Fish, chips and other bangers are all very well, but you’d be missing a trick if you left London without a taste of its stellar Indian cuisine. London’s love affair with baltis, bhunas and biryanis goes back generations, and now spans everything from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants. A stroll down Brick Lane is an old-school treat, but eateries on this spice-scented street can be hit-and-miss. Locals head instead to Dishoom’s smart Bombay-style cafés – always a safe bet, with branches springing up all over town. From trad lamb chops to creative small plates, here are five more must-try Indian restaurants in London.
This buzzy, raucous Whitechapel stalwart’s been going since 1972, and its popularity still hasn’t waned. The sizzling platters of spice-rubbed lamb chops are the stars of the show, but the side dishes – unctuous pumpkin masala, ghee-enriched dahl – are just as satisfying. Book ahead or sharpen your elbows: queues can stretch right around the restaurant, but they’re always worth it.
You could head to Gunpowder’s new branch by Tower Bridge for the tantalising small plates (crispy venison doughnuts, grilled mustard broccoli) that put the Spitalfields original on the culinary map. Those in the know come here for a Sunday roast instead. Rustle up a few friends to tackle the pork-shoulder vindaloo to share, generously served with the likes of okra fries and spiced soft-shell crab.
Settle in to lacquered rattan chairs at this elegant Mayfair spot, named after Raj-era sports clubs. Start with the superlative bar snacks, then move on to pitch-perfect paneer in nettle and mustard greens, or delicate guinea fowl. The cocktails are worth a mention, too, and change with the seasons: look out for magnolia, honey and quince in the current collaboration with perfumer Penhaligon’s.
Decked out with a pool room and live sports screens, Brigadiers is a laid-back affair. Confidently charred and smoked on the barbecue, the food is punchy and boisterous. Carnivores rejoice: you’ll find everything from pork scratchings to bone marrow and goat chops on the menu. If you’re just here for a drink, there’s craft ale on tap, a whisky vending machine and irresistible bar bites to boot.
Like many success stories, intimate Soho spot Kricket started life as a pop-up in the cool enclave of Brixton. The menu changes regularly, showcasing market-fresh British produce in inventive sharing plates. Samphire pakoras, Keralan fried chicken and carrot halwa with a milk ice cream get our vote. And you can book, too, from four people for dinner – a rarity in the neighbourhood.
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Image credits: © Gymkhana; © Gymkhana; © Tayyabs; © Dunja Opalko; © Gymkhana; © Brigadiers; © Paul Winch-Furness; © JAMIE LAU; © Barrafina; © Birdcage