The Hot Dinners Top 40 is our chart of London's great restaurants. Every place on this list has stood the test of time, continuing to turn out amazing food whether that's years after opening or after the first months of frenzied excitement have died down. We hope it'll be a handy list to give anyone visiting London who wants to know where's great to eat out, but we hope it's equally as useful a guide for Londoners, looking to try some of this city's more established restaurants.
Added August 2020 - Bright, Bubula, Chez Bruce, Claude Bosi at Bibendum, Dishoom, Koya, Leroy, Perilla, Westerns Laundry. Everything on this list is either open or has a reopening date that's listed below.
40 Maltby St London SE1 3PA
Here, chef Steve Williams (ex Ledbury and Harwood Arms) is quietly turning out extraordinary dishes that have fellow chefs and restaurateurs regularly citing this as one of their favourite places in town. And it's not just the food that's good, given that it's owned by Gergovie Wines, you can expect a very decent wine list here too.
Delivery: Takeaway sandwiches/lunch only
70 Wilton Road, Victoria, London SW1V 1DE
Legions of London foodies can't be wrong. Andrew Wong took over his parent's traditional Chinese restaurant in Victoria back in 2013 and proceeded to shake up the SW1 dining scene in no uncertain way. The 10-course tasting menu in the evening takes inspiration from Chinese history, but what you really want to do is come here for the lunchtime dim sum menu. Wong's duck egg custard tarts may be the Instagram dish to have, but we hear his mushroom puffs are even better.
Also try - It's closed at the time of writing but, when it returns, try Andrew Wong's second restaurant at Bloomberg Arcade, Kym's.
53 Lexington St, London W1F 9AS
Originally starting out as street food, Bao hit Soho in a big way. A seat at the small restaurant quickly became - and remains - one of the hottest spots in town, but at least you can now book. Their signature bao buns have always made that wait worth the while. The pork bao is easily one of London's top dishes but everything here is worth having. Seriously consider ordering the entire menu.
Also try: Both Fitzrovia and Borough Baos are great alternatives to the original.
11-15 Swallow St, London W1B 4DG (reopens 1 October)
For over 100 years this Piccadilly institution has been serving up oysters and other seafood to London's well-heeled clientele. Nowadays it's a more egalitarian establishment, presided over by chef-patron Richard Corrigan who has run things here for more than a decade. And while oysters are still very much the thing here - with an annual shucking contest to mark the beginning of the natives season - everything else is given just as much care and attention. They even smoke their own salmon up on the rooftop.
Also try - Daffodil Mulligan the chef's newest restaurant in Old Street (opens 1 September).
4 Redchurch St, London E1 6JL
Tomos Parry presides over the fire here in Shoreditch. This upstairs dining room (you'll find it above Smoking Goat) looks like it's been on this spot since Dickensian London, but the vibe couldn't be more of the moment. The turbot is very much the signature dish here, but expect to find all manner of meats thrown on the wood-fired grill plus a top wine list from Noble Rot's Keeling Andrew & Co. Who needs a trip to Etxebarri when we have our own homegrown take on Basque food culture right here in London?
20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED
Messrs Corbin & King's subterranean palace is a London wonder. The original hotel here aimed to "to make the luxuries usually available to the very rich open to the less well-off". In its current incarnation, this huge restaurant does the same - offering starters at pre-decimalisation prices as well as one of the best prix fixe deals in town. Just off Piccadilly Circus, swanning down the stairs here always feels special - don't leave without ordering the singular Îles flottantes.
Delivery: Some dishes via Corbin & King Home Dining
49 Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
A lot of people have a real fondness for Brawn. Food writer Diana Henry declared, "Brawn and QCH. I'd eat in them both every week if I could." Owned and run by Ed Wilson, who used to be group chef at Terroirs it's the archetypal neighbourhood restaurant, serving up a super seasonal and regularly changing menu - their pasta is particularly great.
Delivery: to local postcodes via their shop
1 Westgate St, Hackney, London E8 3RL
This neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar is the third in the so-hip-it-hurts group that includes P Franco and Peg. In the kitchen are William Gleave and Peppe Belvedere who serve up a seasonal menu - milk ice-cream with gooseberries, anyone?. You can also perch up at the bar and enjoy some superlative bar snacks.
Also try: P Franco with its rotating guest chef working wonders in a teeny kitchen.
