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London's best Middle Eastern restaurants

 Craving the punchy flavours and vibrancy of food from the Middle East and the Levant? These brilliant restaurants all do a fine job of representing the region

There are culinary realms in which London struggles to compete with other large cities. Specific cuisines or foods where we punch well below our weight for a city of such size and diversity. Middle Eastern food is categorically not one of those areas. 

Spanning an area that encompasses multiple countries and varying cuisines, we have chosen to group these restaurants together in order to represent what Middle Eastern food in London really means. With a culture of fusion cooking, each restaurant pulls influence from multiple countries and flavour profiles, creating a new definition of what it means to be cooking food from the region in London. 

While Middle Eastern communities and their cooking has been a central tenet of London eating for generations, London's insatiable hunger for contemporary Middle Eastern bistro-style food can undeniably be linked back to Yotam Ottolenghi and his wild success, with the opening of his eponymous delis and subsequent restaurant Nopi opening up the general British public to new flavours and ways of eating. Since then, the capital has hardly looked back. From crowd-favourite Berenjak, to the unstoppable Palomar group and modern Turkish Mangal 2, there is arguably no better cuisine to seek out in London right now. Here, we round up our pick of the best. 

13 of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in London

Bubala

Various locations

Bubala could have ridden on the coattails of being entirely vegetarian, relying on attracting the meat-free crowd to a place where they’re finally served more than simply a grilled portobello mushroom in place of a steak. But no – Bubala was not content with simply coaxing plant based diners like moths to a flame. They were committed to converting the carnivores too – proving to a meat-centric society that vegetables can be just as, if not more, exciting. Take, for example, the fried aubergine with zhoug and date syrup. The immense texture and the depth of the flavour palette make this a dish that would have even the hardiest of meat eaters ready to turn their back on lamb.

bubala.co.uk

Honey & Co

54 Lamb's Conduit Street, WC1N 3LW

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After ten years in central London, the excellent and much-loved Honey & Co announced in February that it would be temporarily closing their doors and moving to a new home in Bloomsbury, with the new spot opening in June. A larger space than its original site, the new iteration allows Honey & Co to expand into the future, while still serving up the dishes it became so beloved for – so expect lots of food from Israel and further across the Eastern Mediterranean including crunchy, flavourful falafel, slow-cooked lamb and, of course, the infamous feta and honey cheesecake.

honeyandco.co.uk

The Palomar

34 Rupert Street, W1D 6DN

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Having become something of a London stalwart, The Palomar is part of the Barbary group, which looks after, among others, the eponymous restaurant alongside recent Michelin star winner Evelyn’s Table. You can, therefore, expect a fairly cracking meal. Serving up the food of modern day Jerusalem, the menu draws influences from Southern Spain, North Africa and the Levant. This manifests itself in dishes like grilled bream with green harissa and cumin broccoli with za’atar yoghurt and urfa chilli. Whether you’re pulling up a pew at the 16-seat bar, watching the chefs work away in front of you, or the cosy dining room at the rear of the space, The Palomar is a restaurant that somehow feels suitable for the everyday and special occasions alike.

thepalomar.co.uk

Oklava

74 Luke Street, EC2A 4PY

A hidden gem in a part of town full of culinary talent, Oklava has been cooking up delicious and frequently spellbinding food for years, and is only getting better. Founded by chef Selin Kiazim, the restaurant is an expression of her Turkish-Cypriot heritage, with dishes taking influence from the food she and her family ate on family trips to the island as well as her passion for the flavours of the Eastern Mediterranean – something that’s helped by time spent under legendary New Zealand chef and fusion-food expert Peter Gordon on her way up the hospitality ladder. Kiazim’s cooking is all her own, though, and despite numerous TV appearances, she still spends most of her time honing her craft in the restaurant’s kitchen.

oklava.co.uk

Coal Office

2 Bagley Walk, N1C 4PQ

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If you’re looking for authentic Israeli flavours in London, we’d wager that arguably the finest restaurateur in Israel is probably a good place to start. Coal Office is a collaboration between Assaf Granit, of the multi-Michelin-starred Machneyuda and its spinoffs, and iconic designer Tom Dixon in Coal Drop’s Yard, and the result is a jaw-droppingly beautiful restaurant dripping with post-industrial chic and serving some of the best Middle Eastern brasserie-style food in the capital. New head chef Dan Telles, who worked alongside Granit in his native Israel either side of a stint in New York. Dishes are rooted in Israel and the Levant, from old city-style herb salads grilled lamb and luscious hummus, but often draw inspiration from Europe, too, while there’s an incredible list of Israeli wines, too.

