The minute we finished putting together our first Hot Right Now list, it became clear that we were going to need another chart of London restaurants to run alongside it. One to feature restaurants that have stood the test of time - restaurants that after the first months of frenzied excitement had died down continued to turn out amazing food.
The Hot Dinners Top 40 is our chart of London's great restaurants. Every place on this list has been opened for longer than six months. Each one is worthy of a visit by anyone interested in good food. 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.
Yes, it was really hard getting it down to 40, but you have to draw a line somewhere and we rather liked the idea of producing our own version of the pop charts.
40 Maltby St London SE1 3PA
Try and pick a time to try this Bermondsey restaurant when the market's not on, to give yourself time to fully appreciate it without jostling with the foodie weekend masses. Chef Stephen 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.
30 St Cross Street, London EC1N 8UH
Tucked away behind a minimalist frontage off a Farringdon side street, Anglo's a restaurant happy to sit back and let the food rather than decor do the talking. Chef Mark Jarvis arrived in EC1 via the Bingham in Richmond and Le Manoir and is assisted in the teeny kitchen by Jack Cashmore who was previously at Sat Baines & In De Wulf. The menu is an ever-changing snapshot of the season, but one standout dish remains since we first went in the opening weeks - the cheese and onion on malt loaf which you must have.
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.
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 remained - one of the hottest spots in town. It's rare not to have to wait for a table, but 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. Go in a group and order the entire menu, ideally. Also try: Head northwards to Fitzrovia for the second Bao, where you can book some tables.
16 Neal's Yard, London WC2H 9DP
When siblings Zoe and Layo Paskin opened this teeny Neal's Yard restaurant it was off the back of the tsunami of critical plaudits for their first restaurant The Palomar. And while the original is great, we have a particular fondness for The Barbary. The horseshoe counter means every diner is thrust into the energy of the kitchen. Flaming lamb cutlets are great, but leave room for dessert particularly the hashcake.
Also try - the excellent counter scene at The Palomar and their nearby pub The Blue Posts.
11-15 Swallow St, London W1B 4DG
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 - Corrigan's, the chef's other restaurant in Mayfair (and pay a visit to Dickie's Bar there).
1 Upper James Street, Soho, London W1F 9DF
Any restaurant which has a button that is reserved for ordering Champagne is onto a winner from the beginning. Bob Bob Ricard is one of the restaurants we always recommend to out-of-towners who want a special night out, that's not too formal. No expense was spared on the decor, yet it's still ostentatious without being too obviously "bling". While you can still eat here relatively affordably, it would be a shame not to splash out on dishes like the caviar and the lobster macaroni.
156 Canonbury Road, London N1 2UP
Lee Tiernan's Black Axe Mangal is one of those places where we always return to and wonder why we don't make weekly visits. Sometimes billed as a twist on London's kebabs, it's much, much more than that. The oven turns out phenomenally good bread (the squid ink bread is incomparable) while the regularly changing menu featuring all cuts of meat cooked beautifully is a wonder to behold. Just don't expect to be able to hear anything your dining companion says to you.
49 Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
A lot of people have a real fondness for Brawn. In a recent Twitter discussion on the best restaurant in London to be a regular at, 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 - just don't leave without ordering at least one pasta dish.
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT
Now not only one of the best restaurants in London, The Clove Club is the highest British entry on the World's 50 Best list. The food is inventive, often thrilling but it's the restaurant as a whole that works so well - those playlists, the great cocktails, the genuinely warm service. A proper showcase for modern British cooking.
Also try: Head over to Shoreditch where the people behind The Clove Club have set up their second restaurant, Luca.
15 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, London SW4 0HY
The Dairy is what you get if you take a chef trained under Raymond Blanc, inspired by stages at Noma and Frantzen and then let him loose in his own space on Clapham Common. Robin Gill's set lunch is one of London's glorious bargains and while locals may happily pop in for a dish or two and a glass of wine, anyone travelling here will want to spend time working their way through the tasting menu. If it's possible for a restaurant to be both relaxed and exciting then the Dairy manages just that.
Also try: The people behind the Dairy also run the Amalfi-inspired Sorella nearby.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
One of the few London restaurants on the World's 50 Best list, Heston's only London gaff is still hugely popular. The dishes that captured everyone's attention when it opened - the Meat Fruit (chicken liver parfait shaped like a mandarin) and the Tipsy Cake are still on the menu and are must-order dishes if you haven't got round to trying them yet. Keep an eye out for A-list diners, the hotel is a well-known celebrity haunt.
30 Bruton Place, London W1J 6NL
Back when it first opened (in the 1400s) the inn on this site was mainly for local farm workers. 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 here either in the form of Aberdeenshire dry-aged steaks or in the multi-award-winning steak and kidney pies. We hear the Sunday lunches are quite the thing too.
42 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JH
Gymkahana's Karam Sethi was carving out a reputation for himself and his cooking at Trishna, but while that was well received, it was the opening of Sethi's second restaurant Gymkhana that had all the critics fawning and which won him multiple awards. Easily one of the best Indian restaurants (if not the best) in London at the moment.
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 just steak. 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 restaurants.
Also try: Hawksmoor have spots all over town, from Borough to Covent Garden.
301-303 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4HH
In this time of barbecue and burgers, there aren't too many places doing that molecular gastronomy style of intricate cooking in London - but there is one place that's still up there with the best. Self-taught chef and former food blogger Mikael Jonsson keeps himself busy preparing some of the most challenging and best food in London and his fans go nuts about eating here. Oh, and he bakes the best bread in London. No question.
252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
The main reason for the rise of Holborn Dining Room's fortunes is down to the work of their head chef, Calum Franklin. 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 here.
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 Itmar 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.
