We update this list monthly with the restaurants causing the biggest stir in town - the ones which reviewers are thrilled about, where tables are like gold dust or places that are just serving the most interesting and inventive food in town right now (if you're looking for all-time classics, see our Top 40 - London's Best Restaurants feature) but these are the hottest at this very moment, in alphabetical order...
Where: 39 William IV Street, London, WC2N 4DD
In a nutshell: Ex Locanda Locatelli chef does fresh pasta in Covent Garden
This Covent Garden pasta restaurant shows that there's still plenty of room for fresh pasta done well in London. It comes from Louis Korovilas, who has earned his pasta cred working for Georgio Locatelli. Expect affordable fresh pasta, some great counter dining action and, as Grace Dent puts it "Bancone’s gimmick is that you get a really lovely dinner and you don’t weep when the bill appears. It’s a trend that I hope will run and run."
Where: 27 Romilly St, Soho, London W1D 5AL
In a nutshell: Smart but traditional Persian-style kebabs and more
Berenjak is from JKS restaurants, the folk responsible for Brigadiers, Hoppers and Bao - to name a few - so they've a good track record which continued with Berenjak. "Good kebabery skills," said food and wine writer Zeren Wilson on Instagram. More recently, Giles Coren described the kebab torki as "your classic student Saturday night nosh to the power of ten".
Where: Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, Marylebone, London W1A 1AB
In a nutshell: Caprice come to Selfridges with a jaw-dropping room
If you'd been to Selfridges over the past year, you couldn't have missed all the renovation taking place and a large part of that was for the huge space that Brasserie of Light takes up. The one-floor restaurant takes up two floors of the building and looks amazing as a result - not least for the huge Damien Hirst sculpture hanging overhead. And the critics are impressed too. Marina O'Loughlin says "it’s all very fiddling-while-Rome-burns; but still, you’d struggle not to be dazzled" while The Standard says "it’s a masterclass in creating a glitzy, clubby feel."
Where: 1 Westgate Street, London E8 3RL
In a nutshell: P Franco open their first standalone restaurant
The much-loved Clapton wine bar was always a highlight of East London when it came to food. Then they went one step further, opening their first full restaurant in Netil House where Ellory used to be. Grace Dent raved about the restaurant, saying "They made me enjoy things I thought I hated and gave me tastes I’d never imagined before." The FT's Tim Hayward concurred, admiring the kitchen team's "quiet self-confidence" while Marina O'Loughlin said this was somewhere for other restaurateurs to come to see "how it’s done."
Where: 209 Westbourne Park Road, London W11 1EA
In a nutshell: Michel Roux Jr's daughter, Emily Roux's restaurant with her husband Diego Ferrari
When anyone in the Roux family opens a restaurant here, people take notice and judging from the first reviews in, they'd be right to. "Serious cooking, serious service, in a room without pretence," said Tom Parker Bowles in the Daily Mail. "Not so much mini-Gavroche as major Caractère." Blogger Andy Hayler was similarly enthusiastic, calling it "one of the best London restaurant openings for some time".
92 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2PN
In a nutshell: Newly two-Michelin-starred powerhouse in Notting Hill
Clare Smyth was in charge of Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road restaurant, keeping its three stars for a number of years. So all eyes were on Michelin to see how they'd reward her own place - which they did by taking it straight to two stars - a big accolade. Together with chef Jonny Bone, she's been winning plaudits after plaudits at the moment - don't be surprised to see this get three stars next year. It's a celeb draw too - the most recent A-list guests were Smyth's aforementioned mentor Ramsay along with his pals David and Victoria Beckham and we hear that Harry and Meghan, whose wedding they catered, were back just before Christmas too.
