The Best Restaurants in London that You Simply Must Visit
From high-end dining to casual joints, these are the best places to eat out in London
London arguably has one of the most exciting dining scenes in the world. It’s an intoxicating blend of cuisines and flavours, featuring everything from Michelin star restaurants to lowkey neighbourhood establishments. It’s a city that’s home to some of the most creative chefs in the world, who are constantly bringing new flavours to the English capital. As well as being travel experts, we’re also somewhat gourmands here at Plum Guide. No matter where it is, we have all there is to know about where to eat and drink. From its hot new openings to the tried-and-true classics, we have the lowdown on a destination’s culinary scene. That’s why we’ve put together this expert guide to the best restaurants in London. If you’re not hungry yet, you will be by the end of this.
A close up view of olives in a bowl next to a Spanish tapas platter
Having been awarded a Michelin star while executive head chef at the famed Barrafina in Soho, Bilbao-born Nieves Barragán Mohacho now holds a Michelin star for her solo venture Sabor (meaning flavour in Spanish). Indeed, flavour is what you’ll get at this lively institution. Set over two stories, you can enjoy drinks and tapas at the counter by the open kitchen, or tuck into grilled dishes and larger plates by the asador upstairs. Sabor features dishes from all around Spain, including baby squid and prawns with fried quail egg, rabbit dumplings, unbelievably soft Iberican ham, and a tortilla of Jerusalem artichoke and jamon. Every dish is worth writing home about, but the two that really stand out are the mouth-watering octopus (cooked in vast copper pans), and the juicy, oven-roasted Segovian suckling pig (a sharing item, but we wouldn’t blame you if you attempted it alone).
CORD by Le Cordon Bleu, St Paul’s
Any gastronome will know that Le Cordon Bleu is the place to learn French haute cuisine, with famous alumni including Julia Child, Yotam Ottolenghi, and Gastòn Acurio. Now, the famed culinary arts and hospitality institute has opened its first fine-dining restaurant in London. While it’s difficult to pick our favourites from the innovative menu, we highly recommend starting with the handpicked crab, cucumber, and radish, served with brown crab dressing and watercress oil. Follow up with the marinated sea bream, corn guacamole and citrus, confit lemon, grilled corn, and marjoram. Finish off strong with the steamed Muscovado sponge, spiced cherries, fig leaf ice cream, and green pistachio. Whatever you order, you’re sure to find the quality and attention to detail that is true to Le Cordon Bleu fashion.
Sushi Tetsu, Clerkenwell
A close up view of salmon sushi on a plate in a restaurant
This unassuming venue situated down one of London’s quiet alleys seems more like a private dinner party than a restaurant. But Sushi Tetsu, run by husband and wife duo Toru and Harumi Takahashi, is quite possibly one of the hardest-to-book restaurants in London. With only seven seats available, you’ll need to be very flexible and willing to book way in advance for a seat here. You can either choose the a la carte menu of white fish, tuna fish, blue fish and shellfish sushi, sashimi, and rolls, or opt to go omakase - placing your trust in the chef to prepare a unique tasting menu with the freshest ingredients. Perching yourself behind the long wooden bar and watching Toru Takahashi’s knife skills is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
The Michelin-starred Brat serves up British food with a Basque twist. Chef Tomos Parry emulates techniques used in the north of Spain, including the use of a wood fire to slow cook his ingredients. While he is also the chef behind the celebrity hangout Kitty Fisher’s, Brat is a more open, casual joint. It takes its name from the old English word for turbot, which also happens to be one of the dishes they do best. Slow cooked, sticky, and best enjoyed by hand, this is a must-order item. Welsh lamb, English beef, and seasonal fruit and vegetables are given the spotlight too. The wine list is put together by the award-winning Noble Rot, and changes each month to focus on small producers.
