Where To Eat In Fitzrovia
Fitzrovia is like Soho’s more grown-up sibling, but it isn’t any less fun. Here are our favourite restaurants and bars to grab a quick lunch or a long dinner.
For most people, Fitzrovia is ‘that bit up from Oxford St’, or ‘that posh part of central’. Although these sound very general, both associations are justified. Fitzrovia is north of Oxford Street and it does have two Planet Organics within a seven-minute walk of each other. It wasn’t always known for these two things though. Acclaimed writers like George Orwell, Virginia Woolf and Dylan Thomas all lived, and, more importantly, ate and drank in the area. As such, it’s only natural that we continue this literary tradition and, er, add our name to that list. This is our guide on where to eat in Fitzrovia.
Carousel has cracked the eternal question of “how can you be a hot hot 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. Basically, you can either book yourself in for the set-menu guest chef 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 their wine bar. Whichever one you go for, know that the atmosphere hits that perfect mark between cool and charming so it’s perfect for low-key birthdays, cool but casual date nights, and catch-ups with that friend who’s really into the food scene. More power to you if that friend is you.
Circolo is from the same people as Gloria and Ave Mario and just like its loud, proud, and Aperol-fuelled sisters, this Italian trattoria is a restaurant to party in. It’s a Disney-ish take on the Italian riviera, with thousands of bottles of spirits (yes, they’re real and unglued) lining the walls, fake plants hanging from the ceiling, and enough chintzy crap to make an Antiques Roadshow superfan faint. The food is the backup dancer here, but that doesn’t really matter. Because the courgette flowers are crunchy, the lasagne tastes decent enough, the meringue pie is great, and you’re not really here to eat.
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photo credit: Adam Luszniak
The celeriac shawarma at Rovi is kind of a big deal. In fact, it’s borderline life-changing. Celeriac? What’s that? How is it so tasty? Should we… order another one? Yes, you probably should, it’s that good. Then again, pretty much all of the vegetable dishes at this spot on Wells Street deserve a shout out. The kitchen specialises in that rare thing: non-meat dishes that rival and beat almost every carnivore option we can think of in London. The restaurant itself is bright and charming, in a minimalistic way. It’s a great spot for a grown-up, sit-down meal with colleagues.
This Italian bar and kitchen in Fitzrovia is a Brighton import that serves things like bigoli with such perfect al dente bite that we have officially added ‘stop eating mediocre pasta’ to our five-year life plan. The seasonal sauces are so deliciously rich, you won’t even be mad that a plate of pasta here will set you back around £20. Outside of epiphany pastas, Cin Cin is also home to some big-price, big-summer-energy fishy mains and satisfying Italian small plate classics. Ideal for date nights and aperitivo-fuelled four-hour catch-ups, the sophisticated dining room is a truly lovely place to be but when the sun is shining, you can’t beat its quintessentially London pavement seating. Affogato and limoncello shots encouraged.
This restaurant is pronounced ‘Mary’. It’s important you know how to say it, because as soon as you try the food at this excellent fine dining spot in Fitzrovia you’ll want to tell people about how the pea custard has ruined mushy peas for you forever. It’s a sophisticated South Pacific-meets-French spot with a velvet-clad bar upstairs and a serious dining room situation underground. Although there are à la carte options here, what you really want to get involved in is one of the tasting menus. Come here and do the full three-hour, wine pairing, blow-the-budget evening or don’t come at all.
In our opinion, Portland is the ideal place for anyone who’s curious about the Chef’s Table experience they’ve seen on Netflix, but doesn’t necessarily want to commit a huge chunk of their salary to dinner. You can order from the brilliant regular menu of small plates, or from a tasting menu which, at £45 at lunch, is a steal in this part of town. Most importantly, even though the food’s creative, at the end of the day the chefs are always focused on making everything taste good. Think Iberico pork with sticky black garlic ‘jam’, or a crisp chicken skin bite with a light chicken liver mousse.
Our alarm bells tend to ring when restaurants have a ‘concept’. Especially when that concept is partly related to fashion. And so it is with Greyhound Cafe. It’s got a slightly chaotic but also too-cool-for-school thing going on that manages to produce some (but not all) very good Thai food. Once you work this place out: distracting, distracted, and sometimes delicious, then it can become a useful place for midweek dinners and the like. Just try not to get too annoyed by anything. Remember, it’s all part of the concept.
Clipstone is the younger and even more informal kid sister to Portland. 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 body. The cooking’s never show-offy, and it’s another good spot 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 45 minutes.
