto the World's 50 Best, The Clove Club is now a London institution and on the must-try lists of all good gastro tourists. Head into the main restaurant for a regularly changing set menu which is at the heart of things here - or to the bar for excellent cocktails and small plates.
Delivery: Meal kits delivering nationwide.
Also try: They also run the Italian restaurant Luca in Clerkenwell.
92 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2PN
One of London's rare three-Michelin-starred restaurants, Clare Smyth's Notting Hill restaurant one of the very best in town. Expert superlative cooking in a more relaxed setting than the fine dining palaces of old. There are no starched tablecloths (or indeed any tablecloths at all) to be found here, just food that looks exquisite and tastes fantastic.
65 Commercial Street, London E1 6BD
Having built up a fanbase following a series of successful pop-ups, Bubala was always going to do well with its first bricks and mortar restaurant, but no-one could have predicted just how well. One of those rare vegetarian restaurants where you only realise it's a plant-based menu if someone points it out to you. Middle Eastern in influence, but firmly East London in vibe.
2a Garrick St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9BH
After huge success with the original restaurant in Carnaby, Asma Khan has moved Darjeeling Express to Covent Garden. It's split into two - introducing an all-day deli alongside the main restaurant where the much-loved biryani and more is on offer.
Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF
Two chefs, one from Argentina and the other from Brazil teamed up with Singaporean hotelier Peng Loh for this Latin American and Italian inspired restaurant by way of San Sebastian. It's the kind of international melting pot story that makes London's restaurant scene so great. Michelin clearly agree - they gave it a star in its first year. Tasting menus can sometimes be an ordeal, but here there's a great deal of humour, making a trip to Bethnal Green to try Da Terra's inspired dishes a must.
King's Cross, Soho, Covent Garden, Knightsbridge
How to explain the very special place that Dishoom has in Londoners' hearts? Is it the deep-running passion for their bacon naan and black daal that made us form queues outside every one of their restaurants? Or the clever interior design that transports us to the cafes of Bombay? Or perhaps it's the way they make everyone in our city feel at home there.
49 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 5BG
The French House has a notable recent history of enticing interesting chefs. Fergus Henderson started here. Tom Oldroyd and Florence Knight both cooked here when it was Polpetto and now it's the turn of Neil Borthwick, formerly of Merchants Tavern. Since he started here the buzz has returned to this lovely upstairs dining room. Tables here are hard to get, so enticing is Borthwick's simple but elegantly created menu.
30 Bruton Place, London W1J 6NL
Back when it first opened (in the 1400s) the inn on this site was mainly for local farmworkers. Now you're more likely to be sitting beside a table of hedge funders or - just as likely - a foodie lured over to the posh part of town by the fact that the ebullient Oisin Rogers is in charge of things here. Meat is the order of the day either in the form of Aberdeenshire dry-aged steaks or in the multi-award-winning steak and kidney pies. Sunday lunches are a newer addition, as are the epic breakfasts.
Also try: The Windmill is run by the same team and boasts some of the best pies in town.
42 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JH
Gymkhana is certainly one of London's top (if not the top) Indian restaurants and has carved out quite a niche with the celebrity circuit too (Ed Sheeran is a huge fan). It's recently had a major refurb and looks set to continue to be a huge London hit. The kid goat methi keema and muntjac biryani are the unmissable dishes.
Delivery: Nationwide, order online
157 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ
While steak clearly is a BIG thing at Hawksmoor, in many respects eating at one of their restaurants is much more than a carnivore's delight. From the cocktails (the Full-Fat Old Fashioned is one of our favourites in London) to the steaks and some amazing desserts - the salted caramel "rolos" are unmissable - Hawksmoor is the very epitome of the excellent all-rounder. We've picked the original here, but you can be sure of a good time at any of their London establishments.
Delivery: Order online for nationwide delivery
Also try: Hawksmoor have restaurants all over town, from Borough to Covent Garden.
252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN (Reopens 1 September)
The main reason for the rise of the Holborn Dining Room's fortunes is down to the work of their head chef, Calum Franklin and his talented pastry team. Follow him on Instagram if you want to be permanently hungry and also to marvel at what he's able to do with pastry. Aim for anything pie-related on the menu (there's always at least one on the go) and you'll be sure of a work of genius.
Delivery: Pies delivered in London
25a Warren Street, London W1T 5LZ
This tiny restaurant at the north end of Fitzrovia is much loved for its deceptively simple Middle-Eastern cooking and also for being one of the friendliest places to eat in London. Run by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer (Sarit was previously at Nopi and Ottolenghi) it really has the feel of a neighbourhood restaurant in the middle of London. This couple were at the forefront of Levantine cooking just as it became a trend and they continue to lead the field.
Delivery: Shop delivers nationwide.
