The 14 Best Date Night Restaurants In Central London

The most romantic date night spots where you can meet in the middle.

London is a big city which means that whole “I’ll pick you up at 8pm” thing can be a bit of a logistical nightmare. The reality is it involves a lot more merry hours on TFL and calculating routes on Citymapper. It’s a real blast. But what to do when the only person you fancy lives on the opposite side of London? You meet in the middle. So here are our top picks of the best date night restaurants in central. From an old-school British Soho institution to affordable pasta in Covent Garden, these are the places where you can meet, quite literally, in the middle. 

The Spots

Bibi review image


You need to make sure you actually like the person you bring here because the last thing you want to do is taint the memory of a meal at Bibi. Come to this Indian restaurant in Mayfair for the excellent creamy, tender Lahori chicken that’ll stay in your mind long after you’ve licked the plate clean. But you should know that it’s not just the chicken that’s a must-order at Bibi, it’s everything. From the aubergine dahi to the buffalo milk paneer, this place specialises in impressive takes on the classics in an equally impressive space. The fun red counter is perfect for a date, especially if you’re also of the opinion that watching lobster being grilled counts as an aphrodisiac.

If you’re the kind of person who loves first editions and candlelit romance, you’ll appreciate Andrew Edmunds. It’s an old-school Soho bolthole that takes romance seriously—you’ll eat by candlelight and order from a menu scrawled on a chalkboard. The interiors alone make it more than ideal for a date, but the food here is really good too. The braised squid and dressed crab are excellent, the goat’s curd with courgettes is a good vegetarian option, and if they’ve got a soup on—any soup—get it.

Carousel has cracked the eternal question of ‘how can you be a hot restaurant and also be timeless?’ The answer is, have a rotation of impressive guest chefs from across the world in your buzzing open kitchen and also have a classic all-day neighbourhood wine bar up front. Book yourself in for the set-menu sitting or swing by anytime for a round of excellent small plates, excellent wine, and an excellent chance of spotting a well-dressed dog begging for a bite of bavette in the wine bar. Whichever one you go for, know that the atmosphere hits that perfect mark between cool and charming so it’s perfect for ‘why yes, I am pretty pretty cool’ date nights.

You’ve somehow managed to secure a third date with this person who is wildly out of your league. Firstly, well done. Secondly, this calls for a romantic meal, one that seems effortless and yet is set in this beautiful, flower-filled garden. With tables set up outside on Floral Court, this Covent Garden spot makes for a peaceful place to enjoy a few Italian small plates and a bottle of wine.

Honestly, we could be on our fourth divorce this decade and Frenchie would still make us feel like getting a little bit handsy. This place has all the hallmarks of a great date restaurant. There’s a marble bar perfect for sipping cocktails and a modern brasserie menu, although we warn you, there’s also a bacon and maple syrup scone you’ll 100% fancy more than your partner. Whether it’s a third date or an anniversary, Frenchie has pretty much got you covered.

Like that single rose you 100% meant to buy on the way to the restaurant, Café Deco is small but perfectly formed. This bar, restaurant, and wine bar in Bloomsbury is the kind of place where you whisper sweet nothings over a plate of incredibly tasteful—and tasty—food. Think dover sole and the aphrodisiac prowess of a whole confit pig’s head with a crouton salad. That’s right, a whole pig’s head. We know romance. But just in case that doesn’t ring your bell, you should also know that there’s a truly brilliant selection of low-intervention wines.

If you’re the kind of person who gets to the airport four hours in advance “just in case”, then you’ll probably want to book a table in the back area of The Palomar. But the real action here goes down at the walk-in-only bar that takes up the front room. Go on, take a risk. Spontaneity and, importantly, The Palomar’s ‘80s soundtrack is very sexy. Your wingman (the bar staff) will keep the drinks flowing and will help you navigate the menu, which contains some of the most creative and crowd-pleasing small plates in London.

Your beloved comes from a family with high income, high expectations, and a high regard for the Cayman Islands. Good for them. If you sense any jealousy in our tone, please know that it’s just because Poundland hasn’t started selling tropical islands just yet. Anyway, when you need somewhere that shows you’re comfortable being classy, Meraki is your place. This is a Greek restaurant for gods and goddesses, where the kebabs look like they’ve been formed by a ceramic master and where doughnuts come in mini-form to dunk into a variety of decadent dips that you may or may not end up feeding your date. Basically, this is a place where you go to the toilet and spend five minutes checking yourself out in the mirror because yes, you do look bloody gorgeous tonight.

It’s time to throw in one of those activity dates, but the only activity you’re really into is drinking wine and eating amazing food? Noble Rot has you sorted. It sells excellent glasses by the 75ml measure here, so our typical move is to order a few at a time to start off the night and call it a do-it-yourself wine tasting. Sit in the bar area up front for a more casual date or go for a full-on dinner of exceptional British food in the main dining room.

Phone down, smile on, and get ready to talk over some fantastic jollof rice. Akoko is a West African fine dining restaurant that makes some seriously delicious food and unlike many other tasting menu spots, you won’t feel like someone’s giving you the stink eye for having the audacity to audibly laugh. Be warned that the prices are high but it’s entirely worth it for a little food theatre and a lot of sensational dishes that will give you something to talk about all the way home.

The lovely, warm counter at Bancone is about as romantic and euphoric as date night can get in London without attempting to go all “I’m flying Jack!” on a TFL river boat. Plus, this option involves great, affordable handmade pasta, burrata, and classic cocktails. This place is seriously popular, so although walk-ins are encouraged, you should book ahead if you want to make sure your date night involves spicy pork mafalde rather than an apology.

Bar Italia is a classic Soho institution beloved for its cannoli and 3am closing hours. Basically, this is a cheap and cheerful date spot for when you’re looking for an old-school Italian cafe to have a laugh with the person you love. Or better yet, that Tinder date where you know you’ll have absolutely nothing in common so you’ll replace chemistry with getting absolutely smashed until the early hours. Anything to fill the void, right?

Picture this. Your date asks you where you want to meet for a drink and you text saying, "I know this great little bar hidden behind the bookcase at Milroy’s whisky shop on Greek Street”. Wow, a maverick, they’ll think. Anyway, this proper little basement bar has an intimate feel, big comfy sofas, and lots of exposed brick. Unlike a lot of London’s other ‘secret bars’, The Vault actually is relatively unknown, doesn’t require a lame password like PISS-ME-UP-SCOTTY, and more importantly, it isn’t shit. In fact, it’s one of the best spots to go for a drink while you’re still in that lovely like-me-please stage.

If you’re looking for a date spot that is basically the restaurant equivalent of a cheeky wink, Bob Bob Ricard is not for you. Move along. This Soho spot is exclusively reserved for date nights that say I love you, I am impressing you, and maybe even I’m sorry for that incident with the rug. A big, richer-than-rich French-meets-Russian brasserie, everything from the tartare to the beef wellington for two here is excellent. Plus, there are ‘press for champagne’ buttons at every table, and that’s classy.

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