I’m a Canadian who has lived in London for more than five years, and I’ve spent most of that time eating.
While ‘best restaurant’ lists are great, to find something memorable, you need personal recommendations.
From food trucks to fine dining spots, here are the 50 places where you should actually eat.
Struggling to pick just 50 places to eat in London is probably a sign I eat out too much.
As a genuine food obsessive, I can promise you that anyone who says British food sucks knows nothing about London’s dining scene, which has a selection of the best eats from around the globe at a range of prices – if you know where to go, that is.
Best restaurant lists are full of great places, sure. But I’m talking about the places you’ll remember, from food trucks to hole-in-the-wall basement dens, fine dining spots actually worth splurging on, and truly authentic pizza and pasta.
I’m a Canadian who has lived in London for more than five years, and when not working or sleeping, I’ve spent most of that time eating and drinking (usually with a born-and-bred Londoner by my side).
From on-the-go street food to Michelin-starred feasts, in no particular order, here are the 50 places you should actually eat at, and what to order when you get there.
Breddo’s Tacos, Clerkenwell & Carnaby
You may be tempted to line up for Borough Market’s Tacos El Pastor, but Breddo’s is a cheaper, quieter, and equally as tasty spot to get a margarita and a tostada. The Soho location also recently opened a margarita and taco bar downstairs called “Cocteleria” for a more casual vibe, where tacos are served on paper plates.
Must try: Baja Fish tacos with pickled red cabbage, habanero mayo, and red onion, £4.50.
Beigel Bake, Brick Lane
This 24-hour bakery, known for its Jewish-style bagels, is a must-visit for a to-go morning breakfast or a late-night, cheap, and delicious snack.
Must try: The salt beef-filled bagel, £4.50.
Pizza Pilgrims, Multiple Locations
The Pizza Pilgrims chain now has nine locations across London, but they still serve what is, in my opinion, the closest thing you’ll get to Neapolitan pizza in the city, as well as some delightful (and delightfully priced) house wine.
Must try: The simple margherita, £6.85, or the nduja pizza (pictured above), £9.25.
Hidden in a neighbourhood in north London’s Barnsbury, even Londoners have probably never heard of the cute and cosy Sunday – but the locals certainly have. Renowned for its incredible brunch – just LOOK at those pancakes – there’s pretty much always a long queue, but I promise you, you won’t regret joining it (then stay a while once you’re in).
Must try: Buttermilk pancakes with berry compote, bacon, honeycomb butter, and maple syrup, £10.50 (pictured above).
Padella, Borough Market
One of the most popular restauarants for the past few years, this quirky and affordable (pasta dishes start at £4) pasta joint is truly as good as it’s cracked up to be – if you don’t mind lining up, that is, which you’re certain to do if you go for dinner since they don’t take bookings. Try and skip the crowds by heading for lunch.
Must try: Pappardelle with eight-hour Dexter beef shin ragu, £9.50 (pictured above).
Flour and Grape, Bermondsey
If crowds aren’t your thing, just a 15 minute walk away from Padella is Flour and Grape, another fantastic pasta and wine bar on the much quieter Bermondsey Street. It has similar prices, a better wine selection, and an ever-changing menu of fresh pasta and ingredients, like rabbit ragu with farfalle or taglierini with black truffle, butter emulsion, and egg yolk. Every dish is so good that I can never pick just one.
Must try: Tortelloni with roasted pork shoulder and sage butter, £9.50.
Malibu Kitchen at The Ned, Bank
This is true California sunshine in the heart of The City, nestled inside buzzing members’ club, The Ned. You don’t have to be a member to eat at the restaurants, though – just book yourself a table and pretend you’re beachside.
Must try: For breakfast, the acai bowl with granola, berries, banana, and bee pollen, £10; for lunch and dinner, the “brick” chicken served with grape, tomato, spicy yogurt, and basil, £17.
Brasserie Zédel, Piccadilly
This Parisian-style brasserie, complete with full Art Deco furnishings, grand without the huge prices to match – the two-course Prix Fixe menu is just £10.50, or £13.75 for three courses. The downstairs Bar Américain is great for a sophisticated (though more expensive) after-dinner cocktail.
Must try: Steak haché, sauce au poivre et frites, £9.75.
