World-class restaurants, landmark dines and the not-so secrets of the city.
London is a melting pot of cultural and historical experiences and its dining opportunities are no different. Within the city centre, you’ll find everything from Michelin-star dines to notorious cheap eats and local haunts.
Those seeking true English fare should take note of their closest pub for a Sunday roast, fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding or Eaton mess (among many others) while hotel restaurants and museum cafes are where you’re likely to source the most opulent high teas – and basically any pub will pour you a pint with English flair.
For cultural dines, Chinatown is the place to go for Peking duck and dumplings, Brick Lane for mouthwatering Indian and Brixton for Jamaican jerk chicken.
Searching for that idyllic dining hotspot? These are our tried and true recommendations:
London’s top restaurants
Afternoon tea at The Ritz is one of those iconic eats you can’t pass up if you’re given the chance… and you’ve got the cash. We’ll admit, the price point for sandwiches and scones is not modest – but then neither are your surroundings. Choose to have yours inside Palm Court where golden chandeliers hang from above and your tea is served on the most elegant tableware.
And who knows? You might just find yourself rubbing shoulders with a few A-listers at this opulent hotel.
150 Piccadilly, London
The Fat Duck
Anybody who’s anybody has heard of The Fat Duck. It’s master chef Heston Blumenthal's degustation brainchild and one of the most exquisite and exclusive tables you can sit at. It’s not in London but is in the neighbouring town of Bray which is a short train commute from London city centre. You’ll need to reserve this one early and be prepared to pay for it – but trust us, it’s worth every morsel in decadence, taste and showmanship.
High Street, Bray, Berkshire, SL6 2AQ
If you missed that coveted seat at The Fat Duck your next best bet is Dinner by Heston. Miles more accessible and much easier to nab a table at than The Fat Duck, Dinner features a menu that is inspired by historic British gastronomy with fun twists and unique concoctions such as meat fruit, earl grey tea cured salmon and Hereford ribeye.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London
If you’re seeking a unique high tea affair, the place to swan about and Instagram your life away is the 5-star The Berkeley hotel. Its pret-a-portea afternoon tea is a colourful, delicious and quirky treat inspired by the latest catwalk designs.
Think high-fashion delectable desserts in the shapes of handbags and stilettos and layers of colour that will remind you of high-end and iconic brands.
As with fashion, the designs change with the seasons (every six months) so you can keep returning time and time again for a new feast for the eyes and tastebuds.
The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL
The Breakfast Club
What began as an unassuming American diner that was originally meant to be called “Save Ferris” has since grown into a chain with locations throughout London CBD under the name of another 80s classic.
Breakfast isn’t the only meal on offer (though, naturally, there is that) with brunch, lunch and dinner also available.
The big novelty of The Breakfast Club is its hidden bar. You’ll need to ask to “see the mayor” at the Spitalfields branch to be granted access… which is behind a fridge door.
While Brick Lane is undoubtedly your go-to for authentic Indian fare, Dishoom is your go-to for authentic Bombay in a swanky setting. It’s a local favourite with multiple locations around London including Shoreditch, King’s Cross, Carnaby and Covent Garden. It also has a branch in Edinburgh.
The menu will literally make your mouth water all day long. For breakfast, try the bacon naan roll while for lunch choose from traditional Bombay dishes such as the vegetable mash pau bhaji and Dishoom’s signature black house daal. Dessert includes pineapple and black pepper crumble, kulfi on a stick and kala khatta gola ice. OK, we’ll stop now.
Arguably the trailblazer of modern Israeli cuisine in London, Ottolenghi is a rich mix of healthy share salads and melt-in-your-mouth baked goods. Its flavours are bold and the variety is wide, making it a hard decision of what to choose while waiting in line for a table to open up.
Bring friends – it’s what we’d do, too.
London’s oldest food market attracts locals and tourists daily to wander among its stalls of fresh produce and snack on its artisan offerings. A short walk from London Bridge tube station, Borough Market is a dynamic destination where the sights, smells and sounds of people and food are always exciting and never the same.
Follow your nose and then sit on the lawn of the local churchyard to complete your Borough Market experience.
The area shares space with several fixed restaurants and cafes, which includes Roast – a venture dedicated to the English dish. Pop by on Sunday for that iconic Sunday roast.
8 Southwark St, London
Greenery and panoramic views over the city make Sky Garden one of the most exciting venues to dine in. Unlike other skyhigh ventures such as The Shard, it won’t cost you a cent to make your way 155 metres up, though if you choose to sit down and sup you have a choice of three restaurants and two bars to do so in.
The restaurants and bars are open daily from early till late.
20 Fenchurch Street, London
Burger & Lobster
Founded in 2011, Burger & Lobster serves up the most succulent lobster inside soft fluffy buns. Flavours include original, Singapore chilli crab and chilli, and all come with chips and a salad. Seeking the full enchilada? There’s a 1.5 lobster you can order. Whether you choose to eat it all by yourself or share it is up to you.
10 Wardour Street, London
Hailed as the oldest restaurant in London, Rules was established by Thomas Rule in 1798 and has gone from strength to strength. Today, it celebrates traditional British fare in a heritage setting of red booths and a vast collection of paintings, drawings and cartoons – a testament to its past.
Book early to avoid disappointment.
Top London food tours
When you’re stuck for choice one of the best options is to have all the choice. These London foodie tours will introduce you to the top foodie hubs and the best fare in town so you really can try it all.
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