It’s a question we get asked all the time. Where should I be eating in London right now? If you’ve thought that recently, you’ve come to the right place. The Infatuation Hit List is your guide to the city’s best new restaurants.
And when we say ‘best’, we mean it. We’ve visited each of these restaurants on several occasions and personally vetted them to find out which ones are worth the time and effort. Crucially, we’ve also left countless others off that we don’t think you should bother with, regardless of what a dozen restaurant PRs and Instagrammers have insisted - being a new opening doesn’t automatically qualify a spot on the list.
The Hit List is our record of each restaurant that’s opened within the last year that we highly recommend that you try, and we’ve arranged it in chronological order with the newest places at the top, and the oldest at the bottom.
When you walk into this little Japanese restaurant, you’ll feel like you walked out of Soho and into a backstreet restaurant in Kyoto - it’s the kind of experience you knew had to exist in London, but could never quite find. The staff don’t speak loads of English and there are specials written in Japanese characters all over the place. Order a pot of tea and a few sharing plates (the takoyaki and dumplings are excellent), or plonk yourself down at the bar and order sushi that’s up there with the best in town. It isn’t a place for a rowdy catchup, but bring a mate who likes Japanese food, and you’ll love it here.
The original Da Michele is one of the most famous pizzerias in Naples, so it’s kind of like what Graceland is to Elvis fans, or the San Diego Comic Convention is for virgins. We’d love to say that our homegrown London pizzas are better, but we’d be lying - the Neapolitan pies here are ludicrously good, and the marinara pizza might be one of the best pizzas in the city. What we know for sure is that it’s worth the schlep and lining up on Stokey Church Street for. It’s a small, unshowy place with just two varieties of pizza and a few drinks, but your eyes will have rolled back so far into your head after eating a slice that you won’t care.
P. Franco is a wine shop in Clapton that doubles as a restaurant of sorts - it’s more of a kitchen counter really, with a chef cooking at a small stove at the end of a communal table. P. Franco has been around for a while, but the new guy behind the stove has not. He’s cooking some genuinely exciting and creative food that pairs traditional bistro dishes (like a steak tartare) with Latin American flavours, which makes sense since he’s worked at some of best restaurants in Mexico City and New York. The food is unusual and tastes awesome, and everything will go well with the wine you’ve just picked up off the shop’s shelves.
This Hackney Road newbie is part Mexican cantina, part all-American sports bar, and if you have only ever eaten tacos at Wahaca, the tacos at Bad Sports will blow your mind. They’re packed with flavour and a kick that will get you ready for the game ahead. And what we mean by game is that they have an all-American sports bar downstairs for you to watch grown men playing a form of netball that still needs to be explained to us.
When we’re at Luca, we know we’re about to have one of those nights. We’re either going to wake up in a Knightsbridge Hotel in bed with a total stranger or in a dumpster, and we’re going to max out a credit card in the process because yes, we’re doing this. Luca has that power. It’s an incredibly beautiful restaurant that does some of the best Italian food in the city, and will make you feel amazing in the process. They make all of their pasta from scratch in a kitchen that looks like it was lifted piece-by-piece from Tuscany, so you should go big on the pastas. Definitely get a plate of parmesan fries, which are like clouds of cheese-tinged joy.
A lot of places in London get insane hype only to underdeliver, and you’re left wondering why you still have trust issues. Smokestak actually exceeds expectations, and you should make plans to go there because they’re serving the best barbecue anywhere in town right now. The brisket and pastrami should absolutely be in your order. It’s worth noting that we’d happily come back here to sit at the bar for some snacks and their incredible peach Old-Fashioned.
Like Man City ‘supporters’ or people with gluten allergies, taco places seem to be popping up everywhere. We’re happy to say that Breddos are without doubt the best - the tortillas are perfect and the fillings are the kind of thing you spend idle bus journeys drooling over on social media. What’s more, it’s affordable and it works both as a fun hangout kind of place (order lots of drinks and linger in one of their booths) or as an in-and-out place to grab a quick lunch or dinner. Get the fish taco and the kung pao pork belly. Or else.
Dinner at Temper is a bit like watching a bout of KY wrestling - you don’t quite know what’s going on and you’re not sure you’ve seen it before, but you do definitely know that you kind of like it. It’s a restaurant that serves very tasty hunks of meat grilled on an open fire along with tacos and flatbreads, but with the grown-up feel of a nice steakhouse. It’s obviously a great place for a man date, but also civilised enough for actual dates too - it’s inherently blokey, but the decor and fancy list of mezcals class it up. The bar is the best place to sit to gawp at pieces of meat slowly rotating over a flame, but be warned that you’ll leave smelling like a fire at a woodchip plant.
At least one of us is Burmese, and the question we get asked all the time is “Where can I eat Burmese food in London?”. We’re glad to say that The Shan State, a new spot in Chinatown, is the real deal. The food’s based around salads and light noodle dishes from the north of the country - think of a cross between Indian and Chinese cuisine and you won’t be far off. The best stuff is on the menu under ‘street foods’ and you definitely want to order the ‘state noodles’ and tea leaf salad, which is crunchy and salty and sour, and like a party in your mouth. We’d confidently bring our parents and siblings here, but you should grab a couple of adventurous friends and order a few things to try. Lunchtimes are quiet, so swing by for dinner.
