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. 10 Greek Street

    $$$ | Soho

    There may only be 28 table seats and nine counter stools at this stripped-back Modern European eatery, but the consistently great and unpretentious food, cheap...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. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Barrafina

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    One of London's favorite Spanish tapas bars, modeled after famed Cal Pep in Barcelona, has only a few raised bar stools within the open counter...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Casse-Croûte

    $$$ | Bermondsey

    This bistro on Bermondsey Street near the Shard is as French as a pack of Gauloises, from the yellow walls and red-and-white checked tablecloths to...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. Evelyn's Table

    $$$ | Soho

    Hidden beneath The Blue Posts pub in Chinatown, you'll find an intimate speakeasy vibe at Evelyn's Table, specializing in set tasting menus based on top...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 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

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