London is awash with incredible restaurants. The city’s dining scene has bounced back with a vengeance post-pandemic, and it seems like you can barely turn a corner without walking smack bam into one of the many hot new openings. And for every dazzling dining establishment, there seems to be numerous articles listing the city’s best in droves.
Here at Foodism, we like to do things a little differently. So, to help you cut through the noise, we’re going to update this list every month with our pick of the best restaurants at the moment. It may feature new openings, or it might highlight stalwart favourites that have dropped back onto our radar. It will travel from north to south, east to west, and from tasting menus to hole-in-the-wall establishments, but what it will always do is help guide you to consistently good dining experiences that serve as a reminder of why London is so damn great.
The 10 best restaurants in London
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Head to any notable restaurant in London at the moment and the head chef is probably at St. JOHN alumni. The restaurant that redefined what British food is, St. JOHN has lived out multiple decades, multiple different dining trends and multiple generations to remain one of the city’s most essential dining establishments. There is an undercurrent of classicism here, seen in the almost tongue-in-cheek formalities and descriptions, but at its core St. JOHN is playful, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously either. Grab a welsh rarebit and their infamous bone marrow and revel in the deep history of the place. This is life-affirming food at its best.
57 Nunhead Lane, SE15 3TR
This South African from the now sprawling Kudu Collective is housed in a suitably moody repurposed pub space. The food, however, is anything but moody. It is a joy. Bringing in South African flavours in the most unique of ways with a constant focus on fire-based cooking (courtesy of the Braai), the result is a menu that feels unlike anything else in London.
Acme Fire Cult
40FT Brewery, 2-3 Abbott Street, E8 3DP
Whispers about Acme Fire Cult began last summer when Daniel Watkins and Andrew Clarke’s BBQ-focused pop-up launched to riotous success at London Fields Courtyard. Since then the roaming concept has taken a few temporary homes, until now, finding a permanent spot at Dalston’s 40ft Brewery. It’s a fitting partnership – Acme Fire Cult has a penchant for using beer by-products in their dishes and sauces, such as the Acme Marmite, made from leftover beer yeast. Expect a flavour-packed, veg-centric menu with quality brews to wash it all down.
593 High Road Leytonstone, E11 4PA
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You would be hard pressed to find a restaurant that has built up more of a frenetic following than Singburi. Perhaps due to its extended closure throughout the pandemic and switch to takeout-only for a time, the restaurant has diners chomping at the bit to get by. While the regular menu offers up some of the best Thai food in London, it’s on the blackboard where the magic really happens, with a rotating selection of daily specials that are worth a write up all on their own.
40 Doric Way, NW1 1LH
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On any given evening it’s likely you’ll try to get a table at Roti King and be met by an enormous queue. The best part is, that’s not even the queue, it’s the queue to get onto the queue – one that then allows you to linger in the area until you’re digitally summoned back. It’s a tribute to the restaurant that diners keep coming back time and time again. For deep, warming bowls of laksa, for pull apart piles of roti and a bird's nest of mee goreng (not to mention steaming bowls of rendang, a portion of which is enough to set the world right).
Prawn on the Lawn
292-294 St Paul's Road, N1 2LH
Prawn on the Lawn has come a long way since it was a fishmonger serving as much fish fresh off the counter as was possible with their food licence. These days the empire extends from London to Padstow, with two bolthole restaurants and one sprawling farm residency on the outskirts of the Cornish town. It has managed to retain the charm that garnered it such a cult following all those years ago and, crucially, the menu continues to centre fish brought up from Cornwall overnight.
125 Queen's Road, SE15 2ND
When you picture the perfect neighbourhood restaurant it’s probably Peckham Cellars that comes to mind. House in a moody space with candlelit tables, wine bottles lining the walls and a team that greets every guest like a local, Peckham Cellars is enough to encourage you to up sticks and move to the south east. The menu has a european lilt and the wine is – unsurprisingly – enormously impressive.
41-43 Wardour Street, W1D 6PY
It is likely impossible to find a restaurant of better value in central London than Wong Kei. The Wardour Street establishment is infamous in London for its incredible value, damn good food and unbelievable history – both personal and universal. Mention Wong Kei to any hardened Londoner and they’ll likely have a story to tell you, whether it’s some riotous meal before a night out or simply how good the stuffed tofu is. All of this is to say: it’s a stalwart of London dining.
40 Maltby Street
40 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA
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40 Maltby Street is arguably peerless on the London dining scene. Part of the European-accented small plate brigade, it seems to march to its own tune, existing in its own little culinary vacuum. Great news for diners as that means it continues to churn out some of the most inventive and interesting food either side of the river.
1 Vyner Street, E1 9DG
The place that vaguely sarcastically refers to itself as ‘your 4th favourite Italian restaurant’ is largely one of London’s best dining establishments in general because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. This approach leads to quality Italian food with a regional slant and a seasonal focus being cooked every day, the menu often changing slightly depending on what’s in the kitchen that week (or even that day). Opt for the set menu – it’s where head chef Mitshel Ibrahim really flexes his culinary muscles.
49-51 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT
After a series of pop-ups and temporary spaces, Manteca finally found its permanent home in a former Pizza Express site in Shoreditch. Filling a gap that most Londoners didn’t even know there was in the Italian restaurant market, Manteca is the brainchild of Smokestak founder David Carter and Chris Leach, formerly of Petersham Nurseries and . With an in-house curing space, hand-rolled pastas and a menu that reads like a love letter to Londonified Italian cuisine, it’s no surprise the restaurant has garnered roaring reviews from most major critics and an already dedicated clientele since its permanent move to Shoreditch. We'd advise an elasticated waistband, as you’re going to want to make space for all four sections – charcuterie, small plates, pasta and wood oven – of the menu.
