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ELLE’s Guide To The Best Restaurants In London Everyone Is Talking About

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In a metropolis like London, with an eatery at every corner, the sheer number of restaurants can be overwhelming.

From Michelin-starred dining in Mayfair and Chelsea to tables with views overlooking The Shard, London Eye and the Thames, the capital is bursting with cuisines ready to tickle the tastebuds, provide some serious interiors inspiration and wet your whistle with its wide ranging menus of cocktails, apéritfs and sommelier-advised wines from around the globe.

Thankfully, we’ve been able to condense the options down to the very best, bringing you the only reservations you really need to make in 2024.

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From Italian feasts and Peruvian BBQs to innovative Japanese fusion, these are the best London restaurants, according to our extremely fussy team.


1) Lita

lita

We can’t remember the last time a restaurant opening made us giddy with excitement as much as Lita’s has. Opened in April 2024, Irish chef Luke Ahearne (who previously ran the kitchen at Luca and was the former head chef at Corrigan’s) has treated London to one of the best openings – if not the best – of the year with a Marylebone restaurant that serves tasty and rich Mediterranean food that might as well have been whipped up by your grandma (fitting then that Lita is short for Abuelita, a Spanish nickname for grandma).

Not only are the interiors perfection – think neutral-hued plaster walls, net curtains on toilet door windows, Aesop toiletries, rust-coloured booths and marble tables – but so too are the friendly and welcoming staff, and buzzing atmosphere. As for the menu, prepare for a hearty concoction of Spanish style favourites such as thick slices of pan con tomate with Cantabrian anchovies, smoked Basque sardines with shallots and parsley, and Fuentes Bluefin tuna swimming among corno peppers, coriander and capers, before tucking in – with a healthy plateful of wildfarmed sourdough and a dollop of salty cultured butter – to wild garlic-y morels (mushrooms, to you and me) with lardo di Colonnata, hot strozzapreti, Aylesbury duck ragu, and parmesan, and dry aged Devon duck, served with todoli citrus and ime di rapa (a side serving of herby ratte potatoes is a must, if you ask us). Finish your meal with Amalfi lemon meringue pie and lashings of Vermentino from Provence and a bottle of Mencia ‘Quite’ Veronica Ortega from Spain, and you’ll be wondering how you’ll ever be able to dine anywhere else. It’s the place to dine at right now.

Click here to find out more.

Location: 7-9 Paddington St, W1U 5QH

2) Isla x Ixta Belfrage

a table with plates of food and glasses of water

Courtesy The Standard

This spring, acclaimed chef and contributing ELLE editor Ixta Belfrage has settled into The Standard’s (thankfully weatherproof) Isla Terrace for a three-month residency that celebrates her vibrant culture-clash approach to cooking.

The Ottolenghi alumni has garnered a firm following for her signature mash-up of culinary influences, melding her Brazilian and Mexican heritage with Italian traditions soaked up from a childhood spent in the Tuscan sun.

The small and perfectly formed Isla x Ixta menu serves as an introduction to the chef’s joyful approach. To start, the corn pamonha is more silky than sticky, bundled in a banana leaf and melting beneath a heap of jammy red pepper ragu, while a Brazilian moqueca fish stew is deconstructed and rebuilt into a burger, contrasting flaky fried monkfish with a curried coconut sauce. The melting duck leg, cooked in a tangy guava juice marinade, is piled high into tacos with pickles and charred spring onions. But the star of the show here is undoubtedly Belfrage’s viral prawn lasagne, which you can find the recipe for in her cookbook, Mezcla (you are going to need the recipe). In what might be the only left-field lasagne an Italian would approve of, this outrageously delicious creation combines layers of intensely rich prawn ragu with smoky habanero chilli oil. Don’t plan to share it.

What you should share, though, is the decadent plantain fritters: a kind of banana-bread-meets-doughnut wonder, sweet with cinnamon and swimming in treacly chocolate sauce.

A truly brilliant booking, this is a menu that’s both wholly unique and entirely delicious. Ixta’s take on fusion is exciting in a way that favours flavour over Instagrammable gimmicks (although half of London will be posting that famous lasagne, of course).

