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. Bancone

    $ | Soho

    Fabulous fresh pasta at affordable prices characterizes this groovy Italian eatery off Soho's Golden Square. Sit at the bustling chef's counter to sample options like...Read More

  • 2. Bar Italia

    $ | Soho

    This legendary Italian coffee bar on Frith Street is Soho's unofficial beating heart and a 22-hours-a-day classic institution. Established in 1949 during the postwar Italian...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. INO Gastrobar

    $ | Soho

    London's modern Greek food scene is flourishing, and tiny INO Gastrobar on cobblestoned Newburgh Street is leading the charge. Take a seat at the chef's...Read More

  • 7. Kiln

    $ | Soho

    Earthy northern Thai cuisine bursts out of the charcoal-fired kiln and hot clay pots at this barbecue-focused wonderland in Soho. Take a look at the...Read More

  • 8. Maison Bertaux

    $ | Soho

    Romantics and Francophiles cherish this quirky 1871 French patisserie, vintage tea parlor, and occasional pop-up art space, where nothing seems to have changed since the...Read More

  • 9. Newman Arms

    $ | Fitzrovia

    Glimpse the future of British cuisine at this rickety wood-paneled dining salon at the atmospheric 1730 Newman Arms pub in Fitzrovia. A one-time haunt of...Read More

  • 10. Padella

    $ | Borough

    Sit at the galley kitchen counter and you can watch the chefs toss hot pans of authentic handmade (on-site) Italian pasta, generally considered among the...Read More

  • 11. Paradise

    $ | Soho

    London's top contemporary Sri Lankan spot dazzles with fiery deviled prawns, Aylesbury duck-leg rolls, authentic egg hoppers, and char-smoked curries. Located on Rupert Street in...Read More

  • 12. Simpson's Tavern

    $ | City of London

    The City's oldest tavern and chop house was founded in 1757 and undoubtedly is every bit as raucous now as the day it opened. Approached...Read More

  • 13. BAO

    $ | Soho

    Lines form daily to secure a prized seat, perch, or stool at this no-reservations 32-seater from a crack team of Taiwanese steamed bao bun specialists....Read More

  • 14. Blacklock

    $ | Soho

    Set in a former basement brothel, this Soho meatopia cranks out £22 platters of chargrilled lamb, beef, and pork skinny chops and juice-soaked flatbread, all...Read More

  • 15. Boyds Grill & Wine Bar

    $ | Trafalgar Sq.

    One of those restaurants you could never hope to find unless you were looking for it, Boyds occupies a ravishing, marble-clad dining room on the...Read More

  • 16. Café Below

    $ | City of London | Café

    In St. Mary-le-Bow's Norman crypt, this café is packed with City workers weekdays 7:30–2:30 for a menu covering breakfasts, scrumptious light...Read More

  • 17. City Càphê

    $ | City of London

    This unpretentious but charming family-run Vietnamese street-food café offers delicious quick bites and takeout dishes for lunch. Try the pho, banh mi, or spring rolls....Read More

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Crussh

    $ | Mayfair

    This successful chain serves up delicious juices and smoothies, as well as sandwiches, soups, and wraps....Read More

  • 20. Gabriel's Wharf

    $ | South Bank | Café

    This is a cluster of small shops specializing in jewelry, art, clothing, and ceramics by designer-manufacturers, with an adjoining cluster of...Read More

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