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. Bar Italia

    $ | Soho | Café

    This legendary Italian coffee bar on Frith Street is Soho's unofficial beating heart and a 22-hours-a-day classic institution. Established in...Read More

  • 2. Casse-Croûte

    $$ | Bermondsey | French

    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...Read More

  • 3. Hoppers

    $ | Soho | Sri Lankan

    Sri Lankan curry fans have gone mad for the fermented rice-flour egg pancakes (a Sri Lankan specialty known as hoppers) and paper-thin griddled...Read More

  • 4. Luca

    $$$$ | Clerkenwell | Italian

    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...Read More

  • 5. The Delaunay

    $$$ | Holborn | Austrian

    It's all fin de siècle Vienna at this evocative art deco–style grand café on the Aldwych near Covent Garden. Dishes on the majestic 60-item...Read More

  • 6. Balthazar

    $$$ | Covent Garden | French

    British restaurateur Keith McNally re-creates his famed New York Parisian brasserie at this busy corner spot just off Covent Garden. The decor...Read More

  • 7. Berners Tavern

    $$$ | Fitzrovia | British

    All the cool cats swing by this grand brasserie at Ian Schrager's insanely trendy London Edition hotel near Tottenham Court Road. Enter the...Read More

  • 8. Blixen

    $$ | City of London | French

    Within a magnificent Kew Gardens–style tropical garden and plant conservatory, you'll find this stylish brasserie backing out onto Old Spitalfields...Read More

  • 9. Café Below

    $ | City of London | Café

    In St. Mary-le-Bow's Norman crypt, this café is packed with City workers weekdays 7:30–2:30 for a menu covering breakfasts, scrumptious light...Read More

  • 10. Canela

    $$ | Covent Garden | Portuguese

    Bright and casual by day, intimate and atmospheric by night, this is a great spot for refueling mid–shopping trip, grabbing a bite before a...Read More

  • 11. Cecconi's

    $$$ | Mayfair | Italian

    Revel with the A-listers in the glamorous buzz at this upscale Italian brasserie wedged between Cork Street, Savile Row, and the Royal Academy...Read More

  • 12. Côte

    $ | Covent Garden | French

    Where else can you find an amazing three-course French meal in Covent Garden for £17? The Côte brasserie chain does the trick, and offers a...Read More

  • 13. CUT at 45 Park Lane

    $$$$ | Mayfair | Steakhouse

    Austrian-born star chef Wolfgang Puck amps up the stakes at this ultraexpensive steak house on Park Lane. Set against a luxe backdrop of Damien...Read More

  • 14. Dean Street Townhouse

    $$$ | Soho | British

    Everyone feels 10 times more glamorous just stepping inside this candlelit restaurant attached to the swanky Georgian-era hotel of the same...Read More

  • 15. Duck & Waffle

    $$ | City of London | British

    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 egg...Read More

  • 16. E. Pellicci

    $ | Bethnal Green | Café

    It's all Cockney banter and full English breakfasts at this tiny family-run café and onetime gangsters' lair near Brick Lane and Columbia Road...Read More

  • 17. E5 Bakehouse

    $ | Dalston | Café

    This bakery, which supplies bread to many of East London's top eateries, has a friendly café and deli on-site, where you can sample some of...Read More

  • 18. Fischer's

    $$ | Marylebone | Austrian

    It almost feels like Sigmund Freud or Gustav Klimt might doff their Homburg hats and shuffle into a dark leather banquette at this evocative...Read More

  • 19. Flat White

    $ | Soho | Café

    It was this compact little coffee bar that kicked off London's passion for Antipodean-style coffee, and the place is still going strong today...Read More

  • 20. Hide

    $$$$ | Mayfair | British

    Mayfair is home to more than its share of fussy fine dining restaurants, so Hide is a welcome alternative, charming with experimental dishes...Read More

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