Over the last few years, London’s culinary landscape has undergone a transformation, embracing innovation, international influences, and a deep appreciation for local, sustainable ingredients. Although I would say London’s dining scene is not just about the food—it’s an experience that encompasses ambience, design, and hospitality. Many restaurants boast stunning interiors, blending historical elements with contemporary aesthetics, creating spaces as visually enticing as the dishes they serve—with that said, let’s not forget about the food.
Thai street food stalls rub shoulders with contemporary Nordic bistros, and British pubs share the streets with Michelin-starred restaurants. Whether you’re a fan of traditional British fare or crave a taste of the world’s cuisines, London’s dining scene promises an unforgettable journey through flavours, cultures, and culinary creativity. Here are 10 queue-worthy spots to add to your dining hit list in London.
Cooking over fire is not exactly new. It’s how our first ancestors discovered cooking, but Firebird brings the simple notion of cooking over fire into the modern century with a touch of pizazz. The dimly lit storefront sets the mood for the leafy, rustic dining room, channelling an Italian courtyard. Grab a seat at the chef’s table for a front-row seat to the fire show and commentary. Everything on the menu touches fire at some point. From the lightly charred halloumi, coated in decadent honey and truffle, to the caramelised scallops sitting on a bed of creamy, buttery mash. The simplicity and the flavours here linger in your mind, leaving you longing for more.
Coal Drop Yards
Nestled in the vibrant industrial Coal Drops Yard development, Hicce exudes the cool ambience of a Manhattan loft. This restaurant is truly ‘of the moment,’ as reflected in its name, pronounced as ‘ee-chay.’ The menu showcases vibrant and nourishing dishes, such as a classic Sunday roast, with a touch of fine dining elegance. Start with their sharing boards to set the tone, and add a handcrafted cocktail to enhance the convivial atmosphere. The beer bread is a must-try, as is the squid, tossed in a flavour bomb honey sauce. Whether you want to pick at some cheese or indulge in a four-course menu, Hicce offers a diverse dining experience for any occasion.
Nestled in the vibrant neighbourhood of Shoreditch, The Clove Club stands as a culinary gem renowned for its imaginative and seasonal tasting menus. The restaurant holds one Michelin star, attracting a cool crowd who praise its inventive cuisine and impeccable service. Despite its acclaim, The Clove Club remains grounded, providing an unpretentious and inclusive dining experience. From starters to desserts, every dish is crafted to showcase the team’s culinary prowess and artistic flair.
Inspired by colonial Indian gymkhana clubs, Gymkhana in Mayfair serves the best Indian cuisine in the city. With its rich and elegant ambience, the restaurant sets the stage for a delightful journey into Indian cuisine. Gymkhana’s menu showcases a fusion of traditional Indian flavours and modern techniques, resulting in a tantalising array of dishes. From flavourful curries to succulent tandoori grills, each plate is a celebration of authentic Indian gastronomy.
Drawing from his experience at renowned establishments like Noma in Copenhagen, Chef James Lowe’s solo venture showcases his culinary prowess. Located in a former Lipton tea factory opposite Shoreditch BoxPark, Lyle’s is flooded with light, courtesy of its original warehouse windows. Lowe curates a four-course menu each evening, thoughtfully pairing flavours and textures while incorporating delightful surprises. If you’re an adventurous foodie looking to experience something outside the box—Lyle’s will satisfy your curiosity.
Akoko, situated on Berners Street, is at the forefront of London’s burgeoning West African culinary scene. Under the guidance of executive chef Ayo Adeyemi, the restaurant showcases an elevated yet grounded approach to the region’s flavours. The interior boasts earthy terracotta clay walls, wooden tables adorned with glassware, and striking artwork by Nigerian artist Niyi Olagunju. The five-course menu, meticulously developed over months, reimagines traditional dishes from Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana. Akoko is undeniably leading the charge in introducing an entirely new West African culinary experience to London.
Silo, opened by chef Douglas McMaster in Brighton back in 2014, was a pioneering force in the concept of zero-waste dining at a time when it was relatively unknown. McMaster’s innovative approach involved eliminating the use of a bin, a notion that was both simple and groundbreaking. The menu, displayed on the back wall—due to its frequent changes— showcases McMaster’s unconventional ingredient combinations. As the meal progresses, diners are treated to a sequence of flavours that may initially clash but ultimately harmonise. The desserts are equally inventive, featuring delights like pumpkin ice cream, tangy sea buckthorn snow, and silky crème fraîche. Opting for the daily tasting menu allows diners to experience a wide array of bold, daring, and incredibly delicious dishes.
BiBi, nestled behind an unassuming red-brick Georgian facade, distinguishes itself from traditional Mayfair establishments with its captivating interior. The wood-panelled ceilings, chequerboard flooring, and sleek dark wooden countertop create an ambience that effortlessly blends opulence with contemporary flair. Chef Chet Sharma’s impressive culinary journey, spanning prestigious restaurants across Europe, is complemented by his passion and familial influences at BiBi. The menu features standout dishes such as cheese papads, a delightful twist on prawn crackers, and the tantalizing oyster pachadi. The wait for BiBi was unquestionably worthwhile.
Paradise, a restaurant run by first-time restaurateur Dom Fernando, draws inspiration from his childhood visits to Sri Lanka. The menu, led by chef Charith Priyadarshana, showcases the vibrant flavours of his grandmother’s recipes. At Paradise, every dish has a complex flavour profile, often featuring a satisfying kick of spice that adds authenticity to the experience. Highlights include fried aubergine paired with traditional Sri Lankan jaggery moju pickle and slow-roasted pork cheek accompanied by tamarind and Sri Lankan stout.
The Barbary, created by two former nightclub owners and two Israeli chefs, has established a collection of highly sought-after London restaurants: The Palomar, The Barbary, and The Barbary Next Door. While waiting for a seat, indulge in flaky pastry cigars filled with fish and lamb-filled pita pouches. Accompanying the delectable cuisine, East London Liquor Company gin and tonics are garnished with grapefruit, while the Zweigelt wine harmonizes effortlessly with nearly every menu item. The Barbary continues to hold its place as one of the most cherished dining destinations in London.