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Location: The Standard, 10 Argyle St, London WC1H 8EG

3) Da Terra

If you love an origin story, then prepare yourselves for Da Terra. The two-Michelin starred Brazilian-Italian restaurant from Chef Rafael Cagali is inspired by the idea of where we come from – our roots to the very soil we walk on, and the nature around us. With a Brazilian and Italian heritage, Cagali’s CV reads like a ‘what’s what’ of the London restaurant scene, including positions at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck and Claridges’ Fera. Since 2019, he’s been taking Londoners on a multi-sensory tasting menu at Da Terra that is sure to surprise and tantalise diners for years to come.

best restaurants london

Brian Dandridge

On arrival at Da Terra, guests will be invited to tuck into condensed versions of entrée classics, from a modern twist on the classic Caipirinha cocktail, a duck Caesar ‘salad’, a one-bite stour cup and scallop, a mushroom and taleggio doughnut, and a carabineros and tomato vodka gazpacho-esque dish served in an egg shell. Then comes the really fun stuff. First, Cagali kicks off proceedings with a lip-smackingly delicious slice of Hamachi (Japanese fish), served with courgette and peas, followed by ‘The Humble Chicken’, which invites diners to tuck into the wings and foot, served with Australian black truffle. Next up is by the far some of the best sourdough bread – and a trio of cultured butter – we’ve ever tasted, paired simply with a creamy bone marrow so good, you’ll want to scrape off every last morsel with your spoon. Cagali then takes guests on a culinary trip to Brazil with his take on the moqueca (a fish stew), served with aged turbot and manteguinha beans followed, by Huntsham Farm middle white pork, and finished with a cool Baba of pistachio, cachaça, and caviar, and a pineapple dessert with a coconut casing and fermented pineapple juice. Ask to pair your meal with wine and transport yourselves on a journey of the grape from Australia to France.

best restaurants london

Brian Dandridge

The restaurant itself is set inside the Bethnal Green’s historic Town Hall Hotel, its muted, modern interiors and pristine white table clothes serving as the perfect contrast to its Edwardian exteriors and the hustle and bustle of east London’s nightlife. One visit to Da Terra and you’ll soon be flicking through your diary to find another date to book a second.

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Location: 8 Patriot Square, London E2 9NF, UK

4) The Parakeet

best london restuarants

The Parakeet

If you’re looking for that sought after London 2023 fare of delicious small plates minus the faff or frippery, then The Parakeet is the place for you. Plonked on the corner of Kentish Town high street between DIY shops and doner kebabs, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d got the wrong end of town for London’s most eagerly anticipated restaurant launch. Luckily, a glance towards the pleasingly bottle green and plaster pink colour palette exterior (plus the pub-style signage displaying a parakeet) immediately lets you know you are in fact about to eat an incredible meal.

Kick things off with sweet and tangy house pickles, the half loaf of potato bread and whipped smoked butter, and an oyster with pickled cucumber, because why not? Onto the main event and we’d advise sharing as many dishes from the chalkboard display as you can muster. Not sure what to prioritise? Ask for Cat who will helpfully curate a menu just for you and your gastronomic needs. In our case, the polenta, girolles and corn and braised leeks with pecorino (aka the best cheesy leeks you’ve ever eaten) sidled up nicely next to a hefty sliced steak served with the prettiest mash and onions we’ve seen. Our only note? A steak knife would have taken this 9.5 to a 10.

best london restaurants

The Parakeet

Don’t leave without tasting the almond granita with green cherries which can only be described as a flavour revelation, and one of the best takes on a classic custard tart we’ve encountered. Oh, and a trip to the delightfully jazzy parakeet-printed toilets, of course.

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Location: 256 Kentish Town Rd, London NW5 2AA

5) Zuma

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With its glossy reputation and prime Knightsbridge location, there could well be the fear that Zuma wouldn’t live up to the hype. Luckily, it does.

The modern Japanese eatery is vibey and cool with a wood-based chic warehouse-style interior, bottles of sake lining the bar, chilled house music playing into the space and an open kitchen to watch the masters at work.

Start off with the Suzuki no sashimi aka thinly sliced seabass with yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe (best paired with a Mai Tai in our opinion) which melts in your mouth and the chef’s selection of sushi before switching it up with crispy fried squid.

Moving on to the mains (and wine, we recommend a Sauvignon Blanc) the marinated black cod wrapped in a hoba leaf is dreamy.

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Save enough room for dessert as the signature sweet treats from the eatery are not to be missed. The Zuma-emblazoned chocolate cake, which oozes out chocolate to delight all the senses, is the perfect end to the five-star meal.

