Brasserie Zédel

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Hattie Lloyd 14/06/24


The Best Restaurants In Central London

The Best Restaurants In Central London | Where To Dine In Town

Central London: home to everything.

Including most of London’s best restaurants. Like charmingly nondescript Soho sex shop-style eateries; London’s best tapas; Michelin starred Indian; Jewish, Southern Spanish and North African fusion joints; and, of course, modest, affordable and loveable bistros.

All of which you can peruse right here, in this expertly compiled list of our favourite places to eat in Central London.

The Devonshire | THE HOTTEST TABLE IN LONDON

the Devonshire restaurant central soho

Some restaurants get hype because of that instagrammable dish. Some get hype because of celeb fans. And some get hype because they’re founded by an absolute crack team of hospitality greats. Soho pub & grill The Devonshire is very much one of those restaurants. It was opened at the end of 2023 by Oisin Rogers (The man behind The Guinea Grill), Charlie Carroll (the man behind Flat Iron), and head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, who used to run the multi-Michelin starred kitchens at The Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston).

And the place is every bit as good as you’d imagine, with luxuriously trad pub interiors – all Chesterfield banquettes and dark woods; a daily changing menu of exceptional dishes, all prepared over a live fire; and even a rooftop terrace, tucked behind the dazzling lights of Piccadilly Circus.

Details: 17 Denman Street, Soho, W1D 7HW Book here

Clipstone | THE ALL-ROUNDER

clipstone restaurant central London

A restaurant that we find ourselves returning to again and again, by virtue of its chameleon-like ability to lend itself to any occasion, at any time of day, with any dining companion. A more relaxed sibling to Michelin-starred Portland round the corner, Clipstone has a soothing simplicity to it, from the bright, understated interiors to the three-course modern British menu. Any fussiness or pretension is swept away, and you’re left only with the most impeccable choices: venison tartare with pickled beetroot; stuffed poussin with black garlic & girolles; and the like. Drinks are uniformly excellent too, whether choosing from their interest-piquing wine list or refined cocktails. All told, it’s the dream neighbourhood restaurant… whose neighbourhood just happens to be central London.

NOTE: Another member has joined the family recently: 64 Goodge Street is the team’s take on a warm French bistro, and well worth a visit.

Details: 5 Clipstone St, London W1W 6BB Book here

HUMO | LIVE FIRE MAGIC

humo restaurant

Carla Barber

London is having a love-in with live fire cooking. But where that so often means bold, brash flavours, charred hunks of meat and heavy metal, chef Miller Prada does the near-impossible and tames the flames to create exquisite and sophisticated fine dining dishes. Take the scallops, cooked directly on reclaimed whisky barrels for an added whisper of flavour, or the extraordinarily tender cauliflower, smoked in the ashes of the fire pit. Downstairs you’ll find ABAJO, where Prada offers the full chef’s table experience – but the £60 lunch menu makes Michelin star dining on a budget possible, too.

Details: 12 St George St, London W1S 2FB Book here

KOL | MICHELIN-STARRED MEXICAN

Kol restaurant central London

Charlie McKay

NOMA is widely recognised as one of the greatest restaurants in the world, and when it ran a pop-up in Mexico, the man at the helm was one Santiago Lastra. He’s since moved to London to open his very own place and – spoiler alert – it’s good. Like, won a Michelin Star within two years good. Ironically, Lastra had spent most of his life working in top European restaurants, and it was only over his residency in Tulum that he reconnected with indigenous produce, recipes and techniques – all of which he’s brought back here, making KOL one of the best restaurants in London for high-end Mexican dining. If you really want to push the boat out, Lastra runs an intimate chef’s table experience downstairs. And it’s also worth knowing about the subterranean mezcaleria that’s attached…

Details: 9 Seymour St, London W1H 7BA Book here

Tendril | PLANT POWER

tendril restaurant in central London

When trying to demonstrate to your most carnivorous friends that veggie food can be just as exciting, Tendril is the surprise witness that comes in and blows the case out the water. Rishim Sachdeva’s restaurant spent years as a pop-up, but was so unwaveringly popular that it’s now become officially permanent. His ‘mostly vegan’ menu is an absolute pleasure from start to finish, drawing together culinary influences from across the globe to weave into a meal that constantly surprises and delights. The Discovery tasting menu is a great introduction to what can be done without meat, and at £49 a head it’s one of the most affordable fancy dining experiences you can have in central London.

