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. Beigel Bake

    $ | Shoreditch

    Locals are keen to proclaim the virtues of their favorite Brick Lane bagel emporium, but to be perfectly honest, there's not much true competition aside...Read More

  • 2. BRAT

    $$$$ | Shoreditch

    Welsh chef Tomos Parry brings his signature wood-grilled, whole roast Cornish turbot to this Basque-inspired hipster restaurant. Expect other live-fire smashes like aged Jersey beef...Read More

  • 3. E. Pellicci

    $ | Bethnal Green

    It's all Cockney banter and full English breakfasts at this tiny family-run café and one-time gangsters' lair near Brick Lane and Columbia Road Markets. The...Read More

  • 4. e5 Bakehouse

    $ | Dalston

    This bakery, which supplies bread to many of East London's top eateries, has a friendly café and deli on-site, where you can sample some of...Read More

  • 5. Lyle's

    $$ | East End

    Globally acclaimed Brit chef and co-owner James Lowe forsakes heavy sauces and sorcery at this stripped-back, informal British dining mecca in Shoreditch. Stark but highly...Read More

  • 6. Silo

    $$$ | Hackney

    If you've ever wondered what the future tastes like, it might just be the 12-course tasting menu here at Silo, a sleek zero-waste restaurant opened...Read More

  • 7. Bistrotheque

    $$ | Bethnal Green

    You'll need some help finding this East End fashionista headquarters located down a side alley in happening Bethnal Green. Once inside, check out the striking...Read More

  • 8. Brawn

    $$$ | Shoreditch

    This unpretentious neighborhood restaurant serves inventive modern European cuisine—think rabbit, pork, and pistachio terrine or brill, mussels, and fennel in a bouillabaisse sauce—alongside some of...Read More

  • 9. Cub

    $$$$ | Hoxton

    This tiny Hoxton joint is helmed by leading cocktail impresario Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka "Mr Lyan"), who turns his innovative, seasonal-focused hand to food in a...Read More

  • 10. Gunpowder

    $$ | Spitalfields

    Eschew the myriad copy-and-paste curry houses of Brick Lane and opt instead for this broom cupboard–size Spitalfields restaurant serving flawless small-plate Indian cuisine. The charming...Read More

  • 11. Merchants Tavern

    $$ | Hoxton

    The legend on the front of this Hoxton restaurant reads "Merchants of Good Fortune," which neatly sums up the exceptional, smart-casual dining experience you'll encounter...Read More

  • 12. Poppies of Spitalfields

    $$ | Spitalfields

    This eatery strikes a balance between trendy and traditional with retro-diner style and efficient service. The specialty is fish-and-chips, but if fish isn't your thing,...Read More

  • 13. Typing Room

    $$ | Bethnal Green | Modern British

    British chef Lee Westcott attracts all of London's dining underground elite and Instagram foodie stars with his baroque pure/natural/seasonal...Read More

  • 14. Beagle

    $$ | Hoxton

    A great spot (with terrace) for weekend brunch after a morning's shopping. Beagle also serves lunch and dinner, including venison, oysters, and house-smoked salmon....Read More

  • 15. Lucky Chip

    $ | Hackney | Diner

    This former food truck has now become a part of the Seabright Arms pub, halfway between Columbia Road and the Broadway Market. Burgers come...Read More

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