coaloffice.com

NOPI

21-22 Warwick Street, W1B 5NE

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Yotam Ottolenghi can basically be directly attributed to the expansion of the British diner’s palate, and the extreme expansion of our spice cabinets, too. And while his empire may have kicked off with his eponymous delis, it’s at Nopi that his takeover of the London restaurant scene was solidified. The white-washed Soho space is still to this day a city favourite and continues to churn out some of the best middle eastern food in town (and it puts vegetables front and centre). He’s a global household name for a reason after all.

ottolenghi.co.uk

Nandine

Various locations

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Opened by Pary Baban in 2016, Nandine has become something of a quiet favourite among Camberwell locals, with news steadily spreading city-wide in the years since. Having moved to London in 1995 due to displacement under Saddam Hussein’s rule, Baban serves up food from her home region of Kurdistan – Nandine translates to ‘kitchen’ in old Kurdish – so you can expect meats cooked over fire and a selection of veg-centric dishes, including Baban’s famous smoked aubergine, covered in Nandine’s homemade spice rub.

nandine.co.uk

The Barbary

16 Neal's Yard, WC2H 9DP

The Palomar group is no stranger to a great restaurant. Their eponymous joint also features on this list, alongside The Barbary – an equally as wonderful restaurant with a slightly stronger Mediterranean focus and a penchant for cooking over fire. The menu ticks all the boxes flavour-wise; a sprinkle of za'atar here, a hint of dukkah there, and elevates everything with a hefty dose of smoke courtesy of the aforementioned grill. 

thebarbary.co.uk

Berber & Q

388 Acton Mews, E8 4EA

One thing London does very well is railway arches. Rather than letting these industrial, often barren spaces remain vacant and lifeless, they have instead been reclaimed by hospitality, playing host to some of the city’s best restaurants. Berber & Q is one such spot, sitting pretty in an archway in Haggerston. Unsurprisingly, chef-owner Josh Katz has a career anchored in Ottolenghi, which explains the serious middle eastern influences, but Katz takes things up a notch, with a BBQ element central to the entire menu. The combination of bold flavours and an enduring smokiness make any meal at Berber & Q an absolute ripper.

berberandq.com

Berenjak

Various locations

Aiming to emulate the hole-in-the-wall eateries of Tehran, Berenjak serves up Persian food that has gained a whole host of regular customers, including none other than Dua Lipa. In fact, the Soho joint is so popular that they’ve recently opened a second in the equally as frequented Borough Market. It’s no surprise, really, especially when you consider the food. The gang’s all here – silky hummus, carcinogenic kebabs, voluminous flat bread – and it’s done bloody well. JKS restaurants strike again.

berenjaklondon.com

ROVI

59 Wells Street, W1A 3AE

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Not content with simply taking over Britain's kitchens, supermarkets and cookbook shelves and also operating one of the city’s best middle eastern restaurants (or actually, simply one of the city’s best restaurants full stop), Ottolenghi opened Rovi in 2018. It pulls on a more diverse range of culinary influences than his previous outposts – with elements of Mediterranean and Japanese cuisines throughout, for example – but it’s still firmly Ottolenghi and therefore firmly middle eastern. You only need to take on bite of that glorious celeriac shawarma to confirm it.

ottolenghi.co.uk

Mangal 2

4 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8BH

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It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Mangal 2 here at Foodism. We loved it before it’s reinvention, when it was serving up some of the best grilled meats and mezze in town, but we like it even more now that it’s shaking things up a little bit. Giving extra care to what and how they cook, the food at Mangal 2 looks at Turkish food through a lens that’s often reserved for Euro-centric cuisines. And it works. Recent visits have seen unctuous cull yaw koftes, lightly crackled slow-cooked lamb shoulder and perfectly cooked monkfish with grilled tomato ezme. Yum.

mangal2.com

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