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. 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. 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. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 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. 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. 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

  • 14. No. 5 Social

    $$$ | Mayfair | British

    Part of Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton's dining dynasty, No. 5 Social (formerly Little Social) backs its elegant, modernist dining room...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Opera Tavern

    $$ | Covent Garden | Spanish

    Ibérico pig's head terrine and Manchego mini cheeseburgers are a few of the outstanding hybrid Spanish and Italian tapas found at the overflowing...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. Spuntino

    $ | Soho | American

    Moody Edison bulbs, bluegrass tunes, a popcorn machine, and only 27 seats make this Theaterland speakeasy one of the coolest spots in town....Read More

  • 20. Dabbous

    $$ | Fitzrovia | European

    Here at Dabbous, startlingly pure, inventive, and seasonally based new-wave dishes elicit excitement in the NYC industrial–chic setting of exposed...Read More

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