Hi there. My name’s Heidi and I’m a Staff Writer here at The Infatuation. I love restaurants. I also grew up as a Young Carer to a fucking fabulous person that happened to use a wheelchair when able to get outdoors. Yes, pointless steps will forever be my nemesis. And no, I will never tire of the fact that ‘Young Carer’ makes me sound like I was basically a 12-year-old saint with the heart of Mother Theresa. I was not. But I was, and continue to be, surprised and somewhat outraged by how few places are actually comfortably accessible.
Let’s be honest, London restaurants aren’t trying hard enough to be accessible. Between those spiral staircases, entrance steps, endless bar seating, and narrow gaps between tables, it can be a total pain in the ass trying to find somewhere that serves excellent food and isn’t also using their ‘accessible bathroom’ as a storage room. But the good news is that some of the best restaurants in this city are accessible. We’re talking step-free spots, with spacious bathrooms, grab rails covered, and enough room to manoeuvre between tables. From an old school French brasserie in Soho to a brunch spot that specialises in pancakes, here are the restaurants that serve excellent food and are actually, properly accessible.
This list was compiled from our own experiences of London restaurants and with additional research on AccessAble and Blue Badge Style. We’ll be keeping an eye on the spots on this list and making sure it’s up to date, but we’d recommend calling ahead in case of any changes.
How to describe our beloved Zédel? Well, it’s basically a trip to the romanticised version of Paris that lives inside your head, with plenty of tartare and zero second-hand smoke. If that sounds lovely, it’s because it is. A proper jaw-dropper of a space, this huge underground brasserie has a doorman and is accessed by a lift. They serve some very decent French food and even have a prix-fixe menu for £10.95, involving steak haché and a seriously rich chocolate tart. Be sure to head for a couple of pre-dinner gimlets at their in-house cocktail spot, Bar Americain.
Here’s a fun story. Two weeks into this job I fractured my ankle and quickly discovered that most restaurant bathrooms in Covent Garden require enough steps to make even a Sherpa weep. Enter my port-in-the-storm, or rather, pasta-spot-in-the-storm, La Goccia. An Italian-inspired small plates restaurant that looks like a deluxe spa designed by the Queen of the Fairies, an evening here is very Midsummer Night’s Dream meets spaghetti vongole. On top of all the foliage indoors, they also have a quaint little courtyard that’s perfect for al fresco dining.
If you like exceptional roast duck and dim sum, you’ll like Shikumen. One of London’s best Chinese restaurants, it’s upmarket and has that put-on-a-nice-jacket feel without you having to take out a loan just to cover a portion of xiao long bao. We’d recommend everything from the Singapore noodles to the chilli-factor-10 Sichuan chicken, but really you’re here for the ‘Legendary Roasted Duck’. The whole duck will set you back £68 but you’ll get two separate servings and it’s carved tableside, so really, you’re getting dinner and a show.
Hide is a glorious, raging perfectionist in restaurant form. And we mean that in the best possible way. This is the kind of restaurant that’ll leave you mumbling ‘exceptional’ after every single bite of food. Seriously, just try to eat their five-course tasting menu without getting all lyrical over some roast Orkney scallops. Open from morning to night, you can expect London’s best french toast in their slightly more casual downstairs area, and full-blown fine dining upstairs. Not only do they have a very slick lift, but just like the rest of their restaurant, the accessible bathroom is decked out in style.
Schnitzel lovers, we have a winner. This Austrian brasserie in Marylebone is home to comfort dishes that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, and also like you’re ready to have a post-dinner nap in a mythical chalet. As well as a chicken schnitzel the size of your head, you’ll also find things like beef goulash, veal bratwurst, and a selection of herring on their menu. But whatever you have for your main just be sure to leave enough room for some strudel.
Food and fun is one of our favourite combinations. Partly because we’re really into alliteration, but mostly because places like Roka prove that it’s perfectly possible to have a right laugh over dinner. This modern Japanese restaurant on Charlotte Street serves a whole lot of sushi, tempura, and robata skewers, but it’s the atmosphere that really sells it. Most of their tables are at wheelchair height, but there is some bar seating, so it’s worth calling ahead to make your booking rather than using their website.
