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. Core by Clare Smyth

    $$$$ | Notting Hill | British

    With two Michelin stars above the door, chef Clare Smyth's casual fine dining extravaganza in Notting Hill offers must-try dishes like skin...Read More

  • 2. St. John

    $$ | Clerkenwell | British

    Global foodie fanatics join Clerkenwell locals for the pioneering nose-to-tail cuisine at this high-ceilinged, converted smokehouse near Smithfield...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. The Ledbury

    $$$$ | Notting Hill | French

    Aussie chef Brett Graham wins hearts, minds, and some serious accolades at this upbeat modern French (with Pacific and British hints) dining...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Bistrotheque

    $$$ | Bethnal Green | European

    You'll need some help finding this East End fashionista headquarters located down a side alley in hipster Bethnal Green. Once inside, check...Read More

  • 8. Blacklock

    $ | Soho | Steakhouse

    Set in a former basement brothel, this Soho meatopia cranks out £20 platters of delectable char-grilled lamb, beef, and pork skinny chops and...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Burger & Lobster

    $$ | Mayfair | Burger

    Don plastic bibs at this mobbed, limited-choice burger and lobster shack, where there are no reservations (apart from larger groups), no starters...Read More

  • 11. Clos Maggiore

    $$$ | Covent Garden | French

    Insist on a seat in the dreamy, white blossom–filled conservatory at this warm, cozy, and seriously romantic Provençal country-style inn in...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Hereford Road

    $ | Bayswater | British

    A Bayswater favorite with the well-connected Notting Hill set, Hereford Road is renowned for its pared-down, pomp-free, and ingredient-driven...Read More

  • 16. La Petite Maison

    $$$$ | Mayfair | French

    With the legend " Tous Célèbres Ici " ("All Famous Here") boldly etched on the front doors, the delightful Petite Maison boasts an impressively...Read More

  • 17. Le Caprice

    $$$ | St. James's | European

    Celebrity hot spot Le Caprice commands the deepest loyalty of any restaurant in London. It must be the 40-odd-year history of famous diners...Read More

  • 18. Lemonia

    $$ | Primrose Hill | Greek

    This consistently popular, family-run, taverna-style restaurant has been serving local families and celebrities alike in its large, vine-decked...Read More

  • 19. Merchants Tavern

    $$ | Hoxton | European

    The legend on the front of this Hoxton restaurant reads "Merchants of Good Fortune," which neatly sums up the exceptional, smart-casual dining...Read More

  • 20. Moro

    $$$ | Clerkenwell | Mediterranean

    Exmouth Market is a magnet for fine indie-spirited restaurants like this one. Lovingly nurtured since 1997 by husband-and-wife chefs Sam and...Read More

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