Wild Food Cafe, Covent Garden
Hidden away in a the colourful alleyway that is Neal’s Yard, Wild Food Cafe is the plant-based dream – and there’s a new outpost opening in Islington in December. In the summertime, crack the windows (which are actually doors) open and let the sunlight in while you feast on the likes of a Wabi-Sabi Kale Salad, washed down with organic wine and cider. They don’t take bookings, so you may need to wait, but it’s worth it.
Must try: “The Green Burger” with a raw pink olive & shiitake mushroom pattie, aubergine yoghurt, avocado cream, sundried tomato & red pepper ketchup, mooli pickles & wholegrain mustard, served with sweet potato cubes & cashew aioli, £14.50 (pictured above).
The Frenchie, Various Locations
The Frenchie is easily one of the best street food stalls in London, and you can find it at Southbank, Broadway Market, and Brick Lane. They only serve up two dishes – chips and a burger – and they’re both pure, delicious indulgence. For a more full-on experience, you can visit their Bistro at Elephant & Castle.
Must try: Duck confit burger in a toasted brioche bun, served with rocket, mustard, red-onion chutney, and your choice of cheese, £7 at the market.
Polpo, Various Locations
You may think there’s little about Italian cuisine that could surprise you, but have you tried Venetian small plates? Polpo has five locations across London – plus Polpetto, its sister restaurant – and they’re all great for meeting up with friends or family and sharing tons of simple yet flavoursome food.
Must try: Classic beef & pork meatballs, served with tomato sauce and parmesan, £6.90.
Where The Pancakes Are, Flat Iron Square
If you’ve ever thought “why can’t I eat pancakes for every meal?” Well, you can. Back in Flat Iron Square, Where The Pancakes Are offers a selection of sweet and savoury dishes, like the classic pancakes with maple syrup, blueberries and bacon pictured above to some pretty all-out choices like pancakes with forest berry compote, house cream, crushed meringue, and toasted almond flakes. Yum.
Must try: The American pancakes (pictured above), served as a stack of three with pure maple syrup with blueberries or bananas, and bacon, halloumi, or sausage, £10.50.
Dishoom, Multiple Locations
Across five London locations, Dishoom pays homage to the cafés of Bombay, which is clear in the casual yet luxurious decor and sumptuous spices that fill the air. Head to the Shoreditch location to sit on the covered, heated veranda, and order literally everything you can manage off the menu.
Must try: For breakfast, go for one of the naan rolls – the streaky bacon (pictured above, £5.90) is matured for two weeks and smoked overnight in the traditional Bombay fashion.
Dominique Ansel Bakery, Belgravia
World-famous pastry chef Dominique Ansel has a bakery in London, and the lines have finally died down to the point where you can usually get a table as a walk-in. Ansel has been the brains behind some pretty innovative desserts, and you can try a number of them here.
Must try: His signature pastry, the Cronut, obviously, £4.50 (for takeaway, or £5.20 to eat in). Pictured above with its recent pumpkin theme, which was delicious.
J Sheekey, Covent Garden
A seafood lover can’t spend time in London without checking out the iconic J Sheekey, particularly if you have something special to celebrate. The service is so good you’ll wonder if someone thinks you’re famous, the decor is super-elegant while still comfortable, and the fish is truly to die for.
Must try: Grilled lobster with chips, £44.
I absolutely adore a family-run restaurant, and this is one of the best. Located in a completely unassuming shop on Prebend Street in north London’s Angel, Saponara looks a bit like a hole in the wall – but the pizza and fresh pasta are truly incredible.
Must try: Any of the fresh pastas on offer each day, which are presented to you on a tray to choose from.
Yum Bun, Various Locations
These simple hand-made soft steamed buns are like little clouds of deliciousness – truly the street food of dreams – and you can find them across all four of London’s Street Feast locations as well as in Spitalfields Market.
Must try: Pork bun with slowly roasted pork belly, cucumber, spring onion, and hoi sin sauce, £4 each (pictured above).
Navarro’s has been serving up tapas since 1985. Its tiled walls and painted furniture are the perfect match for its menu full of classic Spanish dishes. Everything is delicious – just start ordering and see what happens.
Must try: Croquetas de jamon iberico y hierbabuena (chicken and Iberian ham croquettes with fresh mint), £5.70.
From its exterior charm to its squished-together tables, red-checkered tablecloths, and blackboard featuring the menu du jour, this is a true French bistro.
Must try: Start with an aperitif, then order whatever the waiter recommends that day.