Click here to find out more.

Location: 5 Raphael St, Knightsbridge, London SW7 1DL

6) Trishna

Best Restaurants In London 

Trishna

To walk past Trisha, located in the heart of London’s Marylebone Village, and not go in would be a big mistake. Because hidden behind its glass windows overlooking Blandford Street is a culinary and visual melody of the finest coastal dishes that India has to offer.

Awarded a Michelin Star in 2012, this southwest Indian eatery – courtesy of chef-proprietor Karam Sethi – has become an institution in the capital. Decorated with antique mirrors, marble table tops and wooden panelling, the interiors alone are enough to have your slinking into one of the restaurant’s booths, ordering a glass of the Gran Reserva and preparing your taste buds (and belt notches) for a foodie offering like no other.

Best Restaurants In London 

Trishna

Those with a large appetite need order (seriously, it’s imperative) the seven-course Koliwada (with an additional sommelier or prestige wine pairing available), which features a wide variety of small dishes that are as sumptuous to taste as they are colourful to the eye.

To start, we suggest tucking into the fresh Naryali Scallops, with its crunchy, coated coconut chips and vermicelli upma and mint-covered, oozing Bater Shami Kebab before cutting into the buttery, soft shell crab (Nandy Varuval) paired with a light tomato kachumber. Trust us, meat eaters won’t be able to get enough of the tantalising, smokey Tandoori Lamb Chop. Next up, we advise ordering the creamy Kozhikode Chicken Masala which consists of corn fed chicken in a blend of coconut, fennel and peppercorns, served with an additional four (yes, four) dishes – Makai Saag, Dal Panchmel, a bread basket and basmati rice.

Best Restaurants In London 

Trishna

The treats don’t stop there, though. Sharers be warned because just one bite of the rich chocolate mouse chikki (served with cardomom ice cream) will have you batting off your fellow diners with the nudge of a fork. Meanwhile, the smoked Tandoori pineapple and coconut malai, coconut and lime sorbet is a much-needed palette cleanser.

From impeccable service (the head waiter Richard will make you feel at home from starters to coffees) to hearty, fresh and fragrant dishes, we can’t imagine a better place to have you feeling like you’ve stepped into Mumbai.

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Location: 15-17 Blandford Street, London, W1U 3DG

7) Seabird

Best Restaurants In London 

Seabird

There are many a place to try your first oyster in London: Darby’s, Wright Brothers, Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill. But not many will be served from the 14th floor of a building overlooking the Shard and Canary Wharf Tower and, from what is claimed to be, the longest oyster menu in the capital.

Seabird is the latest offering from restaurant wizards Joshua Boissy and Krystof Zizka (the pair behind seafood hub Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, New York City) inside The Hoxton’s ‘openhouse hotel’ in Southwark. A sharp contrast to the dimly-lit reception and bar of the lower ground, you step out of the lift at Seabird into a glass-walled room dressed with gigantic raffia lampshades, a shrine dedicated to shellfish (yes, really), plush cushions, greenery, wicker furnishings and white-washed floorboards. Outside is a wide terrace bar where you can snuggle up under a blanket in the winter and sunshine – Aperol in hand –come summer. Basically, if Instagram had a restaurant, this eatery would be its culinary (and interiors) experiment.

Best Restaurants In London 

Rebecca Hope

As for its food, let’s just say you kind of need to be a shellfish buff to really enjoy this Iberian-influenced menu. After tucking into oysters that come from the likes of England, Wales, Holland and Portugal, it’s time to tuck into Seabird’s minimal yet tasty menu of small plates, charcuterie, charcoal grill and plancha dishes.

We suggest ordering the Devonshire crab buñuelos (similar to croquettes) served with saffron aioli, grilled sardine skewers and the delicious octopus roll, topped with padron peppers, sobrasada aiolo tucked inside a sweet brioche bun. For mains, those wanting to share would be best ordering the Basque Stew (think prawns, clams, mussels, red snappers in a broth) or ordering a plate of lobster with cimichurri dressing (go for the whole portion rather than a half if you’re hungry) and the light Iberico Pork Presa, served with celeriac and apple and king oyster mushrooms. A bowl of the spicy fries and a plate of the warm fava beans (topped with grated egg and herbed breadcrumbs) also make for a hearty accompaniment.

