If we simply wanted to round up London’s 37 best restaurants… we’d just say 40. But we’re not. We’re rounding up the single best restaurant in every London neighbourhood.
Or, at least 37 of them.
Soho | The Palomar
Take a stool at The Palomar’s 16-foot polished zinc bar overlooking the chefs, and watch as they prepare orders to the over-bar-banter specifications they’ll unfailingly make you dish out. Alternatively, take a private banquet-booth in the slightly more withdrawn and intimate back room. While you wait for bright white seared scallops and ginseng cocktails, feel free to bob your head to the rhythmic dance music of the Tel Aviv party scene. In an intesely competetive restaurant neighbourhood, they’ve struck the balance of ambiance, food, and service just right.
Details: 34 Rupert Street, Soho, W1D 6DN
Marylebone | Portland
Portland is a small, independent, 45-cover modern European restaurant which not only specialises in serving high-quality produce and wild game, but which also specialises in serving pie. Specifically (when in season) you’ll find them dishing up wild-game pithivier – a choice cut of the freshest available game meat that day, baked in pastry to purple-rare with mushroom duxelles, and accompanied by a black truffle and rouge game gravy, designed for two – which, in itself, is reason enough to visit. But if you’re visiting anyway, then why not sample the rest of the menu, which includes plenty of fish (confit of steelhead trout and tartare of mackerel, oysters, beetroot and wasabi), vegetables (pickled shitake mushrooms with soy and ginger), other game (from pigeon to deer and hare) and desserts (like muscovado sugar tart with Glenmorangie whipped cream).
Details: 113 Great Portland Street, Marylebone, W1W 6QQ
Bloomsbury | Noble Rot
From a wine-obsessed pair who also founded a wine magazine (named Noble Rot), this wine bar – aside from serving some of the nicest bottles of grape hooch in the land – is also a restaurant. Book a table in there and you’ll enjoy dishes like salt cod brandade with radishes; pork, pigeon and pistachio terrines; brown butter-glazed Jerusalem artichokes; and an ever-changing French cheese plate: all assembled by a Michelin-starred chef, and expertly paired with different wine recommendations each day.
Details: 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB
Fitzrovia | The Ninth
The Ninth is a laidback neighbourhood date spot in the heart of Fitzrovia, it’s also – more importantly – serving up some serious food cooked by Jun Tanaka (who’s reached this point after training under Marco Pierre White; honing his craft in the kitchens of places like Le Gavroche, Chez Nico and Pearl in Holborn). This is a chef who turned down multiple offers to join some of London’s finest fine dining restaurants in order to cook the food he loves (like fried Swiss chard with pine nuts and feta-filled ravioli) in the sort of place he loves (a bustling eating house combining antique mirrors and olive banquettes with a really long wine list). It’s excellent.
Details: 22 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 2NB
Covent Garden | The Barbary
You’ll find The Barbary tucked away in gorgeous Covent Garden nook Neal’s Yard. All dining all takes place along the weathered zinc bar that wraps around the open kitchen, which itself is surrounded by pitted plaster walls. That open kitchen is serving up Barbary-inspired (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya) goodness like grilled duck hearts, huge Galician sirloin steaks, octopus mashawsha (it’s a type of houmous made with whole chickpeas), and asparagus with black tahini. Head down, it’s worth it.
Details: 16 Neal’s Yard, WC2H 9DP
Mayfair | Le Gavroche
We’d love to be able to list all the accolades La Gavroche has received right here, in this paragraph. But for the sake of space, we can’t. So we’ll have to surmise by simply pointing out that it was the first UK restaurant to earn a Michelin Star. And the first UK restaurant to earn two Michelin stars. And the first UK restaurant to earn three Michelin Stars. It’s not too shabby.
