The Best Date Night Restaurants In London (Right Now)

Be it your first or 50th date, this guide has got you covered.
The Best Date Night Restaurants In London (Right Now) image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Keeping the romance alive can be tricky in the face of so many modern distractions. There’s the sheer bombardment of new crime docs on Netflix and the siren song of doomscrolling before bed, even though it’s the weekend so you could technically indulge in some beige heavy petting without ruining the old sleep routine. That’s where the age-old lovey-dovey practice known as date night comes in. Dress up and promise each other you won’t mention the state of the recycling bin until you’ve at least finished your mains. Onwards for the best London restaurants for a proper date night.

Heads up, if you’re specifically looking for somewhere for First Date Drinks, we have a guide for that too. Or if you’re just an old-fashioned romantic, have a look at our guide to The Most Romantic Restaurants In London.


For a low-key weeknight

photo credit: Lateef Photography



$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdaysCasual Weeknight DinnerDate NightDinner with the ParentsVegetarians
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When you need somewhere near the King’s Road, with rustic interiors, dim lighting, and sourdough pizzas that’ll do the job (and then some), Made In Italy is your best bet. At this friendly, neighbourhood Italian you’ll find couples splitting burrata and picking at pistachio mortadella, while quizzing each other about reality TV preferences and admiring each other's smooth chat while sharing even smoother cacio e pepe.

An old, dimly lit Bermondsey railway arch is the indie rom-com setting of dreams. And your main character moment at 40 Maltby Street looks something like you lazily eating plums and a terrine alongside a low-intervention bottle, as the person opposite you falls hopelessly in love. This is one of London’s most consistently lovely wine bars and restaurants. The changing European small plates and laid-back atmosphere also make it a guaranteed good time.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



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Nothing sets a date off on the right note like a couple of negronis, a view over London, and grilled flatbread with taleggio and pickled fennel. Forza Wine is up on a Peckham rooftop, and the European-leaning spot has a solid and natural-filled wine list you can explore while you look out over the skyline together. Couples share cheesestring-like fontina toasties with hot sauce that rivals their chemistry, and on nice days, nothing beats lazily sipping a cocktail or two here.

Is it a wine bar? Is it a Detroit-style pizza place? Is it a charming little space in Notting Hill where you might see a dog wearing a £48 COS sweater? Yes, yes, and (if you’re lucky) yes. Quiet chatter fills this small, baby blue room, as friends (with benefits) lean back on the cushioned oak benches—pét-nat in hand, whipped ricotta and tomato slice on the mind. The roasted king prawn pizza from Ria’s is a real standout. 

The Kurdish favourite in Camberwell is full of good food and straight up lovely vibes. Tender seven-spice chicken kebabs, Kurdish dumplings, and aubergine three ways should be on your table. But pretty much anything from the charcoal grill of Nandine’s Camberwell Church Street location is worthy of your attention. Little tea lights, friendly service, and the sound of murmuring catch-ups make this spot perfect for focusing on conversation and excellent food.

Relax, sink pints, and eat one of London’s best burgers at The Plimsoll, a cool Finsbury Park boozer-cum-small plates spot. This place is all about fun, gutsy, and delicious food—like pigeon bhuna—and it makes for an excellent date spot for any couple that thinks getting a little loose over a plate of deep-fried oysters is romantic. Things can get a little lively come Friday night, but if you’re after something cool and casual midweek, there are few better venues.

Koya is an essential London restaurant whether you’re in Soho or not, but the Japanese spot is also a go-to for any last-minute date plans where only a walk-in restaurant with steaming bowls of udon will do. This is a corridor-shaped temple of soups and tempura, and it’s virtually impossible to leave unsatisfied. Of course, Soho gets a glint in its eye come nighttime and Koya is no different. So if you’re looking to pitch up at this counter for a while, get there early.

There are a lot of Ethiopian restaurants in London, but Zeret Kitchen feels like the most gently romantic of the lot. Soft piano music is played over the speaker, warm lighting fills the room, and injera is sensually torn and misir wot scooped. This buzzy Camberwell spot is a favourite for anniversaries and dates, and the two-person Zeret Surprise is one of the best-value dinners in town.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Excellent dips, tender, buttery grilled meats, and an intimate dining room that’s the ultimate wingman. Come to Sinuhe when you’re both over another night on the sofa and want to amp up the romance a little. This charming little Persian spot on Hereford Road has a standout mirza qasemi that we’re pretty sure has the power to distract you from any conversation about who did or didn’t forget to pay rent last month.

photo credit: Amy Heycock

A date at Joyau can be made fancy or kept low-key. Tucked inside a Forest Gate railway arch, it serves excellent European small plates and has dim lighting that’s kind to those who’ve had long weeks. Sit between stacks of wine books that make it feel like you’re flirting over the kitchen counter. But one that’s got vases of wildflowers rather than passive aggressive sticky notes. Couples drift in, drawn by the seductive beads of condensation rolling down glasses of rosé and the need for somewhere a little more special than their local pub.

What Hai Cafe lacks in size it makes up for in superb value and flavour. The shoebox-sized Vietnamese spot in Clapton is made up of stools, tables, and happy faces leaning into bowls of warming yellow curry. This isn’t the kind of restaurant you pitch up at to gaze into each other’s eyes all night, but an hour or so spent at Hai Cafe is an hour spent very well. It always tends to be a full house, with people picking up food or lurking for a spot, but know that Mama Hai is everyone’s auntie and will look after you.

