From fine-dining restaurants, budget takeaway joints, and restaurants offering every type of international cuisine imaginable, whatever your palette desires, you will almost certainly find the perfect dish for it at a restaurant in London.
There's restaurants with terraces, restaurants with fireplaces, and restaurants where the chef cooks your meal right in front of you. From sharing some pasta and a bottle of wine at a posh Italian restaurant, or even chowing down on a burger and fries in a 60s-style American diner, when it comes to all the restaurant experiences to be had in London, the sky is the limit.
London's many restaurants are scattered all throughout the city, from just next door to Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden, to off-the-beaten-track in neighbourhoods like Bermondsey and Dalston.
If you're in London for a longer period of time, you can easily visit some of the city's best restaurants in the click of a button or by reading Tripadvisor reviews beforehand. But if you only have one night in London, making a final decision on where to dine in the city can be extremely difficult, to say the least.
If you're curious about where you can find the best restaurants in London, or even if you're passionate about food and itching to explore London's many cuisines and dishes, here are some tips on discovering London's many top-notch restaurants.
Obviously many of London's best restaurants are located in the more central, touristy areas in order to attract the hoards of tourists visiting London throughout the year. Soho in particular is packed full of London's most highly-rated restaurants, offering everything from Catalan tapas, Asian stir-fry, Turkish pizza and Taiwanese street-food.
Another central area of London loaded with fabulous restaurants would be none other than Covent Garden, which offers everything from Spanish, African, and Moroccan, to French, Thai, Belgian and Indonesian restaurants. Covent Garden is also home to the world-famous chef Jamie Oliver's restaurant, as well as a ton of burger joints, sushi parlours, steakhouses, and street food tapa haunts as well.
Chelsea and Kensington also have a ton of restaurants worth checking out, but they are generally the priciest in the city. There are classic Italian and French restaurants scattered on nearly every corner, as well as all sorts of Iranian, Indian, Lebanese, Argentinian and Chinese restaurants that certainly won't disappoint.
But if you really want to put your finger on the pulse of London's thriving restaurant scene, you'll have to venture out of London's central areas to truly experience it. In recent years Bermondsey, Brixton, Clerkenwell, Angel and Islington have all become known as a foodie's paradise thanks to their variety of restaurants offering every type of cuisine imaginable. The areas near Maltby Street and Borough Market have become a mecca for food lovers, while Angel and Islington have some of the best vegetarian and seafood restaurants in the city.
And believe it or not, Clerkenwell has also earned a reputation of being "restaurant central" in recent years among locals, and offers everything from rooftop bars, Pan-Asian restaurants, Venetian cuisine, and much, much more.
One could easily spend years of their life listing off all of the best restaurants to visit during a trip to London, but if you happen to be in a certain area or neighbourhood during lunch or dinner time, there are some restaurants which shouldn't be missed.
For the ultimate tourist experience, you could visit the oldest restaurant in London (Rules), which is located in Covent Garden and focuses on classic British dishes. You could also check out any of the famed chef Jamie Oliver's restaurants scattered throughout the city like Union Jacks in Covent Garden, Barbecoa near St. Paul's Cathedral, Fifteen outside of Bethnal Green, and Jamie Oliver's Diner in Soho. Gordon Ramsay also has not one, but 15 different restaurants in London, some of which are located in Battersea, Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Mayfair.
Covent Garden is arguably home to some of the best restaurants in the city, such as Hawksmoor Seven Dials (famed for its rib-eye steak and kimchi burgers) and the quirky Creme de la Crepe (known for its mouthwatering banana and nutella crepes). If you happen to be near Chelsea and Kensington, Spaghetti House is a great choice (for obvious reasons), but if you're near Marylebone, sampling some oyster mushroom bruschettas at The Providores and Tapa Room is a must.
If you're feeling adventurous, Clerkenwell is home to countless restaurants offering some of the most obscure and unique dishes in the city. The Hix Oyster and Chop House offers beef flank, duck's egg, wild rabbit and roast redleg partridge, while St. John has everything from roast bone marrow with parsley salad, ox heart, goat's curd and carved pig meat; (although the brown shrimp and white cabbage starter also comes highly recommended).
