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. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Rules

    $$$ | Covent Garden

    Opened by Thomas Rule in 1798, London's oldest restaurant is still perhaps its most beautiful. Resembling a High Victorian bordello overflowing with taxidermy, here you...Read More

  • 12. Silo

    $$$ | Hackney

    If you've ever wondered what the future tastes like, it might just be the 12-course tasting menu here at Silo, a sleek zero-waste restaurant opened...Read More

  • 13. 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

  • 14. Six Portland Road

    $$$ | Notting Hill

    The ultimate neighborhood restaurant in west London's wealthy Holland Park section draws diners with its brilliant-but-understated French and Mediterranean classics, relaxed service, and interesting, mainly...Read More

  • 15. Social Eating House

    $$$ | Soho

    At Jason Atherton's underrated but brilliant French bistronomie Soho hangout, witty dishes like smoked duck's ham (made from cured duck's breast) and Scotch egg–and-chips are...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. The Delaunay

    $$$ | Holborn

    It's all fin de siècle Vienna at this evocative art deco–style grand café on Aldwych near Covent Garden. Dishes on the majestic Middle European menu...Read More

  • 18. The French House

    $$$ | Soho

    Black-and-white photos of legendary The French House regulars like artists Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud beam down at this disarmingly charming old-school Soho hangout. Set...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 34

    $$$ | Mayfair

    A-listers head straight for 34, off Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, simply because all the other celebrities seem to hang out here, too. It must be...Read More

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