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. Core by Clare Smyth

    $$$$ | Notting Hill

    With two Michelin stars above the door, chef Clare Smyth fuses her classical French culinary training with a devotion to quality British produce. Must-try dishes...Read More

  • 2. Duck & Waffle

    $$$ | City of London

    Zoom up to the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate and head straight for the cult signature dish of confit duck leg, Belgium waffle, fried duck...Read More

  • 3. Elystan Street

    $$$$ | Chelsea

    Chef Philip Howard is committed to seasonality, bringing together well-matched ingredients in this relaxed, loftlike space that leans toward the modernist and minimalist. The deeply...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. St. John

    $$$ | Clerkenwell

    Global foodie fanatics join Clerkenwell locals for the pioneering nose-to-tail cuisine at this high-ceilinged, converted smokehouse near Smithfield Market. Here the chef uses all scraps...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Anglo

    $$$$ | Clerkenwell

    Mark Jarvis’s cool, unpretentious fine-dining establishment in the historic Hatton Garden jewelry quarter in Farringdon is focused on food that is both seasonal and ethically...Read More

  • 9. Berners Tavern

    $$$$ | Fitzrovia

    All the cool cats swing by this grand brasserie at Ian Schrager's insanely trendy London Edition hotel near Tottenham Court Road. Enter the monumental Edwardian...Read More

  • 10. City Social

    $$$$ | City of London

    A largely corporate crowd comes here for the Manhattanesque views of The City and chef Jason Atherton's masterful but straightforward cuisine. Impressed diners look out...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Hide

    $$$$ | Mayfair

    Mayfair is home to more than its share of fussy fine dining restaurants, so Hide is a welcome alternative, charming with experimental dishes that make...Read More

  • 14. Kitty Fisher's

    $$$ | Mayfair

    Named after an infamous 18th-century courtesan, Kitty Fisher's is situated in a tiny, creaky Georgian town house in Mayfair’s Shepherd Market. Crammed with antique prints,...Read More

  • 15. Little Social

    $$$ | Mayfair

    Part of Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton's dining dynasty, Little Social backs its elegant, modernist dining room with a menu of adventurous dishes celebrating the joy...Read More

  • 16. Marcus

    $$$$

    A former Gordon Ramsay protégé and now a celebrity chef in his own right, Marcus Wareing opened this eponymous restaurant in 2008. Wareing's Michelin-starred Contemporary...Read More

  • 17. Rabbit

    $$

    Owned by three brothers who grew up on a farm (which supplies the restaurant with its produce and livestock), Rabbit introduces a note of rusticity...Read More

  • 18. The Anchor & Hope

    $$ | Southwark

    Exceptional Brit-focused fish and meat dishes at wallet-friendly prices fly out of the open kitchen at this permanently packed, no-reservations (apart from Sunday lunchtime) gastropub...Read More

  • 19. The Harwood Arms

    $$$$ | Chelsea

    Despite a Michelin star and a co-owner who's also the chef at one of Britain's (and indeed the world's) top restaurants, this is a relaxed...Read More

  • 20. The Old Brewery

    $$ | Greenwich

    Right next to the Old Royal Naval College Visitor Centre, The Old Brewery is a great spot for a laid-back summer drink with a view...Read More

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