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. Berenjak

    $$ | Soho

    At this cult favorite Persian hole-in-the-wall, it's best to sit at the counter overlooking the tandoor grill and clay oven and indulge in the expansive...Read More

  • 2. Bocca di Lupo

    $$ | Soho

    This upscale Italian institution is always crowded and the tables are crammed too close together, but everyone still adores the glorious spread of regional Italian...Read More

  • 3. Brasserie Zédel

    $$ | Piccadilly Circus

    Enjoy the amazing-value, prix-fixe menus of classic French dishes at Piccadilly's ever-bustling subterranean Parisian-style brasserie. Dripping with beaux-arts gilt mirrors and monumental marble pillars, you...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 7. The Palomar

    $$ | Soho

    It's Jerusalem meets Palestine meets Beirut at this funky Israeli-Arab spot off Chinatown. Sit at the zinc open kitchen counter and down shots of arak...Read More

  • 8. XU

    $$ | Piccadilly

    It feels like a cinematic reinterpretation of 1930s Taipei at this glamorous jewel box on the edge of Chinatown. Peerless dishes like tomato and smoked...Read More

  • 9. Andrew Edmunds

    $$ | Soho

    Candlelit at night, with a haunting Dickensian vibe, Andrew Edmunds is a permanently packed, old-school Soho dining institution. Tucked away behind Carnaby Street in an...Read More

  • 10. Bar Boulud

    $$ | Knightsbridge

    New York–based French superchef Daniel Boulud combines French brasserie classics like escargot, salade nicoise, and poule au pot with American-style gourmet burgers at this sophisticated...Read More

  • 11. Berber & Q—Shawarma Bar

    $$ | Clerkenwell

    Every night feels as bustling as downtown Tel Aviv at Exmouth Market's superb and hip shawarma bar. Enjoy challah toast with tahini-rich meze before delving...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Blanchette

    $$ | Soho

    French tapas may sound sacrilegious, but Gallic gem Blanchette hits the spot at this family-run hipster bistro where jazzy French sounds complement the charming bare-brick...Read More

  • 14. Blixen

    $$ | Spitalfields

    Within a magnificent Kew Gardens–style tropical garden and plant conservatory, you'll find this stylish brasserie backing out onto Old Spitalfields Market. Housed in a converted...Read More

  • 15. Burger & Lobster

    $$ | Mayfair | Burger

    Don plastic bibs at this mobbed, limited-choice burger and lobster shack, where there are no reservations (apart from larger groups), no starters...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. Caravan

    $$ | King's Cross

    Set in a corner of what was once a vast Victorian warehouse, this airy eatery is open from early morning to late at night, serving...Read More

  • 18. Fischer's

    $$ | Marylebone

    It almost feels like Sigmund Freud or Gustav Klimt might doff their Homburg hats and shuffle into a dark leather banquette at this evocative, early-20th-century–style...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Hereford Road

    $$ | Bayswater

    A Bayswater favorite with the well-connected Notting Hill set, Hereford Road is renowned for its pared-down, pomp-free, and ingredient-driven seasonal British fare, with an emphasis...Read More

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