Daphne’s, South Kensington
The warm, colourful, floral Daphne’s is located in London’s high-end Chelsea neighbourhood, and it’s not hard to tell it’s from the same company famous for The Ivy. The menu, however, is pure seasonal Italian cooking. Everything is incredibly tasty, the decor is stunning, and it’s worth a visit to see the bar alone.
Must try: Calamarata pasta with lobster, £17.50 for a small portion.
Som Saa, Spitalfields
A rare popular, modern London restaurant that actually takes bookings, Som Saa is a must visit if you find yourself in the east end of town. Located in a now-stylish former fabric warehouse, it serves up regional Thai dishes with flavours (and often spices) unlike anything you’ve tried before. You won’t find any Pad Thai here.
Must try: Something from the specials board, or “gaeng phet phak thai si diplee,” a roasted southern style curry of venison with diplee pepper and young galangal, £15.
The Holly Bush, Hampstead
This is one of the absolute cosiest pubs in London, found inside a grade II listed building and complete with fireplaces and a more formal dining room. My recommendation? Make a booking for a Sunday roast, and work up an appetite with a walk on Hampstead Heath beforehand.
Must try: Roast leg of South Coast lamb, served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, buttered kale, honey roast parsnips & carrots, butternut squash puree, cauliflower cheese, and red wine gravy, £19.
Bar Douro, Flat Iron Square
Go for the counter-style seating and beautiful blue and white tiled decor of this Portugese small plates spot, and stay for the giant prawns served in a sauce good enough to drink, and the pastel de nata at the end of the meal.
Must try: Octopus with sweet potato puree, £11 (pictured above).
The Ivy, Various Locations
The Ivy is a British institution, so it would be easy to assume it’s totally unaffordable – but that’s actually not the case. The Ivy restaurants are stunningly decorated, open to bookings, and fully mid-range pricing, including set meals from £16.50 for two courses. The Ivy Chelsea Garden is quaint and iconic but the newly-opened Ivy Tower Bridge offers unbeatable riverside views of Tower Bridger and the Tower of London while you dine (and is also home to a pretty epic bar).
Must try: Grilled tuna loin serves with a salad of artichoke, tomato, green beans, Provençal olives and basil sauce, £17.95.
Dumplings Legend, Chinatown
The service can be… quirky… but the dim sum is truly worth a trip. There are more than 40 types of dumplings on the menu at really reasonable prices – and it’s a big restaurant, so even in Chinatown your chances of getting a table are pretty good.
Must try: The “soup dumpling,” called xiao long bao, around £6 for six.
St. John Bakery, Bermondsey & Covent Garden
St. John restaurant is known for its nose-to-tail English food, but its bakeries are something else entirely. While the Druid Street (Bermondsey) location is only open on weekends, there’s now a permanent bakery location in the quaint Neal’s Yard selling delicious loaves of bread like sourdough and rye, pastries, and granolas.
Must try: The now-famous doughnuts, available with a number of fillings, £2.50 each.
Ottolenghi, Various Locations
Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi put Mediterranean cooking on the map in London, and the Ottolenghi resaurants (of which there are four) don’t dissappoint if you’re looking for fresh, healthy dishes. You can also check out sister restaurants NOPI, which is a bit faster-paced but features some of the same dishes, and ROVI, where dishes are cooked over fire.
Must try: Shakshuka, a north African dish with baked eggs, peppers, and tomatoes, served with labneh and grilled focaccia, £12.50.
Sketch Lecture Room & Library, Mayfair
Don’t get me wrong – for the majority of us, this is not an affordable everyday option. However, if you’re obsessed with food like me and would rather splurge on a big meal in a stunning setting than a handbag, the two-Michelin-starred Sketch Lecture Room & Library is one to go for. The entrance involves a red-carpeted staircase and impressive double doors, the service is impeccible, and every dish is absolutely to die for – even the homemade bread and butter.
Must try: Seven-course dinner tasting menu, £120.
Theo’s Pizzeria, Camberwell & Elephant & Castle
Theo’s started as a Camberwell neighbourhood favourite, and it’s easy to see why. The wood-fired pizzas are thick and flavourful and the atmosphere is warm and vibrant. A perfect Friday night treat, which just opened in Elephant & Castle this month as well.
Must try: Napoli Salami pizza, £10.
