Compiling a list of the best places to eat in London is nigh on impossible. This culinary city has every type of cuisine and dining experience imaginable, from blind restaurants and kangaroo steaks to Russian dancing and garlic shots, and who are we to judge your (potentially strange) palate?
Sometimes you just need a solid list of recommendations though, so here’s our selection of the best 15 places
the capital has to offer. Divided into restaurants for a special occasion, unusual restaurants and budget eateries, we’ve got every option covered. Do you have a favourite restaurant in London? Let us know in the comments!
Best for a very special occasion
Photo credit: www.globalista.co.uk
Chiltern Firehouse has barely been out of the headlines since in opened in summer 2013. This former fire station turned neo-gothic hotel and restaurant is a firm favourite with the stars – everyone from Kate Moss to David Cameron has been spotted eating there. Exclusive and expensive (main courses start around £25), the menu is closely guarded but we hear it features small plates and American-inspired dishes such as crab donuts, charred Iberico pork, grilled octopus, steak tartare and scallops in tiger’s milk. Getting a dinner reservation can be tricky, so try booking for brunch or breakfast if you’re keen to get in quickly.
Address: 1 Chiltern St, London W1U 7PAPhone: 020 7073 7676
Photo credit: www.pureconsult.co.uk
High in the sky on the 40th floor of Heron Tower, this beautiful restaurant is not for the faint hearted – or those afraid of heights. After whizzing up in an amazing glass lift, diners can enjoy chef Dan Doherty’s delicious dishes 24 hours a day. All day, dinner, brunch and breakfast menus are available, with delicacies from the seafood bar, small plates, tasty treats like crispy pigs ears and the eponymous ‘duck and waffle’ dish – a crispy confit duck leg & fried duck egg with a mustard maple syrup waffle. It’s the best place by far to watch the sun set over London, and prices are surprisingly reasonable too with hot breakfasts around £10-12.
Address: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AYPhone: 020 3640 7310
Photo credit: www.standard.co.uk
The team behind this site in Bethnal Green Town Hall reads like a Who’s Who of the restaurant world. Previously occupied by Nuno Mendes (Chiltern Firehouse), it’s currently backed by Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social) and head chef Lee Wescott earned his stripes at Noma in Copehagen. This Scandi-style restaurant only serves tasting menus, with five course (£60) or seven course (£75) options, while dishes include celeriac, smoked eel, smoked roe deer and creme brûlée with figs.
Address: The Typing Room, Town Hall Hotel Patriots Square, London, E2 9NFPhone: 020 7871 0461
Photo credit: www.paulwf.co.uk
The flagship restaurant of culinary wizard Heston Bluthmental, Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental is a trip back in time through historical gastronomy, with recipes dating back to the 16th Century on the menu. Expect the unexpected – offerings include porridge with frogs legs, spiced pigeon, cod cooked in cider, tipsy cake, baked Sussex pond pudding and the infamous mandarin meat fruit. Make sure you check out the rest of the hotel too, particularly the beautiful bar & lounge.
Address: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LAPhone: 020 7201 3833
Photo credit: www.alainducasse-dorchester.com
Alain Ducasse, the legendary French chef behind this restaurant, has a staggering 21 Michelin starts to his name – three of which are for this very spot. Serving contemporary cuisine in an elegant setting inside the posh Dorchester Hotel, guests will be treated to dishes such as lobster, wild sea bass, Dorset crab, duck foie gras and filet of beef Rossini. Make sure you try the Selection Alain Ducasse champagne too for some very luxurious bubbles.
Address: The Dorchester, 53 Park Ln, London W1K 1QAPhone: 020 7629 8866
Best for something a little different
Ever read a great description of a meal and felt like you could practically taste it? [Tweet quote]
Photo credit: www.thepositive.com
Chef Tom Sellers has taken this to the next level and created a restaurant where the menu and dishes are entirely inspired by stories and memories, designed to be shared with you through what you “see smell and taste”. Everything is made with fresh British produce, and current items on the six and ten course tasting menus include quail, deer, pumpkin and squid. Sellers is an extraordinarily gifted chef, gaining the restaurant its first Michelin star just 5 weeks after opening, so get on that waiting list now!
Address: 201 Tooley St, London SE1 2UEPhone: 020 7183 2117
Photo credit: www.twentysomethinglondon.com
Combining a hairdressing salon with a restaurant may not seem like a natural pairing, but Hurwundeki have pulled it off with aplomb. After a cheap cut and colour from a Vidal Sassoon-trained hairdresser, take a seat at one of the distressed wooden tables and tuck into some tasty, authentic Korean food. We particularly love the kimchee stew and bibimbap, especially when it’s on the £10 lunch deal and includes a starter and a drink. Neither the cut or the cuisine are mandatory though – you can just pop in for a drink if you want!