Also try: The nearby Honey and Smoke for the team's Middle Eastern Grill.
1 St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4AH
This Michelin-starred restaurant in St James's Market is by Iré Hassan-Odukale and Chef Jeremy Chan mixed seasonal British ingredients with a West African menu and creates something unique in London in the process. The smoked jollof rice is not to be missed, particularly now it comes with crab custard.
1 St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4AH
One of London's properly iconic restaurants, Sheeky's have been serving up seafood to Londoners for over 100 years. The setting, tucked in an unassuming passageway linking Charing Cross Road to St Martin's Lane, means it's always been popular with London's theatre folk, popping in here post-performance as well as other A-listers. Here's where you'll find local thespians enjoying the restaurant's classic fish pie and oyster platters.
58 Brewer St, London W1F 9TL
Kiln is from the same people behind The Smoking Goat and is focused around simple, yet sophisticated, Thai cooking. It's built up a devoted following, with a big focus around counter dining, and was voted best restaurant in the country at the National Restaurant Awards a few years back. It packs a big punch for its size.
49 Frith Street, London W1D 4SG
It's hard to believe that Koya is over 10 years old. Head Chef and co-founder Shuko Oda has, together with John Devitt, created one of those pitch-perfect London restaurants. The cold udon noodle dishes are probably the biggest draw, but we have a special fondness for the onsen tamago.
Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ
James Lowe's restaurant is currently one of only two UK restaurants on the World's 50 Best list. In this ultra pared-back Shoreditch restaurant Lowe has full rein to showcase his talents with a modern ever-changing menu.
Also try: Flor in Borough from the same team.
254 Hackney Road, London E2 7SJ
Taking over an east London pub, two St John veterans Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram have catapulted this spot to one of London's best. Either snacks in the pub or a meal upstairs are recommended, with an inventive seasonal menu on hand. But whatever you do make sure to leave some room for the brown butter and honey tart. It's a bucket list dessert for London, that's for sure.
13 Cosmo Pl, London WC1N 3AP
The chef behind popular Chinese restaurant Xi'an Impression has opened her first solo restaurant. It features some of the favourites from the original restaurant by Arsenal's Emirates stadium as well as more traditional dishes.
2 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4NB
Taking on the site of a much-loved (and properly iconic) restaurant as Noble Rot did with The Gay Hussar, was always going to be a delicate manoeuvre. Bringing in chef Alex Jackson was a stroke of genius, his riff on Hungarian dishes alongside Noble Rot classics is pitch-perfect. Both dining rooms are glorious spaces to dine in too.
Also try: The original Noble Rot
182 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8EW
Want to be looked after to within an inch of your life? This is the restaurant you come to. Properly old-school French, Otto's has carved out a niche for itself because of a serious bit of kit called the duck press. This dish sees the breast sliced, then the rest of the duck (bar the legs) pressed in the special screw press giving a juice to which Cognac and duck liver are added before it's poured over the rare slices which finish cooking in the sauce. Both very rich and very pricey but, by all accounts, like nothing else in town.
6 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TQ
London has some top spots for pasta already, but nothing quite like Padella. Set up by the people behind the very successful Trullo in Islington, this keeps things simple. Previously no reservations, you can now book to try a short list of dishes and some of the very best pasta in London which also happen to be the best value dishes in town. We can't keep away from the place, to be honest, and their pappardelle with 8 hour Dexter beef shin ragu may well be our top pasta dish ever.
Delivery: Pasta kits delivering nationwide
Also try: The team's second branch in Shoreditch.
61 Rupert St, Soho, London W1D 7PW
How to translate the dishes of one’s childhood in Sri Lanka to a Soho audience? This beautiful gun metal restaurant manages to take inspiration from owner Dom Fernando’s family recipes and hit that small plates sweet spot - the hogget loin rolls with fermented chilli is a great example.
1-3 Green Lanes, Newington Green, London N16 9BS
A perfect example of a neighbourhood restaurant that's 100% worth crossing town for. Running the kitchen are Ben Marks, who used to be at The Square, and Matt Emmerson, who's ex-Polpo. The dinner menu changes daily meaning there's always something to entice back locals or other regulars. Right now there's a seaweed salted caramel doughnut on the menu that's setting hearts aflutter.
Delivery: Meal kits delivered within the M25
107 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, London E5 0NP
Some of London’s hottest and most creative chefs have spent time doing residencies at this Clapton wine bar. How they manage to turn out such inventive food from the tiniest of kitchen spaces is a longstanding miracle. Follow their Instagram account to keep dibs on who’s currently on induction hob duty.
52 Wilton Way, London E8 1BG
Setting up shop in a Hackney backstreet, Pidgin saw supperclub host James Ramsden team up with Sam Herlihy to create the kind of place that won plaudits from critics and locals alike. Pidgin has a weekly changing set menu that is about as seasonal as it gets. A perfect neighbourhood restaurant, in that you could come back week after week and never have the same dish twice, it's also worth crossing town for too.