Best Restaurants In London 

Seabird

While the seafood is its staple, we argue the puddings are what have our hearts singing. Our favourite? The gluten-free, airy manchego cheesecake (the cheese is grated on top in front of you) and the trio of filled, glazed doughnuts (salted caramel, crema catalana and chocolate and hazelnut) dubbed Bola De Berlim.

Best Restaurants In London 

Seabird

Click here to find out more.
Location: The Rooftop, The Hoxton, Southwark, 40 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8PB

8) Tattu

tattu london

James Brown

This Northern import has made quite the splash since arriving in London, opening its first site in what is possibly the most in-demand location in town. Housed within the newly developed Now Building just behind Tottenham Court Road, Tattu occupies the entire rooftop floor, perched high above the busy West End and with rare, far-reaching views of the capital.

Looking smugly down upon the madding crowds from Tattu’s sun-trap terrace, cocktail in hand, cannot be beaten – though you’ll have to be booked in for a meal to enjoy the privilege. Tattu is strict on its no walk-ins and no ‘drinks only’ policy, ensuring the vibe is kept exclusive and the atmosphere classy – and so that guests can enjoy the Tattu experience in all its glory.

tattu london

Tattu London

It starts with a few aperitifs in the small-yet-mighty bar, before being ushered through a wine-filled arch and into the main space, which is laid out like a traditional Chinese Courtyard House. It’s a beauty to behold: each corner has a different offering, from intimate corner booths and gazebos to impressive, marble-clad high tables, all beneath a gigantic skylight.

And as for the food, it’s a masterclass in modern Chinese cuisine with tonnes of added flair. Think delicate dim sum, XO scallops, crispy squid and a luxe twist on sesame prawn toast to start, followed by Wagyu ribeye, Chilean sea bass and the signature Wok Fried Angry Bird – all, thankfully, made to be shared, and accompanied by the thumping beats of the resident DJ. Prepare for a serious party.

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Location: The Now Building Rooftop, Outernet, Denmark Place, London WC2H 0LA

9) Passo

Passopinterest

Passo

The new, Italian cool kid on the block, Old Street’s Passo serves all things pizza and pasta without even a whiff of Prezzo.

Order the Burrata with zucchini chips and fried artichokes with green sauce for satisfyingly delicious starters that sound convincingly healthy. Follow with the octopus ragout orecchiette for perfectly al dente pasta with tender morsels of seafood and whatever you do, get at least one Truffle 3 Ways pizza. The most delicious cheese pizza you’ll ever eat but with a bouji truffle twist, we can confirm it’s just as good the next day for lunch.

Alternatively, throw the three course rule book out the window and order a mix of plates to arrive at the same time for a mid-week meal Mediterranean feast style. Our tip – when the menu says the bbq cauliflower is in fact an entire cauliflower, it means it.

Click here to find out more.
Location: City Rd, London EC1Y 2BJ

10) Salt Yard

Salt Yardpinterest

Salt Yard

Spanish and Italian-style tapas dishes dominate the menu at the very buzzy Fitzrovia-based restaurant. Its extensive menu offers small-plate meat (the old spot pork belly is a must), cheese, fish and vegetable dishes, making it an ideal choice for any mood – and it has a potent cocktail menu to boot.

It also gets the thumbs up for its social conscience, as it’s part of the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s ‘One Planet Plate’ dish initiative: a movement focusing on sourcing locally, reducing waste and lowering carbon emissions.

We loved the ‘slow cooked duck egg, torta de barrow cream, brassicas’ and knowing that we were able to do our bit for the cause by choosing it, made it even more special.

If there’s a little space left for dessert, then the lemon meringue tart is TDF.

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Location: 54 Goodge St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 4NA

11) The Coal Shed

The Coal Shedpinterest

The Coal Shed

A little tricky to find, to be sure, but after some snooping around the riverside complex, it’s definitely a bonus to discover that The Coal Shed is tucked away from the prying eyes of passers by and the roar of any adjacent traffic. This definitely makes it a romantic date option.

Vegetarians beware, this restaurant is designed for red meat lovers, so if you’re nervous about fatty cuts and giant racks of ribs that still vaguely resemble the animal they came from, it’s probably not for you. If you like flesh that’s still hanging from the bone and every imaginable juicy accoutrement, you’re in for a good time.

