For anyone wondering which sit-down restaurants are hot in London at the moment, you have arrived at the right figurative Internet place. What does ‘hot’ mean, you ask? Well, it means that the restaurants below are the place to be. That almost everyone going to them is wearing their ‘good perfume’ and that their dinner will definitely be shown off online. A night out at one of these restaurants - whether it’s for a casual catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night - feels ‘very now’. Loads of them are are brand spanking new, but we’ve also listed a couple of spots doing something noteworthy for the first time.
And, as always, we wouldn’t be recommending any of these restaurants just for having a scene-y scene. We’ve eaten at every spot and loved the food they serve - so you can plan your dinner confidently.
Shoreditch, a celebrity chef, an in-house DJ, lobster dishes, and booths big enough to seat the entirety of BTS. Yes, Bibo was always going to wind up on countless inspiring lists dictating Hot Restaurants It Is Your Civic Duty To Take A Selfie At, but importantly, the tapas here is genuinely excellent. Thanks to its head chef Dani García and location inside the Mondrian hotel, you’ll probably have to fight for those coveted weekend bookings. But any reservation admin is entirely worth it for the opportunity to sit beneath a giant wicker lampshade and smugly post videos of the lobster paella. Bonus points for interiors content, such as #TerracottaDreams #FoliageFeels #CoolJugsOfInstagram.
There’s nothing interesting about a lift that’s transporting you somewhere for purely functional purposes, it’s a foreboding utilitarian box of doom, but a lift transporting you somewhere for fun is something quite different. It’s a thrilling journey into the unknown and in the case of the wooden and brass-detailed lift up to Sessions Arts Club, it’s a journey into London’s hottest restaurant right now. No other lift in London takes you to a room quite as beautifully (and purposefully) dilapidated as this one. If Miss Haversham was born into the era of Xanax this, we imagine, is how her house would look. Enormous ceilings, peeling wall paper, candle flickering and a bespectacled stalwart in the shape of Jon Spiteri (of OG French House and St. John fame) showing you to your table like beaming and bewildered extra who found his way here via Warhol’s Factory. Grandiose room aside the food, from Florence Knight (formerly of Polpetto) hits many marks, specifically the ones named pane carasau and clams. There’s a touch of the Noble Rots about the menu in its European-seasoned British style, and indeed about the wine, mainly because they supply it. But Sessions isn’t ubiquitous-feeling at all, in fact it’s quite the opposite.
It’s unlikely that you’re travelling to Japan in the very near future, so until then head to Humble Chicken. The new Soho yakitori bar is buzzing and will fill you with every bit of a single bird possible. There are a few tables outside but this is primarily a counter restaurant - where flames are waved and skewers are brought straight to you, charred and glistening. The order of the day here is, really, to have fun. Close your eyes and pick your yakitori: from skin with numbing kosho to oyster with lemon ponzu. Don’t miss the offal either. Or that ice-cold Asahi tap.
Chameleon is an upmarket Marylebone restaurant that is a total assault on the senses. Smell: hummus mixed with the heady scents of Paco Rabanne. Taste: chickpeas, coriander, top smoky meats. Sight: foliage, foliage, foliage in a self-proclaimed ‘God’s Garden’ outdoors and dim purple lighting inside the grade I listed dining room. Sound: chaotically loud electric violin played by a woman in a gold sparkling gown. Touch: don’t touch anything, we’re 99% sure a single fig negroni cocktail glass here costs more than our rent. Basically, this is a party spot for people who adore the glitter IG filter and describe dried flowers as their passion. It’s classy meets cocktail chaos, but one thing you can count on is that the Middle Eastern-inspired food will be great.
It’s rare that a specialist all-vegan restaurant makes as big and as positive (sorry, By Chloe) an impact on London’s eating scene as Tofu Vegan has. The new Chinese spot on Upper Street is heaving seven days a week as everyone tucks into house-made silken tofu in Szechuan sauce, mock meats like Chongqing chicken, dim sum, and much more plant-based fare that may surprise you with how impressive it is. More fool us, we guess. The space is big, so much so that it spills out onto the pavement, much like the sizzling fish-fragrant sauce that will likely fall from your greedy spoonfuls, and, considering the scarcity of actually good places to eat on the Angel-end of Upper Street, it’s no wonder this place is as bustling as it is.
