18 Best London Restaurants: A First Timer’s Guide

The Very Best London Restaurants

It’s no secret that London has a buzzing, lively restaurant scene. In fact, we venture to say that London is one of the best gastronomic cities in the entire world. One of the reasons we love it the most? You can find amazing food from every corner of the earth. Chinese food, burgers, killer Indian food, and incredible brunch- London has you covered! This first timer’s guide to the best London restaurants is a comprehensive overview of the restaurants you should be eating at one your first (or third, fourth, fifth) trip to London town.

SEE ALSO: 20 BEST RESTAURANTS IN ROME

Related Video: London Food Tour!

18. Cheap Eat: Beigel Bake

London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t options for cheap eating that actually taste good. Beigel Bake is our favorite cheap eat in town and it’s unquestionably one of the best restaurants in London. Come here for the smoked salmon and cream cheese beigel or the salt beef beigel with mustard and pickles.  A great, inexpensive dining option in London, open for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cash only!

Beigel Bake

$$$$ Bakery, Bagels

159 Brick Ln, Shoreditch, London E1 6SB 20 7729 0616

17. Casual Burger: Bleecker Burger

There are a lot of great burgers in London but our favorite place for a casual, no frills burger is Bleecker burger. The best restaurants in London know how to do simple things well and Bleecker burger is no exception. We love their classic cheeseburger with beef, American cheese, lettuce, and house sauce. The flavor of the juicy beef patty and the melted American cheese combined is so satisfyingly delicious, and if you worked yourself up enough of an appetite for sure get a side of the hand-cut fries. There are several locations throughout the city including Spitalfields, Victoria, Bloomberg, and Westfield.

Bleecker Spitalfields

$$$$ Burgers

B, Old Spitalfields Market, Lamb St, London E1 6EA 20 7998 8650

16. Best View: Duck & Waffle

There are great restaurants in London and then there are great restaurants in London with views that will take your breath away, and that’s why we recommend Duck & Waffle. Open 24 hours a day all year long, duck and waffle serves everything from breakfast to lunch to brunch to late-night bites. We recommend trying the breakfast or brunch for your first meal here- easier on the wallet but still just as delicious as ever. Your ordering move here is the namesake duck and waffle. It’s Just as decadent as you can imagine, with crispy leg confit, fried duck egg, and mustard maple syrup all served on a golden brown waffle. A great place to impress your girlfriend or the in-laws. Reservations are a must.

Duck & Waffle

$$$$ Modern European, British

110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY 20 3640 7310

15. Afternoon Tea: The Wolseley

Afternoon tea is totally a thing in the UK, and London has the most options of any city. Traditional afternoon tea is really less about the tea (although it is served) and more about the food!  Clotted cream and scones, crustless sandwiches,  and a myriad of bite-sized sweet pastries and cakes are served in most establishments. The sky is the limit when it comes to the cost of your afternoon tea but there are also plenty of affordable options among London restaurants too, including The Wolsely. It’s our go-to afternoon tea spot in town thanks to their perfect blend of classy and sophisticated yet not too expensive and still seemingly affordable. Call and make reservations in advance and plan at least an hour to thoroughly enjoy your afternoon tea- clotted cream and all!

The Wolseley

$$$$ Cafe, British, Afternoon Tea

160 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9EB 20 7499 6996

14. Gourmet Burger: Burger & Beyond

There are Burgers and then there are insane, delectable, out-of-this-world burgers that make all of your meat and cheese dreams come true. Burger & Beyond is one of our favorite London restaurants for gourmet decadent burgers that not only look aesthetically captivating but also will make you swoon at first bite. They’ve got three locations throughout town, so you have no excuse to not try this burger. Our number one recommendation is the bacon butter burger, made with a dry aged beef patty, double American cheese, crispy pancetta bacon, burnt butter mayo, and onions. Life is short, order the double patty.

Burger & Beyond

$$$$ Burgers

147 Shoreditch High St, Hackney, London E1 6JE 20 3848 8860

13. Pizza: 50 Kalo

There are dozens of options for fantastic pizza in London, but if you’re looking for something truly memorable, indulge in authentic Neapolitan pizza at 50 Kalo. With only one other location in Naples (the birthplace of Neapolitan pizza), and one of our favorite pizzerias in Naples, you can expect authenticity and high quality here. There are several options on the menu, but we strongly recommend trying the traditional margherita. The simplicity of the combination of crushed tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil will make your heart sing.

