The Best Restaurants In The West End
Whether you say you’re going to the West End, central, or into town—these are the 24 restaurants that should be top of your list.
If you’re not from London, you’ll know the West End as a glowing beacon of culture, full of bright lights, theatre, and some of the best shopping in the world. If you are from London then you’ll know the West End as that place you tend to avoid at peak hours so that you don’t end up screaming “bloody tortoise” at the eighth slow-walker you encounter. Either way, there’s no denying that the West End has some of the best restaurants in London. Whether you’re after a big, affordable restaurant that’s perfect for groups or an old-school seafood spot to hit after the theatre, these are the best restaurants in the West End.
Heads up, if you’re specifically looking for restaurants in Soho, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Covent Garden, or Marylebone, we have guides for that too.
When the temptation to snap a selfie stick takes hold, find refuge in Barrafina. Suddenly you aren’t weaving in a stream of people-traffic on Dean Street, you’re sitting at a counter in Barcelona. The rioja is flowing and a delicate, stuffed courgette flower is being placed in front of you. The West End’s great and all, but the Iberian Peninsula is objectively better. The tapas restaurant, with its glasses of sherry and perfect plates of tortilla, is the ideal place to grab a stool and surrender to the restorative powers of razor clams and octopus.
photo credit: Cavita
A thin curtain across the front of Cavita, a Mexican restaurant on Wigmore Street, creates a cocoon in which only nice ceramics and cutlery exist. People are here to see and be seen, while drinking many spiced watermelon margaritas and making eyes over pig’s head tamal. If you manage to book one of the larger tables, split the whole grilled octopus. Despite the luxe atmosphere, the friendly service and bustling open kitchen adds a homely warmth which makes it an especially good post-shopping spot.
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photo credit: Richard Fairclough
Normal isn’t something that restaurants tend to aspire to be around Covent Garden, but a normal neighbourhood spot is exactly what an area with fire-breathers needs. At Vietnamese restaurant Hoa Sen, there’s no flashy furniture or a neon-lit bar, but there are slippery pork-filled bánh cuốn rice rolls, and duck served with mango and wrapped in lettuce leaves. The only reminder that you’re in the West End is that warming bowls of phở start around £14, but when the food is this comforting and consistently good it’s worth it.
photo credit: Patogh
Those times when you wander into Marylebone in your oversized hoodie and jeans is usually swiftly followed by a backpedal to the West End’s less flashy neighbourhoods, but there’s no need. Patogh is a Persian restaurant where the freshly made breads are superb, and crucially, it’s very chilled. A long lunch or dinner here means scooping up dollops of shallot yoghurt and juicy kebabs with that enormous flatbread. Unlike their bread, the restaurant itself is small, so booking a table is the move.
Step off of Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street and into a light, casual wine bar with a back dining area where guest chef residences take place. Much like its namesake, this part of Carousel is always moving. One week there are big bold flavours by a couple of mates-cum-chefs from Tel Aviv, and the next there’s an izakaya specialist from Paris. Come during the day for a bright and breezy feel with cute dogs who own significantly nicer jackets than us.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Bibi is one of those knock-out Indian restaurants where exceptional Mayfair service meets effortless spice-induced smiles, and although prices can stack up quickly, it’s oh-so worth it. You can bring vegetarian friends here for a flavour party masquerading as buffalo milk paneer, colleagues who will be rightfully impressed by the plush four-person booths, or a date who you’re ready to introduce to the tender Orkney scallops with lemonade dressing.
Few things hit the pleasure spot quite like leaning across the bar at Humble Chicken in Soho and asking for another spicy miso inner thigh yakitori. At the Japanese counter restaurant on Frith Street, everybody gets a front row seat to flames being fanned and twirling skewers being dutifully presented alongside wasabi, ponzu oroshi, and yuzu kosho. Looking around the counter you’ll see that everyone else in front row seats, be it solo diners, daters, or delighted trios of Asahi-cheersing friends, is feeding off of this hustle and bustle.
