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: Olympic Park, 20-22 International Way, London E20 1GQ
In a nutshell: Ex Chiltern Firehouse chef Patrick Powell heads to The Stratford
This is Patrick Powell's restaurant in the big new The Stratford building in East London which has an enormous terrace for both the bar and the restaurant and is a showcase for the chef who rose to fame at Chiltern Firehouse. In The Standard, Jimi Famurewa was not a fan of the building, but "This is not to take away from Powell’s cooking, which has an uncommon creative energy, focus and technical meticulousness." Grace Dent in the Guardian is a big fan - "There was a confit apple millefeuille with salted caramel that my stomach pleaded with my eyes to order just to take home for bedtime snacking."
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: 6 Clarges Street, London W1J 8AE
In a nutshell: The best mash in town
After the closure of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, following the famed chef's death, a return to London was promised and here it is. This time, they're in Mayfair with a menu that is part Robuchon classics and part new dishes inspired by his repertoire and style. And, most importantly, the "puree" is back, aka the best mashed potato in town.
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 (which took over from Nuala). The restaurant sees the chef making the most of excellent Irish ingredients in a modern bistro menu. And it's 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. He's snuck in a new destination bar too. Giles Coren aside, we've heard nothing but good things about the place and came away impressed ourselves.
Where: 10 Argyle St, Kings Cross, London WC1H 8EG
In a nutshell: High rise in King's Cross
We'd have been excited anyway about Bristol Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias opening a London restaurant, but when you add in the high rise glamour of this space at the top of the Standard it was always going to be a hot ticket. Fay Maschler didn't have the insta-friendly tortilla and thought the whole thing very spendy but she loved the mushroom bomba rice. Grace Dent says it's "gorgeous, sexy and glamorous as hell" while Giles Coren was very fond of their tacos - "so bright you could taste the colours, like eating a food butterfly."
Where: 26 Curtain Rd, Hackney, London EC2A 3NY
In a nutshell: Top Shoreditch residency
This Shoreditch residency from Nick Gibson and Damian Clisby may only be there for six months, but it's getting a lot of plaudits along the way. Blogger Ed Smith summed the whole thing up nicely on Instagram saying: "good unfussy food conceived and cooked well by skilled hands served on non-small plates and brought to you over three courses by nice people." Fay Maschler agreed - "I am pleased to be in a place imbued with quiet confidence."
Where: 20 New Change Passage, London, EC4M 9AG
In a nutshell: The Ivy's new party place
The Ivy has been expanding all over town and beyond, but this latest restaurant is a little more of a gamechanger for them. Taking a concept that was originally previewed in Manchester, they've launched something like a Sexy Fish for the City - but without the Mayfair prices. It looks amazing, is already hugely popular. It's not a gamechanger on the food front but as Grace Dent says "Relax your brain; enjoy the glacial, emerald floor. No one can say, in difficult times, that The Ivy group saved its skin by being boring."
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."
Where: 9 Holles Street, London, W1G 0BN
In a nutshell: Very, very handy food hall
The Market Halls that have already launched - Victoria and Fulham - are already impressive enough, but this central location kicks things up a notch. It's bigger than ever, has a few new additions to the group like Yatai, Goodbirds and Pastaio, but it's the location which really changes things. Just being steps away from London's busiest shopping street makes this incredibly handy.
Where: St Mark's, North Audley Street, London W1K 6ZA
In a nutshell: Food hall in a church
Opening the same time as Market Hall West End, this food hall is a very different beast. First of all, its location in an old church (which was turning to ruin before they came along) makes it quite unlike anything else in town. Add to that an eclectic range of food (with a bias to Italian cuisine) and a truly excellent wine bar in the basement cloisters and you've a great new addition to Mayfair.
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. Marina O'Loughlin's review hasn't come out at the time of writing, but an Instagram post gave a clear indication of what to expect: "Hit after hit after hit. Get IN..."
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."
Where: 14th Floor, 40 Blackfriars Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8PB
In a nutshell: High rise seafood
This high-rise restaurant is in the Hoxton hotel in Southwark - a brightly hued, airy restaurant on the top floor. The look of the place is impressive enough and that's paired with a pretty great menu. It's from the same people behind Brooklyn's Maison Premiere with an inventive seafood menu as well as a great oyster bar. A great space, buzzy vibes and a good menu make this an instant hit. Fay Maschler suggests ordering: "the pan con tomate, which is a markedly good specimen" while Tim Hayward in The FT says "they have somehow managed to achieve proper, old-school rooftop-restaurant magic, straight out of the traps."
Where: 63-64 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 3JW
In a nutshell: The Gladwin bros come to Soho
The Gladwin Brothers already had hits in London with The Shed and Rabbit and this restaurant sees them bring their expertise (and the food from their own farm) to Soho. It's taken over the space that used to be Arbutus and Giles Coren is an early fan "I would set my alarm for the days they’ve got the cow meat on here and come running from wherever I happened to be, with steak knife and claret jug in hand, drool falling from my slavering lips."
Where: 36 Snowsfields, Bermondsey, London SE1 3SU
In a nutshell: Fat Duck alums come to town
When an almost entirely ex-Fat Duck brigade takes over the old Londrino site you can expect London's foodies to get rather excited. So far they've had a brace of restaurant folk including European chefs Josh Niland and Alan Bates flying in, to try the food. Most Instagrammed dish so far? The "Hokkaido Potato” - a baked potato millefeuille with sake and white chocolate mousse, butter and sake gelato.
Where: 2-4 Boundary St, London E2 7DD
In a nutshell: TBC
The basement at Terence Conran's Boundary has been through a few changes over the year. But while others have struggled, newcomer Wilder has gotten off to a good start. Richard McLellan has taken it over with a contemporary British menu. The Standard sent both of its reviewers to cover it. Fay Maschler said her meal here was "wilder" than "the usual classic French meal that Terence would espouse." but Jimi Famurewa was more fulsome in his praise, saying it's "underpinned by warm hospitality and unexpected, fortifying deliciousness."
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...
- Dandy - the much-loved cafe is back on Maltby Street
- SO LA - Taking the place of Rambla, this sees the same team do Californian cuisine
- Stoney Street - The 26 Grains people come to Borough market
- Casa do Frango Shoreditch - the Portuguese chicken specialists go east.
- Bancone - the hit pasta bar opens its second restaurant, this time in Soho.
- Barboun - from the same people behind Hovarda, this serves up Levantine food in Shoreditch.
- Wild Tavern - Mediterranean cuisine in Chelsea from the people behind Goodman, Burger & Lobster and Zelman Meats.
For more - read our guide to all the new restaurant openings in London.
Ones to watch, opening in January...
January can be a quiet month on the new restaurant front - but there are still a few noteworthy restaurants incoming...
- Muse - Tom Aikens makes a return to fine dining in Belgravia
- Oklava Bakery and Wine - taking the place of Kyseri (and by the same people) this expands Oklava to Fitzrovia.
- Mozzasando - Alan Yau does katsu sandos
- L'Antica Pizzeria Da Michele Soho - the hugely popular Naples pizzeria comes to Soho. Expect queues.
- Dominique Ansel Treehouse - no cronuts (in the restaurant anyway) as the chef opens a restaurant focused on pastry.
For more restaurant openings - read our guide to upcoming restaurants in 2020.
Where's Hot, mapped.
Here's how the Hot Dinners "Where's Hot" restaurants are spread across town.
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