Details: 43 Upper Brook St, Mayfair, W1K 7QR
Holborn | The Holborn Dining Room
You’re meandering around the Holborn area and, peckishly, decide that you’d like to eat, like breakfast, lunch or dinner inside the expansive ex-banking hall of a Grade II Listed, 1914 Edwardian building, the interior of which looks quite a lot like Balthazar‘s but which sets itself apart courtesy of a menu full of classic British dishes like corned beef hash, fish n’ chips with mushy peas, and Bakewell tart with raspberry ripple ice cream… you need to go here.
Details: 252 High Holborn, Holborn, WC1V 7EN
Dalston | Pidgin
The brainchild of both a pop up supper club chef and a food writer, Pidgin is a small space with white walls, and simple furniture, reserving its bedazzlement for the menu – which in a bold declaration of self-confidence, comes as a non-negotiable four-course set menu that, along with the cocktail list, changes each day. It’s Modern British, with the occasional oriental flourish thrown in, and it is delicious…
Details: 52 Wilton Way, E8 1BS
Shoreditch | Lyles
Lyle’s is a tribute to simple, honest British cooking by uberchef James Lowe. Located in an airy and rustic warehouse space lightly furnished with wooden tables and chairs, Lyle’s’ menu (which at lunchtime consists of a choice of 12 dishes, and in the evening is a £55 set menu which changes each day) features dishes like Dover sole with jersey royals and land cress; pollan with wild fennel and capers; brown butter cake and rhubarb with custard. It’s won a lot of awards, and you’ll see why.
Details: The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
Clerkenwell | St John
St. John is probably the best value Michelin Star in the city. Reasonably priced, and changing daily, the menu is famed for its nose-to-tail philosophy, but in addition to alternative cuts of meat, you’ll find the likes of razor clams, roast lamb and Arbroath smokies, and desserts like madeleines (which can be ordered by the dozen), and pear sorbet with polish vodka.
Details: 26 St. John Street, Smithfield, EC1M 4AY
Bethnal Green | Paradise Garage
The first East London outpost of Robin and Sarah Gill’s growing collection of “restaurants there ought to be more of” (which includes both The Dairy and The Manor), it serves relaxed, inventive European bistro food and wine from a bustling open counter kitchen in a converted Bethnal Green railway arch. The head chef is Simon Woodrow, a man whose reputation for culinary creativity manifests itself at Paradise Garage in a deconstructed whole rabbit known as “The All In Picnic”. And they have a homemade, honey-smoked whisky Manhattan. What else do you need?
Details: 254 Paradise Row, E2 9LE
Haggerston | Berber & Q
Set in the space left by an East London, Haggerstonian railway arch, the industrially sheer, brick-walled, concrete-floored and wood-tabled space plays host to a pretty unique culinary fusion: Middle Eastern food (stretching to North Africa and the Ottoman), cooked using American BBQ techniques. What does that mean, exactly? Well, you’ll find a menu filled with things like smoked pork belly with pomegranate molasses BBQ sauce, harissa hot wings, short ribs with date syrup glaze, and dirty-fried mejadrah (a type of sweet rice) with sumac onions and barberries. You won’t find better Middle Eastern BBQ in town, trust us.
Details: Arch 338 Acton Mews, Haggerston, E8 4EA
Aldgate | Som Saa
Som Saa might just be the best Thai restaurant in London. Maybe. The regularly rotating menu features a few of the favourites from the popup that started it all – like nam dtok pla thort (deep-fried seabass with Isaan herbs and roasted rice powder) – as well as all-new goodness including gaeng daeng moo yaang (a red curry of grilled pork, green banana and holy basil) and wok-fried pad char ahaan talay, with prawns, clams, and squid with lime leaves & wild ginger.
Details: 43A Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BD
Stoke Newington | Perilla
Perilla is an “anti-fine dining fine dining restaurant” serving up fancy food, without the hefty price tag. So instead of white tablecloths you’ll find raw plaster walls, a recovered terrazzo floor, and a glorious view across the leafy Newington Green through panels of floor-to-ceiling windows. The food includes dishes like seaweed bread brushed with roasted lamb fat, roast kale with cod roe, fried duck egg with chopped mussels and parsley, cuttlefish bolognese, glazed BBQ lamb ribs, and damson and honey custard complimented by a concise, worldly wine list; autumnal, flower-laden tables; and a botanical, home infused cocktail menu.