If you plan on venturing to Angel and Islington, The Breakfast Club is one of the most popular restaurants in the area, as it includes every type of breakfast dish imaginable; (which is a great option if you're looking for some heavy, hangover food after a night of partying in London). If you happen to have a soft spot for Italian food, Trullo is a fabulous restaurant which has rabbit ravioli, beef shin ragu, bruschetta with quail and chicken liver.
And anyone with a sweet tooth will certainly appreciate Belgravia's Ottolenghi (especially known for its Fresh Berry and Passion Fruit tarts).
If you're looking for something more specific or from a certain area of the world, then you've come to the right city. London's many restaurants touch on nearly every corner of the Earth in terms of the types of cuisine they offer. From Moroccan cuisine, Korean cuisine, and even Slovenian and Nordic cuisine, nearly every type of cuisine can be found in London...if you know where to find it.
If you want to sample as many different types of international dishes as possible, the streets surrounding Covent Garden offer a ton of different dishes from nearly every corner of the world. From mouth-watering Japanese dishes in Kirazu, to Mediterranean plates like Lamb sweetbreads, grilled squid, strawberry and white chocolate tiramisu at 10 Greek Street, and even cured ham and other traditional Spanish tapas at Barrafina.
Bocca di Lupo is also a fabulous Italian restaurant that will make you feel as if you're dining somewhere on the coast of Italy (we highly recommend the walnut sauce tortellini), and Pitt Cue Co shouldn't be missed by any visitor either; (it does have take-away soul food like pulled pork and slaw, after all).
But as London locals are already well aware, there are certain areas of London that specialize more in a specific cuisine than others. Camden, for example, has a ton of different Cuban restaurants and bars, while Tooting has become an area known for its thriving Indian and Asian culture (it has even earned the nickname of "Curry Corridor," in recent years as well).
Another obvious case is that of Soho, which offers some of the best Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai food in the city. This is thanks to Chinatown, located in the heart of Soho, which is home to more than 80 different Asian restaurants, buffets, dim sum parlours, cafes and bakeries offering a wide range from authentic Asian food like sticky pork belly, sticky rice, roast duck, fried dumplings, and much much more.
But London's top Asian dishes don't just stop there. Marylebone's Cocoro has some fabulous Japanese-inspired dishes like sashimi and tempura, seaweed salad, or pumpkin mousse with wasabi cream for dessert, and they even offer curry dishes as well.
If you're looking for a great sushi joint that offers California rolls, rainbow rolls, or any other type of roll you can imagine, Stick'N' Sushi in Covent Garden has a ton of sushi options, as well as Feng Sushi, which even offers dishes with Scottish salmon.
Curry lovers will find a little slice of heaven in areas like Covent Garden and Brixton Village, which offer some of the most authentic Indian cuisine in the city. Covent Garden's fabulously-decorated Masala Zone offers all types of authentic Indian cuisine like chicken korma, prawn curry and chicken biryani, while Masala Grill in Chelsea and Kensington is known for its spiced Iranian egg scramble, pau buns and tandoori chicken.
Generally speaking, restaurants located in London's central and touristy areas (like Soho and Covent Garden) tend to stay open later, especially on the weekends. Last orders for late dinners are usually around 10 p.m., but if you're worried about time and have a specific place in mind, your best bet would be to visit a restaurant's official website beforehand and make a reservation.
Restaurants tend to close earlier on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, especially in areas outside of central London, but will stay open as late as 11 p.m. or even midnight on the weekends. Some restaurants may even be open later during the summer months, especially if they have a terrace where you can sit outside during the warmer nights.
In terms of average cost, obviously restaurants located in Soho, Chelsea and Kensington and The City of London tend to be the most expensive given their clientele, but that's not to say you won't be able to find a budget eat while you're strolling around either. Soho's Chinatown has some of the cheapest prices in the city in terms of restaurant dishes, so if you're on a budget and feel like sampling some Asian cuisine, Chinatown is the place to be; (not to mention that Chinatown's restaurants usually stay open until around 12 a.m.)