Restaurants are back! And there's a lot you'll need to try and cram in before Christmas...
We update this list monthly with the restaurants causing the biggest stir in town - 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. If you're looking for all-time classics, see our Top 40 - London's Best Restaurants feature) as these are the hottest at this very moment, in alphabetical order...
Where: 21 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3LP
In a nutshell: West African in Fitzrovia from William JM Chilila
MasterChef finalist William JM Chilila has opened his highly-anticipated restaurant in Fitzrovia and it's proven to be well worth the wait. In a restaurant that combines a high-end feel with a buzzy vibe, the kitchen really is pulling together dish after dish of West African-inspired excellence.
Where: 20 Sidworth Street, London E8 3SD
In a nutshell: Chef's table in London Fields
This London Fields restaurant comes from Andy Beynon, former development chef for Jason Atherton, and he's created something quite special in a bespoke room. A huge and well socially distanced counter awaits, comfortable yet still maintaining a good atmosphere. That's backed up by a largely seafood-led menu that is full of inventively used ingredients. There's really not much else like it in town right now.
Where: 153-157 Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 3LW
In a nutshell: Dairy Mk II
There was a short, bad week where it looked like The Dairy was to be no more - forced to close in its original Clapham location. However, Bermonds Locke came to the rescue, giving the restaurant a brand new (and slightly larger) space in Bermondsey (although a name change was forced soon after opening). The same team is back in the kitchen and on the floor and the Dairy magic continues in the new location, impressing Jimi Famurewa who said it "already stands as a reminder that something born from frantic necessity can still be a vessel for pure, boundless joy."
Where: 318-326 Hornsey Road, London, N7 7HE
In a nutshell: Jolene's sibling
This is from the team behind Primeur, Jolene and Westerns Laundry and it continues their hugely successful run of north London restaurants. Something of a spin-off from Jolene, this features a huge bakery out the back (so it's a great new source of baked goods for the area) and serves up a menu of excellent pizza slices and charcuterie. Grace Dent was quickly impressed, saying "loveliest things imaginable are chucked at very good bread."
Where: Arch 374 Helmsley Place Hackney E8 3SB
In a nutshell: Brat goes alfresco
Brat returned from the lockdown all guns blazing, launching this Hackney residency before they had even reopened the main restaurant in Shoreditch. Serving up new dishes alongside Brat classics it's been a huge hit, now extended to the end of the year. Marina O'Loughlin visited and was impressed "...the skill is there, uncompromisingly. They’re on fire."
Where: 43 Store Street, London WC1E 7DB
In a nutshell: Anna Tobias + 40 Maltby Street
Anna Tobias is an ex-River Cafe and Rochelle Canteen chef and definitely one to watch. This new opening in Bloomsbury is backed by the people behind 40 Maltby Street and it's very much about comfort food. So expect plenty of warming brown dishes with a regularly changing menu, backed by a natural wine list.
Where: Unit 9, Market Row, Brixton, London SW9 8LB
In a nutshell: West African in Brixton
This is the first standalone restaurant from Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare. She'd previously been running supperclubs until winning the Brixton Kitchen competition gave her the opportunity for this permanent restaurant. The West African dishes combine the best of British and African produce - it'll be there until early 2021, so it's worth catching asap.
Where: 274 High Road, Tottenham, London, N15 4RR
In a nutshell: Nigerian tapas in Tottenham
Chuku's hosted popular pop-ups and residencies across town before settling in Tottenham mere weeks before the lockdown but they've now returned stronger than ever. They specialise in what they call Nigerian tapas - small plates with African influence. Plaudits have poured in - Grace Dent was a fan, saying "There is no better way to deal with Chuku’s – just sit back and let them feed you." And in the Standard, Jimi Famurewa said they returned from lockdown even better than before: "Boldly conceived, buoyantly atmospheric and packing a new fire-breathing flavouring oomph".
Where: 2a Garrick St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9BH
In a nutshell: Celebrated Indian restaurant MK II
When Asma Khan moved from supper club to a permanent restaurant, her restaurant was an instant success. But it really hit the stratosphere when she was featured on Netflix's influential Chef's Table show. This move to a bigger restaurant - which doubles as a deli during the day - should make getting a table just a wee bit easier. During the evening there's a set menu based around her celebrated biryani - as well as vegetarian and vegan options. Expect it to be a massive hit.
Where: 10 Heddon St, Mayfair, London W1B 4BX
In a nutshell: Sustainable fireworks in Mayfair
Fallow was originally the latest short term residency at 10 Heddon Street, but they've settled in for a while longer and have developed into one of the really interesting new restaurants in the area. There's also an extensive terrace if you still prefer dining outside. Fay Maschler is a big fan saying that a trip to a previous pop-up meant the restaurant "was already in my good books before I visited for the first time — then again, then again."