Details: 1-3 Green Lanes, Newington Green, N16 9BS
Greenwich | Craft London
Behold Craft London – three levels of understatedly grandiose Modern British and internationally-influenced Greenwich cafe / restaurant / bar which comes to you courtesy of chef Stevie Parle (The Dock Kitchen, Rotorino) and industrial designer Tom Dixon. Dishes on the menu – all of which use locally sourced ingredients from independent farmers – include galloway sirloin with marrowbone bread sauce and lovage liquor, wood-grilled scallops with anchovy fritters and cauliflower; and for dessert, cardamom bun ice cream with pepper crumb and wild strawberries. And our friend Stevie Parle doesn’t disappoint.
Details: 1 Green Place, Peninsula Square, Greenwich, SE10 0SQ
Lewisham | Sparrow
Sparrow is the first restaurant venture from culinary couple Terry Blake & Yohini Nandakumar. Between them, they’ve had roles at St. John, Bao, Pollen Street Social and The Square, and now they’ve come together for a labour of love. They’ve taken over a bright and airy space, patched up feature walls with a sweep of teal butchers’ tiles, and built in an open kitchen that sits in the centre of the restaurant, propping up blackboards inscribed with the daily specials. It’s here that they plate up dishes like malt duck with chilli jam, glazed ham on sourdough with a rhubarb relish, and condensed milk ice-cream affogato.
Details: 2 Rennell Street, Lewisham, SE13 7HD
Bermondsey | Padella
If Italy was literally a boot, it would be a UK size 41 million. And if Italy was a restaurant, it would be Padella. Perched on the edge of Borough Market, it serves only fresh, hand-made pasta (which you can see being made from the window, all day) and antipasti. But it’s the pasta you’re here for. It comes in a short-but-sweet list of just eight dishes, but which is remarkably cheap; every main costs less than a tenner. You’ll find pappardelle with 8-hour beef shin ragu, squid-ink tagliarini with Essex mussels, and rabbit tortellini with sage butter.
Details: 6 Southwark Street London SE1 1TQ
Peckham | Peckham Bazaar
There’s nothing bizarre about the popularity of this Bazaar. Tucked right off the beaten track on the corner of Consort and Sturdy Road, it serves up the best food in Peckham, thanks to the big outdoor grill. It’s pan-Balkan in theme, so expect dishes like haunch of venison accompanied by Jerusalem artichoke pilaf, Greek truffles and game chips, or courgette fritters with kohlrabi, cucumber and tarator to make an appearance on their regularly rotating menu.
Details: 119 Consort Road, SE15 3RU
Clapham | The Dairy
In a display of true historical acuity, The Dairy was once… a dairy. It’s not anymore, however the proprietors do make their own smoked bone marrow butter, which they serve (as a complimentary amuse bouche) on freshly-baked sourdough, resting atop a bed of warm pebbles. After those you’ll have the option to down a cocktail or two and then order from the menu of a chef who trained at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons: a menu which includes dishes like truffled brie de meaux on toast with “rooftop” honey; chicken oysters with crispy skin and burnt kale; and desserts like salted caramel with cacao and malted barley ice cream…
Details: 15 The Pavement, Clapham SW4 0HY
Brixton | Nanban
You might know him as the (youngest ever) winner of Masterchef back in 2011; since then he’s been running pop ups, residencies and events to get Nanban off the ground. Finally it’s taken up permanent residence in a former pie & eel shop. But the food is rather different. It’s billed as ‘Japanese soul food’, so you won’t find delicate sashimi here – instead, there are swathes of creamy, slurpable ramen; chicken karaage (deep-fried, marinated chicken thighs); and horumon yaki, a classic comfort dish made with pig tripe, crispy brown rice and pickled radish.