Brigadiers, Bloomberg Arcade
This is an Indian restaurant unlike any other – it’s part sports bar, part classy cocktail bar, part buzzing location for a Sunday brunch featuring Champagne. There are a number of different dining areas to choose from, a whisky vending machine, and cocktails on tap. The mouthwatering food channels Indian barbecue using tandoors, charcoal grills, rottisseries, wood ovens, and classic Indian smokers.
Must try: The three-course Sunday BBQ Roast, £30. Start with pappadums and chutneys, go for the butter masala rotisserie baby chicken served with pinenut & onion pilau, hens egg makhani, and kachumber raita (pictured above), and finish with the chocolate & coconut kulfi.
Mac and Wild, Fitzrovia & The City
I’m still surprised by how many Londoners haven’t been to Mac & Wild, especially as it now has two locations. It’s Scottish through-and-through – think deep-fried haggis “pops” and Irn Bru – and has a super cosy atmosphere.
Must try: Venimoo burger, comprised of a beef patty, venison patty, cheese, béarnaise & caramelised onions, served in a seeded bun, £12.
Galvin La Chapelle, Spitalfields
Located in an old church in east London, La Chapelle is the third restaurant from brothers Jeff and Chris Galvin. It has held a Michelin star since 2011, and the food and service make it clear why – but it’s certainly not stuffy. Super cosy and surprisingly relaxed, this is the perfect special occasion dinner where you can have a conversation without worrying about being too loud, or whether you’re wearing the right thing. There’s also a fairly affordable set menu at £34 for two courses.
Must try: Lasagne of Dorset crab, beurre Nantais & pea shoots, £22.50.
M.Manze, Various Locations
Claiming to be London’s oldest pie and mash shop since it was established in 1902, this is a true piece of British history which now has three south London locations. Try pie, mash, and jellied or stewed eels from recipes that haven’t changed since then – served with liquor, of course.
Must try: Pie, mash, and liquor, £3.70.
City Spice, Brick Lane
Getting a curry on east London’s Brick Lane is quite the experience. Almost every curry house will claim to be “the best” in London, citing a number of probably-fake awards – but the standard of food is certainly high. City Spice is an unassuming BYOB spot where the staff are friendly, the prices are good, and the food is even better. Take a crowd and make a night of it.
Must try: Lamb bhuna (medium hot, naturally spiced, and fairly dry), £9.95.
Mother Clucker, Various Locations
I’m not a fried chicken person. I don’t gravitate towards KFC or a chicken shop after a night out. But Mother Clucker is in a league of its own. You can find it in Flat Iron Square, Exmouth Market, Hawker House, or a food truck on Brick Lane. There is SO MUCH CHICKEN and the batter is seriously good. Worth it.
Must try: Three chicken strips, cajun fires, and a drink, £9.
Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone
It may be a celeb favourite – Leonardo DiCaprio is apparently a regular – but it’s just so damn cosy. You can even eat in the bar area if you don’t want to commit to a full meal, but if you can, try and book “The Snug” – a private little table for two with a curtain opening up to the bar, so you can order drinks directly. Dreamy.
Must try: For an affordable lunch, go for the Firehouse Caesar, with crispy chicken skin, anchovies & parmesan, £12. The Coronation Crab Donuts, £8, are also worth a shot.
Viet Food, Soho
This is true Vietnamese street food in the middle of one of London’s busiest neighbourhoods, and it happens to be run by a chef who was at Hakkasan when it was awarded a Michelin star. Viet Food is super casual, though – and with bento boxes from £6.90 it’ll make your wallet happy too.
Must try: Pho Ga, 16-hour slow-boiled free range chicken soup with rice noodles, £6.90.
The Mayflower, Rotherhithe
Claiming to be the oldest pub on the Thames, this is a truly English spot nestled among cobblestone streets, situated right on the river with an outside deck where you’re sure to get splashed. Inside is a cosy pub with open fires and an upstairs candlelit restaurant, with classic British pub dishes and ales and wine. It was apparently the mooring point for the The Mayflower ship in 1620. One warning: being very small, it also gets very busy. Go mid-week if you have a day off (or a job that isn’t a 9-to-5), or make a booking.
Must try: Ale-battered haddock & chips served with pea mint puree & tartare sauce, £11.95
Sushisamba, Liverpool Street & Covent Garden
It’s easy to assume that a trendy spot like SUSHISAMBA, which sits on the 38th floor of the City’s Heron Tower, would be overrated, but it’s truly the opposite. The Peruvian and Japanese fusion food is truly exceptional and worth every penny – and the view doesn’t suck, either. Plus, there are some more reasonable set menu options, such as the £58 Omakase set lunch menu, which comprises of eight to-die-for courses.