When you’ve already committed to going to see a musical involving jazz hands, your night probably contains enough drama. That’s why Arcade Food Hall is the ultimate West End hack. There are saucy little Nepalese momos, comforting brown butter cakes, hefty burgers, light bite pao buns, highly gluggable mojitos, and so much more. A big glossy space on New Oxford Street, it avoids any of that overhyped food market silliness and you can even book ahead. See, drama-free.
Sushi Atelier, a laid-back spot in Fitzrovia, serves genuinely excellent sushi, and it’s also relatively affordable given the quality of the fish. On the menu you’ll find everything from octopus carpaccio to snow crab sashimi to yellowtail truffle rolls, but our move is to go for one of the omakase selections or the sushi sets. Although we’re big fans of sitting up at the counter where the action is, if you’re rolling with a group there’s more seating downstairs.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
This old-school seafood spot in Covent Garden is the epitome of a classic West End restaurant. You know that kind of incredibly British TV show where some peppy Westminster sidekick falls in love with a dapper spy, who actually turns out to be Jack The Ripper’s godson? Well, let’s just say that their intense meet cute would hands down occur in J Sheekey. Expect seared tiger prawns, the legendary fish pie, and a colourful outdoor terrace that is the best spot you can go to for a post-theatre G&T with an out of towner.
Much like if you went to see Paul McCartney and left before he sang Blackbird, going to Sri Lankan spot Hoppers without getting involved in the headline act, the huge egg hopper, would be a big mistake. This paper-thin pancake-like dish is the perfect vehicle for mopping up karis, chutneys, and sambols. As well as having some stupidly tasty food on offer, the whole exposed brick and warm light glow thing makes it the perfect spot for a low-key Soho date or a proper catch-up with your favourite person and lime-heavy cocktails.
Bocca Di Lupo
Honestly, hand us a mic, set a beat, and we can perform the most majestic spoken word performance about Bocca Di Lupo. Yes, partially because it’s pretty easy to think of words that rhyme with cheese. But mostly, because this relaxed spot in Soho serves such great Italian food that it’s impossible to leave here without discussing the orecchiette you just had. Open for over 15 years, everything from the food, to the staff, to the laid-back feel, make this place a London classic that’ll work just as well for an anniversary meal as for dinner with the whole family. Dinner isn’t complete without a post-pasta trip to its excellent gelato spot across the street, Gelupo.
Given we once left a party because there was a three-minute queue for the bathroom, the fact we’re willing to wait in line for the noodles at Koya should tell you a lot. This little corridor of a Japanese restaurant in Soho specialises in udon, and whether you go for hot udon in cold broth or for a tempura donburi that we very well might request on our deathbed, you’ll be set for a seriously excellent—and seriously affordable—meal. If you’re heading to the theatre or want to grab a top alternative breakfast before work, you might have to queue but once you’re in you’ll be fed fast.
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
Nothing, absolutely nothing, says Soho quite like a converted brothel that specialises in meat— yes, literal meat—and has ‘pip to peel’ cocktails. If you’ve ever uttered the words “I could smash some pork belly right now”, or “pass me the garlic marrow spread”, then this chophouse is for you. As well as the general cool, sexy woodland cabin aesthetic, Blacklock has some of the best weekly deals in Soho, including a £24 ‘all in’ meat selection and some affordable on-tap wines.
Bob Bob Ricard
If you combined the lyrics to Beyoncé’s Flawless and the blueprints for Jay Gatsby’s mansion, you’d end up with Bob Bob Ricard. Nowhere in Soho does opulence, gold detailing, or even caviar, quite like this incredibly luxe, OTT French-inspired restaurant. In case you didn’t guess from what we’ve said so far, this place is expensive. But when you’re looking to go all out, it’s entirely worth it for the excellent steak tartare or for hitting the profoundly satisfying ‘press for champagne’ buttons.
photo credit: Ave Mario
If we were to guess Ave Mario’s star sign, we’d say Sagittarius, because if any of the zodiac signs were going to open a restaurant that encourages downing Aperol spritzes and huge portions of truffle mafaldine, it would be a raging fire sign. This huge, glitzy, and somewhat silly, trattoria in Covent Garden is always a good time and they have the ultimate three Cs covered—carbohydrates, cheese, cocktails. There’s also a giant stracciatella gelato cake that gets wheeled around like a sugary VIP and, yes, you absolutely do want a slice.