50 Kalò di Ciro Salvo Pizzeria London

$$$$ Neapolitan Pizzeria

7 Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5BY 20 7930 9955

12. Bakery: Pophams Bakery

There are plenty of London restaurants and bakeries known for their pastries and baked goods, but our favorite bakery in London is Pophams Bakery. Very much a local spot and always steadily filled with carb-loving customers, Pophams Bakery is always a home run when it comes to anything and everything they choose to put on their shelves. Our favorite pastry here is the bacon and maple croissant- it’s the perfect mashup of sweet and savory combined with their butter and utterly flaky pastry. Looking for something savory? You’ll never regret ordering the salted rosemary croissant twist. But don’t you stop at the classics, Pophams Bakery also serves seasonal seasonally rotating baked items, which means even more excuses to go back on the regular.

Pophams Bakery

$$$$ Bakery

19 Prebend St, Islington, London N1 8PF

11. Breakfast: Granger & Co.

 

Londoners love their breakfast and the sky is truly the limit when you’re searching for a great breakfast spot in town. If we can only recommend one place for insanely great sweet and savory breakfast offerings, Granger and Co. is at the top of our list. Undoubtedly one of the best London restaurants, Granger and Co. serves hearty, flavorful Australian cuisine. With several locations throughout town, come here to enjoy their insanely delicious ricotta pancakes with banana and honeycomb butter (yes, get the full order). Our favorite savory menu item is the “Fresh Aussie”: hot smoked salmon with poached eggs, greens, furikake, avocado, and cherry tomatoes.

Granger and Co.

$$$$ British, Modern European, Breakfast & Brunch

175 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London W11 2SB 20 7229 9111

10. Market: Borough Market

All great food cities seemingly have their own farmers market or food hall, and if you’re looking for that type of situation in London, then Borough Market is the place to be. Unquestionably a quintessential visit during any trip to London, Borough Market is our favorite foodie playground in town. It’s flooded with food vendors, restaurants, and you could spend the better part of an afternoon here alone, perusing all of the offerings. You’ll find delicious food around every corner, but whatever you do don’t leave without getting a donut or focaccia at our favorite bakery in the market – Bread Ahead.

Borough Market

$$$$ Farmers Market, Restaurants, Food Stands

8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL 20 7407 1002

9. Fish & Chips: Bonnie Gull

English food might not have the best reputation in the world, but there are a few things better than a delicious serving of fish and chips. And lucky you, London has some of the best in the entire world. But don’t settle for any old chippy, go to a place that serves high-quality fish and hand-cut chips. Bonnie gull is one of our favorite London restaurants and they also happen to serve some of the best fish and chips you will ever encounter. The price points here are certainly higher than average, but one bite into their crispy delicious fish and you’ll understand why. You can enjoy the delicious seafood offerings at either of their two locations in Fitzrovia or Soho. Reservations recommended and don’t forget to enjoy copious amounts of their homemade tartar sauce with your fish.

Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack

$$$$ Seafood

21A Foley St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 6DS 20 7436 0921

8. Taiwanese: Bao

Bao is the place to be in London for insanely good Taiwanese food. All locations are quaint and small, perfect for date night or girls’ night out. The menu is flooded with several tempting items, and while none will disappoint, we certainly have our favorites. Start with the trotter nuggets and order as many buns as you have an appetite for. The fried chicken boa, classic bao, and the lamb shoulder bao are all so different and unforgettable. Everything here is made with incredible flavor and eyebrow-raising innovation.

BAO Soho

$$$$ Taiwanese

53 Lexington St, Soho, London W1F 9AS 20 3019 2200

7. Italian: Padella

Next time you ask your friends which London restaurants are worth visiting, they’ll no doubt bring up Padella. And they are right- this Italian restaurant situated inside Borough Market is home to some of the best Italian cuisine you’ll ever enjoy. The menu boasts a variety of authentic Italian dishes, but pasta is definitely your move here. Start with the burrata with olive oil. Eat it plain or enjoy it with bread, but slowly and sinfully enjoy every bite of that perfect appetizer. For pasta there is no wrong option, but we highly endorse the pici cacio e pepe and the pappardelle with ragu. We’re basically convinced that nothing bad can come out of this kitchen.

Padella

$$$$ Italian

6 Southwark St, London SE1 1TQ

6. Modern Indian: Gunpowder

Gunpowder is exquisite, bold, and without a doubt one of the very best London restaurants. You’re coming here for elevated and innovative Indian cuisine, so picture some of those nostalgic great Indian flavors that you love with a creative and unique twist. It’s a great place for date night or for lunch while you’re in the city, but make sure the no matter when you visit Gunpowder, you’re open to trying unique Indian dishes that you’ve never experienced. Start with the egg curry masala- basically deviled eggs Indian style. The kashmiri lamb chops are essential, and if you’re into paneer the saag with tandoori paneer is a cannot miss! Make reservations now, thank us later.

