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. 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

  • 3. Gymkhana

    $$$ | Mayfair | Indian

    The last days of the Raj are invoked here at one of London's finest Indian curry emporiums, where top choices include dosas with fennel-rich...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Rules

    $$$ | Covent Garden | British

    Opened by Thomas Rule in 1798, London's oldest restaurant is still arguably its most beautiful. Resembling a High Victoriana bordello, here...Read More

  • 6. Spring

    $$$ | Covent Garden | Italian

    Australian chef Skye Gyngell worships the four seasons at her wildflower-filled dining salon in majestic Somerset House off the Strand. Housed...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. The Ivy

    $$$ | Covent Garden | British

    London's onetime most famous celebrity haunt and West End landmark is still so popular it receives over a thousand calls a day. Established...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 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

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