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. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

    $$$$ | Knightsbridge | British

    Medieval English cuisine meets molecular gastronomy in this reassuringly luxurious, two Michelin star Blumenthal flagship within the Mandarin...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 7. Cecconi's

    $$$ | Mayfair | Italian

    Revel with the A-listers in the glamorous buzz at this upscale Italian brasserie wedged between Cork Street, Savile Row, and the Royal Academy...Read More

  • 8. Kitty Fisher's

    $$$ | Mayfair | British

    Named after an infamous 18th-century courtesan, Kitty Fisher's is situated in a tiny, creaky Georgian town house in Mayfair’s Shepherd Market...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Notes Music and Coffee

    $ | Westminster | Café

    Next door to the London Coliseum (home of the English National Opera), this hip café serves some of the best sandwiches, salads, and coffee...Read More

  • 11. Scott's

    $$$$ | Mayfair | Seafood

    Imposing doormen in bowler hats greet visitors with a wee nod at this ever-fashionable seafood haven on Mount Street in Mayfair. Originally...Read More

  • 12. The Wolseley

    $$$ | St. James's | Austrian

    A glitzy procession of famous faces, media moguls, and hedge-funders comes for the spectacle, swish service, and soaring elegance at this bustling...Read More

  • 13. Koya

    $ | Soho | Japanese

    Is it all the hypnotic foot kneading that makes the hand-pulled Sanuki udon wheat-flour noodles here so springy, spongy, and maddeningly so...Read More

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