Where: Portobello Dock, 344 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 5BU
In a nutshell: Dock Kitchen reimagined
The Dock Kitchen itself may be no more, but Stevie Parle's return to the location that made his name was big news indeed. The restaurant is Flora and the overall space is called Joy - something that this alfresco restaurant has brought to everyone who's visited. Grace Dent said "there is joy in Portobello" while Tom Parker Bowles said "This place makes me very happy. Joy indeed."
Where: 9 Seymour Street, London W1H 5BT
In a nutshell: High-end Mexican food
Santiago Lastra's Kol is another of London's long-awaited openings and another which has proven to be very much worth the wait. Another step in the reinvigoration of Mexican food in London, he mixes Mexican cooking with ingredients that are largely sourced in the UK. With a destination bar downstairs to come, this is already proving a hit - even David Beckham has been in to try it out.
Where: 36 Duke Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6DF
In a nutshell: Sexy new St James spot
Maison Francois took over the space that used to be Green's and changed it beyond recognition. A hugely impressive room hosts a full-on-French meal that takes in classics like their now-signature oeuf en gelee. Already a hit, it's been impressing the critics too. Grace Dent said "Maison François has the definite backbone of classic French cuisine... but there is also a modern, future-facing feel" and Fay Maschler was impressed with the dessert trolley which "could come out of a Roald Dahl fantasy". It's also blessed with a new bar in the basement called Frank's which is an ideal place for cocktails and charcuterie.
Where: 2 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4NB
In a nutshell: Gay Hussar becomes Noble Rot
Noble Rot, who have had a huge success with their original restaurant, took over the Gay Hussar building in Soho to great acclaim. They launched with a menu that pays the odd homage to the classic Hungarian restaurant from Alex Jackson, the chef behind the sadly closed Sardine. Backed up by the usual excellent wines from Noble Rot, this has inevitably been an instant hit with punters and critics. Giles Coren said "this is a location I love, restored to glory by friends, serving a dreamy modern version of the food of my foremothers" while Grace Dent says it's "a place for any given Tuesday when you wish to remember that life is worth living."
Where: Unit 1, 8 Melior St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3QP
In a nutshell: Korean meets European fine dining
This London Bridge restaurant is the first solo project from husband and wife team Woongchul Park and Bomee Ki, whose food combines European cooking techniques with touches inspired by their Korean heritage - resulting in something quite unique. Tim Hayward is a big fan and in the FT said "What actually occurs here is all-out down-and-dirty fusion and the results are fascinating."
Where: 109 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 4RX
In a nutshell: Japanese sibling in Marylebone
This is the second Taka, following the original in much smaller premises in Mayfair. Here, they've taken over what used to be The Providores and have remodelled it with pared-back Japanese stylings. The food, a marriage of locally sourced ingredients and Japanese techniques, throws out some winning dishes - including a wagyu sando that's made many an appearance on Instagram. Grace Dent was impressed - "It is at moments like this that I thank God for restaurants as they lift us out of our world, just for a short time."
Where: Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, Shadwell, London E1 7QX
In a nutshell: Modern British in Whitechapel
Townsend, which opened earlier this year, were one of the early restaurants to switch quickly to delivery and that deftness is replicated in an ever-changing menu of dishes that results in a menu where you simply want to try everything. A pre-lockdown visit impressed Fay Maschler and Chris Pople who said "Townsend is doing more or less everything right for a restaurant in 2020", while a more recent visit by Jay Rayner said it proved that restaurants like Townsend exist "to make things just that little bit better."
Ones to watch, opening this month...
In the run-up to Christmas, there's a rush to open - we think it's worth keeping an eye on...
- CasaCosta (Fulham) - a small hidden-away Italian restaurant from the man who gave us Macellaio RC
- Cafe BAO (King's Cross) - the latest from the BAO team and which sees lots of new delights added to the menu
- Golden Gai (Soho) - The people behind Angelina in Dalston are opening a Soho bar
- Imad's Syrian Kitchen (Carnaby) - The popular supper club and pop-up finds a permanent home.
- Joan (Shoreditch) - promising Mediterranean restaurant in Shoreditch
- Nobu Portman Square (Marylebone) - Nobu Berkeley Street is no more, will the celebs flock to this new hotel/restaurant instead?
For more - read our guide to all the new restaurant openings in London.
Where's Hot, mapped.
Here's how the Hot Dinners "Where's Hot" restaurants are spread across town.
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