You’d be well advised to ask the staff for their recommendations, though their sharing dishes are something of a signature and the aromatic lamb for two – which comes with the best fried flatbread you’ll ever have tasted – is a very good default selection. The meat speaks for itself and is served with few frills, but The Coal Shed doesn’t like to skimp on clever side dishes, with the tahini shredded carrot and the mash with burnt ends being particularly impressive.

Click here to find out more.
Location: One Tower Bridge, London SE1 2RZ

12) UKAI

Ukaipinterest

UKAI

If you’re a fan of seriously good sushi, then Ukai should be next on your hit list.

Located on the Instagram-friendly Portobello Road (hi, pastel-coloured front doors), it’s housed in what used to be an old British boozer and mixes Italian and Japanese cooking techniques. What that means in reality is tasty black cod gyozas, hearty ceviche (with tuna, butterfish, avocado and dragon fruit) and probably the most delicious broccoli we’ve ever tasted.

The ‘Volcano’ sushi rolls (complete with spicy mayo) will put your £3 Tesco lunchtime snack to shame, while the tuna tartare on a bed of raspberry sauce is well-worth the ‘are you sure?’ looks you’ll get from your dinner date. Cocktails are also superb – we recommend the Mochi and Golden Geisha .

Click here to find out more.
Location:
240 Portobello Rd, London W11 1LL

13) Bar Douro

Bar Douropinterest

Bar Douro

Adroitly placed between north and south London, near the foodie haven of Borough market lies Bar Douro, a seemingly low-key Portuguese restaurant. It is a bright and fresh space nestling in the arches of London Bridge, with lovely blue and white ceramic wall tiles and bar stool dining-only at curving marble counters.

Bar Douro is owned by Max Graham of the Churchill port family who was brought up in the Douro valley, so we really (really) enjoyed a selection of chilled Ports and red wines from the all-Portuguese wine list, the produce of small regional producers.

Service was informative but not obtrusive, the menu short and sweet. The choices of snacks, garden, sea and land dishes each offering simply four delicious sounding choices was easy to navigate, with plenty of choice for vegetarians, pescatarians and meat lovers alike.

We chose for our petiscos the Portuguese classic salt cod fritters and the charcuterie board with a pimento-rich chouriço. Our starters were followed in easy succession by the most perfect salt cod hash, a charred octopus with sweet potato puree, succulent large garlic prawns– the likes of which we had never tasted – and a truly mind-blowing Onglet steak with confit egg that was so tender no chewing was required.

The chef, executing dishes in front us with panache and skill, tempting us to indulge even further. We managed to find a non-existent space for the classic Portuguese tart and cinnamon ice cream…heavenly!

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Location:
Arch 35B, Flat Iron Square,, 66 Union Street, London SE1 1TD

14) Foley’s

Foley'spinterest

Foley’s

Fortunately, Fitzrovia’s Foley’s has arrived to cater to our OTT needs with its mélange of Asian flavours and European cooking techniques.

The 70-seater restaurant offers a lunch and dinner menu bursting with small and large sharing plates, depending on your party size (or stomach).

Sat at the back of the restaurant (there’s also an outdoor bar and a chef’s counter downstairs for prime kitchen spying) we had the Chai Old Fashioned and English Garden cocktails to start, oozing elderflower and cucumber syrup that was the perfect refresher after trudging down Oxford Street in the cold.

Sadly, we were too late for the banana leaf roasted sea bass so tucked into a delicious bowl of smashed cucumber and a plate of fried salmon nigiri with a sweet, lip-smacking honey soy dressing that made us (me) want to order another portion. However, with a bowl of crispy roasted sweet potato and salt & szechuan pepper tofu to follow, it was a good job we refrained.

Next up was the cantonese grilled prawns, crispy aubergine and fried oyster mushroom bao buns. A lover of bao, I couldn’t get enough of the siracha mayo and soy den miso caramel, but be warned, these are build-your-own buns so prepare to get your hands (and jeans) a bit messy.

We rounded the meal off with a Yuzu posset at a ginger and rhubarb crumble with sesame ice cream that sent us into welcomed food coma. The flavours might be from Asia but the praise is high from London.

