22 Kingly St., Soho
This relatively new and growing chain of modern Indian restaurants reveals a new dimension to a city already well-versed in the cuisine. Expertly decorated to resemble an old Iranian Bombay cafe, the vibe is casual and, as tradition dictates, ideal for both large groups and singles reading the paper and having a chai. The long menu of rotis, naans, grilled meats, and stews is spice-inflected but not necessarily curry heavy. There are three more locations in Covent Garden, King's Cross, and Shoreditch.
The Blue Posts, Cellar, 28 Rupert St., Soho
How do you create what is possibly the perfect restaurant? Take a beautiful grey marble bar, put the kitchen right there in the bar, slide eleven seats around it, and serve rich, fresh dishes inspired by southern Europe. Come with one other person or go big and book out the entire restaurant. Then order the mackerel with pickled carrots, the rich duck capelletti, and the unexpected cuttlefish ragu with tapioca crisps. Whatever you order, you won’t regret. And finish it off with a bottle of…sake. The selection is impressive and unexpected (there’s also a wine list if you want to go that route).
4a Meard St., Soho
Like all good things in London, this burgeoning chainlet is growing fast. Once a beloved food truck with a cleverly built-in pizza oven, it now has not one but two bricks-and-mortar outposts. The thin-crust pizza at all their charmingly lo-fi locations is superb, as are the negronis and affogato. At the new spot off Carnaby, we’re looking forward to fried pizza courtesy of their first authentic Neapolitan fryer—the guys spent a couple of weeks in Naples recently to learn the art of frying pretty much everything.
49 Frith St., Soho
When the venerable Sethi family, of Gymkhana fame, opened up a new Sri Lankan spot, at lighter prices than those of its sister restaurant, Londoners came in droves. The new space has been beautifully transformed into a Sri Lankan establishment of yore, with busy tiled floors and dark teak seating, ready for the Sethi's super-simplified menu of "Hoppers, Dosas, Rice, Roast" and more traditional foods from Sri Lanka and the Tamil Nadu region of India. The Hoppers—a thicker dosa, basically—are the obvious choice, though the roast section of the menu brings some welcome surprises like a Buffalo Biriani and an incredible Lamb Roti. Peace has been restored, and so too have the lines up the street.
29 Romilly St., Soho
How Soho can absorb one more hotel defies belief, but Kettner’s, in Nick Jones’s signature fashion, feels like it has been there from the start. The property dates to 1867, and if you believe the rumors, it was once owned by the chef to Napoleon III. Most recently, it has been restored to all its Georgian glamour. The hotel restaurant is straight out of Paris with mirrored walls, elaborately sculpted cornices, and lavishly upholstered seats. The champagne bar feels like an old-world lounge with an original mosaic floor, sink-into armchairs, and horseshoe-shaped marble bar. Each of the thirty-three bedrooms is a hybrid of an English country manor and a 1920s boudoir. The sofas are clad in rich buttery velvet, the wallpaper is vintage, and the sheets Egyptian cotton. Thoughtful touches like deep tubs and Cowshed products in the Georgian-style bathrooms, Roberts radios, and proper alarm clocks make it feel more like the home of an incredibly chic friend than a hotel. Go big and book into the Jacobean suite for a dose of period grandeur—wood-paneled walls, a bed the size of a small ship, a freestanding copper tub,…
58 Brewer St., Soho
To appease the masses of fans of Smoking Goat, the teensy dive bar that serves up some of the—if not the—most incredible Thai BBQ in town, chef Ben Chapman has expanded into a much bigger, glitzier space in Soho. Here, thrillingly, with a long bar facing the kitchen you get to watch the action unfold in the mighty kiln for which the restaurant is named. It would be hard to name one dish to go for, as all the sharing plates on the menu are pretty unforgettable, so the best bet is to book downstairs with a large group so you can dive in and share it all—it's a short menu.
50 Frith St., Soho
A cult classic for years in Soho, these authentic Japanese noodles come in a variety of hot and cold broths with a selection of flavors and toppings; some of our favorites are wakame seaweed and poached egg. Rice bowls and small plates are also delicious here, all with a focus on fresh ingredients.
12 Denman St., Soho
What started as two school friends operating a small enterprise out of a ship container at Pop Brixton has grown into a beautiful restaurant in the heart of Soho. Kricket does Indian—flecked with Anglo influence—small-plate style. The menu is direct, divided into declarative categories, like meat and fish, rice, and vegetables. Our favorite: Keralan fried chicken and kulcha bread with date and pistachio, which is perfect for sharing. The space is all industrial: exposed pipes and brick, unexpectedly softened with pink leather stools, and pretty tile floors. Just arrive early; it’s near impossible to get a seat after 6:30 p.m.
51 Greek St., Soho
Every Londoner who frequents Soho knows Lina Stores. The Italian deli has occupied the same spot for close to eighty years, keeping pantries stocked with obscure pastas and excellent tomato sauce. The owners have had the good sense to open a restaurant on nearby Greek Street, and we can confidently say the pasta here is better than anywhere else in the area. Sit at the bar—it’s always the best seat anyway—and watch the chefs prepare your dinner. Classic Roman puntarelle (a bitter chicory) is on the menu, doused, as it should be, in a salty anchovy dressing. Pappardelle arrives in a rich rabbit ragu. The crab pasta is spicy and citrusy, and the gnudi smothered in brown butter and sage are is so good we ordered two. Bonus: practically every dish costs less than ten pounds.
66 Staunton St., Central
As the name suggests, the focus here is on baos, i.e., Vietnamese buns filled with pork and fish, though the sides are equally compelling: There are Brussels sprouts (topped with fish sauce and fried shallots) and sambal-inflected fries, along with slabs of green tea ice cream sandwiched between deep-fried buns.
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