3 Prince Edward Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LX
In a nutshell: Seasonal dining in Hackney
Tom Brown's had plenty of seafood experience, most recently at Outlaw's at the Capital - but now he's opened his own place in Hackney and there's still plenty of seafood on the menu. Food blogger Elizabeth Auerbach said she "was immediately impressed with his cooking from the first bite on" and Giles Coren declared the food "out of this world... I’ve never been one for tarama on veg. So I smeared it on their otherworldly sourdough toast with dripping and my eyes just rolled back in my head …".
Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF
In a nutshell:
After the closure of Typing Room, The Town Hall Hotel has unveiled its new restaurant - somewhat under the radar. It's a modern Latin American restaurant run by two chefs who arrive here via The Fat Duck, Fera and the Michelin-starred restaurant Amelia San Sebastian. And Fay Maschler has already visited, giving it an early 2019 rave - "A parade of nine dishes marching at a measured pace, starting with beetroot topped by sardine, trout roe and crème fraîche intertwined with fronds of samphire and finishing with exquisite petits fours including exhilarating pâte de fruits and little triangles of fervent lemon tart is ideal, mellifluous, in balance, like a troupe of acrobats."
5 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8PT
In a nutshell: Hugely popular Taiwanese import
There was much excitement when the opening of Din Tai Fung in London was announced - and that was then dwarfed by the huge queues that immediately settled outside when it opened. While the initial four-hour wait wasn't quite on the mark, there's no denying that the restaurant has been a huge hit (and the wait will die down after the opening of the nearby Centre Point branch). The soup dumplings are proving to be the star - Giles Coren said "I have never seen or tasted the like,' and while the operation has met with general approval, Grace Dent has warned about the dangers of all that hype.
49 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 5BG
In a nutshell: Tiny restaurant revitalised by Neil Borthwick
After winning acclaim for his work at Shoreditch's Merchants Tavern, Neil Borthwick has gone back to basics as the head chef of Soho's The French House (once the launch home of Polpetto, back in the day). The new menu has been showered with praise from everyone who's managed to get a space at the very tiny restaurant above the French House pub. Expect a seasonal menu done exceptionally well. As Grace Dent put it, "This is classic, earthy cooking. It is a damned good lunch."
21 Newington Green, London N16 9PU
In a nutshell: The Westerns Laundry crowd on Newington Green (inc bakery)
Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell, who brought us Primeur and Westerns Laundry, have stayed local with their third opening. This time they've joined forces with Groove Armada DJ-turned farmer Andy Cato to open this all day space. "So impressed with the on-site milling and the real dedication to producing the best tasting bread." said Instagrammer Felicity Spector. Jimi Famurewa in ES Magazine said "winter is coming. And I can think of far worse places to hibernate than Jolene."
90 Bartholomew Cl, London EC1A 7EB
In a nutshell: Dairy alumni in the City
A huge new building hidden in the alleyways of St Barts has brought a big new restaurant and bar with it - in the shape of Lino. The all-day spot combines an industrial-chic look with a menu by Richard Falk, former head chef of the Dairy (and you'll see some more ex-Dairy folk there too). It's already impressed Jay Rayner who said "it’s all exceptionally accomplished and good value, as you would expect from a chef like Richard Falk." Be sure to have the bread and butter pudding which makes good use of that day's unused croissants.
Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Pl, Westminster, London SW1A 2BD
In a nutshell: Tom Kerridge's first London restaurant
Tom Kerridge has been a Marlow institution for years, well before his TV fame, and his Hand and Flowers pub is still the only pub in the UK to have two Michelin stars. This sees him finally arriving in London with an opulent restaurant at the Corinthia. And the critics are loving it too as Grace Dent said "This is a British restaurant that celebrates British things in a charming and non-laboured manner" while Giles Coren praised the truffled egg: "Magnificent dish. Creamy, lush, properly seasoned again, nice and salty."
10 Lincoln St, London SW3 2TS
In a nutshell: Rohit Ghai (ex Gymkhana, Jamavar) goes to Chelsea
Rohit Ghai was one of the driving forces behind Gymkhana and its Michelin status and had similar success with both Jamavar and Bombay Bustle. This latest restaurant sees him going properly alone with a beautiful place in Chelsea. It's early days but Chris Pople has already raved about the "Nargisi Kofte with an insanely flavoured tomato/bone marrow curry that’s one of the best things I’ve eaten all year".
