Other than being ‘the bit of central above Oxford Street’, Fitzrovia is the grown up brother to Soho’s raucous ways. That doesn’t make it boring by any stretch of the imagination though - there are loads of excellent places to eat incredible food and drink way more than you probably should on a school night. Here’s our guide on where to eat in Fitzrovia.
In our opinion, Portland is one of the best new London restaurants in recent years. It’s 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 they’re always focused on making everything taste good, like an Iberico pork dish with sticky black garlic ‘jam’, or a crisp chicken skin bite with a light chicken liver mousse.
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 three quarters.
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.
Draw back a heavy curtain at the back of the restaurant behind the tables of PR girls getting shitfaced on champagne in Bubbledogs, and you’ll enter a second room and one of the most unique dining experiences in London. This is the Kitchen Table, and it’s a swish counter-only restaurant in which you sit around an open kitchen of chefs cooking interesting, fine dining dishes. Pretty much the opposite of hot dogs. It’s tasting menu only, and it’s definitely worth your time and money - as long as you can secure a booking.
Having dinner in the 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. They have the usual dosas (light, crispy pancakes) 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?
They say that all good things come in small packages (apart from meerkats. Those things are arseholes) and in Fitzrovia, this small but perfectly formed restaurant serves homely Middle Eastern food that will make you feel good. The play here is to go for the set menu, which lets you sample their excellent mezze, which will give you a great introduction of the flavours to come. The mains, like slow cooked lamb and lentil stew, are extremely tasty and filling but won’t weigh you down. Come when you need something a little different, and when you’re looking for somewhere different to eat with a small crew. Make sure to book ahead.
The pressure to have fun in central London at the weekend can sometimes feel like New Years Eve, except every damn week instead of once a year. Drakes Tabanco is a Spanish tapas spot just off Tottenham Court Road, and it’s a great place to take that friend who suffers from crazy fear of missing out. It’s intimate and relaxed, and it feels like an Andalusian hideaway with big sherry barrels and aged ham legs everywhere, except it’s on a quiet street in Fitzrovia. The food’s excellent (get the cauliflower salad) and it’s equally good for popping in for a couple of glasses of wine with a date, as it is for a relaxed dinner with a few friends.
You’ll have to grab a shotgun to get in the door here, but don’t worry - it’s just the door handle, which sets the tone for this restaurant that’s all about the Scottish pursuit of wild food. The menu uses venison and haggis as the basis for some fantastic cooking, and the Veni-Moo burger (a double whammy of venison and beef) is a classic you should try on your first visit. There are also expensive steaks and a whole roast shoulder of lamb for two or more, but you can have a great time with cheaper main dishes, small plates, and side dishes. The basement is much bigger than the ground floor and better in the evening, especially if you’re on a date – which should probably be a second or third outing rather than the opening event. No one’s going to be impressed by how much red meat you can put away, unfortunately.
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?
Kaffeine was one of the pioneers in London’s coffee scene, and remains one of the best. During busy times, which means a lot of the day, it’s pretty frantic - try to grab a seat at the back to stay out of the crush. The food here is always good – nothing spectacular, just sandwiches, salads, and tasty baked things made with good ingredients and sold at reasonable prices for this part of town. If the place is really heaving, order your coffee at the counter and stay there to get it, rather than counting on the sometimes-overworked waiters.