2 Bellevue Road, Wandsworth Common, London SW17 7EG (Reopens 28 August)
Chez Bruce celebrated its 25th birthday in 2020 and this longstanding restaurant is top of many a restaurant critic's all-time favourites list. Co-owner Bruce Poole and his head chef Matt Christmas set out their stall thus: "We are not particularly into gadgets and tricks in the kitchen and there are doubtless some who view our food as slightly old fashioned in this regard. We take this as a compliment!" Back when Marina O'Loughlin was at the Guardian she declared her meal there as one which "encourages you to wallow in sheer, sybaritic pleasure".
Michelin House, 81 Fulham Rd, London SW3 6RD (reopens early September)
It's a poorly held secret that Bosi is gunning for three Michelin stars for his Chelsea restaurant, and while he works towards that life goal, his dinner guests are the happy beneficiaries. Expect the finest English and French produce given a dazzling new twist by Bosi in this most beautiful of dining rooms.
Also try: While you're waiting for the reopening date, definitely try the Oyster bar downstairs.
92 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2PN
Clare Smyth's Notting Hill restaurant is at the top of everyone's lists - the Good Food Guide, Michelin, you name it. Expert superlative cooking in a more relaxed setting than the fine dining palaces of old. There are no starched tablecloths (or indeed any tablecloths at all) to be found here, just food that looks exquisite and tastes fantastic.
65 Commercial Street, London E1 6BD
Having built up a fanbase following a series of successful pop-ups, Bubala was always going to do well with its first bricks and mortar restaurant, but no-one could have predicted just how well. One of those rare vegetarian restaurants where you only realise it's a plant-based menu if someone points it out to you. Middle Eastern in influence, but firmly East London in vibe.
3 Prince Edward Road, London E9 5LX
Chef Tom Brown pretty much hit a home run with the critics since opening his Hackney restaurant. Jay Rayner loved the way the team here picks the best seafood and makes it "shine through wit, technique and good taste". The seafood crumpet is the must-order dish (right now it's crab), but you'll be hard-pressed to find any dish that doesn't delight here. An eye-opener for anyone who loves their fish.
Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF
Two chefs, one from Argentina and the other from Brazil teamed up with Singaporean hotelier Peng Loh for this Latin American and Italian inspired restaurant by way of San Sebastian. It's the kind of international melting pot story that makes London's restaurant scene so great. Michelin clearly agree - they gave it a star in its first year. Tasting menus can sometimes be an ordeal, but here there's a great deal of humour, making a trip to Bethnal Green to try Da Terra's inspired dishes a must.
King's Cross, Soho, Covent Garden, Knightsbridge
How to explain the very special place that Dishoom has in Londoners' hearts? Is it the deep-running passion for their bacon naan and black daal that made us form queues outside every one of their restaurants? Or the clever interior design that transports us to the cafes of Bombay? Or perhaps it's the way they make everyone in our city feel at home there.
49 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 5BG
The French House has a notable recent history of enticing interesting chefs. Fergus Henderson started here. Tom Oldroyd and Florence Knight both cooked here when it was Polpetto and now it's the turn of Neil Borthwick, formerly of Merchants Tavern. Since he started here the buzz has returned to this lovely upstairs dining room. Tables here are hard to get, so enticing is Borthwick's simple but elegantly created menu.
30 Bruton Place, London W1J 6NL
Back when it first opened (in the 1400s) the inn on this site was mainly for local farmworkers. Now you're more likely to be sitting beside a table of hedge funders or - just as likely - a foodie lured over to the posh part of town by the fact that the ebullient Oisin Rogers is in charge of things here. Meat is the order of the day either in the form of Aberdeenshire dry-aged steaks or in the multi-award-winning steak and kidney pies. Sunday lunches are a newer addition, as are the epic breakfasts.
42 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JH
Gymkhana is certainly one of London's top (if not the top) Indian restaurants and has carved out quite a niche with the celebrity circuit too (Ed Sheeran is a huge fan). It had to close after a fire but recently this year after a huge refurb and looks set to continue to be a huge London hit. The kid goat methi keema and muntjac biryani are the unmissable dishes.
Delivery: Up to 8 miles radius, order online
157 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ
While steak clearly is a BIG thing at Hawksmoor, in many respects eating at one of their restaurants is much more than a carnivore's delight. From the cocktails (the Full-Fat Old Fashioned is one of our favourites in London) to the burgers and some amazing desserts - the salted caramel "rolos" are unmissable - Hawksmoor is the very epitome of the excellent all-rounder. We've picked the original here, but you can be sure of a good time at any of their London establishments.
Also try: Hawksmoor have restaurants all over town, from Borough to Covent Garden.