Also try: The nearby Honey and Smoke for the team's Middle Eastern Grill.
58 Brewer St, London W1F 9TL
Kiln, from the same people behind The Smoking Goat and focused around simple yet sophisticated Thai cooking, has slowly been getting better and better since opening, all the while picking up a devoted following. So much so that this small Soho restaurant, with a big focus around counter dining, has been voted best restaurant in the country at the National Restaurant Awards.
Also try: The relocated Smoking Goat in Shoreditch for more from the same team.
70 Charlotte St, London W1T 4QG
A restaurant within a restaurant tucked away behind the curtains at the back of Bubbledogs, Kitchen Table is really the largest chef's table in London. Take a stool and prepare for some fireworks. Husband and wife team James Knappett and Sandia Chang met when working at Per Se but the setup here is more inspired by Brooklyn Fare. There are just 19 seats and the 12-14 course dinner menu is entirely inspired by what amazing ingredients arrive fresh from the market that day.
12 Denman St, Soho, London W1D 7HH
After beginning life in a shipping container as one of the first restaurants in Pop Brixton, Kricket has come far since. Inspired by Indian cuisine, they offer an ever-changing menu of Indian small plates. And they feature what may be one of our favourite snacks in town, the samphire pakora dish. Head to Soho for some great counter action, or to their second restaurant in Brixton (and look out for a third in White City soon).
127 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AQ
One of the few London restaurants to make it as far as the top 10 of the World's 50 Best, this is often cited to us by fellow foodies as their favourite place in town. Fronted by Brett Graham it manages to mix high-end Michelin-starred food with a relaxed service, while still keeping the locals happy too.
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.
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.
34 - 36 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE
Back in 1997 when Moro first opened, Exmouth Market was still a scruffy Clerkenwell street and this restaurant with its implausibly good looking bar staff and open kitchen was the second most exciting thing to happen to the area food-wise since The Eagle threw open its doors. Run by the marvellously-monikered Sam and Sam Clark, it's still turning out great food in a room that's packed every day of the week. Grab a glass of sherry up at the bar, or nab one of the more sought-after window tables and enjoy a lazy, boozy afternoon here.
Also try: There's offshoot Morito next door, but it's really the Hackney Morito you'll also want to head to for some East London Morito action.
20 Queen Street, London, W1J 5PR
Yes, on the one hand, this is all very Mayfair - yards of linen napery, deep plush carpet, a certain type of ultra-wealthy diner, but there's some thrilling food coming out of Angela Hartnett's kitchen that belies the calm of the dining room. What's more, the wine list is genuinely exciting - making this a place you'll want to deliver yourself into the hands of the sommelier.
Also try: If you can't get into Murano or need something a little more budget conscious, the Cafe Muranos come highly recommended.
51 Lamb's Conduit St, London WC1N 3NB
We were already pretty excited when we heard that the boys behind Noble Rot magazine were opening a wine bar near Holborn. 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
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. No reservations, 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.
Also try: The team's original restaurant in Islington, Trullo, where you'll also find some excellent pasta.
107 Lower Clapton Rd, London E5 0NP
A wine bar with amazing food is one way of describing this Clapton spot which punches well above its weight, given the size of its kitchen. Since it first opened, a veritable who's who of the modern London restaurant scene have been through its doors to take a turn at the two induction hobs at the back of the room including William Gleave who's now heading up their standalone restaurant Bright. Right now it's George Tomalin doing the honours with a daily-changing menu.
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.
Also try: The team's Mayfair restaurant, Magpie.
8-10 Pollen Street, London W1S 1NQ
Jason Atherton, at this stage, is arguably the most successful restaurateur in London with an empire that continues to grow without diminishing the quality of its offering. But the original, Pollen Street Social, remains the place to go if you want to get the very best of Atherton. This was one of the first London restaurants to add a separate dessert bar and the cocktails are a huge highlight too. The set lunch here remains a perfect introduction.
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 Will Lander and Josie Stead. 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.
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.
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 we adored the Presa Iberica 5 Jotas served on Mojo Verde.
35 Sclater St, London E1 6LB
Given their popularity as a street food vendor - you could hardly miss the queues for their brisket buns (and the custom-built Texan BBQ smoker was pretty in-your-face too) - it was only a matter of time before David Carter moved the enterprise into a permanent spot. And this smoky, steampunk room in Shoreditch revealed that there was real innovation and creativity behind the macho 'cue look. So while that brisket and pickled chilli bun is never coming off the menu, there are also some gorgeous dishes for vegetarians too - like the coal-roasted aubergine with red miso and toasted cashews.
43A Commercial Street, London E1 6BD
Som Saa were originally set up as a residency in Climpson's Arch and became known as serving up the best Thai food in town. Now happily ensconced in their permanent spot on the edge of the City, they've easily kept that crown. For something that will change the way you think about Thai food, and generally for some of the best food in town, look no further.
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 pricetag.
12 Jerusalem Passage, London EC1V 4JP
While there are a few very good sushi restaurants in London, this tiny Clerkenwell restaurant is viewed by many to be the holy grail. The trouble is that it's the very devil to get into, seating only seven and bookings are like gold-dust. They open the list a month in advance and there is a waiting list - so be prepared to be lightning fast when it comes to calling the minute the lines open. Keep an eye on their Twitter feed too which occasionally broadcasts last-minute tables.
34 Drayton Park, London N5 1PB
Owners David Gingell and Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim also run nearby Primeur, but for our money this Holloway spot is the best of the two. There's a distinct focus on seafood and the menu changes everyday, although if the cuttlefish croquettes with aioli are on there, make sure you order those. In summertime you can take a glass of something cold out on the front courtyard and if you're really pushing the boat out, ask for the leather-bound, handwritten, ‘black book’ of fine wines.