19 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR
In a nutshell: A Wong comes to the City
Andrew Wong's eponymous A Wong restaurant has been a hit in Victoria for years, finally winning a Michelin star last year. And now he's joined the restaurants at Bloomberg Arcade bringing in a menu that's influenced by Chinatown and a bloody great big tree in the middle of the bar (it's rather impressive). The restaurant has got a five-star review from Fay Maschler while Marina O'Loughlin in The Times said: "Kym’s is a palpable, scalable, eminently saleable hit."
18 Phipp Street, London EC2A 4NU
In a nutshell: Michelin-starred Ellory moves to Shoreditch
A big hit in London Fields - and Michelin-starred to boot - there have been changes for Ellory. They've moved from their original digs into the heart of Shoreditch and changed the name in the process (it was the nickname of the original). With that comes more of a bistro focus. David Sexton was a fan of their asparagus dish - "This felt like a delicious rebuke to the sloppiness of asparagus with hollandaise, an impressive composition more than it was commonplace food." And Grace Dent declared the move a total success saying: "Ellory was good – we all loved Ellory – but Leroy is much, much better."
12-16 Blenheim Grove, London SE15 4QL
In a nutshell: Peckham restaurant from the people behind Brixton's Salon
Levan is the next restaurant from Nicholas Balfe, the man behind Brixton's Salon. This time he's opened in Peckham with a new all-day affair and a close eye on a low-waste approach. Jimi Famurewa in ES magazine has already been highly impressed, saying "though Peckham has long been on every Londoner’s cultural radar, it has just been given another hell of a boost."
Terminus Pl, Victoria, London
In a nutshell: Food hall to the power of 10 in Victoria
Market Halls have already had plenty of success with their first venture in Fulham, but the Victoria opening has seen them kick it up a notch with some top class options. In one fell swoop, they've brought in Roti King, Koya, Monty's Deli, Bunshop from the people behind The Marksman and lots more besides. It's already hugely popular and that's even before they've opened the roof. A must-visit if you're in the area. Grace Dent's a fan, particularly because it's somewhere "you can eat alone as a single person without serving staff taking bets as to whether you’ve been ditched via Tinder or Bumble."
Ones to watch, open now...
From London's recently-opened restaurants here are the ones who aren't quite ready for the list but are worth keeping an eye on...
- Provisioners - From the man who brought you Blixen and with an impressive Tom Dixon-designed room.
- The Crown - Henry Harris comes to Chiswick
- Monga Fried Chicken - Taiwanese fried chicken lands in Chinatown with a bang
- Spiritland - With an excellent bar that was long overdue on the South Bank
- Moio - a promising spot in Stoke Newington
- Farzi Cafe - Big in East Asia, this is the first UK outpost, with their usual experimental Indian food on show.
Ones to watch, open in February...
As we sail into February, things are getting busier - here's what you should be watching for on the horizon...
- Yeni - The Istanbul restaurant comes to Soho, courtesy of acclaimed Turkish chef Civan Er
- EartH Kitchen - The Hackney Arts centre finally gets its new restaurant and Chris Gillard, the former executive chef at the St. John Group, is in charge
- Peg - The next from the people behind Bright
- Gloria - Italian in Shoreditch, via Paris
- Adam Handling Chelsea - Adam Handling gets the gig at the new Belmond hotel
- Vivi - Big new restaurant at the revamped Centre point
- Xier - two-part restaurant from ex Babbo chef
- Angelina - Italian + Japanese in Dalston (plus tiny bar)
For more restaurant openings - read our guide to upcoming restaurants in February
Where's Hot, mapped.
Here's how the Hot Dinners "Where's Hot" restaurants are spread across town.