London's Best New Restaurants Of 202214 places that are redefining dining in London.
Every year we’re fortunate enough to eat at lots of restaurants. So many that it can be hard to keep count. Fortunately, we’ve got into tallying over the course of 2022, as it’s been something of a year for numbers. Three Prime Ministers. Two brilliant new pubs. Four Chancellors of the Exchequer. One restaurant on a boat. Five Education Secretaries. Six stunning curries. Three Health Secretaries. One Hancock in the jungle.
For every government failure, there has been a brilliant new restaurant in London. The 14 restaurants we’ve whittled our list down to range from a casual Cantonese spot that has glistening ducks hanging in the window and a gorgeous bobbing bistro on a canal barge to a pan-African restaurant so warming it should have a tog count. So, count the ones you haven’t got to and start planning some special meals.
Ring a bell, be invited in by a polite server, and have one of the best sushi experiences in London. Roji, a 10-seater omakase spot in Mayfair, is the kind of special place that comes to mind when we get the inevitable “what is your favourite restaurant in London?” question. The intimate setup, with wooden wrap-around counter seating, gives you a front-row seat to the open kitchen. Description of each course, from the oyster limushi to the eight rounds of nigiri, only adds to the anticipation, especially when you see the wide-eyed astonishment of people served before you. The cost is also pretty serious at £150, but it feels like a fair price to pay for a meal so memorable.
2022 really did bring the drama and Harry Styles’ spit is responsible for 99% of it. Tatale, a pan-African restaurant in Southwark, is the kind of place where you can nestle into a big comfy cushion and feel the London-sponsored stress slowly evaporate from your body, quicker than you can say chin chin cheesecake. The drama here is provided by flavours—the slap of scotch bonnet alongside citric ackee croquettes, the zing of fermented locust beans in a hug of a stew, the dusty hot pepper rub on the chichinga buttermilk fried chicken. But the mood is warm and relaxed, and the ultimate ‘a round of Stars beers’ enabler. Get a booking—you’ll need a booking—then enjoy a meal marked by your cortisol levels dutifully dropping with the formidable crunch of plantain crisps and spices that take centre stage.
The first half of 2022 remains a complete blur, but Plaza Khao Gaeng, with its harsh strip lighting, neon cocktails, and fiery klua kling muu, acts as smelling salts to our senses. It’s still a little surprising that this homage to khao gaeng (curry over rice) canteens all over Thailand is above Arcade Food Hall on Tottenham Court Road. While you sit down in a room full of garish plastic tablecloths and wok-conducted dancing flames from the open kitchen, outside there’s a turf war between Primark shoppers and American Candy enthusiasts. To its enormous credit, Plaza Khao Gaeng continues to feel like a brilliant and impassioned tribute—complete with unforgiving and sweat-inducing bird’s eye chilli and achingly tender gaeng massaman neua—as opposed to something novelty. It’s visceral, it’s sweaty, and it’s on the Elizabeth Line.
On paper, Apricity reads like a snooze fest. A small fine dining restaurant with a focus on locally foraged ingredients, a low-waste approach to cooking, and a Mayfair address that will give your bank account the shivers. Forget all that because this is a warm, let-me-live-here place, where no one will judge for you big-belly laughing in the midst of butterhead lettuce salad that has the consistency, and moreish charm, of a cake. From the succulent simplicity of the hand-dived Scottish scallops to the flirty fried nature of a sensational ‘chouxnut’, every dish on the £85, seven-course tasting menu is wildly creative and comes with a confident wink that says ‘look what we can do with caramelised shallots and a chestnut’. It’s never boring and although you can kick it à la carte or opt for the £68, five-course tasting menu, we’d recommend going all in with someone you love for a truly memorable Mayfair meal.
London has a tonne of restaurants for brilliant slap-up Indian meals, but only one of them is in a former pub off of Caledonian Road. It is one of the great collaborations of our time. Given the head chef of The Tamil Prince was in the kitchen at Roti King beforehand, it’s little surprise that the Indian spot is so good. The reality is 99% restaurant and 1% pub, but that isn’t to its detriment. Where the wooden floorboards of this comfortable dining room once soaked up years worth of spilled lagers, now it’s taking on the intoxicating aromas of sizzling lamb chops, garlicky tiger prawns, and pungent dhal. There’s a buzz about The Tamil Prince. There are whoops of happiness when groups see their hot air balloon-sized channa bhatura arrive at their table. There’s the definite feeling that this, the meeting of two great institutions, is what makes eating out in London so good.
Caravel understands the importance of that indefinable ‘specialness’ that going out for dinner should make you feel. The candlelit, can-I-squeeze-past-you-sized restaurant in Islington is the kind of place that serves potato rösti and caviar alongside jelly and cream. It’s intimate, it’s cool, and it’s also on a boat. Yes, it’s a bistro-ish restaurant on a bobbing barge, and it’s easily one of London’s most unique openings of 2022. Not because cashmere-like chicken liver pâté was invented on this boat, nor because the menu jumps from fat slabs of homemade prawn toast to ricotta gnudi. It’s because everything about Caravel—the delicious, good-value food, the charming hosting, the space you’ll tell your friends about—comes to it completely and utterly naturally.