Address: 298-299 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9HAPhone: 020 8981 0267
Photo credit: www.swlondoner.co.uk
While it sounds more like a TV drama plot device than a genuine concept, Clink is actually a fine dining restaurant inside Brixton Prison. This public eatery is run by prison inmates and sponsored by Clink charity, who help to rehabilitate prisoners and reduce re-offending rates through training and preparation for the outside world. The prisoners involved will gain a formal qualification, and once they complete their sentence will be given the chance to work at over 200 restaurants including Carluccios Hawksmoor and Jamie’s Italian. Although prison restrictions limit anything sharper than plastic cutlery, the menu is full of quality dishes such as slow cooked lamb, chicken infused with thyme, and ravioli with mushrooms and truffles.
Address: HMS Brixton Prison, Jebb Ave, London SW2 5XF
Photo credit: www.independent.co.uk
Beast is the kind of restaurant where historical glutton Henry VIII would have felt at home – it looks like a medieval dining hall, complete with stone walls, long tables, candelabras and, er, tanks full of giant Norwegian king crabs. This place is also pure decadence, with a set menu which focuses on steak and crab and a minimum spend of £75 per head. By all accounts the food is delicious, but with wine starting at £45 a bottle you might need to skip rent for a month if you plan to give it a try…
Address: Beast, 3 Chapel Place, London, W1G 0BGPhone: 0207 495 1816
Photo credit: www.sketch.london
Not only is Sketch home to two Michelin stars and three different restaurants (the parlour, the lecture room and the gallery), it also has an art gallery and a shop inside. This stunning 18th Century building is a centre for food, art and music, and home to some of the most outlandish decor in London. We particularly love the gallery room, which is covered in over 300 sketches by the brilliant artist David Shrigley, so you’ll never run out of conversation topics over dinner.
Address: 9 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2XGPhone: 020 7659 4500
Best for great food on a tight budget
Photo credit: www.theguardian.com
Although the title sounds like a line from a Cinderella song, Bi Bim Bap is actually named after Korea’s national dish. This brightly coloured eatery in the heart of Soho is well known in London for achieving the near-impossible trio of being tasty, healthy and affordable. There are a range of different dishes including noodles, ramen, calamari, rice bowls and kimchee on the menu, and they serve Korean beer too. Be careful though – try it once and you’ll be a loyal customer for life.
Address: 11 Greek St, London W1D 4DJPhone: 020 7287 3434
Photo credit: www.pizzapilgrims.co.uk
Pizza Pilgrims have come a long way since their days as a street food van, with two restaurants in central London and plenty of pop-ups currently in the works. Their second venue just opened in the newly refurbished Kingly Court off Carnaby Street, and is decked out in classic pizzeria style with checked tablecloths and swift service. The pizzas are the stuff of legends, handmade with soft dough and a great selection of toppings – we particularly love the spicy sausage. They’ve also got a lovely terrace for sunny summer days, ahhhh.
Address: 11 Kingly Court, London, W1B 5PWPhone: 020 7287 2200
Photo credit: www.ukdining.co.uk
This bustling French brasserie just off Piccadilly is the ultimate date spot – the Belle Epoque Paris decor, gilded mirrors and marble columns make it look incredibly expensive, but it’s actually very good value. You can get three courses of classic French fare for less than £15 (think along the lines of snails in garlic butter, steak hache and boeuf bourguignon), while wine starts at £16 bottle. The atmosphere is also very fabulous – deck yourself our in furs before dinner.
Address: 20 Sherwood St, London W1F 7EDPhone: 020 7734 4888
Photo credit: www.theguardian.com
Sleek, chic and very modern, Koya is Japanese cafe serving udon noodles, small plates, tempura and rice bowls in central London. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been transported to downtown Tokyo though – this place is so authentic it has legions of fanatical fans who wax lyrical about their noodles. Service is speedy too, perfect for a quick work lunch.
Address: 49 Frith St, London W1D 4SGPhone: 020 7434 4463
Photo credit: www.poppiesfishandchips.co.uk
Sometimes you just get a craving for a properly good fish and chip supper with tartar sauce and mushy peas. No ‘gourmet additions’ like truffle mayonnaise or triple-cooked potatoes, just old fashioned cod n’ chips. Your wish is Poppies’ command – this East End joint now has a branch in Spitalfields and one in Camden, serving up fresh fish from Billingsgate Market
and crispy chips for great value, in a retro-style setting. You can also get them to take-away in a ‘newspaper’ box – perfect.
Address: 6-8 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QRPhone: 020 7247 0892