252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN (Reopens 1 September)
The main reason for the rise of Holborn Dining Room's fortunes is down to the work of their head chef, Calum Franklin and his talented pastry team. Follow him on Instagram if you want to be permanently hungry and also to marvel what he's able to do with pastry. Aim for anything pie-related on the menu (there's always at least one on the go) and you'll be sure of a work of genius.
Also try: The pie room counter if you're just passing. Because, pies.
25a Warren Street, London W1T 5LZ
This tiny restaurant at the north end of Fitzrovia is much loved for its deceptively simple Middle-Eastern cooking and also for being one of the friendliest places to eat in London. Run by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer (Sarit was previously at Nopi and Ottolenghi) it really has the feel of a neighbourhood restaurant in the middle of London. This couple were at the forefront of Levantine cooking just as it became a trend and they continue to lead the field.
Delivery: At home meals available for collection
Also try: The nearby Honey and Smoke for the team's Middle Eastern Grill.
1 St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4AH
This Michelin-starred restaurant in St James's Market is by Iré Hassan-Odukale and Chef Jeremy Chan mixed seasonal British ingredients with a West African menu and creates something unique in London in the process. The smoked jollof rice is not to be missed, particularly now it comes with aged sheep kebab and crab custard. They reopened after the lockdown with a new menu that's already creating quite the stir in foodie circles.
1 St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4AH
One of London's properly iconic restaurants, Sheeky's have been serving up seafood to Londoners for over 100 years. The setting, tucked in an unassuming passageway linking Charing Cross Road to St Martin's Lane, means it's always been popular with London's theatre folk, popping in here post-performance as well as other A-listers. When the theatres return, here's where you'll find everyone from Phoebe Waller-Bridge to Robert de Niro enjoying the restaurant's classic fish pie and oyster platters.
58 Brewer St, London W1F 9TL
Kiln, from the same people behind The Smoking Goat and focused around simple yet sophisticated Thai cooking, has built up a devoted following. So much so that this small Soho restaurant, with a big focus around counter dining, was voted best restaurant in the country at the National Restaurant Awards two years ago. Packs a big punch for its size.
49 Frith Street, London W1D 4SG
It's hard to believe that Koya is celebrating its tenth birthday this year. Head Chef and co-founder Shuko Oda has, together with John Devitt, created one of those pitch-perfect London restaurants. The cold udon noodle dishes are probably the biggest draw, but we have a special fondness for the onsen tamago.
Delivery: via Deliveroo
Also try: The second Koya in the City at Bloomberg Arcade
277 Hackney Rd, London E2 8NA
We were avid watchers of head chef Tom Anglesea's Instagram account in the run-up to his appearance on the Great British Menu. The food here looks just wonderful - it's all we can do to stop ourselves grabbing our oyster card and hoofing it out of the door whenever he posts. Expect to see the best British produce given treatments inspired by flavours and cooking techniques from all over the world.
Delivery: Collection available, book via their website
18 Phipp Street, London EC2A 4NU
This Michelin-starred kitchen is the fortuitous combination of two sommeliers - Ed Thaw and Jack Lewens - and a very well-travelled chef, Sam Kamienko (Anchor & Hope, Eleven Madison Place, Le Bernardin). Their set menus are thoughtful and seasonal, and the wine list is one to dive into.
Also try - their chicken offshoot, Royale
Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ
The Sethi family (Gymkhana, Bubbledogs, Bao and Hoppers) have a great record when it comes to supporting talent. And so it's turned out with James Lowe's restaurant which is now in the World's 50 Best list. In this ultra pared-back Shoreditch restaurant Lowe has full rein to showcase his talents with a modern ever-changing menu. Get on their newsletter list to be the first to hear about the restaurant's regular team-ups with interesting chefs from all over the world too.
Also try: Flor in Borough from the same team.
254 Hackney Road, London E2 7SJ
Taking over an east London pub, two St John veterans Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram have catapulted this spot to one of London's best. Either snacks in the pub or a meal upstairs are recommended, with an inventive seasonal menu on hand. But whatever you do make sure to leave some room for the brown butter and honey tart. It's a bucket list dessert for London, that's for sure.
51 Lamb's Conduit St, London WC1N 3NB
When the boys behind Noble Rot magazine opened a wine bar near Holborn it was always going to be noteworthy. But kicking off the kitchen with a little help from wonderful out-of-town The Sportsman's chef Stephen Harris, that was something else. And the food here is a perfect match for a very-fine-indeed wine list. Don't leave without having the extraordinarily good bread or the signature dish, the slip sole.
