Food & Drink

There’s never been a better time to eat out in London. British cooking is better than it has ever been, and the capital still has some of the most diverse restaurants of any city in the world. You’ll find Bangladeshi and Burmese, Ethiopian and Turkish, as well as fine French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Thai restaurants. And if none of that appeals to you, there’s always good old fish ‘n’ chips.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

  • 13-15 West Street, Covent Garden


The Japanese-inspired L’Atelier is dimly lit, but the open kitchen makes an impressive focal point. Small tasting dishes are the best way to explore the work of French super-chef Joël Robuchon, although a European-style menu format is also available.

  • Leicester Square


  • 89 Westbourne Park Road, Westbourne Grove


Tom Conran’s highly popular Cow gastropub has a retro-Irish vibe and some excellent seafood to go along with a nice range of drinks. The Cow knows it’s cool and the crowds do nothing to dissuade it.

  • Royal Oak or Westbourne Park


  • 159 Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell


Widley credited with being the first London gastropub, this is still recognisably a pub serving terrific Iberian/Med-influenced food. It’s noisy and often crowded, with no-frills service. The dining room is dominated by a giant open range, where T-shirted cooks toss grills amid theatrical burst of flames.


  • 8 Hanway Place, Fitzrovia


Where Alan Yau opened this glamourous take on the Shanghai teahouse in 2001, he redefined Chinese dining in the UK. Today its dark, moody, nightclub feel, chillout lounge music and high-ticket dining still pull some of the liveliest, richest crowds in town.

  • Tottenham Court Road

J Sheekey

  • 28-32 St Martin’s Court, Leicester Square


Unlike many of London’s period pieces, Sheekey’s buzzes with fashionable folk and famous faces. Tables are cramped, but it’s all part of the fun. The menu stretches from comforting favourites (fish pie, dense salmon fish cakes) to accomplished modern British and European cooking.

  • Leicester Square


  • 87 Tower Bridge Road, Southwark


Manze’s is surely the finest remaining purveyor of pie and mash – the super-cheap traditional dish of London’s working classes. It’s not only the oldest pie shop, established in 1902, but also the most beautiful, with tiled interior, marble-topped tables and worn wooden benches.

  • Borough


  • 34-36 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell


Moro is fully booked night after night, so phone at least 48 hours ahead if you want to sample the secret of its success: consistently high-quality cooking and cheerful dining space on fashionable Exmouth Market. The inventive menu focuses on North African and Spanish cooking.

  • Farringdon


  • Floral Hall, Borough Market, Stoney Street, Bankside


Perched above Borough Market, Roast celebrates its marvellous location with a menu inspired by British produce, much of it sourced from the stall-holders below. Seasonality and freshness are the buzz words – there’s no doubting the quality of the ingredients.

  • London Bridge

St John

  • 26 St John Street, Clerkenwell


A leading light in the revival of British cuisine, St John is an austere-looking and modest place, opened in the shell of a former Smithfield smokehouse. The focus is on seasonal British ingredients (heavy on the pork), which are simply cooked and presented.

  • Barbican or Farringdon


  • 9 Conduit Street, Mayfair


Of the three sections of Pierre Gagnaire’s legendarily expensive Sketch – including extravagant destination dining at the Gallery and the Lecture Room’s haute-beyond-haute cuisine – the glade is the most egalitarian. Its menus are appropriate artful and not unreasonably priced for the quality.

  • Oxford Circus

London Hack

Note that most London restaurants serve food from noon to 2.30/3pm, and from 6pm/7.30pm to around 11pm.

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