Details: 426 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8LF
Pimlico | La Poule Au Pot
This little French restaurant makes the word ‘quaint’ seem like a quaint understatement. It’s cozy, wood-filled, romantic, wicker-laden, and a tiny bit elegant to boot. And the food is, similarly, aggressively French with coq au vin, escargots, bouillabaisse, and poule au pot (chicken in a pot). It’s glorious.
Details: 231 Ebury Street, SW1W 8UT
Wimbledon | The White Onion
Found up in Wimbledon “the fancy part” Village, TWO is a modern French bistro with very high aspirations. The menu upscales standard fare into dishes like asparagus poached in dashi; crispy duck egg with duck leg rillettes & black truffle; and 7 hour-cooked Suckling pig with a Calvados jus. Not too shabby.
Details: 67 High Street, Wimbledon, SW19 5EE
East Dulwich | Platform 1
We like puns. They’re a rewording experience. And East Dulwich’s Platform 1 happens to be a very subtle one. Not only does it refer to the train station next door, but it also the very concept of the restaurant itself – you see, the whole place is, essentially, one big platform for up-and-coming chefs to showcase their cooking, letting them take total control of the kitchen for four months at a time. Previous tenants in the kitchen have included Chilean chef Marcelo Henriquez of ONA Kitchen (which could well be the best Chilean restaurant in the UK), Smoke & Salt (who’s reviews couldn’t get much better), and Perilla (we take that back, the reviews could be as good as Perilla’s).
Details: 71 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, SE22 8EP
Camberwell | Nape
Nape is the first permanent joint from Borough Market butchers Cannon & Cannon, who have been trading their ethically-produced, locally-sourced charcuterie all over London for years. The place is decorated with the industrial simplicity of wood & iron, like a butcher’s shop stretched out to accommodate a dozen or so tables, and you’ll find dishes from snack-sized Cornish seaweed & cider sausage; to port-smoked Dorset mutton with pickled walnuts; to Hackney ‘nduja and London honey on fennel seed toast.
Details: 21 Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell, SE5 8TR
Balham | Milk
Otherwise known as M1lk, this bright, breezy, brilliant little cafe space is primarily known for their brunches (try the baked eggs), but are also open for dinner service too, slinging dishes like jerk pork ribs with pickled burnt pineapple; and pot-sticker chicken dumplings.
Details: 18-20 Bedford Hill, SW12 9RG
Battersea | Nutbourne
The third venture from the Gladwin brothers (of which there are also, coincidentally, three), following on from The Shed in Notting Hill and Chelsea’s Rabbit, Nubourne features a menu of the kind of inventive, seasonal British dishes we’ve come to expect from the trio. The restaurant is an homage to the eponymous farm and vineyard where the boys spent their childhood years, with profusions of greenery and embroidered vegetables overhanging farmhouse tables. The dishes themselves are prepared using produce from the farm itself, and even the wine menu features a considerable spread of Nutbourne’s own offerings. It’s simple, and it’s delicious.
Details: 29 Ransomes Dock, 35-37 Parkgate Road, Battersea, SW11 4NP
Notting Hill | The Ledbury
The Ledbury has won two Michelin stars, regularly appears in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (currently: No.27), and routinely gets called one of the best restaurants in London by, well, everyone. And it is. The interior has cooly contrasting black curtains and white tablecloths that give off a supremely classy fine-dining vibe, and the food includes regularly rotating dishes like white beetroot baked in clay with smoked mackerel, and Yorkshire grouse with lemon thyme & brioche. It won’t disappoint. If you can get a table, that is.
Details: 27 Ledbury Rd, Notting Hill, W11 2AQ
Hammersmith | The River Cafe
Coming at the vanguard of the capital’s resurgent love of really, really good food, the River Cafe was one of the first to raise the bar for all restaurants, not just the elite handful. In the intervening decades, they’ve earned a Michelin Star, snagged an MBE for Ruth Rogers (who founded the place along with Rose Gray), and trained up future greats like Jamie Oliver, Theo Randall and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. And like a fine wine, it’s aged very well.
