From the piquant curries of Brick Lane to cosy gastro pubs and Michelin-starred dining – London’s foodie scene is full of surprises.
London’s vibrant and varied food scene has almost single-handedly taken the UK from gastronomically uninspiring to a gourmand’s paradise. Visitors flock from far and wide to queue outside tiny bistros with big reputations, dine in some of the best curry houses outside of India on Brick Lane and get their names down for a reservation at Michelin-starred hot spots booked up months in advance. Join the British foodie revolution with our guide to the best London restaurants, from unassuming hidden gems to big city legends. Here are 10 of the best London restaurants you must try.
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Oxeye, Nine Elms
You know you’re in for a treat when a restaurant asks you to allow a leisurely 2.5 hours for its evening tasting menu. The vision of chef Sven Hanson-Britt, Oxeye invites you to settle in for a deep dive into British cuisine that celebrates some of the best farmers and producers in the UK. Join for dinner and sample local scallops, rare-breed Derbyshire beef and more, best complemented by handpicked wine pairings. Lunch is a Japanese-style obento affair, featuring lighter delicacies such as ginger broth and shiso wraps.
This is Indian dining as you’ve never experienced it before. Chef-patron Chet Sharma draws on his years spent at Michelin-starred restaurants to bring an exciting, contemporary flavour to BiBi. Fresh British produce meets spices sourced from across India to create an exciting taste collision. Indian papads are infused with local Somerset cheese, belted Galloway beef gets a pepper fry makeover and Devon scallops are served with a nimbu pani lemonade twist. Even the cocktails follow suit – the Calamansi Margarita with mango, ginger and green chilli is a must.
The Harwood Arms, Fulham
This is not just any pub: this is London’s only Michelin-starred pub. The Harwood Arms is Southwest London’s worst-kept secret – you have to make your reservation months in advance here, particularly if you’re after one of the famous Sunday roasts. Tucked away in the streets of Fulham, it brings all the relaxed charm of a classic British pub, infused with some seriously fine dining. The menu focuses on ‘wild and game food’, with slow-cooked fallow deer shoulder often making a guest appearance on Sundays.
Sea Containers Restaurant, Southbank
Escape the bland chain restaurants of London’s Southbank and dive into the altogether more interesting Sea Containers London hotel. Its flagship restaurant offers iconic views of the River Thames, best enjoyed from the terrace on a sunny day (yes, London does occasionally have them). The all-day menu is suitably delicious but it’s the weekend brunch you really want to try. Bottomless Grey Goose Bloody Marys and prosecco accompany breakfast bites like pancetta and egg tacos, and crab-avo toast. Continue the party at Sea Containers’ 12th Knot rooftop bar with a menu of inventive cocktails and classics on request.
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Brick Lane Brasserie, Brick Lane
A curry on the iconic Brick Lane is an absolute must when visiting London. Discover some of the area’s finest Indian food at Brick Lane Brasserie, where a lengthy list of curries guarantees everyone will find one to suit – whether you’re in the mood for something hot and spicy, mild and mellow, vegetarian or a meat feast. Stick to classics like butter chicken, tikka masala and biryani, or dive into a tandoori or thali dish. Either way, you’ll want to order all the trimmings – after all, what’s a curry without the sides?
The teeny tiny Padella takes no bookings, so be prepared to stand in line for a plate of its fresh pasta. The great news? It will 100% be worth your time. It’s the kind of bistro that’s buzzing on the tip of the tongue of any foodie worth their salt. The dishes are a little like Padella itself: small, yet perfectly formed. We recommend ordering a selection and sharing with friends – that's if you can bare to part with even a mouthful of the creamy cacio e pepe, ricotta ravioli and slow-cooked beef pappardelle.
Gloria is bold, brash and unashamedly herself – and why wouldn’t you be when you have so much to offer? This 70s, Capri-style trattoria oozes charm in its opulent decor and bottle-laden bar that’s always ready to whip up a negroni. Cosy up in the wine room, where 50 of the world’s best Barolos await to accompany your dish of choice. Oh, and what a choice it is – Neapolitan pizza, handmade pasta and Italian gelato are all on the menu.
Bob Bob Ricard, Soho
This classy London institution claims to have poured more champagne than any other in the city – which could have something to do with the iconic ‘press for champagne’ buttons you’ll find at every table. It really is as simple as that: hit the button and waitstaff appears, bubbly in hand. Accompany your fizz with Anglo-French fare like steak tartare and Stinking Bishop cheese souffle. The BBR Signature Chocolate Glory, featuring praline crunch and coffee mousse, is the only way to end a meal here.
Pied à Terre, Fitzrovia
The UK’s longest-standing independent Michelin-starred restaurant continues to fulfil the mission it started out with in 1991: to serve London unbeatable French cuisine. Proud owner David Moore is very much hands-on, leading the front-of-house team with unwavering passion. The 10-course tasting menu is a joy, delighting the palate with delicacies like salted cod, French rabbit and strawberry millefeuille. Forget what you’ve heard about French restaurants being all about meat: Pied à Terre’s plant-based menu is one of the best vegan tasting experiences around.
Berners Tavern, Fitzrovia
From one Fitzrovia gem to another: a mere hop, skip and jump from Pied à Terre you’ll find the plush Berners Tavern. Dimly lit, adorned with artwork and dripping with chandeliers, it feels like an elite private members club. Friendly staff disperse any air of pretension, serving grass-fed Scottish steaks and succulent seafood by acclaimed chef Jason Atherton with impeccable charm. Don’t leave without trying a perfectly mixed cocktail – the Blazing Ritzy with Johnny Walker Black Label comes highly recommended.
Featured image: BiBi, Mayfair.
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