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Location:
23 Foley St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 6DU

15) Bar des Prés

best restaurants in london

Bar des pres

French and Japanese cuisines may not seem an obvious pairing, but in the hands of acclaimed chef Cyril Lignac they become a veritable match made in culinary heaven. Add into the mix a swanky Mayfair location, opulent Parisian interiors, a gleaming bar and only the finest ingredients around, and it’s little wonder that Lignac’s first international restaurant Bar des Prés is one of London’s hottest spots du jour.

Expect to see a supremely chic crowd dining on ultra-elevated Franco-Asian fare, beginning with the signature crab and avocado galette, alongside impeccably crafted nigiri, freshest yellowtail and yuzu passionfruit carpaccio, and the absolute game-changer that is crispy sushi topped with citrus salmon and chipotle mayonnaise.

The name of the game here is pure luxury, so the menu is filled with endless decadent delights, including langoustine ravioli, plump lobster rolls, A4 wagyu beef sandos, and generous shavings of seasonal truffle on everything from mashed potatoes to salads. Tempting as it may be to indulge in the lot, make sure to save some space for the exceptional desserts, which showcase the fine art of French patisserie at its very best.

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Location: 16 Albemarle St, London W1S 4HW

16) Señor Ceviche

Senor Cevichepinterest

Señor Ceviche

A hop, skip and a jump away from Bloomsbury lies the tightly-packed Señor Ceviche. Deceptively unassuming from the street, the three-story eatery is positively cavernous.

The Saturday brunch at the Charlotte street ‘casa’ is, you guessed it, bottomless, with the option of red, white or sparkling wine free flowing.

The Peruvian fusion menu is luxurious as well as never-ending, ensuring there is no way you would get to the bottom of this brunch.

An endless supply of Para Picar and Ceviche comes before the main event of the Peruvian BBQ, however, the small plates are so fantastic they totally compete.

Peruvian pot stickers (mushroom gyoza with smoked aji rocotto oil and parsley aioli) and chifa chicharrones (Slow cooked, crispy pork belly with smoked sweet potato purée and chancaca soy, gluten free) steal the stater show, whilst Seco De Cordero, a slow cooked lamb shoulder with bacon, black beans and Nikkei rice (gluten free) is the best main.

Unfortunately, the serving somewhat lacks consideration, despite the restaurant being far from full we were interrupted multiple times informing us of our impending time-slot ending. Not the most relaxing way to spend a brunch.

That being said the menu’s quality helped balance out the forced feel, oh, and the bucketload of bellinis may have helped.

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Location: 18 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LZ

17) The Brook

There’s now an abundance of vegetarian hot spots in London, but what if you want to avoid animal products such as eggs and dairy altogether? It’s tougher to find a restaurant that meets your needs; tougher still to get the food right.

Enter The Brook – the Sussex-based vegan eatery that moved to Hackney five months ago. The interior might scream east London hipster (exposed brick, neon pink lights), but the food really holds its own. Neither too ‘healthy’ or junk-food-y (as many vegan restaurants tend to be), the tapas-style menu means you can try a little of everything.

From seriously tasty jackfruit quesadillas to tofish bites (which taste like the real deal), by way of beer-battered guac balls, there’s a lot to love. The owner Thea (who turned vegan 18 months ago – hence the change in food focus) recommended the sesame skewers and we’re inclined to agree – don’t leave without trying them.

Our favourite (and surprise) hit? The lime and coconut dale, which was so tangy it made us forget every other bad vegan dish we’d ever had.

The entire drinks menu is also totally vegan. Good news, in fact, because many alcoholic drinks contain animal products. Try the Spring Fling (a refreshing gin-based drink with homemade rhubarb & fennel syrup) or the From Mexico With Love (tequila and, er, more tequila).

Desert wise, we picked the brownie and banoffee pie. As someone who seriously loves banoffee pie (and eats a lot of it), I can say it was one of the best that I’ve ever had.

Whether you’re vegan or not, The Brook is well worth a visit.

