The Best Restaurants in London Right Now
Trying to decide on a dining location in London can be really difficult… especially when you’re plagued with hunger, anxiety... and more than a little FOMO. When you’re dealing with the internal (or group) struggle of where to eat in London, you’re battling uphill with so many truly amazing options, almost no matter where in the city you are. Luckily, we’re here to save you from dying indecision. This list of great, of-the-moment spots gets updated seasonally, so bookmarking it isn’t the worst idea, too.
From the same folks as Highbury’s Trullo, this place is just a temple to pasta. Their rolled, stretched, and cut dough makes you wonder why you don’t eat it every day -- especially since they’re always made fresh day-of. Their small menu consist of five antipasti, six pastas, and two puddings -- but there’s enough flavour here to make you want to order the lot.
It’s been quite a journey for the team behind the newest Thai spot out east. After a six month pilgrimage to Bangkok to learn the tricks of the trade at esteemed restaurant Bo.Lan, chef Andy Oliver started out with a single grill behind Bar Story, before setting up a residency at Climpson's Arch and successfully crowdfunding £700,000 to open up his own shop on Commercial Street. With traditional dishes showcasing cuisines from all across the country, plus cocktails and snacks, Som Saa still keeps the rustic feel that makes their food shine so well.
Jason Atherton headed to Asia for his latest home turf spot with a classic izakaya-style restaurant just around the corner from Farringdon station. The main dining room is all high ceilings and simple details, along with its micro "restaurant within a restaurant" (a 10-seat counter with its own menu of more authentic dishes and a sake sommelier). Hidden downstairs is the neon-lit drinking den 7 Tales with incredibly more-ish cocktails and eat-em-by-the-handful bar snacks.
There’s something exhilarating about sitting elbow to elbow around an open kitchen as future diners gather behind and eye your plates with envy. After eight years of Instagram brags, two new venues, and one Michelin star, Barrafina is still as good as ever, pulling in queues even before it opens. Keep up the good work, guys, and we’ll be in the queue along with everyone else.
As every new site opens up, London holds it’s breath and wonders how long the dream that is Dishoom can last. And yet, with the recent opening of their fourth location, it would appear there is no slowing them down. Which is a great thing, trust us. Consistent, mind-blowing food with some of the nicest staff you’ll find anywhere and a vibe that is pretty close to perfect. Of course Dishoom don’t take bookings, but go early, get a drink, and wait it out.
From the same cats as the insta-hit Palomar, this micro restaurant is a feat of human and culinary tetris; it’s a wonder how they’ve managed to fit all that food and 24 seats around a horseshoe-shaped bar. Hopeful diners queue up (a la Barafina) to nibble on snacks and watch, until the lucky early arrivals roll off into the night with full stomachs. The food, headed up by Eyal Jagermann -- who was the previous senior sous at Palomar -- is inspired primarily by North African and Israeli cuisines, and features big flavours. Try the Chicken Msachen, which is marinated in yoghurt and spices for 24 hours before meeting a grill.
It’s starting to feel like Xavier Rousset can do no wrong, with Michelin-starred Texture and a mini-empire of wine-centric 28-50’s knocking about town. With his latest project, Rousset once again focuses on wine, with a 300-bottle strong list sitting alongside an elegantly composed Italian menu of plates, available in small and large sizes to suit your mode. This place is understated and classic, with a bright energy that begs to spend some serious time.
Fans of cocktail bar Happiness Forgets will be pleased to know they now do food... well, kind of. Taking over the cafe space they’ve been operating underneath for several years, Alastair Burgess and his merry band of movers and shakers now brings you Petit Pois, a charming French bistro. With every detail thought of and presented in a totally chilled out, unassuming kind of way, it comes as no surprise that the menu is filled with expertly-executed dishes that are classic, clean, and oh-so-tasty, like the moules marinières, steak frites, and an insanely good chocolate mousse that is served from one massive bowl.
