The London Restaurant Festival is on this month, and the city is buzzing with tasting menus and chef-hosted events. It’s an exciting time to be dining out, but if I can let you in on a little secret, I often prefer the understated side of London’s food scene. And since people always ask me what the best restaurants in London are, I thought I would take this opportunity to share my favorites.
Best Restaurants in London
My top picks for eating out in London aren’t confined to one cuisine or price point. From low-key neighborhood cafes to restaurants dripping with Michelin stars, my favorite places cover a broad spectrum. Whatever my mood, there’s something to suit. I hope you find the same is true for you.
The Providores and Tapa Room
Peter Gordon’s Marylebone restaurant is an institution in London. The Tapa Room at The Providores is one of my go-to spots for weekend lunch, even when I have to queue up for ages to get in. I love how inventive the dishes are, and how ordering is always a delicious game of chance.
I work from home, so I’m always on the lookout for cafes that are good for meetings. My favorite is Zack’s on Gloucester Road. It has a cozy atmosphere, a great tea and cake selection, and good salads for lunch. But who wants lunch when there’s so much cake?
Up in Hampstead, Jin Kichi is the darling of the neighborhood. Famous for its Japanese grills, it’s the only restaurant in the area where booking well in advance is essential. And for good reason. Everything from the mushroom skewers to the sushi is worth the trip north.
Dinner by Heston
But if there’s one dish I’ll travel for, it’s the meat fruit at Dinner by Heston in Knightsbridge. This plump mandarin morsel is not only beautiful to look at, but also a treat to taste. Never before has chicken liver parfait been presented in so appealing a casing. If you want to know how it’s made, head over to Eater (I did the photos for them).
Kitchen W8 may have a Michelin star, but it still manages to feel like a neighborhood restaurant (and that’s probably why I love it so much). Tucked away on a side street in Kensington, it fires on all cylinders when it comes to food, service, and ambiance.
Over in St James’s, Franco’s is my go-to for classic Italian food (and a good loo…you may remember it from my London loos post). I love the way the intimate dining room feels like a cocoon, and the homemade pastas win my heart (and stomach) every time. I particularly like eating there in autumn, when the white truffle pastas are heaven on a plate.
Not far from Franco’s, Chutney Mary is one of the best restaurants in London for Indian food. I can’t get enough of their vegetable samosas, and all things monkfish are divine. They always seem to have a table at the bar when I forget to make reservations, which is fine since the whole restaurant has good ambiance.
Over in Knightsbridge, Marcus at The Berkeley is my favorite restaurant for a special occasion. From top to bottom the menu is a treat, and the service is always warm and welcoming. Sometimes I’m tempted to fabricate celebratory occasions just to eat there.
Comptoir Libanais restaurants are popping up all over London (there’s a new one coming soon on Gloucester Road). This colorful Lebanese chain is my choice for casual meals with friends, not least because I love the chicken and green olive tagine. For some reason the service is often a let down, but I suppose no restaurant can be perfect.
More Restaurants in London
I hope you enjoy eating your way through these restaurants. If you’re looking for more, head over to my Weekday Breakfasts in London post or my Coffee Shops in London post.
How about you? What do you think are the best restaurants in London?