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The Best Restaurants In The West End

Whether you say you’re going to the West End, central, or into town—these are the 16 restaurants that should be top of your list.
The Best Restaurants In The West End image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

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. Heads up, the West End technically includes Soho, Covent Garden, and part of Holborn—but not St James’s, Mayfair, and the east side of Holborn. 

If you’re specifically looking for restaurants in Soho, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Covent Garden, or Marylebone, we have guides for that too.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Kathrin Werner

Burmese

Covent Garden

$$$$Perfect For:Literally Everyone

Lahpet, a buzzing Burmese restaurant in Covent Garden, will serve you enough coconut and ginger to shock you out of your urban blues. The vegan yellow pea paratha is a zesty little flatbread number, and you’ll be tempted to ask the king prawns about their workout regime given how hench they are. The highlight, though, is the coconut noodles. Rich, creamy, with an essential crispy wonton that serves as the ultimate spoon.


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. This tapas restaurant is the ideal place to grab a stool and surrender to the restorative powers of razor clams and octopus. 


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 and duck served with mango and wrapped in lettuce leaves. Being the West End, warming bowls of phở start around £14. But when the food is this comforting and consistently good it’s worth it. 


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, hefty burgers, light bite pao buns, highly-gluggable tom yam 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. 


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. 


photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightHalalLunch

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. 


photo credit: Bocca Di Lupo

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Honestly, hand us a mic, set a beat, and we can perform the most majestic spoken word performance about Bocca Di Lupo. 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


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

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. 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 £25 ‘all in’ meat selection and some affordable on-tap wines. 


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. 


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. 


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.  


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.


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.

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