Details: 5 Princes St, London W1B 2LQ Book here
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Quo Vadis | A LONDON ICON

quo vadis best restaurants in central London

Quite simply, one of London’s most legendary restaurants. The old girl’s been entertaining diners on Dean Street for over a century now, and thanks to a recent facelift looks as glamorous as ever. Head chef Jeremy Lee is as much a part of the place as the stained glass windows, and his signatures – the smoked eel sandwich, for example, or the pie of the day – explain the permanently packed-out dining room. Upstairs is the QV Members’ area, a club everyone wants to get into if only for the priority access to sought-after collaborative supper clubs between Jeremy and the city’s hottest chefs.

Details: 26-29 Dean St, London W1D 3LL Book here

Bubala Soho | A MIDDLE-EASTERN MEDLEY

bubala soho restaurant

The menu at Levantine eatery Bubala is so mouth-wateringly delicious, it’s likely you’ll get right to the end of your meal before even noticing it was meat-free. The Central London restaurant, sibling to the Spitalfields original, occupies a low-lit corner of Soho, where punters perch up at the bar or around candlelit tables while chefs toss cauliflower and oyster mushroom skewers onto the yakitori grill in the open kitchen at the back. The bustle of this activity, alongside a vibrant playlist and friendly service, imbues the place with atmosphere. And on multiple visits, it’s never once let us down.

Details: 15 Poland St, London W1F 8QE Book here

BOB BOB RICARD | A PICTURE OF INDULGENCE

Bob Bob Ricard Soho - Central London restaurants

If we could put our finger on what makes Bob Bob Ricard such an iconic restaurant, it would be the Champagne button… over and over again. Fancified British-Russian dishes, an excess of caviar (in a good way) and ridiculously swanky decor that gives shades of the Orient Express, play their part imperiously well too… 

Details: 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF | Book here

GYMKHANA | LUXE INDIAN

Gymkhana

It might not be easy on the wallet, but Gymkhana is incredibly easy on the eyes, which sort of makes up for it. Downstairs is the dark-timbered cocktail bar and pair of vaulted private dining rooms; upstairs is the lavish main restaurant – a tribute to India’s exclusive Raj-era country clubs. Modernised, highly-detailed renditions of prized Indian dishes from across the region have won two highly-coveted honours: a pair of Michelin stars and a place on our list of London’s best Indian restaurants

Details: 42 Albemarle Street, W1S 4JH | Book here

MAISON FRANCOIS | FRENCH FINESSE

Best central london restaurants

We spend a lot of time thinking about what makes the ideal French restaurant. Ideally, it would have a wine bar of its own downstairs (called Frank’s); seat you in swish brasserie-style banquettes; feed you with all the Gallic classics (pâté en croûte as your starter, perhaps beef onglet with sauce bordelaise and frites as your main); and then make you cry (tears of joy) with a dessert trolley full of macarons, eclairs, truffles and madeleines. Turns out that all this time we were thinking about Maison Francois…

Details: 34 Duke Street, St James’s, SW1Y 6DF | Book here

AKOKO | WEST AFRICAN TASTING MENUS

akoko best central london restaurants

Akoko is a Michelin-starred West African spot combining fine dining techniques with traditional recipes from places like Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal. Head chef Ayo Adeyemi turns out breath-taking 10 course tasting menus of barbecued blue lobster, suya meat skewers and Ghanaian bofrot (doughnuts) with exquisite wine or cocktail pairings to match. And the place is warmth itself, from the textured clay walls to the ceramics by the Nigerian ‘Queen of Pottery’, Ladi Kwali.