Delivery: Weekly meals from Homing Pidgin
92–94 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3EA
The Quality Chop House, which has been open since 1869, at one point looked in danger of disappearing forever before it was lovingly restored by co-owners Will Lander and Daniel Morgenthau. Now it's both a restaurant and wine bar featuring menus that are created in the morning based on what's been delivered. Come for the very best of British cooking, or just as easily pop in for charcuterie or wine or to pick something up from the adjoining butcher and deli.
Delivery: Meal kits deliver nationwide
150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR
The gorgeousness of the Italian Renaissance style dining room at The Ritz can sometimes make you forget how great the food is here too. Chef John Williams may have been late to his Michelin star (a woeful oversight) but the cooking and service here is top class all the way.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA
It may have originally been the canteen to Ruth Rogers' rather well-known architect husband's company, but this is now about as far from a works canteen as it's possible to get. Set down a leafy residential street, with gardens stretching down to the Thames, the River Cafe turns out beautiful Italian food with the best produce at an eye-watering price. You get what you pay for - it's just a question of whether you can afford the price tag.
Delivery: At home dishes available to order online
16 Playground Gardens, London E2 7FA
It's a converted bike shed, in the old playground of an East London school that only the committed foodie would ever find (look for the buzzer on the wall by the gate on Rochelle Street). But once in, particularly on a clement day when you can sit outside in the walled garden, Rochelle Canteen proves worthy of the quest. Margot Henderson (wife of St John's Fergus) owns the place with Melanie Arnold, and while the menu descriptions are sparing - e.g. Boiled Brisket, Turnips & Carrots - the food that appears is generous and delicious.
35 Heddon St, London W1B 4BP
Mere days after it opened on Heddon Street, it was clear that London was in possession of an instant classic. Run by the perfect double act of chef Nieves Barragán and GM Josè Etura it's the kind of restaurant everyone wants to try, and once they've been are immediately plotting a return visit. It's a restaurant of two halves (if you ignore the stand-up bar section) with the (bookable) Asador on the upper level and counter dining by the open kitchen on the ground floor. Obviously, you're going to want the croquetas, but everything else will be great as well.
Delivery: Via Sabor en Casa
171 Holloway Rd, London N7 8LX
Mandy Yin’s Holloway Road restaurant showcases the chef/owner’s Malaysian roots - she grew up in KL and now delivers her own take on that cuisine to Londoners who love her laksas. There isn’t much that can’t be cured with a bowl of what she serves up.
Unit 7, The White Building, 1st Floor,c/o CRATE Bar, Queen's Yard, London E9 5EN
This East London restaurant from Douglas McMaster is at the forefront of no-waste cooking (and restaurants) in London. McMaster has been involved in the no-waste initiative from the early days and has created a restaurant that both embraces the movement fully and showcases the excellent food that a no-waste ethos can produce.
64 Dean Street, London W1D 4QQ
Chef patron Victor Garvey has found his true groove celebrating Californian cuisine at his Soho restaurant. There’s more inspiration derived from his time in Japan too and plenty of tableside service flourishes to make this a special place to dine out.
8 Melior St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3QP
Husband and wife team Woongchul Park (ex-Ledbury) and Bomee Ki (former pastry chef at The Arts Club) turn out to be a dream restaurant duo at this, their first independent venture. We were blown away by the inventive food and warm service at this Bermondsey spot.
26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY
St John seems to be an unofficial finishing school for some of London's top chefs - so many of them have worked in the original or at Bread and Wine. But Fergus Henderson's original is seen by many as one of the very best restaurants in London and a perfect example of nose-to-tail British cuisine. It's also well worth popping into the bar for seedcake and Madeira and to try some of the separate bar menu dishes if you want a taste of the place without the full price tag.
12 Jerusalem Passage, London EC1V 4JP
Hands-down one of London’s best places for sushi - if only you can get a reservation. The room may be tiny, but the talent is huge. Toru Takahashi and his wife, Harumi run the show and, obviously, counter dining is the best place to enjoy Toru’s food (and skills).
Delivery: Takeaway dinners available.
34 Drayton Park, London N5 1PB
With the bifold doors flung open and pre-dinner drinks out on the terrace, the team who also run Primeur and Jolene have turned this unlovely former laundry by the Emirates Stadium into a little slice of foodie paradise. Enjoy snacks and a glass of Vermouth under the olive tree and feel like you're far away from North London.
Added May 2021- Darjeeling Express, P Franco, Master Wei, Noble Rot Soho, Sambal Shiok, SOLA, Sollip, Sushi Tetsu
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