The 21 best places to eat in London
The 21 best places to eat in London
When it comes to restaurants in London, our food scene really needs no introduction and you can’t move in London without coming across a place to eat. However, if you’re from out of town then this can sometimes make it difficult to decide where to choose to eat in London.
If money is no object then our capital currently boasts 69 Michelin starred restaurants which are not for the unadventurous of palate or light of wallet, but will undoubtedly give you a meal to remember. Or, you can read up on the critics’ choices: Jay Rayner, Giles Coren and AA Gill have all written extensively on restaurants in London. But, for our tuppence worth, we’ve laid out below where we would send our friends if they were visiting the city for a break and wanted a truly authentic gastronomic experience in London. Depending on what you fancy, your budget and the time of day, here are a range of choices which we hope you’ll get the opportunity to try. And we always like to see how our guests get on so tag @citybaseapts to tell us how we did…
Affordable restaurants in London – our favourites
If you are after the real deal in Punjabi cooking then Tayyabs is the place to come. It’s loud, in your face, usually packed to the rafters, and the same could be said of the food. If you’re not looking for a quiet intimate meal, the food is worth the trip, the hustle, the noise, the lack of space and, if you haven’t booked, the wait…it is to die for and the spiced lamb is really worth writing home about. FYI it operates a corkage free BYO alcohol policy which also makes it a super affordable choice.
For the best street food: Borough or Maltby Street Market
Borough is the big name that all foodies head to for artisan food and fresh seasonal produce. Simply browse and eat your way around the world, depending on what takes your fancy. Richard Haward’s oysters or Kappacasein are our favourites. Or the cheese. All the cheese. For a spot more off the tourist trail, head across the river to Bermondsey where at the weekend you’ll find a brilliant food market beneath the railway arches. You can also have a wander around the antique market too. Borough is open Mon-Sat, Maltby Street weekends only.
Pat ‘Pops’ Newland cut his teeth in the trade cutting copies of the Daily Mirror to wrap fish and chips in at the age of 11. Half a century later, the 1950s theme, the jukebox, jellied eels and newspaper-wrapped chips still remain, but the fish is sustainably and responsibly sourced (from a fourth generation Billingsgate market trader no less), the ingredients fresh and on the whole from the UK. In our opinion, Poppies is one of the best spots for fish and chips in London, if not the world.
Bear with us on this. Bethnal Green Road is something of an insalubrious location but you will not get a more authentic east end café than E Pellicci. This family-run east end institution has been serving up strong tea and cooked breakfasts for cockneys since 1900. The atmosphere is jovial and you’ll feel like part of the family within minutes.
Affordable restaurants in London: the best of the rest
Barbary – Creative and seasonal North African fare in one of the prettiest corners of the city- Neal’s Yard.
Four Seasons Chinatown – a perennial Chinatown institution, this place has been here forever and for a great roast duck, this is the place to come.
Mother mash Soho – just off Regent Street, this is a concept that really shouldn’t work. A restaurant built on mashed potato. The potato is king here, it forms the centrepiece and staple for every dish and the sausages and pies really do play second fiddle. But, roll with it and you will not be disappointed.
Padella South bank – this restaurant embodies the principle that good, fresh ingredients, well prepared can make simple dishes into an art form. Homemade fresh pasta is the star of the show here and the menu is very reasonably priced. There is usually a wait for a table and the recommendation is to go with a group and order several dishes between you.
What could be more British than afternoon tea? But this is not afternoon tea as you know it; it’s like stepping inside a giant pink sponge finger and makes for a unique experience as charming as it is trippy.
There are six branches of Hawksmoor in London so take your pick based on your location. All the restaurants in the group are founded on the same principles of fresh, seasonal produce served in friendly unpretentious surroundings. Come here for steak, seafood or Sunday Lunch.
It’s on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, making it the highest of all the London sky restaurants. Despite its elevated position, it’s quite informal and the menu is playful and more comfort food than haute cuisine. It also, notably, serves 24 hours a day. Yes really.
Mid-range restaurants in London: the best of the rest
Xu - This tea house and Taiwanese restaurant is in the heart of the west end, but step inside and you’ll be transported back to 1930s Taipei. The tea and soft drinks are worth popping in for, and if you decide to eat you won’t be disappointed.
Parsons - the unassuming exterior belies the critically acclaimed food on offer here. The daily changing specials of fresh seafood are perfectly cooked and the wine list is second to none.
Margot - This high-end Italian is perfect for a romantic lunch, special occasion or simply for those who appreciate perfectly cooked pasta in all its delicious forms.
Fine dining restaurants in London
The afternoon tea here is world famous and if you’re looking for the quintessential afternoon tea experience then this is where you should come. With stunning views across the Thames, it’s worth splashing out for a little slice of enduring London custom (and many little slices of cake).
There’s just something very British and establishment about this off the beaten track gem. Tucked away in Shepherd Market, Mayfair, it feels intimate and friendly, the flowers on the table like they came from the garden that morning. And the food is exceptional. Every dish is like getting a hug from God.
The door is actually hidden, you could walk past it several times; but, assuming you find it, step inside from the bustle of Piccadilly and you will be rewarded. A spectacular interior, complete with Middle-earth style staircase awaits you, friendly not-too formal staff, and jovial and relaxed atmosphere and everything you’d expect food-wise from a Michelin starred restaurant.
Fine dining in London: the best of the rest
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester - The legend Monsieur Ducasse has 21 stars to his name and so a meal here is bound to be something very special. It’s definitely not for the budget diner, but it’s a true bucket list reservation that, if you’re in London for a special occasion (or someone else is paying) would be top of our list.
Roganic - having reigned supreme in the Lake District in recent years, Simon Rogan has set up shop in Marylebone where he is serving up a similar brand of art on a plate that will surprise and delight anyone with a sense of gastronomic adventurousness. There is also a range of tasting menus, some at a very affordable price point.
Hakkasan Hanway Place – This is the original posh Chinese restaurant. It never disappoints and, if you order nothing else, order the Wagyu beef.