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. Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

    $$$$ | Mayfair

    One of only three three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester achieves the pinnacle of classical French haute cuisine in a surprisingly...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Clipstone

    $$$ | Fitzrovia

    Flavorful, inventive dishes elevate this hipster casual joint to the top rank of London's midrange gastro titans. With a focus on in-house curing, pickling, smoked...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

    $$$$ | Knightsbridge

    Medieval English cuisine meets molecular gastronomy in this reassuringly luxurious Blumenthal flagship within the Mandarin Oriental, with two Michelin stars. Try the signature "Meat Fruit"...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Gymkhana

    $$$ | Mayfair

    The last days of the Raj are invoked here at one of London's finest Indian curry emporiums, where top choices include dosas with fennel-rich Chettinad...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Luca

    $$$$ | Clerkenwell

    This winning mix of modern Italian classics is made from the very best in British seasonal produce. Add to that the super-chic setting—from the art...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Noble Rot

    $$$ | Bloomsbury

    There's an old Amsterdam coffeehouse vibe at this dark and creaky wine bar and restaurant on historic Lamb's Conduit Street in Bloomsbury. Run by two...Read More

  • 17. Noble Rot Soho

    $$$$ | Soho

    Fans of French food and wine flock to this gorgeous wood-paneled Georgian town house for dishes like roast chicken with morel mushrooms and creamy vin...Read More

  • 18. Portland

    $$$$ | Fitzrovia

    Consistently brilliant modern European fare in a low-key setting characterizes this restaurant located just northeast of Oxford Circus. Marvel at the chef's brigade in the...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 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

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