The London Foodie Guide
There are tons of new spots in London that are quickly becoming classics. Thanks to the arrival of Andre Balasz’ Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone is sprouting all kinds of greatness, plus there are loads of more affordable (and verifiably great) restaurants popping up all over town.
The Providores109 Marylebone High St., Marylebone | +44.20.7935.6175
So this isn't Spanish Tapas at all, which is a popular misconception. Instead, Providores serves up powerful, punchy small plates of fantastic Antipodean cuisine with innovative combinations like truffled prawn siu-mai alongside a tortilla with urfa chili yogurt. The upstairs is the more formal dining room upstairs, which you have to book in advance, but it's actually a bit more fun in the rowdy Tapa Room—named after a traditional Rarotongan textile, not Spanish tapas—downstairs. The Sunday brunch is one of the best in London; just expect to wait for a table.
The Clove ClubShoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St., Shoreditch | +44.20.7729.6496
The Clove Club serves a short but exciting menu in the historic Shoreditch Town Hall. The meals are beautifully prepared and presented, but the most impressive aspect is the quality of each locally sourced ingredient: from Zerbinati melons, to pine salt, to the freshest heritage tomatoes. It's a set menu (£35 for a three-course lunch and £65 for dinner) with a choice for each course, though if you're not in the market for a full meal, stop by for a drink and a few à la carte dishes in the front bar room.
Yauatcha15-17 Broadwick St., Soho | +44.20.7494.8888
Michelin starred dim sum? Yeah, we're game. All of the dumplings are worthy of the rating, but the Peking spring rolls, sticky rice in a lotus leaf (with chicken and shrimp) are also amazing. Their delicious desserts and pastries are a well-kept secret and a welcome departure from green tea ice cream.
Brindisa Tapas46 Broadwick St., Soho | +44.20.7534.1690
The encyclopedic menu ranges from traditional (acorn-fed chorizo) to deliciously inventive (air-cured tuna loin with pear) and also includes fantastic charcuterie (the ham is out of this world) and cheeses. It's also worth noting that this is a restaurant where the vegetarian dishes definitely don't feel like a consolation prize. The Borough location is the original, with a large outdoor seating area, but the buzzy Soho space is also worth a visit.
HKK88 Worship St., Shoreditch | +44.20.3535.1888
If leisurely tasting menus are your thing, don't miss this fusion Chinese restaurant, which offers a lot of bang for your buck. Go for the full 15 courses if you're feeling adventurous or stick to eight for a less extreme but equally solid meal. They also have a vegetarian option and a great five-course duck lunch menu.
Gymkhana42 Albemarle St., Mayfair | +44.20.3011.5900
Modeled after a Raj-era Indian sports club, Gymkhana balances old-world interiors with some of the best Indian in London: It was voted the number one restaurant in London in 2013 before going on to win a Michelin star in 2014. The food is served family-style—Tikkas, Biryanis, Saags—but things get really exciting when it comes to the bread. The duck egg bhurji with lobster, for one, is epic. Perfect for intimate, private dinners, the restaurant also has two beautifully appointed vaults that seat 9 or 12: They are tasting menu only so, go prepared for a big meal.
The Duck & Rice90 Berwick St., Soho | +44.20.3327.7888
It's not a big surprise that restaurateur Alan Yau—Wagamama, Hakkasan, and Yauatcha—has moved on to his next big concept. (He’s sold all three of his ventures.) While the food and the beer list at this Chinese gastropub is undeniably stellar (as expected, the Cantonese roasted duck is the thing to get), the interiors, by Turkish design firm Autoban, might just be good enough to usurp the spotlight—You don't miss out on either in either of the private rooms which seat up to 12.
Dinner by Heston BlumenthalMandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Knighstbridge | +44.20.7201.3833
Well, the actual dinner you'll eat will be created by Ashley Palmer-Watts, executive head chef of the Fat Duck group, who has worked with Blumenthal to create the exquisite modern British fare here. Being that this place is inside the Mandarin Oriental, it attracts a high-profile clientele—both hotel guests and locals—who like to linger in the warm, handsome room.
Dabbous39 Whitfield St., Fitzrovia | +44.20.7323.1544
The food at Oliver Dabbous' flagship is inventive and modern, light and clean (think olive oil ganache and sheep's milk ice cream), with a focus on local ingredients and seasonality. The dining room, which is industrial with a smattering of rustic touches, reveals exposed air ducts and minimal wood tables, a look which gets a bit warmer in the den-like bar downstairs. The best part is the price point—£58 for their multi-course tasting menu and just £35 for the four-course lunch.
