The 17 best restaurants in London

Dec 7, 2019

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This week TPG is focusing on London and all it has to offer points-and-miles travelers. Whether you’re interested in the city’s ancient history, art and theater scenes, or plan to shop until you drop, London has a little something for everyone. Check our London hub for advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do.

So, you’re planning a holiday to London. And we know you’re keen to make sure it’s the best trip ever.

Between Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Crown Jewels and the Eye (just to name a handful of the city’s most iconic attractions) it’s safe to say your days will be pretty jam-packed — and that you’ll be working up an appetite. That’s exactly why we created this guide: Because we know people like you who live to eat may choose to plan their trips around food.

While London might not have the best reputation for food in Europe (ah hem, Italy) the dining scene is home to some of the world’s most spectacular restaurants — and these 17 should be at the top of your list. Restaurant royalty, if you will.

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Before you go

Some of the restaurants we’re about to mention can be difficult to get into, so it can be somewhat of a challenge to snag a table. Luckily, we have a few strategies that might be able to help.

OpenTable is going to be your best bet for a lot of these, as it also lets you redeem OpenTable Dining Points for hotel stays through Kayak. If a restaurant isn’t available there, you’ll want to check the restaurant’s booking platform, as well. If that fails, don’t fret. Amex Concierge can really save the day. Select American Express cardholders have access to this special service that can help you score hard-to-get restaurant reservations, among other perks.

Whether you reserve a table before you even book flights or just show up early and keep your fingers crossed, make sure you’re paying with a card that earns you bonus points on dining. Three of our top picks are the American Express® Gold Card (4x), Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x) and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x). No matter how many pounds you spend (and eat!) at least you’ll be working toward your next vacation.

Related: The best credit cards for restaurants and dining out

Where to eat breakfast and brunch

La Petite Maison

Upscale Mediterranean and Niçoise cuisine merge at this elegant Mayfair restaurant. You can’t go wrong coming here for breakfast or dinner, but we’re big fans of the pain perdu french toast, so it earns a spot on our breakfast list. We have a feeling you’ll be dreaming about it for weeks to come. Depending on how you look at it, that’s a good thing, since the prices aren’t exactly for the faint of heart.

Granger and Co.

This is one of the ultimate brunch spots in London. It’s an Australian café with plenty of healthy options in an open, airy space. Think: avocado toast, scrambled eggs and ricotta pancakes. They have locations in Notting Hill, Chelsea, Clerkenwell and King’s Cross. You’ll probably have to wait in line for a bit since they don’t take reservations, but once you take a bite of one of their sweetcorn fritters, it will all be worth it.

Esters

The aforementioned avocado toast not your thing? Head to Esters and eat your heart out when you order french toast, muesli, poached eggs and a great cup of coffee. They don’t take reservations — or cash. Sounds like they’re onto something.

Four Legs at the Compton Arms

This list wouldn’t be complete without a Sunday roast recommendation now would it? Four Legs just started serving theirs back in October, and it’s already making waves. Couple that with the fact there’s only a few tables and you have a recipe for a reservation booked well in advance. We know you’re going to be full, but whatever you do, save room for dessert. After all, it goes to a different stomach, right?

Kerridge’s Bar & Grill at Corinthia Hotel

If you want one of the more long-standing Sunday roast spots, Kerridge’s is going to be your best bet. Located in the Corinthia Hotel in Westminster, they serve up some of the best lamb rump you’ll find. Did we mention they also have lobster thermidor? You’re likely coming here for a special occasion, which means you’re going to want to make a reservation. They start taking them up to three months in advance.

Where to eat lunch

Rochelle Canteen

Bet you never thought you’d want to eat a meal in a former bike shed, right? Trust us, though: You do. Come here for breakfast, lunch or dinner and come back often, because the menu rotates daily. It’s not exactly a secret in London, but hey, the more you know.

St. John

Now, don’t misunderstand us. You’re not coming here for a light lunch. You’re coming here because you’re going to eat so much food that it’s going to take up the better part of your day. St. John is a London institution and, as Eater says, “the most important British restaurant in a generation.” From the bone marrow to the pheasant and trotter pie, this is an absolute must on your London itinerary.

Borough Market

Photo by Fabian Krause / EyeEm / Getty Images
Photo by Fabian Krause / EyeEm / Getty Images

One of London’s most famous (arguably the most famous) market’s has so many food stalls it might make your brain melt. But while we’re on the subject of melt, fancy a grilled cheese from Kappacasein?

Beigel Bake

The best bagel spot in London — not to mention one of the best cheap eats in town — is open 24/7 and serves a legendary salt beef sandwich. It’s like the Katz’s of London, except there are bagels and it’s a fraction of the price. Order yours with mustard. Trust.

Sketch

Ok, so maybe you’ve seen this place all over Instagram. But you have to admit: it sure is pretty. It’s where you go when you want to eat, drink and be merry … and by that we mean it’s a tearoom that turns into a cocktail lounge. You’ll likely end up hanging out here for longer than you intended to, so don’t plan anything right after tea.

Where to eat dinner

Noble Rot

This is the wine bar you wish every wine bar could be. Why, you ask? Because not only does it have an excellent wine list, it also has some of the best food in town. Whatever you do, don’t skip out on the bread … or forget to make a reservation.

Dishoom

Did you even go to London if you didn’t go to Dishoom? Sure, it may be a little touristy (and it will definitely be more than a bit crowded), but everyone you know is going to one of these Bombay-inspired cafés. You’ll want the pau bhaji, chicken ruby and lamb chops on your table.

Koya Bar

You don’t need to get on a flight to Japan to have incredible Japanese food (although you still definitely should). Grab a seat at the bar and watch the chef prepare some of the best udon noodles you’ll find in the city. They also serve breakfast, which is a much more casual affair. There are two locations, one of which takes reservations (City) and one of which does not (SoHo). Pick your poison.

Barrafina

File under: Another restaurant that will make you feel like you just hopped on a flight to another country. But this time, it’s Spain — specifically, Barcelona. There are four locations around London, including in Covent Garden and King’s Cross. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared. Once you get here, though, you can never go wrong with the tortilla, carabinero or the stuffed courgette flower. Oh, and lots of tinto.

The Palomar

You’re coming here for some of the best Israeli food in the city. While the bar is the place to be, you can book a table in the back although the vibe is admittedly not as, well, fun. This is the restaurant you want to go to if you’re seeking a good time and some good food. Order the beetroot carpaccio, octo-hummus and Jerusalem chicken.

Xi’an Impression

One of the best Chinese restaurants in London is right across from a soccer (or football, if we’re practicing our Britishisms here) stadium. Don’t let the location dissuade you. You come here for the xi’an liangpi cold noodles and, of course, all the dumplings you could ever want. Your experience will depend on the size of your group, though. One or two people may be too few — read: less things to try — and five or more is too many, as the space is pretty compact. Three to four is just right, so plan accordingly.

The Wolseley

The Wolseley is a staple of the London dining scene. You come to this all-day restaurant-café in Mayfair for two things: the decor and the food. There’s something about eating eggs Benedict or schnitzel in an elegant and stylish Art Deco setting, don’t you think? It’s open early til late and steps from Piccadilly Circus.

Featured photo by luke stackpoole/Unsplash.

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