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. BRAT

    $$$ | Shoreditch | Spanish

    Welsh chef Tomos Parry brings his signature wood-grilled, whole roast Cornish turbot to this Basque-inspired hipster restaurant. Expect other...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Londrino

    $$ | Southwark | Portuguese

    There's a sparse aesthetic here at chef Leandro Carreira's Portuguese food headquarters in the shadow of the Shard. Regional Portuguese riffs...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. Portland

    $$$ | Fitzrovia | European

    Consistently brilliant modern European fare in a low-key setting characterizes this restaurant located just northeast of Oxford Circus. Marvel...Read More

  • 6. Roganic

    $$$$ | Marylebone | British

    Field-to-fork, New Nordic chef Simon Rogan takes diners on a madcap journey with his bonkers 4- to 17-course tasting menu here at Roganic. Hold...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. BAO

    $ | Soho | Chinese

    Lines form daily to secure a prized seat, perch, or stool at this no-reservations 32-seater from a crack team of Taiwanese steamed bao-bun...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Oldroyd

    $$ | Islington | Italian

    This tiny neighborhood bistro's perennial popularity is all thanks to the sensational Italian food and the warm and friendly service. Well-priced...Read More

  • 17. Rochelle Canteen at the Institute of Contemporary Arts

    $$ | St. James's | British

    Foodies, fashionistas, and art scene insiders flock to the hearty, low-key Modern British fare at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, one of...Read More

  • 18. Sartoria

    $$$$ | Mayfair | Italian

    Italian maestro Francesco Mazzei bestrides this plush and patterned Savile Row salon and warmly welcomes diners like the proud chef-patron that...Read More

  • 19. Typing Room

    $$ | Bethnal Green | British

    British chef Lee Westcott attracts all of London's dining underground elite and Instagram foodie stars with his baroque pure/natural/seasonal...Read More

  • 20. Food for Thought

    $ | Covent Garden | Vegetarian

    Covent Garden's throwback 1970s-style subterranean vegetarian café has a cult following, so be prepared to line up down the steep stairs onto...Read More

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