It’s a great time to be eating Thai food in London right now, and the food at Kiln is some of the best in town. Don’t come expecting green curry though - the cooking here is northern Thai-style, so it’s way spicier but definitely more delicious than the pad thai at your local pub. The place looks a bit divey (in a good way) and the long bar is great meeting a friend and catching all the action from the kitchen, while downstairs is good if you’re with a small group. Definitely arrive early if you can.
Yosma is a lively Turkish restaurant on Baker Street (translation: loud), and a great option for when you’ve left planning for that group dinner to the last minute. Baker Street doesn’t immediately spring to mind for cuisine that’s “authentic”, but Yosma does a good job of serving their upmarket take on Turkish food to the masses on any given night. If there happens to be a wait for a table, then we recommend passing time by knocking back a cocktail or three at the bar.
Located in Victoria (or what we like to call the Greyest Part of London), Dominique Ansel, the inventor of the Cronut pastry, has brought his sunny New York bakery to London. If you can get there before 9am, you have a pretty decent chance of actually getting a Cronut, and then posting the proof on social media. For those just looking for a decent place in Victoria to pass the time in between train delays, then we suggest trying the amazing croissant, the DKA (their original sweet pastry - better than the Cronut in our opinion), the croque monsieur, the chocolate chip cookie shot, or the frozen s’mores. And then posting the proof on social media.
Chicks ‘n’ Sours’ was one of a kind. Now it’s two of a kind. The original in Haggerston won us over with its original take on fried chicken: good birds served both simply and with Asian flavours,. The newer Covent Garden outpost has a moodily lit basement and a slightly different menu, but the approach is identical, except now you can bring your entire crew for a slap-up chicken dinner without having to squeeze into a booth the size of your mum’s Renault Clio. It’s a good move for a quick lunch during the week, but also a great place to let your hair down in the evening or pre-gaming without blowing your pay cheque.
The Barbary is the newer sister restaurant of the hugely popular Palomar in Soho, and it also serves incredible Middle Eastern food with a fantastic atmosphere to match. Here, it’s all counter seating, which gives everyone a ringside seat for watching the chefs do their things. With 24 seats and no reservations taken, queues often stretch onto the pavements of Neal’s Yard, so your best bet is to get there early or late in whichever service you’re going for. It’s perfect for a fancy catch-up or to impress a date.
One of Casita Andina’s unique selling points is the Soho location and charming atmosphere, but its greatest strength is definitely the shareable plates of Peruvian food that you can split easily amongst a group of friends or on a date. The ceviches and salads will always get top billing, but the grilled dishes are great too - and one or two of them even come without avocado. It’s a fun and relaxed kind of place, and it attracts a young crowd looking to get a little loose with a few pisco sours.
Bao number two is bigger than the original in Soho, and even when busy (basically always) it doesn’t make you feel quite as packed-in. There are big windows on the ground floor and a darker downstairs room which is better in the evening. The general formula is the same, with baos (Taiwanese sandwiches on steamed buns) the headline act. But the small plates, which are different from the ones at the other location, are actually the best things on the menu and some of the most exciting things to eat in London right now. Expect to queue. Expect your food to be worth it.
Clipstone is the younger and cockier kid sister to Portland, one of the best new London restaurants in recent years. The food takes after its older sibling with lots of creative small plates, but with the added bonus of a pizza oven charring up delicious things that you definitely want in your face. The cooking’s never show-offy, and it’s a good spot for an informal dinner or for anyone looking to dip their toes into fine dining, but without the price tag or time commitment. Bear in mind that it’s a small dining room, so they ask for tables back after an hour and three quarters.
We’re suckers for a good French restaurant, and Blanchette East takes everything we like about a nice bistro - the informality and straightforward but slightly classy comfort food - and takes it up a notch. They mix the old (pretty Belle Epoque decor and classic bistro dishes) with the new and in this case, ‘new’ means North African-style influences, with dishes like Moroccan eggs and lamb tagine sitting alongside the old-school menu. It feels like a real neighbourhood spot that you’d also be happy to travel to Brick Lane for, and while their music game is strong, the cocktails are even stronger.
Everything about Morito’s second restaurant in Hackney will make you want to bring all your friends here all the time (except Mike, because f*ck Mike). The Spanish food (which has North African influences) is as amazing as ever, and there are occasional specials from the cook’s hometown on Crete, which you should definitely order. The cava’s on tap and the short list of cocktails is great, and while brunch here is a nice change from the usual rotation of avocado toast places, be prepared for a two-hour turnaround and a wait if you show up closer to midday.
Finally edging closer into proper London, this Ealing favourite has bought their pizzeria to Chelsea - well, close to Fulham Broadway at least. Santa Maria provides a safe haven for anyone avoiding places that serve pizza abominations like BBQ Chicken or Ham and Pineapple. They make a great Neapolitan-style pizza topped with simple but tasty things like ’nduja sausage (a very spicy spreadable sausage) or burrata. This place is a solid all-rounder - great for chilled dates, catching up with mates, and for creatures who have small creatures attached to them (we think they’re called ‘parents’ and ‘children’).