From the same ridiculously finger-on-the-pulse trio who opened Trishna and Gymkhana (and who are investors in Bubbledogs, Lyle's, and Bao), comes yet another delicious venture. Centered around the eponymous hoppers, which are those pancake-like, rice-based bread bowls that are foundational in Sri Lankan cuisine, this place is relaxed and tasty as hell. And you can get a drink of the rare Indonesian spirit, arrack, too. Wins all around.
The Smoking Goat has been gathering crowds since it opened, and this sequel looks like it’s following the tradition. The Thai grill here uses a lot of British ingredients, keeping the menu short, snappy, and regularly changing, featuring dishes like ox heart laap with turmeric leaf, Laos-style laap of fish with fried lemongrass, and long pepper & tamworth tenderloin curry with holy basil. Inspired by a recent trip to Thailand, this isn’t quite an uber traditional spot, but the small Londonizations taste great... so you won’t hear us complaining.
The merry band of brothers is back with the second outpost of their successful Soho venture and a couple of updates: keeping the French feel, they’ve added in a bit of a North African influence by throwing in loads of distinct spices and techniques, and they also crossed the classic look of the Parisian Belle Epoque era with the urban vibes of Brick Lane. Their small-plates menu is filled with bold flavors like lamb tagine with apricot, almonds, and lebna; roquefort salad with lentils; pumpkin and leek, and monkfish with smoked aubergine purée and chermoula courgette.
White washed walls, bare wooden chairs, and sublime food: This little sister to the much-lauded Portland didn’t fall too far from the tree. The aptly named chef Merlin Labron-Johnson is once again overseeing the whole operation, while one of the Portland sous chefs is taking over the day-to-day here. The food is on point, with many small plates coming at at you whenever the kitchen damn well pleases, covering your table with house-cured, fermented, love-infused dishes like silky soft lardo, rabbit & pork rillettes, or calf brain lobe on toast. They aren’t shy about using unusual flavours here, but it all tastes perfect.
The inventor of that ultimate Frankenpastry, the Cronut®, has brought his inventive bakery over the pond. Incurring queues and much skepticism, Londoners have found that the Cronut® really is that good, and besides, Ansel makes plenty of other delicious treats worth forgetting your diet for. The bakery is tiny -- they mainly function for takeaways -- but they also have a great secret garden where you can much your Banoffee Paella, salted honey tart, or Welsh rarebit croissant in peace.
Fans of The Palomar will feel instantly at home in this light-filled ground floor dining room from Chef Mitz Vora. Until recently, Vora was the sous chef over there, so there are certainly a few elements that will very familiar, but trust us, this is its own beautiful, tasty beast. The menu is short and sweet and changed regularly, but all the dishes are original and creative, bursting with flavours -- for instance, the ceviche endive taco, which used the endive leaves as the taco shell and sprinkled with a coconut miso leche.
Opened on the same street where the Great London Fire first caught, this gorgeous subterranean space is all about subdued glamour, with dark red leather, rich purple velvet, and copper accents shining throughout. Chef Jonathan Villar is the guy behind the menu, having put together a collection of pan-Asian small plates, giving you the perfect excuse to try plenty of dishes, like the Vietnamese goat curry, braised octopus, and their wagyu beef & foie gras burger. Drinks were set up by the talent of Josh Powell, who was last over at 69 & Boston, and who has put together a drinks list filled with original concoctions like the Ember cocktail with lychee-infused Bols Genever, black cardamom cocoa aperitivo, and sweet vermouth.
After leaving the two Michelin-starred institution, The Square, everyone waited with baited breath for what Phil Howard would do. Taking over the former Tom Aikens spot in Chelsea, Howard has partnered once again with Rebecca Mascarenhas, and opened a modern British restaurant, wanting to explore how food and the dining climate has changed in the quarter century since he started playing with knives. The result is stunning food, filled with graceful flavours, and elegant plating, served in a pared back space, giving you plenty of room to bask in the glory of a chef who still can kill it, every time.
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