We have strong feelings for hummus. We also have strong feelings for this new Syrian spot on the top floor of Carnaby Street’s Kingly Court that just so happens to serve some excellent hummus. Imad, a chef who fled to the UK from Damascus as a refugee and has since hosted supper clubs and pop-ups in London, has created a menu of Syrian dishes like fattet macdous, shish tawook, and baba ghanoj. Everything is great, but for a special dinner you’re going to need the baba ghanoj, sharihat ghanam, and falafel on your table.
Mangal II is not a new restaurant, but its reinvention and constant menu evolution means that the new-school Turkish restaurant continues to be one of the places to eat in right now. The Dalston spot has lots of things on its side, the first being that the food is excellent. Their handmade mushroom manti dumplings with sweet preserved tomato and yoghurt are a delicious mainstay, while recent creations like brown crab sarma with langoustine emulsion or tahini butterscotch tart are as good IRL as they are on Instagram. Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with something like razor clams cooked over an ocakbasi grill. It’s the summer food of dreams. Only this place is very much real: humming with fervour and flavour, Monday to Saturday.
Hands, face, space is a deeply applicable message at The Light Bar. Your hands should be in use as padron pepper, coppa ham, and fried beef bun gobbling devices. Your face should have a big old smile on it as soon as your bottle of orange wine arrives at your table. And when it comes to space, you should know that this place is absolutely massive. Set over three-floors in a converted Victorian power station, there’s plenty of room for those big group catch-ups but somehow this place also manages to feel intimate enough for a candlelit date night. The handmade pasta is also a real winner and their al fresco terrace is an excellent shout for a sunny day.
If you like Notting Hill, sushi, and spending £100 on dinner then you should be getting a cab to Sumi ASAP. It’s the new restaurant from sushi master Endo Kazutoshi and the fish is absolutely outstanding. It’s on the part of Westbourne Grove that feels a bit like LA if the sun is shining and enough small dogs being cradled sidle past you, but the pinewood interior and bright feel of the restaurant itself is understated. Of the sushi, the hamachi (yellowtail) and hotate (scallop) stand out, though pretty much every piece of fish will have you doing umms, ahhs, and OTT groans.
Soho in the summer screams ambling about in a martini haze looking for somewhere to stick your bum in order to continue the slurping and slow stuffing of yourself. Enter, Mr Ji. The new-ish Taiwanese spot is a cocktail and chicken specialist, and when darkness falls it becomes a neon-lit den where you’ll want to all night cramming your table with béchamel-filled prawn toast, fried chicken, and another round of rice martinis. This restaurant is Soho at its best: new, exciting, flirty, and drunk. But importantly, drunk on the good stuff.
Elliot’s is not a new restaurant. In fact, they have been serving highly addictive Isle of Mull cheese puffs and natural wines to the good people of Borough Market for several years now. But during the blip between one of our joyous 72 lockdowns, something beautiful happened for fans of seafood and Big Summer Energy everywhere. Elliot’s was granted a license to take over the space under one of the arches opposite their little restaurant and ‘Ell Fresco’ was born. Never has a space felt so quintessentially London but also like you’re a million miles away. The pizzas are of the chewy sourdough persuasion, the courgette flowers are perfectly crunchy, and the whole experience is 100% the 2021 holiday you deserve.
After a year and however long of spending the majority of our time at home, there are some people who are officially over ‘relaxing’. But you know what, we will never get tired of? The chilled out nature of eating some excellent top quality food in the atmosphere of a pub garden. It’s basically like watching your favourite old movie on a cinema screen. Well actually, it’s nothing like that. It’s like eating an excellent platter of smoked meats and sides that include fried dough and corn on the cob in a sunny cricket field. Basically, heaven. And we don’t know how long this residency at The Chiswick Pavilion will be on for, so make the most of it while you can.