Details: 21 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 3LP | Book here

PARADISE | SRI LANKAN TASTING MENUS

Paradise soho

As many have long suspected, Paradise can be found down a back alley of Soho. If you’re into Sri Lankan food this is paradise; traditional family recipes that use British ingredients to their advantage, like the grilled Cornish monkfish with spiced Yorkshire rhubarb and langoustine curry, and hoppers made with eggs from St Ewe – both of which contributed to a Bib Gourmand not long after opening. After a brief refit, the restaurant recently relaunched with a tasting menu-only approach. Which means less time spent agonising over what to order, and more quality time with your coconut & nutmeg colada.

Details: 61 Rupert Street, Soho, London W1D 7PW | Book here

BRASSERIE ZÉDEL | AFFORDABLE GLAMOUR

Central London restaurants

As one of the city’s most romantic restaurants, this decadent French brasserie with its gold-coated, marble column-fitted, art deco-inspired interior, might be the most luxurious yet surprisingly affordable date night you can have in central London. Thanks to their two-course prix fixe dinner deal, you can soak up the glamorous surroundings, bop to live gypsy jazz and enjoy dishes like chopped steak Americaine and a chocolate & caramel tart for a wallet-flattering £16.95. That is, as long as you don’t find yourself drawn in for an digestif at Bar Américain, or a late-night cabaret show at The Crazy Coqs on your way out of the building…

Details: 20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED | Book here

THE PALOMAR ICONIC MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTER DINING

Palomar - best restaurants in central London

A pulse-quickening, free-flowing, seafood-bearing, shalom-giving, modern day rebirth of traditional Jewish, Southern Spanish and North African foods. And if you can’t get a seat here, try its Covent Garden cousin, The Barbary.

Details: 34 Rupert Street, Soho, W1D 6DN | Book here

DARJEELING EXPRESS | SUPPERCLUB SUCCESS STORY

Darjeeling Express

Superstar chef Asma Khan started out running her own supper clubs, which were immensely popular. So then she opened a restaurant, which was also immensely popular. In fact, after moving site three times, she’s finally found a patch of Kingly Court that’s capable of welcoming all her adoring fans. Darjeeling Express transports you to the Indian subcontinent via 14-dish Royal Thali feasts, filled with slow-cooked tamarind dal and fiery goat curry, and inspired by the big banquets that are a staple at any traditional wedding celebration. And to this day, they’re still cooked up by Asma and her team of culinarily-gifted ‘housewives’.

Details: Kingly Court, Carnaby, W1B 5PW | Book here

HAWKSMOOR AIR STREET | THE PINNACLE OF SURF AND TURF

Hawksmoor Air Street

As a restaurant empire with a long-held reputation as one of London’s best steakhouses, grilling their cattle (and only cattle) over charcoal and serving it ‘dictionary thick’ with triple-cooked chips, nobody saw it coming when Hawksmoor decided they were also going to offer seafood at their restaurant by Piccadilly Circus. Unsurprisingly, they’ve nailed that too. Supplied by The Wright Brothers, this is some of the best-handled seafood in London – think roasted scallops with white port and perfectly grilled Dover sole. And yes, they still serve steak.

Details: 5a Air Street, W1J 0AD | Book here

SABOR | MICHELIN-STARRED SPANISH

Best central London restaurants: Sabor

Sabor comes from the greatly revered Nieves Barragán Mohacho, a former Barrafina chef who astutely noted the woeful lack of eateries combining the best of both tapas dining and traditional Spanish asador cooking. And luckily, she was about the best-qualified person in town to fix that…