Click here to find out more.
Location: 171 Mare Street, Hackney E8 3RH

18) Circolo Popolare

This Instagram-friendly eatery has developed a cult-like following ever since the Big Mamma Group opened its doors in the UK capital in the summer of 2019 with Circolo Popolare (sister restaurant to Shoreditch’s Gloria Trattoria). Found off Oxford Street at Rathbone Place, the establishment’s decor – adorned with Italian antique plates, flowers and bottles – encourage visitors in itself, which has been evident by the pre-Covid walk-in queues lining up outside the eatery.

restaurants with outdoor drinking

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As for the food, signature showstopping dishes include the Cacio e Pepe wheel, Malfadine Al Tartufo (mafalda pasta, mushrooms, black truffle and mascarpone) and their extensive list of pizzas. Though the food is head-turning, with the Cacio e Pepe served in the Pecorino wheel, the Malfadine brought to the table in a saucepan and the lemon meringue pie has a meringue layer towering at six inches, the food is not just a gimmick with fine dining quality of food complimenting its fun features. Book (especially post-Covid) to avoid disappointment but walk-ins are currently still being accepted for tables of six or less.

Click here to find out more.

Location: 40-41 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, W1T 1HX

19) Alphabet

Restaurant, Table, Café, Building, Room, Function hall, Interior design, Furniture, Cafeteria, Architecture, pinterest

Alphabet

If you’re not familiar with Alphabet’s formerly much-loved Soho haunt (serving drinks ‘to a who’s who of Soho’s great and good for 15 years’ says our friends at Esquire), you most definitely will soon. The popular spot has reopened in Islington (on Upper Street) and if, like us, one of your pet hates is perennially being squashed next to four people while eating out in London you’re in luck – this place is huge. Linear drawings and lips in neon lights line the walls making you feel like you’re in part restaurant, part gallery.

Dish, Cuisine, Food, Ingredient, Meat, Produce, Recipe, À la carte food, Veal, Garnish, pinterest
Alphabet

Hake tagine at Alphabet in Islington

The menu is drenched in home-cooked Moroccan memories from head chef Yaz Khadiri. Many of the dishes are from his Mum’s own recipes, like Amina’s Moroccan spiced chicken wings (served with preserved lemon and saffron). We tried the monkfish wrap, which came with chilli, pomegranate and fennel and was an absolutely delicious take on the traditional kebab.

The wild mushroom tagine is also well worth a visit, and you most definitely can’t leave without trying the halloumi quinoa fries. With an impressive cocktail list (13 classics with a twist, 13 inventions), regular weekend DJ appearances scheduled and currently 50% off food, we’ve just found your new local.

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Location:
56 Upper Street, London, N1 0NY

20) Cora Pearl

Elevated British cuisine is having a serious moment right now, and few do it better than Cora Pearl. Located in the heart of Covent Garden, it’s a very welcome world away from the area’s countless tourist-trap eateries – instead offering a low-lit, effortlessly cool oasis of great drinks, even better food and a buzzy vibe to boot.

It became a fast favourite of the area’s chic creative crowd upon its launch in 2018, and some five years later still oozes that same magnetic energy that drew them in the first place – as well as, of course, food so epic that one can’t help but go back for more. Cora Pearl specialises in comfort food classics with an up-market (but no less comforting) twist, from the legendary mini crumpets topped with whipped cod’s roe and seasonal grilled asparagus with creamy hollandaise, to what is hands-down the finest ham and cheese toastie in existence (trust us, you’ll see).

A recent kitchen refresh has brought Cora Pearl’s already-excellent culinary offering to even higher heights, while still holding fast to the day-one signatures that helped make its name (millefeuille chips included, thank goodness). Exciting new additions include breaded chicken escalope Holstein, Sugar Pit bacon chop with fennel choucroute, and stone bass served with salsify, guanciale and black garlic gremolata – though as a seasonally-led restaurant, each week offers a different set of delights. There’s a great (and very well-priced) pre-theatre menu, too.

Find out more here.

Location: 30 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8NA

21) Fiume

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Located on the waterfront of the new Battersea Power Station development is Italian restaurant, Fiume. Overlooking the River Thames with a cushioned and well-heated terrace outside decorated with lemon trees, if you head to the venue as the sun is setting over the summer months, with an Aperol Spritz or Prosecco in hand, close your eyes and imagine you’re not in south London, but instead the Italian Rivera.

This at-home-in-Italy experience is amplified by the quality of the Italian food. Think authentic dishes like the burrata starters, mains including Gnocchi gratin alla Sorentina and a delightfully spongey and light tiramisu.

best restaurants in london

Cora Pearl

As for drinks, there’s an extensive negroni and gin list as well as delicious Italian wines to wash down the three course meal, we recommend the Verdicchio di Matelica, Belisario from the eastern Marche region.

Find out more here.