Details: Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, Hammersmith, W6 9HA
Knightsbridge | Dinner by Heston
Awash with wood panels, culinary sculptures, and a historically accurate pineapple roasting pulley, the interior at Dinner could be mistaken for a postmodern Hogwarts. And in conjunction with researchers from the British Library and Hampton Court, Heston Blumenthal has set about compiling the tastiest history book you’ve ever eaten, and so far it’s earned the venue two Michelin stars. Your menu will take you through the Middle Ages, The Restoration, the Victorian era, and more. And it’s all exquisite.
Details: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
Chelsea | The Five Fields
Oh, how Chelsea has changed over time. From not having a modern British restaurant run by Taylor Bonnyman (ex-Corton, New York), replete with a kitchen garden of more than 100 rare and traditional herbs and spices overseen by former Le Manoir garden keeper, Heather Young …to having one. It’s the Five Fields, and it’s getting better all the time.
Details: 8-9 Blacklands Terrace, SW3 2SP
Richmond | Petersham Nurseries
The Petersham Nurseries Cafe – which isn’t a cafe at all, but a restaurant – one that used to have a Michelin Star. They famously hated it, because of the re-set expectations that diners now had, hoping for fine dining in what is, essentially, a greenhouse. Which ironically is precisely what makes it so good; you’re eating food a few yards away from where it was grown. As long as you go into it expecting something simple, rustic, and homely, you’ll love it.
Details: Church Lane, Petersham Road, TW10 7AB
Fulham | The Harwood Arms
The Harwood has taken the gastropub ball, run with it, and scored a try – it’s not a pub with a great menu, it’s a restaurant with a great bar. The food is extremely British (grilled haunch of venison, halibut with brown shrimp, etc.) and cooked impeccably. And you can just pop in for a beer if you fancy.
Details: Walham Grove, SW6 1QP
Highbury | Farang
From young uberchef Seb Holmes, everything at Farang is served in both small and larger plate portions so you can mix & match the excellent Thai food, including fragrant stews like Cornish mussels in a coconut-scented green curry broth; spicy meat dishes like flat iron-grilled beef steak with roasted chilli jaew (a kind of dipping sauce); and fresh veggie options like aromatic crispy wontons and dipping vegetables. On the side, you’ll find pillowy turmeric butter roti and pickles, and for dessert there’s an array of Asian-inspired sweets – including homemade cashew praline with green tea ice cream, and fresh doughnut filled with crabapple jam.
Details: San Daniele, 72 Highbury Park, N5 2XE
Islington | Oldroyd
Tom Oldroyd is anything but old. He opened this, his first solo restaurant at the tender age of 33 in 2015, and since then has seriously impressed the dining public, with modern European dishes like smoked pork belly & pea croquettas with truffle mayonnaise, and gigantic lamb & almond meatballs with salsa romesco & pickled garlic… and chocolate mousse with salted pistachio praline to finish.
Details: 344 Upper Street, Angel Islington, N1 0PD
Camden | The Cheese Bar
A permanent brick-and-mortar upgrade from The Cheese Truck that’s been roaming the UK for the past four years selling point-perfect toasties, and other oozy goodness, this is a restaurant dedicated to cheese.
Details: Camden Stable Market, NW1 8AH
Finchley | Izakaya Japan
IJ is small, but perfectly formed. Simple wooden furnishings, and excellent Japanese food – expect all manner of sushi & sashimi, salmon teriyaki, miso aubergine, vegetable tempura, chirashi don’s, and more.
Details: 356 Regents Park Road, N3 2LJ
Hampstead | Jin Kichi
Jin Kichi is elegant (if a little bit spare in the interior), and serves up fantastic Japanese food from their centrepiece robata grill. Expect grilled chicken, beef, pork, and fish, on the coals, as well as sushi, and shochu cocktails.
Details: 73 Heath Street , NW3 6UG
Main image: The Holborn Dining Room
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