35-37 Heddon St., Mayfair
Heddon Street is the closest thing Mayfair has to a back alley—and nipping down the side street for a feast of full suckling pig and one too many glasses of fine sherry feels suitably illicit. Sabor is flavor—and lots of it. The two-story space cheerily decked out in Spanish tile and exposed brick hits the sweet spot of having both the dip-in-and-out cozy seats at the bar for a few tapas and the communal table packed with your rambunctious extended family for several courses upstairs. From the same people behind Barrafina, the traditional food here is good, really good. Grilled bread with a scraping of smashed tomato; oily, garlicky prawns to tear into with your fingers; and a whole suckling pig (it comes in a half or quarter sizes, too) so meltingly tender it arrives with only a spoon to serve.
Sake No Hana
23 St. James's St., Mayfair
Sake No Hana turns out some of the best sushi in London. The Kengo Kuma–designed restaurant is an interpretation of what a forest of the future might look like: The ceiling and walls are made of interlocking bamboo and cypress tree rods, warmed up with the reflective glow of the amber lighting, like the sun peeping through the pines. This is a proper restaurant that has not succumbed to too-noisy, too-dark clubbiness. Sit at the bar to watch the chefs at work, and if in doubt, go for the tasting menu for Sake No Hana’s greatest hits, all beautifully presented. Skip the traditional desserts and get the Japanese whiskey flight—three tasters, each one accompanied by a lone chocolate that complements the flavors. Dining here, while undoubtedly a commitment, is worth every penny: The food is exquisite and the service faultless.
1 St. James's Market, Mayfair
Ikoyi is named for the swish Lagos neighborhood cofounder Iré Hassan-Odukale grew up in. The cooked-to-perfection West African fare is prepared by Hassan-Odukale’s school friend, Chinese-Canadian chef Jeremy Chan. Chan, who hails from the kitchens of Noma and Dinner, and Hassan-Odukale have put a great deal of thought into every detail, from the incredibly sleek, almost mid-century modern dining room to the unusual and fascinating cocktail list. Then again, this is St. James's—there is no room for error. Order the suya beef blade with rich, smoked bone marrow and jollof rice, get a side of the sweet buttermilk plantain, and if nothing else, order the Guinness Stone Fence. Guinness is popular in Nigeria, and this cocktail, with cacao-nib-infused rum and lime flower, elevates the humble pint to a sublime creation.
Indian Accent (Closed)
16 Albemarle St., Mayfair
Indian Accent started in Delhi, moved to New York, and settled, as all the cool kids eventually do, in London. As always, the Indian treatment of seafood hits the spot with perfectly cooked, aggressively flavored fish. (You will try to decode the mashup of spices so you can re-create the dishes at home—don’t bother; you can’t). Portions are small, but it’s mostly a tasting menu, and each course packs a serious punch. Order a few plates and share—this is the kind of food that suits a table of three or more. We humbly suggest the roast lamb with assorted chutneys and flaky roti, and the mixed medley of kulcha (breads stuffed with cheese, nuts, even black pudding) is absolutely necessary.
East by West (Closed)
41 Conduit St., Mayfair
They brought bone broth, chaga tea, and cauliflower rice to the UK, they brought us the spiralizer, and now, Jasmine Hemsley of the Hemsley + Hemsley sister duo is breaking out on her own and bringing Ayurvedic cuisine to London. Being a Hemsley means she’s doing it with panache, presenting her take on traditional rotis, ladoo sweets, and Pakti hot salad bowls at her own three-month "pop in" café, East by West, inside Maiyet’s first London concept store. On weekdays, breakfast, a three-course lunch, and a small dinner—according to the rules, dinner should be a light snack and lunch your biggest meal—is served on a communal, gold "Mass" dining table by Tom Dixon. It’s all beautifully done, open from early 'til late all week long, and makes a perfect debut for this wellness powerhouse.
9 Conduit St., Mayfair
Using bold décor choices and a selection of art from some of the city’s youngest talents, Mourad Mazouz has transformed the two floors of this restored 18th century building into an important cultural destination, complete with three lounges for tea and cocktails and two full-fledged restaurants. The Lecture Room, the space’s more formal restaurant, holds two Michelin stars, and the Gallery (famous for its plush pink chairs) features a rotating program of artworks—right now, the walls are covered in more than 200 of David Shrigley's quirky sketches. If you’re not up for a full meal, lounges East Bar and Enchanted Glade (which has exactly the décor you expect) are perfect spots for early evening cocktails. Note: Take a trip to the restroom, as the egg-shaped toilet pods and colorful ceiling make for a pretty unforgettable trip to the loo.
43 Upper Brook, Mayfair
From the soufflés to the caviars, to the champagne butters, to the fromage, Le Gavroche is classic French formal at its best. The flavors—care of chef Michel Roux Jr. (who took over from his father in 1991)—are rich and intense, much like the lavish cellar-inspired room, which oozes old-world luxury and charm. Since opening in 1967, Le Gavroche has earned itself two Michelin-stars and paved the way for Mayfair's place in the fine-dining landscape.
65 S. Audley St., Mayfair
This place goes way beyond the comfort classics to reinvent contemporary Chinese cuisine. From the sophisticated desserts at the start of the menu (enticing you to leave room) to piquant hot and cold starters, delicate broth soups, to an entire abalone section, eating here is an intricate and delicious luxury. Prepare your budget accordingly.
30 N. Audley St., Mayfair
The original Roka restaurant is housed in a large, open space with light wood fixtures, an impressive robata grill in the center of the dining room (it has an oddly hypnotic effect on kids), and floor-to-ceiling windows that open out onto Charlotte Street on nicer days. Grilled items are of course what this place is all about, but not in your usual combination of flavors: asparagus is dressed with sweet soy and sesame and black cod gets a yuzu miso treatment. There's also fresh sushi and sashimi options if you're feeling like something a little less charred. There are multiple locations across the city.
44 Berkeley Sq., Mayfair
Founded in 1963 by London hospitality legend Mark Birley, Annabel's is something of a London institution. Generations of London royalty from Princess Di and the Rolling Stones to Poppy Delevigne have turned up there to rub elbows on its intimate and tiny dance floor. Annabel's may not be as red-hot as it was in the old days, but it retains its sense of history, its exclusive clientele, and the impeccable service and style that made it famous in the first place. If you're lucky enough to be a member (or a friend of one), do remember the dress code—men will need a jacket to get in.