25 restaurants to try in London
THE PETERSHAMFloral Street, WC2E 9DS
An offshoot of the Richmond nurseries, this laid-back eatery pairs palms and Murano chandeliers with a garden-fresh menu from the Boglione family farm. Seasonal dishes are dressed in flowers; equally romantic are modern artworks, antiques and floral arrangements. In summer, sip a petal-garnished prosecco or take afternoon tea alfresco on Floral Court and forage in the shop.
The Drapers Arms44 Barnsbury Street, N1 1ER
This local pub ticks all the important pub boxes: friendly staff, excellent bar snacks, a decent beer garden, epic Sunday roasts and a fire in winter. Do not miss their Comté and pickled chilli spring rolls.
Best for… art lovers: SKETCH9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG
With its neon artwork, David Shrigley gallery and pink India Mahdavi lounge, this 18th-century townhouse is London’s Instagram darling. Superstar chef Pierre Gagnaire is the brains behind the menu, which includes suitably luxe sandwiches filled with caviar, foie gras or truffled egg. New art commissions and a programme of creative nights (canine life drawing, anyone?) ensure its street cred is up-to-the-minute, too.
River CaféThames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6
Over the 30 years since it opened, this Italianate, Thames-side eatery has lost none of its lustre. Lunching on its terrace, peach Bellini in hand, is one of London’s greatest pleasures – and things get even better once the food starts rolling up. It’s undeniably pricey, but the quality’s off the scale, from nettle-flecked fresh tagliatelle to wood-roasted Scottish langoustines.
Poppie’s Fish and Chips6-8 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR
Poppie’s has been running since the 1950s and is a proud London institution – so much so, that there are now three locations. The original is in Spitalfields in the East End and has a wonderful genuine retro vibe. This location means that not only can you get the perfect plate of hot fish and chips, but local delicacy, jellied eels, too.
Responsibly sourced fish and top quality ingredients mean Poppie’s isn’t old-fashioned when it matters, but keeps its beautiful nostalgia.
For small plates: Kricket, Soho12 Denman Street, W1D 7HH
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.
Dishoom4 Derry Street, W8 5SE
Bacon naan roll
Dishoom makes a terrific bacon sarnie. The naan is puffed and moreish, the bacon thick, salty and sweet, and the tomato relish lightly spiced.
Brasserie Zédel20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED
Steak haché, sauce au poivre et frites
Zédel’s underground dining room is decadent and dazzling, but the menu is accessible to all; not least the classic steak haché, which always hits the spot.
Sushi SambaHeron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
Best for: Thrill-seekers
Take a lift to Heron Tower’s 38th floor (warning: your ears will pop) for dizzying vistas, slick cocktails and a scene-stealing outdoor bar.
BarrafinaUnit 68, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4AQ
It’s walk-ins only at the new outpost of this cult tapas joint. Still, it’s worth the wait for a stool at the marble counter. Pull up a seat and feast on gambas rojas, chargrilled lamb cutlets and tortilla, with Rosquillas (Spanish doughnuts) for afters.
Padella6 Southwark Street, SE1 1TQ
Pici cacio e pepe
Resistance is futile when faced with a bowl of Padella’s pici cacio e pepe. Think fat worms of pasta, served in a luscious pecorino, butter and pepper emulsion.
Lady of the Grapes16 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NJ
This tiny, candlelit Covent Garden address champions female winemakers (the clue’s in both its name and the address). Its natural, organic and biodynamic wines are sourced from smaller vineyards, and best accompanied by a sharing plate or two from the simple, seasonal menu. Think charcuterie, comté with quince jam, or – if you’re really in luck – a next-level truffled raclette.
Duck & WaffleHeron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
Craving foie gras crème brûlée at 3am? Ride the Heron Tower’s scenic, rainbow-lit elevator up 40 floors for round-the-clock decadence. High-end comfort food (ox-cheek doughnuts, toffee-apple waffles) pairs well with an upscale view and craft cocktails. London looks good in miniature at any time, but after dark it’s simply radiant.
The Ledbury127 Ledbury Road, W11 2AQ
Perseverance pays off at the Ledbury, Notting Hill’s table-short, talent-rich Michelin-acclaim generator. Chef Brett Graham has won it two stars and a recurring role in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The set lunch is a select edit, but the eight-course tasting menu is divine, from shiso-dressed tomatoes to brown-sugar tart. And, before leaving, grab an Earth-kind compost bag.
BokanFloors 37-39, 40 Marsh Wall, E14 9TP
A favourite among London’s high-rise diners, this 37th-floor bolthole surprises with artisanal feasts. Among the bevy of tempting options is the unctuous burrata foam with marjoram crumble, topped with spankingly fresh diver-caught scallops. Once appetites are sated, sink into a Scandi-chic armchair with a cocktail inspired by the docks’ industrious history.
The Coal Office2 Bagley Walk, N1C 4PQ
Design maestro Tom Dixon’s enviably sleek HQ, which takes in a showroom, flagship store and Middle Eastern eaterie. In the two-storey restaurant, you’re in chef Assaf Granit’s hands, dining on terrific kubalah bread and luscious bone-marrow shawarma.
Blacklock24 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7LG
Brits are cheekily called rosbif by their Gallic cousins – and with good reason. Across the capital, chefs are elevating the homely Sunday roast to a gourmet feast. Roasted over English oak, Blacklock’s version is served on big platters alongside generous helpings of Yorkshire puddings, duck-fat roasties and bone marrow gravy. For the perfect pairing, sip on a beefy Bloody Mary zhuzhed up with house spices.
Hai CenatoNOVA, 2 Sir Simon Milton Square, SW1E 5DJ
This bustling New York Italian style pizzeria (from Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton) is a fun place to take the family. It comes with a lively in-house bar, The Drunken Oyster, and is one of 20 eateries in Victoria's food hub Nova.
Market Halls191 Victoria Street, SW1E 5NE
Street-food-style kitchens in a stripped-back Edwardian arcade. Among the lip-smacking choices are dim sum at Baozi Inn, Super Tacos, and roti at Gopal's Corner, plus donuts and delicious coffee. Look for the roof terrace bar in warmer months.
SkylonBelvedere Road, Royal Festival Hall, SE1 8XX
Situated on the first floor of the Royal Festival Hall, this stylish restaurant serves modern European cuisine and has an impressive wine menu. Enjoy a cocktail at the bar before dinner or go there for brunch on a Saturday or Sunday.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay68 Royal Hospital Road, SW3
Before becoming known as a shouty TV chef, Gordon Ramsay made his name with this polished, French-inflected address. It’s held three stars since 2001 – no mean feat on the city’s fickle dining scene. Head chef Matt Abé maintains the impossibly high standards, from the £70 lunchtime prix fixe to the sumptuous seasonal tasting menu (save room for the exquisite petit-fours).
Smokestak35 Sclater Street, E1 6LB
Brisket bun with pickled red chilli
The cult dish at BBQ specialists Smokestak? The brioche bun stacked with Texan-style brisket: sublime slices of crusty-edged, succulent BBQ beef. It’s intense, so the pickled chillies provide welcome punctuation.
Lahpet58 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6JW
Tea leaf salad
Lahpet has brought Burmese cuisine to London. Their signature tea leaf salad is modest yet revelatory: sweet, sour, salty, crunchy and delicious.
For pub fans: Brigadiers1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR
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.