You’ve probably heard of Hawksmoor. In fact, we’re pretty sure that even the aliens are out there right now, contemplating a trip to Earth to try out Hawksmoor’s huge slabs of sirloin. This ever popular mini-chain of steak restaurants serve every cut of cow that you could imagine, and know how to cook a proper piece of meat. But whether you go for a big Sunday roast or some Thursday night T-bone, be sure to get the sticky toffee pudding. We repeat, get the sticky toffee pudding. It’s excellent. Their moody Spitalfields branch is their OG spot, but the only thing to add is that I once used their accessible bathroom whilst on crutches and there were some high chairs being stored in there - sigh - so it might be worth putting a note on your online booking.
You don’t have to be Poirot to figure out that this place serves pancakes, but what the name won’t tell you is that this is one of the nicest brunch spots in town. Open from 9am daily, they specialise in a buttermilk batter that makes their pancakes extra fluffy, and you can match your stack with everything from forest berries to poached eggs with smoked salmon. Located five minutes from London Bridge, they’ve got some nice outdoor seating. FYI, there is a slight slope leading up to the entrance from Southwark Bridge Road, but you can also access it through Flat Iron Square, incline-free.
Like that neighbour that always takes your parcel in or literally any golden retriever that’s ever lived, Radici is inherently lovely. A huge, spacious Italian opposite the Almeida Theatre in Islington, their menu is all about antipasti, pasta, and pizza. But alongside a classic margherita, lasagna, and tiramisu, you’ll also find something a bit different, like their calamari with chilli jam or the turnip top orecchiette. Thanks to their kid’s options and affordable set menus, Radici is also perfect for a big family meal that’ll keep everyone jolly right up until they finish their panna cotta.
Duck & Waffle
Duck And Waffle has the kind of views that will make you feel like an absolute boss. Or at the very least, like you’re Alan Sugar’s cousin or something. At the top of the Heron Tower, you can see clear across the City whilst tucking into some scallops, fresh focaccia, or their signature confit duck leg on mustard maple syrup waffles. It’s also a great spot for a cocktail or two, and whatever you’re drinking you definitely want to get involved in the spicy ox cheek doughnut bar snack.
There are a lot of things on the menu at Holborn Dining Room, but go ahead and ignore everything that doesn’t involve the word ‘pie’. It’s hard to believe that the pies served here are technically the same species of carbohydrate you’ll find at Greggs. They’re all golden and glistening and packed full of things like comté, curried mutton, and chicken. Inside the Rosewood Hotel, the space itself is equally as easy on the eye - hello, red leather - and you’ll find the fully accessible bathroom on the floor below, via their lift.
We’re not entirely sure whether we’re more into Hicce’s huge arched windows or their great bit-of-this, bit-of-that boards. Either way, this restaurant in King’s Cross looks sort of like an industrial, modern church designed by some deity of minimalism, and it’s perfect for anyone who can’t decide whether they’re in the mood for grilled skate or a whole beef rump with shiitake and bok choy. Thanks to their ‘Hicce experience’ menu, you can try a bit of everything, all rounded off with a creme caramel. Open from morning to night, it’ll work just as well for a lunchtime catch-up as a lowkey birthday dinner, you can access the restaurant via their lift.
This might just be one of the most aptly named restaurants in London. Why? Because it’s basically impossible to eat the Thai food here without going all ‘please sir, can I have some more?’ when you realise you’ve finished your shan green curry with braised beef shin. Everything from the seafood to the noodles here are just that good. A relaxed neighbourhood restaurant in Peckham, it’s a cool and casual space with plenty of natural light and you’ll want to book ahead, just because it’s so popular with locals.
We don’t tend to use the word ‘genius’ unless referencing the person that invented the electric corkscrew, but we’ll make an exception for the food at Mere. This totally accessible fine dining restaurant in Fitzrovia runs like clockwork, and although the menu changes regularly, they always serve classic French dishes with a touch of the South Pacific. Think duck with manuka smoked pickled cherries, and lobster with coconut and a peanut sauce. Although this isn’t somewhere you want to be for a casual catch-up, it’s perfect for a big-deal dinner where you have a full tasting menu experience and a swish bottle of wine recommended by their excellent sommeliers. And go on, have a nightcap at their upstairs bar, why the hell not.
The German Gymnasium is a huge, stunning - yes, we said stunning - Grade II listed building that dates all the way back to 1865. But amidst the high ceilings, original beams, grand café, meister bar, and mezzanine floor, is a great sized lift and an accessible bathroom with snazzy wallpaper and gold grab rails, no less. The food here is your classic German fare, ranging from dressed up currywurst to holstein schnitzel. And although none of it will change your life, this place is perfect for a special catch-up or a proper date night.