182 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8EW (Currently opening for 21/22 August - full opening date TBC)
Want to be looked after to within an inch of your life? Well, this is the restaurant you come to. Properly old-school French, Otto's has carved out a niche for itself because of a serious bit of kit called the duck press. This dish sees the breast sliced, then the rest of the duck (bar the legs) pressed in the special screw press giving a juice to which Cognac and duck liver are added before it's poured over the rare slices which finish cooking in the sauce. Both very rich and very pricey (£140 for - as they put it - one duck, two people, three courses) but, by all accounts, like nothing else in town.
6 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TQ
London has some top spots for pasta already, but nothing quite like Padella. Set up by the people behind the very successful Trullo in Islington, this keeps things simple. Previously no reservations, you can now book to try a short list of dishes and some of the very best pasta in London which also happen to be the best value dishes in town. We can't keep away from the place, to be honest, and their pappardelle with 8 hour Dexter beef shin ragu may well be our top pasta dish ever.
Delivery: Pasta kits available for collection
Also try: The team's second branch in Shoreditch.
1-3 Green Lanes, Newington Green, London N16 9BS
A perfect example of a neighbourhood restaurant that's 100% worth crossing town for. Running the kitchen are Ben Marks, who used to be at The Square, and Matt Emmerson, who's ex-Polpo. The dinner menu changes daily meaning there's always something to entice back locals or other regulars. Right now there's a seaweed salted caramel doughnut on the menu that's setting hearts aflutter.
52 Wilton Way, London E8 1BG
Setting up shop in a Hackney backstreet, Pidgin saw supperclub host James Ramsden team up with Sam Herlihy to create the kind of place that won plaudits from critics and locals alike. Pidgin has a weekly changing set menu that is about as seasonal as it gets. A perfect neighbourhood restaurant, in that you could come back week after week and never have the same dish twice, it's also worth crossing town for too.
Delivery: Weekly meals from Homing Pidgin
Also try: top sandwiches form the same team at King's Cross at Sons + Daughters.
92–94 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3EA
The Quality Chop House, which has been open since 1869, at one point looked in danger of disappearing forever before it was lovingly restored by co-owners Will Lander and Daniel Morgenthau. Now it's both a restaurant and wine bar featuring menus that are created in the morning based on what's been delivered. Come for the very best of British cooking, or just as easily pop in for charcuterie or wine or to pick something up from the adjoining butcher and deli.
Delivery: Confit potatoes and more delivering within 10KM radius
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA
It may have originally been the canteen to Ruth Rogers' rather well-known architect husband's company, but this is now about as far from a works canteen as it's possible to get. Set down a leafy residential street, with gardens stretching down to the Thames, the River Cafe turns out beautiful Italian food with the best produce at an eye-watering price. You get what you pay for - it's just a question of whether you can afford the price tag.
Delivery: At home dishes available to order online
16 Playground Gardens, London E2 7FA
It's a converted bike shed, in the old playground of an East London school that only the committed foodie would ever find (look for the buzzer on the wall by the gate on Rochelle Street). But once in, particularly on a clement day when you can sit outside in the walled garden, Rochelle Canteen proves worthy of the quest. Margot Henderson (wife of St John's Fergus) owns the place with Melanie Arnold, and while the menu descriptions are sparing - e.g. Boiled Brisket, Turnips & Carrots - the food that appears is generous and delicious.
35 Heddon St, London W1B 4BP
Mere days after it opened on Heddon Street, it was clear that London was in possession of an instant classic. Run by the perfect double act of chef Nieves Barragán and GM Josè Etura it's the kind of restaurant everyone wants to try, and once they've been are immediately plotting a return visit. It's a restaurant of two halves (if you ignore the stand-up bar section) with the (bookable) Asador on the upper level and counter dining by the open kitchen on the ground floor. Obviously, you're going to want the croquetas, but everything else will be great as well.
Delivery: Via Sabor en Casa
26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY
St John seems to be an unofficial finishing school for some of London's top chefs - so many of them have worked in the original or at Bread and Wine. But Fergus Henderson's original is seen by many as one of the very best restaurants in London and a perfect example of nose-to-tail British cuisine. It's also well worth popping into the bar for seedcake and Madeira and to try some of the separate bar menu dishes if you want a taste of the place without the full price tag.
34 Drayton Park, London N5 1PB
With the bifold doors flung open and pre-dinner drinks out on the terrace, the team who also run Primeur and Jolene have turned this unlovely former laundry by the Emirates Stadium into a little slice of foodie paradise.
Enjoy snacks and a glass of Vermouth under the olive tree and feel like you're far away from North London.