Details: 35-37 Heddon Street, Mayfair, W1B 4BR | Book here

FALLOW | ECO-FRIENDLY FINE DINING

Fallow

Steven Joyce

Thanks to Fallow, there’s a number of people residing in London who now have vivid dreams about cod’s head. It’s the signature dish, and where most might think to throw the fish’s head straight in the bin, these guys have other ideas: they hold onto it, brine it, cook it over charcoal, and then drench it in their homemade sriracha butter sauce. They also grow their own lion’s head mushrooms in suspended dishes above the kitchen and whip those into an ice cream-like parfait, and turn leftover whey into a chelsea tart, which really does look like a work of art. It’s set a benchmark for all other sustainable restaurants to fallow…

Details: 2 St. James’s Market, SW1Y 4RP | Book here

KILN | THAI, FROM ROADSIDE TO COUNTERSIDE

Kiln - restaurants in Central London

London’s theatres have competition on their hands, because Kiln also offers front row seats to one of the best shows in town. Take your seat around the sleek stainless-steel kitchen, and watch as chefs chargrill the likes of cured Yunnan sausages & aged cullyaw and work claypots filled with pigs head and steamed blood cake, in the same nonchalant manner one might see at some of roadside stalls found in the North of Thailand, bordering Laos and Myanmar. A word of warning: this part of Kiln takes walk-ins only, so it’s not just the theatre dealing with competition here. Happily you can reserve tables in the basement dining room, and that’s not exactly a bad seat either…

Details: 58 Brewer Street, W1F 9TL | Book here

KRICKET SOHO | ANGLO-INDIAN INVENTION

kricket soho

British ingredients + Indian flavours = one of the best Central London restaurants. It’s a good recipe – just like the plate of Keralan fried chicken sitting in front of you, served with a quenelle of curry leaf mayonnaise. Don’t miss the masala kulcha and Goan sausage croquettes, and definitely don’t miss a nightcap at their subterranean cocktail bar next door, Soma.

Details: 12 Denman Street, W1D 7HH | Book here

BLACKLOCK SOHO | WELL-PRICED BASEMENT CHOPHOUSE

Blacklock soho restaurant

When three former Hawksmoor employees open a restaurant, you know they’ve earnt their chops. And Blacklock Soho follows a killer formula of a concise menu (top-grade cuts of meat seared on a huge grill, with the help of an old Blacklock foundry iron); seriously well-priced drinks (made up table-side on their cocktail trolley); a great soundtrack; lively atmosphere; and a decent sprinkling of quirkiness (the whole place is set in a former strip club).

Details: 24 Great Windmill Street, Soho, W1D 7LG | Book here

LA BODEGA NEGRA | SUBTERRANEAN MEXICAN

la bodega negra restaurant

A secret subterranean Mexican restaurant and illicit, tequila-infused candlelit cocktail den located through the back of, and underneath, a charmingly nondescript Soho sex shop.

Details: 9 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JF | Book here

BARRAFINA | EXQUISITE TAPAS

barrafina michelin star restaurant in central london

Arguably Central London’s most prodigious Spanish tapas restaurant. If you want to argue. Queue up, take a seat at the brilliant white dining counter, and watch as the chefs behind it lovingly prepare the best in Catalan cuisine, from cuttlefish croquetas to the restaurant’s famous milk-fed lamb’s brains.

Details: Locations in Covent Garden, Soho, Borough & King’s Cross | Book here

J SHEEKEY | LEGENDARY WEST END SEAFOOD SPOT

J Sheekey best restaurants in Central London

A classy, old school seafood restaurant and a buzzier, transatlantic-style oyster bar tacked together in the back streets of Theatreland, with a little al fresco dining on the terrace, and a lot of London heritage.

Details: 33-35 St Martin’s Court, WC2N 4AL | Book here

The Wolseley | QUINTESSENTIAL GRAND CAFÉ DINING

the wolseley

A palatial, marble-clad Central London restaurant in a former car showroom with afternoon tea, a reasonably priced brasserie à la carte, and caviar omelette. ‘Nuff said.

Details: 160 Piccadilly, St James’s, W1J 9EB | Book here

 


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