The City of London, usually just called the City or the Square Mile, runs between Chancery Lane and the Tower of London and (fun fact) roughly follows the boundaries of the ancient Roman capital of Britannia, Londinium.
The City offers a wealth of great places to eat and drink where London’s history meets the modern-day. Whether you are looking for the best place to take a client, a lunch with a difference or a post-work hangout, the City has got it all and we’ve rounded up the most exciting places in the City to meet all needs and budgets.
The City may be an area best known for big business, but there are plenty of good value spots to enjoy if you know where to look.
Travel to Portugal and perch at the counter by the open kitchen of the City outlet of Bar Douro, enjoying petiscos, such as salt-cod fritters and smoked sausage croquetas, while admiring the azulejos that adorn the walls.
This Vietnamese restaurant, open since 2010, is a popular choice for its wallet-friendly food, prepared with the freshest of ingredients from specialist Asian suppliers. You’ll want to linger over the long-simmered broths, phở and bún huế from traditional family recipes.
Dom’s has spread its ‘impeccable sandwich’ love from the original outpost of Hackney to this new City branch. You’ll get giant in-house-baked semolina sub rolls with extremely generous fillings (including vegan options).
On The Bab specialises in Korean street food where you can get all your fried chicken, sticky rice (‘the bab’) and bibimbap needs met. What once started as a Shoreditch stall now has a cult following, and for good reason.
Mais, oui: Francophiles will want to gravitate to this very French bistro, part of an international chain that originally opened in Paris in 1959. There is only one thing on the main menu and that’s classic steak and frites (served with a secret sauce).
Get your noodle fix at the Liverpool St outlet of this ramen chain, where you can sit at a robata grill and enjoy yakitori or perhaps the signature 12-hour pork broth with your choice of topping, or even a flight of sake.
You're as likely to find the coolest spots in the City tucked down side alleys as you are in its glittering skyscrapers - here's our pick.
So much more than a neighbourhood trattoria, Brutto is one of London’s newest Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants for 2022. Come for the Florentine cuisine - huge T-bone steaks, dough ball "cuddles", pasta and more - and stay for the all-day bar with £5 Negronis.
Perennially popular and tremendously spacious, The Ned took over an impressive (and huge) old banking site and stuffed it with places to eat - there are ten restaurants to choose from. The wide range of cuisine options are international, including Italian (Cecconi’s), American (Electric Bar & Diner, Malibu Grill, The Nickel Bar), and Asian-Pacific (Kaia).
Infamous for its ‘press for Champagne’ button at every table, this London institution is great for groups (the largest booth size seats eight but up to 18 can dine comfortably in their private dining rooms). Menu-wise, expect reinventions of classic French and Russian dishes.
One of the best Indian restaurants in The City, Brigadiers has a maze of rooms in the largest space in the Bloomberg Arcade, with up to 140 covers indoors and space for 28 on the outdoor terrace. Fans of smoky Indian barbecue will be particularly impressed.
Set in an atmospheric basement of a Grade-II-listed building, the City outlet of Blacklock, a chophouse renowned for the quality of its grass-fed meat, is where carnivores can indulge in the likes of smoked maple-glazed bacon chops or even pig’s head on toast.
Opened in 2015 and since expanded to restaurants in Soho and Tower Bridge, this original Gunpowder serves Indian small plates with an inventive twist. It’s a small space with just 20 covers, so you’ll need to book ahead.
Spanish chef José Pizarro expanded beyond Bermondsey Street for the first time to this City outpost (his third restaurant in what is now a burgeoning empire) in 2015. There’s a big focus on grilled meats, such as the famed Presa Ibérico, as well as all things tapas.
If you have a penchant for freshly made udon noodles, this is the place: a larger version (60 covers) of the much-loved Koya in Soho, where you can sit at wooden tables and enjoy izakaya small plates with sake and beer.
Good for groups, MBER specialises in Pan-Asian tapas dining and Filipino-style sharing plates. Try ox cheeks, served with truffle potatoes and jackfruit dressing with Japanese teriyaki sauce; or yellowfin tuna and salmon sashimi, served with black truffle salsa. There are dedicated vegan and vegetarian menus too.
At Temper, it’s all about the heat, with your barbecue coming from a huge central firepit. Alongside steak, you can also enjoy the likes of wood-roasted sea bass or cheeseburger tacos, as well as a cocktail list that's heavy on mezcal and gin creations.
While much of the City may have changed since the olden days, these London establishments are beacons of tradition offering a timeless setting.
This former banking hall with a highly impressive glass cupola skylight is a modern European brasserie that’s been serving breakfast, lunch and dinner since 1998. The acclaimed Mark Hix MBE oversees the weekly, sustainably-sourced seasonal menus.
One of London’s best – and oldest – seafood restaurants, Sweetings has been going strong for over a century. All fish and seafood are from sustainable sources, and while it’s only open for lunch, it’s the place to step back in time while also savouring such classics as prawn cocktail, fried whitebait, Lobster Thermidor and cod’s roe on toast.
Dating back to 1757, this is the oldest chophouse in London; the exterior seemingly still from Dickensian times, located down an elusive alleyway in a hidden courtyard. Here you’ll find old-school meals, such as steak-and-kidney pudding, and where sausages are offered with every main course. The stewed cheese dessert is legendary.
If money's no option, or you've got something special to celebrate, here are the restaurants where you can really blow your budget.
This Michelin-starred French restaurant (it's now held a star for over 20 years) focuses on the cuisine of the southwest of France, with opulent tasting menus available. Don't leave without trying the lobster butter.