Location: Circus West, Battersea Power Station, SW8 5BN

22) Amazonico

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London was the first location for the team behind Amazonico outside of Spain (their Madrid restaurant has been open since 2016) and let us tell you, it is a welcome addition to the London restaurant circuit.

Serving dishes and drinks from the Amazon region of south America – spearheaded by Venezuelan head chef Vitelio Reyes – the quality of the food is incredible as is the creativity and originality in all the sharing plate dishes.

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From sashimi to maki to empanadas, there are dishes for everyone (non-meat eaters included)! Must-tries include the Salmon Tiradito, Tuna Laquedo and Hortalizas al Humo (burrata with smoked aubergine) and the desserts are not to be missed off the order either, especially the Panqueca – which is inspired by the crepes usually found at Venezuelan street food vendors.

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Before or after drinking wine and eating from the delicious menu (while listening to the live jazz performed at the venu) head down to the restaurant’s ocean-themed bar for one of their extravagant signature cocktails served in the best glassware.

Find out more here.

Location: 10 Berkeley Square, W1J 6BR

23) Booking Office 1869

If you’ve ever been stuck looking for a bite to eat and a sophisticated tipple around King’s Cross that doesn’t involve a takeout pizza and bottle of beer, then look no further than Booking Office 1869.

Housed in King’s Cross’ original 19th century ticket hall, and decorated under the expert eye of French designer Hugo Toro, the Booking Office 1869 opened in November 2021 and ever since has been offering some of London’s most delicious and exciting food and cocktails, and we don’t say that lightly.

To start, we suggest you share a plate of the sourdough bread with whipped butter, before moving onto the Devon crab, served with avocado and brown crab mayonnaise, and tucking into a main of lobster thermidor (served with chips), or the braise lamb shoulder (offered with a pomme puree that is lip-smackingly tasty). Finish off with a bowl of malted milk ice cream profiteroles or the clementine meringue pie, and it’s safe to say you’ll be stuffed until lunchtime the following day.

The drinks menu has been curated by the wonderful bar manager Jack Porter, who is redefining the classics and incorporating Victorian techniques in a modern and fun way, whether it’s with the House Martini (served with organic beeswax and a signature black olive), or the St Pancras Sgoppino (think pear vodka and champagne). Better yet, every Friday and Saturday Booking Office 1869 offers diners and drinkers its ‘Last Call’ session, a moment to mark the end of the night from 9.30pm until late (just don’t forget the last train home!).

Find out more here.

Location: Euston Road, London, NW1 2AR

24) Norma

Tucked away in a townhouse on bustling Charlotte Street is Norma, a Sicilian-inspired restaurant that promises to transport you to the island through its olde-worlde Italian charm.

Once you’ve kicked off proceedings with an Aperol Spritz (when in Rome), start by ordering the focaccia and extra virgin olive oil before moving onto the undoubted star of the show, the linguine with Cornish crab, chili and lemon butter, which comes served in a crab shell on a bed of rock salt. Norma’s other pasta dishes are also stars of the show. Sicily is known for its Pasta alla Norma, a pasta dish comprising aubergine, tomato and thick tubes of pasta, and Norma’s riff on the classic doesn’t disappoint. It’s creamy, salty and entirely moreish.

For those still left with an appetite after indulging in the Sicilian feast of dreams, the restaurant’s coconut tiramisu will take you to places you never realised you needed to go.

Despite its home in central London, Norma is one of the capital’s best-kept secrets that we’re happy to let you in on.

Find out more here.

Location: Charlotte Street, London, W1T 2LS

25) Six By Nico Canary Wharf

    Tucked away amid the bustling concrete jungle of Canary Wharf, Six By Nico is a buzzing gem of a restaurant. Its premise is simple: a set six-course menu — with the option of a wine pairing too — with a different theme every six weeks. Its current menu is inspired by street food from around the world.

    It starts with a delicious steamed bun, inspired by one of Seoul’s signature dishes, and it finishes with a delicious coffee and chocolate-infused medley of micro puddings, all of which were washed down with wine pairings that made each and every flavour sing. The star of the show, besides the service that was second-to-none, was the dish inspired by Istanbul: slow-roasted lamb that was so delicious it almost melted off the skewer it was cooked on. An experience perfect for dates, friends or any other loved-ones in your life.

    Find out more about Six By Nico here.

    Location: Chancellor Passage, London E14 5EA


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