Burger & Lobster36-38 Dean St., Soho | +44.20.7432.4800
The lobster at this brilliant fast-casual concept is made three ways: steamed all the way through, finished on the grill, or stuffed in a roll (get a side of fries, trust). Each of the nine outposts is perpetually buzzing, so expect lines out the door and truckloads of tourists. But the service is efficient, so you're guaranteed a stellar experience no matter what. They don’t take reservations, so go early and grab a drink. Hugely popular since it opened, there are now numerous offshoots all over the city, though we prefer the Dean Street original.
Barnyard18 Charlotte St., Fitzrovia | +44.20.7580.3842
This place is a total 180 from the Ollie Dabbous original: Rather than industrial and urban, it's shack-like, and in lieu of delicately plated dishes, the fare is heavier, home-style cooking. But it’s great. In fact, it may just serve the most finely prepped cauliflower cheese, sausage roll, and bubble & squeak in town.
Yashin Sushi1A Argyll Rd., Kensington | +44.20.7938.1536
This spot offers small plates and inventive nigiri that's served sans soy sauce to keep the spotlight on the beautiful, natural flavors. The dishes at Yashin are more gourmet than traditional, so imagine offerings like miso cappuccino and truffle infusions, in addition to a few hot, tapas-style picks. Come here for excellent food in an unpretentious setting, case in point: the £30 Omakase option.
Barrafina26 - 29 Dean Street., Soho | +44.20.7440.1456
Restaurateurs (and brothers) Sam and Eddie Hart were among the first to bring a tapas-centric menu to London. Their tiny Barrafina, which has three outposts, only offers seating at the bar, and since they don't offer reservations you'll want to get there on the early side. The menu is old-school when it comes to tapas, so we recommend classic favorites like the traditional Spanish tortilla or the chorizo with potato and watercress. The original has now moved a few steps away and into Quo Vadis, the private club that the Harts also own, while there are also two other locations on Adelaide Street and Drury Lane.
Pizarro194 Bermondsey St., Bermondsey | +44.20.7407.7339
Jose Pizarro has two restaurants in Bermondsey that are really worth going south of the river for: Pizarro, which is a sit down Spanish restaurant, and Jose, a tapas bar just up the street. You will find Jose himself in either kitchen on any given night and his dedication shows. The food is really excellent, with a thoughtful wine and sherry list to match. Pizarro in particular, occupies a really warm, welcoming room with a partially open kitchen, making it great for a date or a night out with friends.
Tate CaféTate Modern, Bankside | +44.20.7887.8888
After a long day of sight-seeing, even the most stoic foodies can succumb to the typically sub-par and soggy dining options inside most museums. Not so at the Tate Modern, whose award-winning, riverfront café pretty much blows other museum dining options out of the water. The full menu caters to adult and children's dining needs with everything from a light, flavorful smoked salmon salad (and a seriously good wine list) to perfectly crispy fish and chips. Did we mention that kids eat for free?
Bocca di Lupo12 Archer St., Soho | +44.20.7734.2223
Bocca di Lupo's Chef Jacob Kennedy recreates classic Italian dishes from all over Italy—from Sicily to Piedmont and back—with true authenticity and at a very reasonable price. All the dishes on the menu, including appetizers, come in small and large portions so you can piece a meal together with a scattering of smalls, or heck, have the appetizer as a main. It’s a popular place, so book ahead.
Ottolenghi63 Ledbury Rd., Notting Hill | +44.20.7727.1121
Mediterranean-inspired Ottolenghi sort of defies categorization: Their four locations differ slightly in their offerings, but they all feature some level of sit-down dining, a deli with pre-made takeout, and excellent catering. Don't be surprised to find a line no matter what time you arrive, but know that it's worth the wait for their near-perfect pastries, quiches, and salads. If you don't have time to cook before a dinner party, it's an excellent pick for a meal that you can pick up and bring home.
Lyle’s56 Shoreditch High St., Shoreditch | +44.20.3011.5911
It’s no surprise that Chef James Lowe cut his teeth at the Fat Duck and then at St. John Bread & Wine, as his first restaurant has the "nose-to-tail" ethos down pat. The à la carte lunch and set dinner menus change daily, where you’ll come across parts of fish, vegetables, and meats you’d never known to be delicious before. Beyond the local, seasonal cuisine, it’s the lightness of the way it’s served that makes the meal: The white-tiled room is spacious and airy, and the servers will tell you all about each dish without rushing through the details (many of the ingredients are quite unusual, so you’ll have questions). Another highlight is the wine list, selected by the River Café veteran sommelier, featuring some fantastic and unusual wines, sourced everywhere from Santa Rita, California to Slovakia.