One day, not far from now, someone will make a film of our lives. Maybe. But if that happens, we want it to involve a montage of us slow-walking down the central steps of Brasserie Zédel—the big chandelier twinkling and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien blasting in the background. This huge, beautiful basement brasserie by Piccadilly Circus not only looks like you’ve stepped into 1920s Paris but it’s also super affordable. Like, three courses for £20 affordable. Be sure to book ahead and to follow up dinner with an old fashioned in the slick bar next door.
Royal China Club
Great dim sum. Classic crispy aromatic duck. Fresh Scottish lobster. If you like the sound of that, you’ll like Royal China. This classic, upmarket Chinese spot on Baker Street is huge and has enough big, round group tables and must-order dim sum, that it should be right at the top of your West End group dinner agenda. In fact, the only reason you shouldn’t be coming here is if you’re looking for something light as it’s almost physically impossible to not get involved in every single section of the menu.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Everyone loves a party. Except maybe that Airbnb owner you woke up at 4am because “the keys ran away”. But mostly, everyone loves a party, especially the kind of grown-up, octo-hummus-charged party you’ll find going on at the counter at The Palomar. You might have to put your name down for a seat if you haven’t made a booking at the Middle Eastern spot, but there are plenty of top pubs to wait in nearby. And it’ll be totally worth it once you’re on your fourth glass of orange wine, dipping a chunk of kubaneh bread in tahini, and bonding with the bartenders over just how tasty the falafel is.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Imagine going to a restaurant and eating food that turns your tongue into the Hacienda circa 1991, because that’s what happens at Scully in St. James’s. Hot, cold, sweet, sour. Why is everything vibrating? The globe-trotting menu, from an aubergine sambal with a zingy bergamot labneh to a grilled, vinegar-packed broccoli with egg yolk and onions, will make your tongue tap and your eyes roll. Ideal for getting hyped up before a West End show, or just visiting M&M’s World.
In an alternate reality we would be Richie Rich rich and have golden plaques screwed into certain seats in certain restaurants where that seat, and that seat alone, would be permanently reserved for us. The Wolseley would definitely be one of these spots. Not because London’s best food is served at this blasphemy-inducing grand French brasserie, but because it’s just so bloody good at being a restaurant. The full English, wiener schnitzel, and the banana split are our moves for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and whenever. They should be yours too.
Kiln is one of the go-to Thai-influenced restaurants in London. The bar is where you want to be at this hot hot hot Soho restaurant, where the clay pots sizzle in front of your eyes, and a bead of sweat forms on your head as you take another bite of ox heart laab. Although we prefer being opposite all the action, if you’re in a group you’ll be just as happy eating pork belly and crab baked glass noodles, and Burmese-style beef curry downstairs. But be aware: Kiln is very popular.
The French House
49 Dean Street, Soho, is one of London’s best-known, much-loved, and dependable institutions of happiness and hangovers. That’s because it’s home to The French House and has been for donkey’s years. The floorboards and wooden bar of this boozer have seen things. Some good, some bad, and some that look like Hugh Grant recreating his mugshot. Legendary downstairs bar aside, you’ll want to go up to the dining room: a little yellow-lit boudoir with a daily changing menu of Anglo-French classics like rillette, braised oxtail, and Paris-brest with chocolate sauce.
A few questions will probably cross your mind as you wait in line for a seat at Bao’s tiny original Soho restaurant. The first is whether it’s worth it, and the answer is yes. Yes, yes, and one more confit pork belly bao please yes. The second is how much Taiwanese fried chicken is too much fried chicken? Here the answer is never enough. Finally you’ll wonder: dessert? No prizes for guessing what we think about the deep-fried bao with Horlicks ice cream. Come alone, come with a friend and, most importantly, come hungry.