Joining a cult has never ranked particularly high on our list of things to do—who knows if the prospective leader will let us eat KitKats. Alas, we have found a charismatic leader that we’re willing to follow—and in a plot twist no one saw coming, it’s Marmite butter on sourdough. That’s just the power of the live fire cooking at Acme Fire Cult in Dalston. There’s the sensual coupling of bone marrow and Dorset crab on toast, the buzzing open barbecue siphoning a permanent waft of pork chop and smoked potato across the covered terrace, and a feelgood mood that’s like taking a bubble bath in 60 pints of IPA. This place has officially entered our rotation of ultimate places to gather a few mates for good times and great food.
Few modern restaurants understand the profound power of combining excellent food with a healing soundtrack of pan flutes. Hong Kong Restaurant is one of them. A haven of dim sum and juicy whole roast duck on Upper Street, this place is the closest you’ll ever get to being able to eat hypnotically chewy beef ho fun and glistening siu mai at a spa. The walls are a crisp white, the service is dutifully relaxed, and in a win for night owls everywhere, almost all of the expert dim sum is served until 9pm. Don’t be deceived by the laid-back approach though, this place is home to some of the best cheung fun in London. But if you want to get involved in gloriously slippery king prawn rice noodle rolls, you’ll need to head here before 5pm when the designated cheung fun specialist clocks off.
Carousel is a tale of two parts and they’re both fantastic. Up front is the intimate and zero side-eye natural wine bar—the kind of delightfully casual space Fitzrovia has needed for forever. At the back is the dining area where the chef residencies take place. Much like its namesake, this part of Carousel is always moving with a rotating line-up of chefs from around the world, that enable you to say smug things like “last night I ate a wild mushroom asado negro, hand-delivered by a celebrated ex-Noma chef from Copenhagen”. The pre-paid set menu will usually set you back around the £70 mark, but each residency is entirely unique. If you’re just in need of somewhere charming for a third date or a four-hour catch-up, the wine bar and its anchovy-smothered crisps have got you covered.
Sudu means spoon in Malay—and that’s exactly what you’ll be encouraged to do at this charming, cosy restaurant in Queen’s Park. Spoon mouthful after mouthful of tender, rich beef rendang into a pillowy, egg-filled roti, or straight into your mouth. But it’s not just the excellent versions of Malaysian classics that make Sudu a stand-out spot. The homely, laid-back, neighbourhood restaurant invites intimate catch-ups, and romantic date nights that might start with across-the-table hand holding and end with aggressive hissing if they ask to split the last roti. The aromatic chicken rice, comforting nasi goreng kampung, and the charming server who turns out to be the bartender’s mum do a good job of tricking you into thinking you’re at a friend's house. But the hum of the other dinner guests, along with the fact your friend’s signature dish is Heinz à la toast, will quickly remind you that you’re actually in one of London’s best new restaurants—the kind that makes us grateful to live in London.
When we first approached The George, we did so with trepidation. It’s a posh pub, there’s a £35 portion of scampi and chips on the menu, and it’s right in the middle of Fitzrovia. Our internal Danny Dyer senses were tingling. Were we about to be mugged off? Not a chance. Upstairs at The George is, in fact, a little bit magnificent. Everything looks Farrow & Ball-ish and everything feels velvet. There’s foie gras and clotted cream mash on the menu, and the majority of the wine list is sourced from England. In fact, the whole thing feels like an interactive British gout experience. As for the knickerbocker glory for pudding? Well, that’s proper naughty.
In a part of the city that’s associated with suits and boardrooms, this deep-dish, square-slice pizza shop is one of the only reasons we’d be found within three miles of a Liverpool Street office building on a weekend. Detroit Pizza understands the importance of pillowy bases, rivers of rich marinara sauce, and providing Londoners with square slices that—dare we say it—would rival those of New York pizza shops. And the charm of this low-key restaurant doesn’t end at those hauntingly good 8 by 10-inchers. The casual, perch-on-a-stool energy of the place creates a consistent buzz post 6pm every day.
It might be the first time in the history of The Infatuation London that we add a food hall to our list of London’s Best New Restaurants. But Arcade isn’t just any old food hall. A heaven-sent food emporium feels like a more accurate description. This huge industrial meets jungle-looking dining space on New Oxford Street is from the people behind Bao and Gymkhana—which explains why the food is special. Home to everything from cheesy American-style smash burgers, to North Indian pao buns, it’s a useful space that can work just as well for a casual tom yam mojito-fuelled catch-up as it will for a solo round of saucy chicken momos on a Thursday afternoon. In the evenings, thanks to the resident DJ, it’s loud and proud, and the lighting is kind to those of us who already own four types of moisturiser.
Bringing a restaurant from overseas can be a tricky ordeal. Will the quality remain? How will the menu translate—both figuratively and literally? And most importantly, does kibbeh travel well? For Em Sherif, the first UK outpost of the Beirut-based Lebanese fine dining restaurant group, the answer to all of those questions is yes. Located inside Harrods, the relaxed dining room is filled with shoppers offloading heavy bags, and non-shoppers who have travelled to Knightsbridge to try the best Lebanese food in London. From the thick, nutty hummus covered in sautéed lamb to the refreshingly yoghurt-heavy chickpea fatteh, the food is unlike anything we’ve eaten at other Lebanese spots in the city. And the mezze is well worth forking out some serious money for.