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. Bocca di Lupo

    $$ | Soho | Italian

    This upscale Italian restaurant is always crammed and the tables are jammed too close together, but everyone still comes for the glorious spread...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. 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. Lyle's

    $$ | East End | British

    Globally acclaimed Brit chef and co-owner James Lowe forsakes heavy sauces and sorcery at this stripped-back, informal British dining mecca...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. XU

    $$ | Piccadilly | Chinese

    It feels like a cinematic reinterpretation of 1930s Taipei at this glamorous jewel box on the edge of Chinatown. Peerless dishes like tomato...Read More

  • 7. 10 Greek Street

    $$ | Soho | European

    There may only be 28 table seats and nine counter stools at this stripped-down Modern European humdinger, but the consistently great food, cheap...Read More

  • 8. Anchor & Hope

    $$ | Southwark | British

    Exceptional Brit-focused fish and meat dishes at wallet-friendly prices fly out of the open kitchen at this permanently packed, no-reservations...Read More

  • 9. Andrew Edmunds

    $$ | Soho | Mediterranean

    Candlelit at night, with a haunting Dickensian vibe, Andrew Edmunds is a permanently packed, old-school dining institution. Tucked away behind...Read More

  • 10. Bar Boulud

    $$ | Knightsbridge | French

    New York–based French superchef Daniel Boulud combines French brasserie classics like escargot, salade nicoise, and poule au pot with American...Read More

  • 11. Blanchette

    $$ | Soho | French

    French tapas may sound sacrilegious, but Blanchette hits the spot at this rustic hipster headquarters where a dreamy French sound track complements...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 17. José

    $$ | Southwark | Spanish

    Renowned chef José Pizarro has managed to re-create an authentic, slightly rustic Spanish tapas-and-sherry bar. With just 30 seats and no...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. Mari Vanna

    $$ | Knightsbridge | Russian

    London's sizeable, well-heeled Russian community flocks to this maximalist evocation of a pre-Revolution babushka 's living room, overflowing...Read More

  • 20. 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

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