London Restaurants

British food hasn't always had the best reputation, but nowhere in the country is that reputation being completely upturned more than in London. The city has zoomed up the global gastro charts, and can now seriously compete with the world’s top culinary heavyweights. The truth is that no other city—barring New York—has the immense range of global cuisines that London has to offer. Standards have rocketed at all price points, and every year it seems like the London restaurant scene is better than ever.

Feel like eating the most-tender Kagoshima Wagyu beef on planet Earth? It can be yours for £150 at CUT at 45 Park Lane. Want to try old English gastronomy from the time of Henry VIII with an ultramodern twist? Ashley Palmer-Watts is your man at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Do you only eat Sri Lankan hoppers? No worries, we’ve got just the thing: Hoppers in Soho will give you a taste of the Sri Lankan pancake, for £4.50 a pop. Can’t stand any more snobby culinary nonsense? The low-key British wild game is so good at The Harwood Arms in Fulham that they’ve earned London’s first gastro-pub-based Michelin star.

To appreciate how far London has risen in the food game, just look back to the days of Somerset Maugham, who was once justified in warning, "To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day." Change was slow after World War II, when it was understood that the British ate to live, while the French lived to eat. When people thought of British cuisine, fish-and-chips—a greasy grab-and-gulp dish that tasted best wrapped in yesterday's newspaper—first came to mind. Then there was always shepherd's pie, ubiquitously found in smoke-filled pubs, though not made, according to Sweeney Todd, "with real shepherd in it."

These days, standards are miles higher and shepherd’s pie has been largely replaced by the city's unofficial dish, Indian curry. London’s restaurant revolution is built on its extraordinary ethnic diversity, and you’ll find the quality of other global cuisines has grown immeasurably in recent years, with London becoming known for its Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Spanish, Italian, French, Peruvian, and west African restaurants. Thankfully, pride in the best of British food—local, seasonal, wild, and foraged—is enjoying quite the renaissance, too.

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  • 1. Balthazar

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    British restaurateur Keith McNally recreates his famed New York Parisian-style brasserie at this busy corner spot off Covent Garden. The soaring grand café setting creates...Read More

  • 2. Barrafina

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    One of London's favorite Spanish tapas bars, modeled after famed Cal Pep in Barcelona, has only a few raised bar stools within the open counter...Read More

  • 3. Clos Maggiore

    $$$$ | Covent Garden

    Insist on a table in the dreamy, white blossom–filled conservatory at this warm, cozy, and seriously romantic Provençal country-style inn off Covent Garden. Once inside,...Read More

  • 4. J Sheekey

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    Open since 1896, this timelessly chic seafood haven is a discreet alternative to the more celeb-focused eateries nearby. Dripping with vintage black-and-white photos of famous...Read More

  • 5. Joe Allen

    $$ | Covent Garden

    It seems like everyone involved in the West End theater world swarms this legendary subterranean spot for its enchanting blend of American brasserie comfort food,...Read More

  • 6. Louie

    $$$$ | Covent Garden

    There's a distinct Roaring Twenties vibe here at Louie, set in a glamorous town house with a collection of unique dining rooms and terraces. Exceptional...Read More

  • 7. NoMad Restaurant

    $$$$ | Covent Garden

    One of London's most spectacular dining rooms is set in a glass-ceilinged atrium at the boho-chic NoMad London hotel, located opposite Covent Garden's famed Royal...Read More

  • 8. Rules

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    Opened by Thomas Rule in 1798, London's oldest restaurant is still perhaps its most beautiful. Resembling a High Victorian bordello overflowing with taxidermy, here you...Read More

  • 9. Simpson's in the Strand

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    Head straight for the 30-day roast rib of Scottish beef and Yorkshire puddings carved table-side at this magnificent 1848 oak-paneled dining institution on the Strand....Read More

  • 10. Spring

    $$$$ | Covent Garden

    Trailblazing Australian chef Skye Gyngell worships the four seasons at her pastel-hued dining destination in majestic Somerset House off the Strand. Housed in the building's...Read More

  • 11. The Ivy

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    London's onetime most famous celebrity haunt and West End landmark is still so popular it receives over a thousand calls a day. Established as an...Read More

  • 12. The Ivy Market Grill

    $$ | Covent Garden

    Scrub up like Eliza Doolittle and perch at the pewter bar sipping a dreamy My Fair Lady (with house-made gin and orange blossom) at this...Read More

  • 13. Canela

    $$ | Covent Garden

    Bright and casual by day, intimate and atmospheric by night, this is a great spot for refueling mid–shopping trip, grabbing a bite before a show...Read More

  • 14. Cora Pearl

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    British comfort food like ham-and-cheese toasties, bubble and squeak, and even the mighty potato chip are transformed into showstoppers at this classy Covent Garden town...Read More

  • 15. Côte Brasserie

    $ | Covent Garden

    Where else can you find an amazing three-course French meal right by Covent Garden for £21? The Côte Brasserie chain does just the trick, offering...Read More

  • 16. Frenchie

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    With three popular restaurants in Paris, star French chef Grégory Marchand brings his highly colorful and daring dishes to London at this sleek eatery not...Read More

  • 17. Savoy Grill

    $$$$ | Covent Garden

    You can feel the history at this 1889 art deco powerhouse, which has wined and dined everyone from Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill to Liz...Read More

  • 18. Food for Thought

    $ | Covent Garden | Vegetarian

    Covent Garden's throwback 1970s-style subterranean vegetarian café has a cult following, so be prepared to line up down the steep stairs onto...Read More

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