The Blue Posts Cellar, 28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ
Evelyn’s Table is the tiny, chef's table-style restaurant in the cellar of The Blue Posts pub. With the Luke Selby and his brothers Nat and Theo at the helm and the inimitable Honey Spencer behind the wines, it’s quietly confident in its abilities, and one of those unique dining experiences that seems impossible to replicate. The tasting menu pulls on asian influences anchored in British ingredients, and the wine pairings are intriguing yet completely intuitive. The restaurant recently received its first Michelin star – a well deserved accolade that speaks to the brothers’ culinary abilities.
Borough Market and Shoreditch
Padella was a game-changer when it opened in 2016. The dream of Trullo founders Jordan Frieda and Tim Siadatan, the pasta restaurant has a focus on high-quality ingredients, simple dishes and, most crucially, wallet-friendly prices. The fact that six years on the restaurant still garners queues around the corner should really tell you all you need to know. It’s the kind of restaurant you could head to for all occasions and it’s a given that it’ll deliver. The cacio e pepe and 'nduja mascarpone pastas are swoon-worthy, and easy-drinking wine comes by the carafe. Whether you’re pulling up a pew for a pile of pasta on your own or settling in for a multi-plate extravaganza with friends, Padella is always the answer, and its great-value menu is more relevant than ever.
64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
When you think of restaurants crucial to the fabric of a city, Smoking Goat seems to be a fitting choice for London. The current iteration of the restaurant has been around since 2017, and is still packed out most nights of the week with both bookings and walk-ins. While travel may be finally back on the cards, Smoking Goat has been a pretty good way to take our taste buds to South East Asia in the interim. The lardo fried rice and fish sauce chicken wings have reached almost cult status, while the rest of the menu punches well above its weight; a lengthy laab list ranges from mackerel to cull yaw (a retired dairy sheep), grilled and sliced meats are served with chilli sauces or sambals and, if you’re lucky, the drunken noodles might make an appearance every now and then. Wash it all down with one of the incredible natural wines on the menu or a crisp beer from the selection on tap.
Unit 9, Market Row, Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LB
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Adejoké Bakare has had an incredible journey to opening the doors of Chishuru. Originally starting out by way of a supper club, she won the Brixton Kitchen competition in 2019 which secured her a bricks-and-mortar space in the South London market. Opening in late 2020, the restaurant quickly became a favourite in the area, thanks in part to Bakare’s incredible culinary talents and focus on authentic West African flavours. The goat ayamase is the kind of dish you’ll be thinking about for days afterwards and ekuru with pumpkin seed pesto and scotch bonnet sauce is exactly the sort of snack dish you’d want to begin every meal with.
The restaurant that has come to define modern Spanish food in London, Barrafina has been shaking up the restaurant scene in the city since 2007. The first walk-in-only restaurant to win a Michelin star in London, the dynasty includes five locations around town, while still managing to maintain the same level of quality as if there were just the one. The menu contains all the classics – unctuous jamón and cheese croquettes, jammy tortilla, moreish pluma iberica – but the daily specials are where things really come to life, pushing the boundaries and utilising hyper-seasonal ingredients in delicious tapas. As the city comes back to life, settling into the counter here feels like reclaiming a slice of pre-pandemic London.
4 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8BH
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Arguably one of the most exciting restaurants in London at the moment, Mangal 2 underwent something of a metamorphosis over lockdown, switching from a BYO, classically Turkish restaurant to a heightened version, pushing the boundaries of what it means to cook Turkish food in London. Brothers Ferhat and Sertaç Dirik have quietly chipped away at the menu over the last two years, creating a restaurant that is now wholly confident in its new identity. Some of the classic dishes from its new iteration have remained, like the mushroom manti dumplings, which are silky, tangy little things that make for happy slurping, and are joined by newer dishes like heavily salted cull yaw chop and grilled lobster roll, the meat swaddled in the fluffiest brioche bun.
The quintessential modern London chophouse, Blacklock is one of those consistently reliable restaurants that garners a cult following. Serving up some of the best-quality meat you'll find anywhere at outrageously good prices, it should come as no surprise that the group has quickly spread throughout London, with locations in Soho, the City, Shoreditch and now Covent Garden too. The group specialises in (unsurprisingly) chops of all kinds, but the pre-chop bites deserve just as much kudos too. The Blacklock Burger has left a trail of swooning diners in its wake and the cull yaw crumpet is the perfect example of modern British cuisine at its best.
56 Dalston Lane, E8 3AH
In the depths of lockdown when the hospitality industry was on its knees, Angelina was buzzing with energy day-in, day-out. Dedicating their time to cooking meals for those in need, the restaurant's team found it within themselves to give to the most vulnerable when they barely had anything to give. This would be reason enough alone to head there in droves now that life is getting back to normal, but no – not content with simply being staffed by good samaritans, Angelina also happens to be cooking up some ridiculously good food, too. Acclaimed for its Japanese-Italian fusion food, the finished product could be somewhat confusing in the wrong hands, but instead it celebrates two cultures known for their almost fanatical approach to food. Unsurprisingly, it works.
49 Columbia Road, E2 7RG
If we were to think of one modern restaurant that has had a definite influence on London, it would probably be Brawn. This Italian-accented, European restaurant just off Columbia Road can be largely attributed to the rise of the small plates and natural wine movement in the city, and it's exactly the kind of food we want to be celebrating with as the world slowly returns to normal. Bold flavours and a kind of relaxed yet warm vibe make this the sort of restaurant you’d want to move to the area for simply to make it your local. The parmesan fritters are iconic, and the wider menu meanders between everything from cured monkfish to heavier, offal-focused dishes and house-made pasta. Be sure to leave room for dessert – the tiramisu is unparalleled.