Gunpowder

$$$$ Indian

11 White's Row, Spitalfields, London E1 7NF 20 7426 0542

5. Brunch: Ottolenghi

Ottolenghi is one of the very best London restaurants. Hailing from Jerusalem, Israeli-English chef Yotam Ottolenghi has created an empire in London, serving up bright, flavorful Mediterranean dishes for breakfast lunch and dinner in several locations. Ottolenghi is our favorite restaurant for brunch in town (but let’s be real, any meal here is a home run!). If you’re going the breakfast route, we recommend the shakshuka, scrambled eggs with secret smokehouse salmon, or the french toast. Looking for something on the lunch side? Choose a cold or hot main as your base and enjoy a few different salads from their gorgeous salad buffet. Ordering copious amounts of pastries is an absolute must, and if you’re feeling super daring get some of their homemade granola to go.

Ottolenghi

$$$$ Bakery, Mediterranean

63 Ledbury Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 2AD 20 7727 1121

4. Chinese: Xi’an Impression

You think you’ve had great Chinese food, but then you eat Xi’an impression in London and you suddenly see the light. It’s an easy-to-miss restaurant, situated across the street from the Arsenal F.C. stadium. Prepare for your mind  (and pallet) to be blown away. Xi’an Impression is not only one of the very best London restaurants, but it’s some of the best Chinese cuisine you ever devour. Forget orange chicken, spring rolls, or ham fried rice, you’re here for some real deal flavorful Chinese food. Start with the boneless chicken in ginger sauce for an appetizer- so tender, so flavorful, and unlike any other chicken dish you’ve consumed before. The hand-pulled noodles are not to be missed, and the Xi’an biangbiang noodles with chunky beef will bring you to tears. Into dumplings? Get the pork and veggie dumplings for something familiar and delectable. Affordable, exception, and so worth one of your precious meals in London. We couldn’t love this place more.

Xi’an Impression

$$$$ Chinese

117 Benwell Rd, London N7 7BW 20 3441 0191

3. Spanish: Barrafina

In a world where restaurants seem to throw around the word “tapas” so casually, Barrafina is a diamond in the rough, a true-to-form authentic Spanish restaurant where you can get tapas that will transport you to Madrid in an instant. Barrafina is at the very top of our list for London restaurants because of the impeccable quality of food and the insanely nostalgic flavors laced throughout every dish on the menu. Start with the pan con tomate, a simple but quintessential Spanish tapa with flavors so pure and undeniably delicious. Other favorite menu items include the iberica jamon, Spanish tortilla, and braised ox tongue with crushed potatoes. Craving paella? Try the fideua dish with shrimp (offered only at some locations) for something new and totally nostalgic all at the same time.

Barrafina

$$$$ Spanish

10 Adelaide St, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4HZ 20 7440 1456

2. Indian: Dishoom

Dishroom serves not only amazing Indian food, but some of the best Indian food you’ll ever have in your entire life. It’s the perfect combination of cozy, homey Indian dishes combined with new and exciting dishes you’ve likely never heard of. With several locations across town (all steadily full throughout the day), it’s no wonder that everyone wants a piece of the Dishoom pie. The brunch here is fantastic, but your first priority should be lunch or dinner to enjoy their “all day” menu. Menu items and specials will vary by location but some of our favorites are the Lamb Samosas, Chicken Ruby, or the Nalli Nihari if you’re at the King’s Cross location (pictured). Don’t forget a couple of orders of garlic naan and roti! Avoid long lines- arrive just as they open or opt for the King’s Cross or Kensington locations.

Dishoom

$$$$ Indian

12 Upper St Martin's Ln, London WC2H 9FB 20 7420 9320

1. British: St. John

There are enough spectacular London restaurants to last a lifetime, but if we can only send you to one of the best restaurants in London, it would be St. John. With a few locations throughout town, you have no excuse to not enjoy our favorite London restaurant. You’re coming for here for British food, but not the British food you’ve been enduring throughout the rest of your United Kingdom trip. Instead, imagine beautifully prepared British dishes with more flavor and gastronomic intention than you’ve yet to experience. The menu here changes seasonally, but keep your eye out for the bone marrow appetizer. And if you traditionally squirm at the thought of bone marrow, then it’s time to grow up and put your big girl pants on because this dish is simply TDF. Get a few small plates and an entree or two, and no matter what you do always end with one of their out-of-this-world cream-filled St. John doughnuts. Anthony Bourdain loved this place, and so will you.

St. John Bread & Wine

$$$$ Modern British, Bakery

94-96 Commercial St, Spitalfields, London E1 6LZ 20 7251 0848

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