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) as these are the hottest at this very moment, in alphabetical order...
Where: 1 Finsbury Ave, London EC2M 2PF
In a nutshell: Portuguese tapas hits The City
This Portuguese restaurant found plenty of favour in Borough and the question was - could it repeat that in the heart of the City? The answer is a definite yes with the new restaurant already hugely popular weeks after opening. Part of that's due to a rave review from Fay Maschler who was a fan of the presa - "the most impressive assembly of those tried is presa Ibérica (pork shoulder) with kale and migas (sautéed breadcrumbs) to counter the meat’s ambrosial richness."
Where: 460 Hackney Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9EG
In a nutshell: Filipino food in Bethnal Green
Originally BBQ Dreamz, Lee Johnson and Sinead Campbell created Bong Bong's in Bethnal Green as a showcase for their Filipino cooking. A combination of a modern take on Filipino food alongside a welcoming room make this a big winner. Grace Dent was impressed - "“It’s not like anywhere else...It’s like a cafe that started by accident in someone’s living room. You could go in your pyjamas and I don’t think they’d notice.” We’re going again next Sunday."
Where: 65 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6BD
In a nutshell: Middle-East-inspired vegetarian in Spitalfields
Bubala is clearly very popular with Hot Dinners readers, who voted it their favourite new restaurant of 2019. As vegan and vegetarian food becomes more varied and interesting in London, Bubala's Middle-Eastern inspired take on vegetarian food is winning over many. Marina O'Loughlin says "Bubala is absolutely brimming with that good stuff; it just happens to be vegetarian" while The Standard's Jimi Famurewa says that if you're trying to eat less meat "Bubala makes it seem like the simplest, sanest thing in the world."
Where: 206 Lower Rd, London SE8 5DJ
In a nutshell: Highly rated tacos in Surrey Quays
This Mexican restaurant opened relatively quietly in October last year, but since then it's been building up a strong reputation as one of the very best taquerias in London. It's been wowing the Instagram crowd and The Standard's Jimi Famurewa took a trip there too. A little wary of the hype, he came away saying, "all I can tell you is that this feels like one of the most exhilarating food discoveries of the fledgling year."
Where: 274 High Road, Tottenham, London N15 4RR
In a nutshell: Nigerian tapas goes permanent
They had hugely successful pop-ups and residencies and it looks like Chuku's first restaurant in Tottenham is already proving to be a big hit. They're serving up their popular Nigerian tapas alongside an extended menu and we've heard nothing but good things since it opened.
Where: 70-74 City Rd, Old Street, London EC1Y 2BJ
In a nutshell: Richard Corrigan goes east
Famed Irish chef Richard Corrigan has opened his first new restaurant in over a decade with this Old Street restaurant. it sees the chef making the most of excellent Irish ingredients in a modern bistro menu, backed up by an excellent Irish pub downstairs. Yes, the Guinness is excellent too. Tom Parker Bowles loved the chicken "Dear God, I don’t think I’ve eaten a better bird" while Kathryn Flett in the Telegraph agrees - "So, what’s not to love, you ask? Nothing’s not to love at Daffs".
Where: Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR
In a nutshell: Claridge's meets top chef Daniel Humm
One of the most highly-anticipated restaurants of the past year turned out to be well worth the wait. The chef in charge has had the world's best restaurant under his belt already and he's brought some of that class to the revamped main dining room at Claridge's. Fay Maschler gave it one of her rare five-star reviews and was a fan of the signature duck: "Storing an unwrapped duck in the fridge for a fortnight is a food fashion tip I might well adopt; the meat was perfect." Jay Rayner was wary at first but said "The main courses are simply two of the best plates of food I have been served in London in many years."
Where: 42 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JH
In a nutshell: Celeb haunt returns
When Gymkhana closed due to a fire last year, we wondered if it would manage to regain its crown as one of the celebs' favourite restaurants. But after opening with a star-studded launch dinner, it looks like the A-listers still love this Mayfair spot. All the signature dishes are back on the menu as well as a few new surprises and there's a dramatically different new look to the basement.
Where: 58 Great Marlborough Street, Soho W1F 7JY
In a nutshell: Hit residency goes permanent
The first of 10 Heddon Street's high profile residencies to go permanent, this sees Chris Leach and David Carter open in Soho with their nose-to-tail restaurant that takes its influences from both Italy and east/west coast USA dining. The residency got rave reviews and you can expect similar things here. Ed Cumming in The Independent says it's a "reliable, reasonably priced standby in central London, flexible enough to handle a work lunch and a grand bouffe. An unfussy idea, executed with aplomb, a vision for 2020." The Standard's Jimi Famurewa meanwhile said it's "an instant classic with an approach to food and hospitality that, even if fresh pasta fatigue ever sets in, is hopefully built to last."