Born in Kenya to Indian parents and brought up in the UK, chef Ravinder Bhogal’s Jikoni is a celebration of Indian, African, and European cooking. This ‘no borders’ kitchen is one of the best restaurants in London, celebrating the similarities and differences between cultures by using homestyle cooking techniques that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Indeed, the restaurant itself is very homely with bright tablecloths, colourful cushions, and pastels. Anything you order is bound to impress, from prawn toast scotch egg with banana ketchup and pickled cucumbers, to the cheery fish pie with golden saffron. If you’re drinking, the cocktails make the most of Eastern spices, or opt for the curated selection of teas (the Kenya chai is particularly delightful).
A close up view of poppadoms in front of silver pans
Inspired by India’s elite social and sporting clubs, the Michelin-starred Gymkhana (awarded just one year after it opened) serves up elevated Indian cuisine set over two chic and cosy floors. Although the staff would never name drop, it’s known that David Beckham is a fan - as you’ve probably figured by now, Gymkhana may put a large dent in your wallet. However, every dish is worth the splurge, from the trademark wild muntjac biryani in its golden pastry dome, to the aromatic Chettinad duck hidden beneath a perfectly crisp dosa. Side dishes and sharing platters are particularly popular menu items - such as the kid goat methi keema and poppadom selection.
Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, Soho
Imad Alarnab was a successful restaurateur in Damascus, owning three restaurants as well as several juice bars and cafes. When he was forced to flee his homeland in 2015, he made his way through Europe while cooking for fellow refugees. Once he found refuge in the UK, it wasn’t long before a series of successful popup kitchens and charity events led to the now permanent Imad’s Syrian Kitchen. It’s easy to order vegetarian dishes like the falafel and halloumi noodles served with a rocket and watermelon salad - but if you feel like a meat dish, make it the fattet macdous, a mouth-watering concoction of minced lamb and aubergines on flatbread. Wash it all down with a selection of Mediterranean wines, and an interesting choice of beers.
Ikoyi Restaurant, St James’s
A bowl of Jollof rice on a wooden table in a restaurant
Having just been awarded its second Michelin star, Ikoyi is easily one of the best restaurants in London right now. Head chef Jeremy Chan and business partner Iré Hassan-Odukale bring West African flavours, paired with cooking techniques acquired at the likes of Noma, Hibiscus, and Dinner by Heston. Think dishes like wild Nigerian tiger prawn with banga bisque, jollof rice with smoked crab, and ike jime trout. The tasting menu regularly changes, but favourites like the plantain in pink raspberry salt with a touch of smoked scotch-bonnet mayo regularly makes an appearance. Be warned that most of the dishes heavily feature spice, but with varying levels of heat. Cool your mouth down with one of the choices from the colourful cocktail menu, or go for the non-alcoholic Ikoyi Chapman with blood orange, cucumber, and rose.
Circolo Popolare, Fitzrovia
If you’re looking for a larger-than-life and slightly outrageous (in the best way possible) Italian joint, then Circolo Popolare is just what you want. As soon as you step inside, the trattoria-style restaurant is an assault on the senses, from the walls covered top to bottom with over 20,000 bottles of spirits, to the colourful flower arrangements and lights. The menu isn’t any less extravagant, focusing on Sicilian and Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on sharing dishes. As well as dishes like aged San Daniele ham and sfoglia with Tuscan pork ragu, the restaurant has several showstoppers - like their metre-long pizzas, or the ‘OTT 1L Sundae’ (yes, one whole litre) with cookie chunks, churros, brownies, and whipped cream. If you’re not feeling like your Italian nonna has overfed you, then you’re doing it wrong.
A close up view of stracciatella on red tomatoes
Inspired by a new wave of casual bistro dining in cities like Paris, Copenhagen, and Barcelona, Nicholas Balfe’s second restaurant behind Peckham Rye station is one to look out for. The restaurant has sustainability at its forefront, with 90% of waste and trimmings reused or repurposed. The seasonal menu changes almost on a daily basis, so don’t expect to have the same meal twice - although with the kitchen’s unwavering talent, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Expect dishes like creamy stracciatella paired with salted plums and crispy buckwheat, black trompette mushrooms and a layer of vacherin, and beef tartare hidden under an anchovy crumb and lamb’s lettuce, accompanied by slow-roasted Jerusalem artichokes. Levan’s wines are all low-intervention, organic, and mostly biodynamic - this is sustainable eating at its best.