Must try: Wagyu gyoza with kabocha purée and sweet soy, £16, or the sea bass tempura (pictured above), served with heritage tomatoes and beetroot seviche, aji verde, and lime (£29).
Honest Burgers, Various Locations
For a well-cooked, thick, juicy burger without all of the gross Instagrammable toppings (sorry, but I don’t need an entire lobster ON my burger, thanks), Honest Burgers is the way forward. The whole menu is tasty, and the prices are really reasonable.
Must try: Free range chicken burger with lettuce, tomato, and mustard mayo, served with rosemary salted chips, £10.50.
Peruvian food has the freshest flavours in the game, and Andina, which pairs the cooking with local British produce, is the perfect little spot to explore them, as good for breakfast as it is for lunch or dinner.
Must try: Yellowfin tuna ceviche with ponzu tiger’s milk, £11.
Bedales, Borough Market, Spitalfields & Leadenhall Market
So the wine might be the main draw at Bedales, but the charcuterie is truly exceptional as well. The Borough Market location, the original, is easily the best (and newly refurbished), backing right onto the market stalls. The selection of wines available by both the glass and bottle is outstanding, the staff incredibly knowledgable without being condescending, and the venue is super cosy – the perfect date spot.
Must try: Selection of five cheese and charcuterie platter, £18.
The first solo restaurant from former Chef Director of the Polpo Group, Tom Oldroyd, this quaint and cosy townhouse-style spot in Angel has a constantly changing European menu with super-fresh local ingredients.
Must try: A little bit of everything.
Franco Manca, Various Locations
The only full-on chain on this list, Franco Manca has more than 20 locations across London, and more throughout the UK. It even has a pizzeria in Italy. However, it’s truly a go-to for affordable sourdough pizza with a good, unpretentious vibe, “no logo” beer, and natural, organic wine.
Must try: Tomato, mozzarella & basil pizza, £6.55.
Le Mercury, Islington
Islington’s Upper Street is home to some amazing restaurants, and French bistro Le Mercury is an incredibly affordable staple. All mains are £11.95, all starters are £4.95, and desserts all £3.95. Make sure you ask for a table on the buzzy main floor, though – it can be a little quiet upstairs.
Must try: “Magret de Canard,” roast breast of Barbary duck (served pink) with pommes purées, savoy cabbage & Grand Marnier sauce, £11.95.
Treves & Hyde, Aldgate
As much as I hate to say it, Treves & Hyde – with a cafe downstairs and restaurant upstairs – is an Instagrammer’s dream, from the winding pink staircase to those perfect-looking pancakes. The food is truly delicious, though – a great place for lunch.
Must try: Grilled lemon verbena chicken with radish & cucumber, £16.20.
I absolutely love sushi, but in London, unless you go for high street fast food chains, it can be hard to find the good stuff without spending a fortune. Since my favourite outpost of Feng Sushi closed down in Borough Market, I’ve recently discovered this east London gem, which is cosy with an authentic Japanese feel and cooking. Grab one of the low tables with sunken floors and dig in.
Must try: Sashimi & sushi lunch bento, £17.90.
José Pizarro & José, Broadgate Circle & Bermondsey
José Pizarro has three London restaurants, two of which are a bit more casual. His first venture was the tiny José Tapas Bar with an everchanging menu on Bermondsey Street, but José Pizarro, a restaurant in Broadgate Circle, is also worth a visit (and easier to get a table at).
Must try: Spicy prawn fritters & alioli, £10.
Leadbelly’s Bar & Kitchen, Canada Water
Leadbelly’s is a little bit of everything – quirky brunch spot, great summer patio, cool late-night bar, or ideal spot for a Sunday roast with a crowd.
Must try: For brunch, try the Leadbelly’s twist on crushed avocado toast, served with two poached eggs, basil, tomato, olive oil, mint, chicory, and lovage dressing on gluten-free bread, £9. For a bigger bite, the southern fried chicken burger with charred pineapple and garlic mayo is a major win for £13.95.
If you’re dedicated to getting that Padella pasta, the restaurant actually has a sister in north London – Highbury’s Trullo. Slightly more formal, it features a lot of the same dishes (such as the beef shin ragu), and you can actually book a table.
Must try: The ragu, again, but there are also meat dishes on the menu.