Where: Borough Market, 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL
In a nutshell: Hainanese food in the Market
Elizabeth Haigh has been winning plaudits ever since her days as head chef of Pidgin, which she followed up with successful supper clubs. Now she's brought Mei Mei to the new Borough Market Kitchen outdoor food court, which specialises in Hainanese poached chicken. Jimi Famurewa in The Standard said it's "a vividly expressed, generous and wholly addictive act of cultural celebration that punches wildly above its culinary weight." while Ibrahim Salha in the Independent said, "it’s the fried chicken thigh which I can’t stop thinking about: crispy on the outside but cooked so you can cut it with just a spoon".
Where: 38 Groom Place, London SW1X 7BA
In a nutshell: Tom Aikens gets intimate
Tom Aikens can be a rather divisive figure which led Jan Moir really putting the boot into his new restaurant as soon as she could in the Daily Mail. While she may have railed against the intimate restaurant with its tasting menu based on Aiken's childhood, others have given it high praise. In The Standard, David Sexton gave it a five-star rave, saying "The meal, incidentally, unlike many such tasting menus, left us feeling entirely, well, exhilarated even. Muse is an absolute treat." Kathryn Flett in the Telegraph agreed, saying it's a "place, in short, where something just a tiny bit magical happens."
Where: 64 Grafton Way, Fitzrovia, London W1T 5DP
In a nutshell: Kyseri reborn
We were sad to see Selin Kiazim and Laura Christie's Kyseri go - but its replacement with a twist on the original Shoreditch Oklava has proven to be a success. It makes the best of the Oklava hits - like the Black Sea Pide - and serves up some cracking carbs alongside Turkish and Armenian wines. Marina O'Loughlin approves of the change - "This is one of those places where an hour for lunch turns into three, complete with negronis and carafes of crisp, fragrant Turkish chardonnay."
Where: 1 Phipp Street, London EC2A 4PS
In a nutshell: London's top pasta restaurant finally gets a sibling
The restaurant that started London's love affair with affordable and - most importantly - very, very good fresh pasta has continued to be hugely successful in Borough, so they've taken their time in opening a second outpost. But this new Padella in Shoreditch is already hugely popular and by partnering with a virtual queue app, you can occupy yourself elsewhere in Shoreditch while you await you chance to have some of their legendary cacio e pepe.
Where: 61 Rupert St, Soho, London W1D 7PW
In a nutshell: Sri Lankan in Soho
Sri Lankan restaurant Paradise has taken over the space that used to be Spuntino, following a series of popular supperclubs. By all accounts, it's created something quite special in Soho and it living up to its name. William Sitwell said "I yearn to return and eat the rest of the menu. Paradise is indeed on Rupert Street and you deserve its luxurious fulfilment." Meanwhile, Marina O'Loughlin in the Sunday Times said: "The food, from chef Charith Priyadarshana, is divine."
Where: The White Building, Unit 7, Queens Yard, Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN
In a nutshell: No-waste powerhouse in Hackney
Douglas McMaster is at the forefront of the no-waste movement in the UK, and this sees him move Silo from its original Brighton home to London. The entire restaurant - the food and the building itself - has the no-waste ethos baked through. This would be for naught if he hadn't delivered on the food, but it's an excellent operation all-round. Marina O'Loughlin says "Altogether, it’s mildly miraculous" and in The Standard, Jimi Famurewa says "McMaster has created something radically serious but surprisingly convivial."
Where: 64 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 4QQ
In a nutshell: Californian fine dining in Soho
On the same space in Soho, Victor Garvey's Rambla was a success. So it was a surprise to see it replaced with the very different SO LA, which focuses itself around West-coast USA inspired fine dining. But critics have enthused with Andy Hayler saying "This is definitely one of the most interesting restaurant openings in the capital for some time". Tim Hayward in the FT agrees, saying it has "solidly brilliant cooking from someone who turns out to be that most important and rare thing in a chef . . . a total enthusiast."
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...
- The Connaught Grill - the classic Mayfair hotel revives one of its iconic restaurants.
- Dandy - the much-loved cafe is back, this time on Maltby Street
- Dominique Ansel Treehouse - no cronuts but a lot of pastry in the top chef's Covent Garden restaurant.
- Mozzasando - Alan Yau's latest creation opened quietly but apparently it's very, very busy in South Ken.
- Townsend - The new restaurant at the Whitechapel Gallery with an impressive team in charge.
For more - read our guide to all the new restaurant openings in London.
Ones to watch, opening in March...
January can be a quiet month on the new restaurant front - but there are still a few noteworthy restaurants incoming...
- BIngham Riverhouse - MasterChef winning chef comes to Richmond
- Goods Way - new music and food space in King's Cross, with the first UK appearance of an NYC sushi fave.
- Larry's - The people behind Levan are opening next door
- NASI Economy Rice - Also opening next door to their original restaurant are Sambal Shiok
- Six by Nico - Six-course tasting menu restaurant arrives in London
- Wildflower - popular Irish chef gets ready for fine dining in a container
For more restaurant openings - read our guide to upcoming restaurants in March.
Where's Hot, mapped.
Here's how the Hot Dinners "Where's Hot" restaurants are spread across town.
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