Homeslice Pizza Fitzrovia
The main reason to visit any of the Homeslice locations is that they make some of the best thin-crust pizzas in London, and each one is approximately the size of a 90s satellite dish. Sharing is therefore advised. The Fitzrovia location is useful for plenty of situations. Try it for a casual midweek dinner, a pre- or post-shopping meal, or for gathering a crew for a bite and a few beers before heading out.
Meraki is a big, bright Greek restaurant run by the people behind Zuma and Coya, but you wouldn’t know it. Things here are pretty relaxed. It’s a spot where you could eat here with either your somewhat stress-inducing mother in law, your cool east London mates, or messy baby brother without fuss. The food here is great overall: get the chops, any of the mezze options, and make sure you try at least one of their pasta dishes.
The Riding House Café
The Riding House Cafe is a smart brasserie that’s Perfect For Literally Everyone, and almost every occasion. The upmarket gastropub and bistro-style dishes will always deliver—think chopped salad with halloumi, or a posh-yet-incredibly satisfying mac and cheese. Also factoring in the central location, it’s a useful place to know for last-minute dinners and get-togethers, and for when you’ve forgotten to book something for date night. The brunches here are a classier take on the usual Soho places you’re familiar with, but bear in mind it’s popular at the weekend, so book ahead if you want the super-comfy orange sofas.
Slowly but surely, London is finally getting some pretty nice sushi spots where you don’t have to deep dive into your sofa to fund a dinner. Sushi Atelier does excellent sushi at a pretty decent price, and the sushi also comes with some exciting twists. Expect your sushi to be topped with anything from foie gras to BBQ sauce to parmesan—things that sound like they wouldn’t work, but actually do brilliantly. Use this restaurant for a quick fun meal in Fitzrovia, or for anytime you want an affordable but high-quality sushi dinner.
Here’s a likely conversation: “Where should we meet?”, “I dunno, central”. Ah yes, Fitzrovia is to friendships what Clapham Junction is to trains. All pals are going to pass through here at some point, and when you do, you should head to Yalla Yalla. This Beirut spot has a long, long menu full of classics like lamb kibbeh, moussaka and tahini. But, where this place really comes into its own is sharing, with everything from its mezze feast set menu to the shawarma platters, to the cosy interiors, make it prime casual catch-up material. Head for a big table, invite everyone you like (hell, invite that smart ass you’d rather not, it means you can get an extra portion of the lamb skewers) and see just how much Beirut sangria you can get through on a school night.
There are very few restaurants in London where you’re guaranteed a good time no matter the occasion. Roka on Charlotte Street is one of them. The energy level at this modern Japanese restaurant is always high, and the food (sushi platters, miso black cod, etc.) is enjoyable if not overly exciting for the price. Still, it’s good for a night out with some drinks, and there’s also a bar downstairs called Shochu Lounge to keep the night going.
Having dinner in Berners Tavern feels like eating inside the Sistine Chapel, or at least a really, really rich guy’s house. The posh brasserie food’s good, but you’re really paying for the atmosphere—it’s a rite of passage here to pretend that the ridiculously ornate decor and high ceilings are no big deal. It’s excellent for celebrations with a group, or when you’re going all-out to impress someone. If you don’t want to commit to a full meal, the bar’s excellent for an epic drink before you hit a show.
We like to visit Sagar for the kind of vegetarian food our South Indian friends make at home, especially when they haven’t invited us over for a while. It’s comfortable and you can always get a table, and the food is incredibly consistent and always tasty. There are the usual dosas and thali set menus if you’re famished, and don’t miss the papadi chat, which is a mixed salad of lightly fried bread, potatoes, tangy sauce, and yoghurt. You didn’t think we actually came here to eat vegetables, did you?
If you’re looking to eat Korean food, Koba is where you should be doing it in central London. This is a swish spot that’s perfect for giving friends an intro to the joys of Korean barbecue, bubbling stews, and pajeon savoury pancakes. The seats at the bar are nice, but the sleek restaurant at the back is where the real action is. You’ll feel like you’ve been seated at a high-tech art installation with futuristic induction fans at each table that make sure you don’t smell of smoke after a few rounds of sizzling short ribs and seafood. Koba’s a little pricey, but for the experience it’s worth the cost, and it’s especially good for a small group hang.
This, the original Lantana, has the intimate feel of a local cafe, just a few minutes away from the chaos of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. The sleepy backstreet it’s on makes it feel like you’ve stumbled on something awesome, and the ambience is as laid-back as it gets. Order a sandwich and coffee, and maybe a pastry and settle in with the newspaper. Those still exist, right?