Set within the astoundingly opulent Grade-II-listed St Botolph’s Hall, with its high stone ceilings and large arched windows, Galvin La Chapelle is fine French dining indeed. Holding a Michelin star since 2011, this 110-seater restaurant is the place for dishes such as barbecued Bresse pigeon, celeriac, Yorkshire rhubarb and dark chocolate. There are vegetarian and vegan menus too.
One of London’s best steak restaurants, this City outlet of the Goodman restaurant group is popular with business diners. The meat is dry-aged on-site, and regular diners even have theirs cut to order. There’s a private dining room seating up to 10, for serious steak meetings.
Also renowned for their steaks, excellent wine list and service, Hawksmoor is a reassuring choice, and this branch is particularly suited to the business crowd, with breakfast meetings well-catered for. There’s also a 22-person private dining room, complete with audio-visual equipment, for presentations with exceptional catering.
This incredibly spacious ode to Spanish fine dining, part of the ground floor of the Grade-II-listed Lloyd’s Bank building on Lombard Street, is one for both interior-design fanatics and lovers of great food. All the classics are here: ham croquettes, fabada, octopus carpaccio, with a solid Spanish wine list.
Anne-Sophie Pic’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant, set in the salubrious Four Seasons Hotel in Trinity Square, is an exquisite light-filled space serving sublime French food. There are various tasting menus, but the white millefeuille dessert is her signature dish…and a must-try.
Famed for its dim sum menu and Cantonese cuisine, this is the second London outlet of Yauatcha, an upmarket Chinese restaurant that began life in Soho in 2004 but now has global homes in Saudi Arabia and India. Expect a high-class dining experience.
For lunch or dinner with a birds-eye view over the cityscape, head to one of these restaurants up in the clouds.
With spectacular views from the 7th floor of the South Place Hotel, Angler presents Michelin-starred dining with a special focus on seafood. Enjoy a tasting menu, lunch or à la carte meals from the rooftop terrace, with the likes of sea bass tartare with oyster cream, green apple and shiso on offer.
Since last year, things literally went to the next level at 14 Hills, with the 14th-floor restaurant nudging up to the 15th floor and gaining a rooftop terrace. It was already nicknamed ‘the forest in the sky’ for a reason, such is the floral foliage vibe, and the food champions British produce with a French flair.
This Michelin-starred restaurant from chef-about-town Jason Atherton offers stylish art deco surroundings with extraordinary views from the 24th floor of skyscraper Tower 42. As is the case with most of the Atherton empire, the cocktails are exceptional (the bar is a destination in itself) and his modern British fare is always on point.
This elegant French restaurant offers slick rooftop dining that’s popular with the working-lunch set, and is especially busy in summer for its garden with sublime views. There are set menus, including one featuring the ‘classiques’, such as escargots de Bourgogne.
The self-proclaimed ‘highest 24-hour restaurant in London’, Duck & Waffle has views of the city’s landmarks from its floor-to-ceiling windows on the 40th floor of Heron Tower. The curved banquettes are both cosy and retro, and the menu is imaginative, including the signature Duck & Waffle dish.
From post-work watering holes to weekend destination bars, the City has plenty of places to choose from.
At the top of the Fenchurch Building (aka the ‘Walkie Talkie’), Sky Pod Bar is an all-day drinking and dining space with dramatic views across London. It’s also where you can enjoy a cocktail amid the highest public gardens in Europe. There are DJs and live music at night, and tables should definitely be booked in advance.
A relatively new addition to The City, this is part of the new Pan Pacific Hotel, who have gone all-out to create a destination cocktail bar for the area. It looks the part, with a design by Tom Dixon studios and the cocktail menu (drinks include the Grape + Spruce - Suntory Toki, Grape Skin, Birch, Spruce) is very impressive.
Open since 1879 (formerly known as Bower & Co), El Vino Fleet Street has evolved into the place to come for tapas and a really well-considered wine list, given its associations with boutique and lesser-known wineries in Australia, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa.
A speakeasy set amid exotic jungle-like surrounds beneath Smithfield Market, Oriole regularly makes ‘best bar’ lists for its unusual atmosphere, a kind of candlelit utopia of glass cabinets filled with trinkets in a tropical museum-type drinking den. The live music flicks between jazz and R&B, and you can choose cocktails from three themes: Old World, The Orient and New World.
These bare-brick vaults under the Holborn Viaduct house a wine shop, a candlelit bar and event space for both discerning drinkers and those with a nose for adventurous and niche wines, especially from smaller producers who specialise in organic and biodiverse drops.
Spitalfields Market is the place to go for street food. Check out the market’s new contender The Indians Next Door for samosas, bhajis and Indian toasties. Keep the spices going with some jerk chicken or ackee and saltfish from Café Caribbean then follow up with a freshly made artisan hot crumble from Humble Crumble. Burger fans will want to pay their respects to Bleecker, which began life in this market as a food truck before opening its very first shop here. You can also slurp delicious wonton soup and spicy noodles from Dumpling Shack.
Gourmet food shopping is a breeze for Italophiles at Eataly, with its massive food and wine marketplace spanning 40,000 sq ft in Broadgate. Over in Tower Bridge at Bellavita, there are also many hard-to-find Italian ingredients, as well as hampers and charcuterie platters. Don’t miss London’s oldest Italian delicatessen at L.Terroni & Sons in Clerkenwell, and while you’re in the area, check out Quality Chop House, which has every ingredient you could possibly imagine available, from staples such as pasta and rice to specialities like boquerones.
Cocoa fans should head to Dark Sugars Cocoa House in Spitalfields for truffles and signature boxes of the finest chocolates. You’ll love Leadenhall Market for its speciality meat and cheese; firstly, Viandas for jamón Pata Negra and pure Iberico charcuterie, then to Cheese at Leadenhall for all your fromage needs as well as wine tasting. But if you’re looking for a special bottle, Uncorked at Broadgate can most definitely help you out.
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