For a plan-ahead dinner

A flute of champagne and a plate of pierogi is a solid way to start a date, and it feels just right for South Ken. Ognisko is an old-school Polish restaurant—the kind that’s full of white tablecloths, people wearing Chelsea boots, blinis and caviar all over the shop. It’s a classic affair that sings when you play the hits: pork schnitzel, steak tartare, pierogi crisped to a perfect level of brownness and the pastry lovingly crimped. There’s a sense of old-fashioned opulence about the whole thing, perfect for dates young and old.

Ploussard is like a beige, unbranded, cashmere sweater—in that it has Gwyneth Paltrow levels of chicness and will fool your date into thinking you have your life together. The wood panelling, concrete floors, and artfully tousled linen napkins at this modern European Clapham spot make things feel special, without going full rose-on-the-table. And the wooden booths are the perfect place to eat a burnt bay custard tart seductively while you plan which nearby bar to hit next.

Chisou is a great date night spot because it gives you options. You can impress someone with excellent sushi rolls without breaking the bank, or splash out on top-quality nigiri and work your way through the 16-page sake menu. How you play it is up to you. Just know that the quality fish, relaxed dining room, and serious sake menu makes this Mayfair spot one of the best Japanese restaurants around.

This Italian spot in Mayfair is the epitome of effortless glamour. Filled with half-melted candles and people that we’re pretty sure are famous, The Dover is a seamless meal from start to finish. Play footsie and share salmon blinis at the bar as a pre-dinner snack, and continue flirting at the table over citrussy whole dover sole, or parmigiana swimming in a creamy béchamel. There’s something undeniably sexy about eating spoonfuls of hazelnut and sea salt-covered chocolate paste in a wood-filled room.

Sitting at the counter on a first date at Levan is a power move. You’re armed with the fun buzz of the open kitchen, some boudin noir on your fork, and your new wingman—this Peckham spot’s book of wine. There are records stacked haphazardly between bottles of natural wine, and European sharing plates that you’ll lick clean. Whether you end up having an accidental four-hour dinner, or decide you never want to see them again after they steal one of your Jenga-style stack of comté fries, every Londoner needs Levan in their arsenal.

Chishuru's home is right in the thick of things near Oxford Street, but this modern West African spot is as transportive as London restaurants come. Its two-floor space is spacious and cosy all at once, with terracotta tones and a set dinner menu featuring spices and sauces you’ll want to mainline. Kick off with a spiced okra martini or a suya and smoke mezcal creation, before settling in for a night of all-round sensational stuff. If love hasn’t already bloomed around the table, just wait until you try the egusi.

Jin Kichi is a favourite around NW3 and once you have dinner at the intimate Japanese izakaya-style spot in Hampstead, you’ll understand why. Whether you’re watching fish being expertly cut at the sushi counter, sizzling skewers rotated around the robata grill, or prefer focusing on each other in an intimate two-person booth—this is a top-tier date night restaurant.

Like that single rose you 100% meant to buy on the way to the restaurant, Café Deco is small but perfectly formed. This British restaurant and wine bar in Bloomsbury is the kind of place where you whisper sweet nothings over a plate of incredibly tasteful—and tasty—food. Think dover sole and the aphrodisiac prowess of a (very fancy) leek vol-au-vent. If that doesn’t ring your bell, know that they have a truly brilliant selection of low-intervention wines.

There’s much to be said about lighting when it comes to choosing a date night restaurant and, in Oren, Dalston has the most delicious, dimly lit restaurant in east London. It’s a tiny space where knees touch and hearts flutter—whether it’s to do with the person opposite you, or the Jerusalem mixed grill remains to be seen. Everything at the Israeli spot, from marinda tomatoes, to hake and herb-stuffed pitta, is tremendous.

If you’re the kind of person who loves first editions and candlelit romance, you’ll appreciate Andrew Edmunds. It’s an old-school Soho bolthole that takes romance seriously—you’ll eat by candlelight and order from a modern European menu scrawled on a chalkboard. The interior alone makes it more than ideal for a date, but the food is really good too. Things like roasted hake with brown crab are excellent, and if they’ve got a soup—any soup—get it.

Sudu means spoon in Malay, and that’s exactly what you’ll be encouraged to do at this warmly lit, charming restaurant in Queen’s Park. Spoon mouthful after mouthful of tender, rich beef rendang into a pillowy, egg-filled roti, or straight into your mouth. Or your date’s, if that’s your thing. The laid-back, neighbourhood Malaysian restaurant invites intimate date nights that might start with across-the-table hand holding and end with aggressive hissing if they ask to split the last roti. 

There are plenty of low-lit, wine-led, aspirational-feeling restaurants in Hackney, but Brawn was one of the first and is still the standout. It’s on the corner of Columbia Road and the whitewashed room has always got a bit of a buzz about it. The food is of the European-leaning sharing plates variety, and their parmesan fritters are the stuff of candlelit, date night legend.

When you think of a perfect date night restaurant, do you think of white tablecloths? Are there impeccably suited staff? Does a plate with ‘Happy Anniversary’ in chocolate calligraphy feature? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then Chez Bruce is the haute French restaurant of your dreams. The Clapham institution is a go-to for so many. Look around the room, past the generous lobster raviolo, beyond the glistening chateaubriand, and you’ll see a low-lit dining room full of intense eye contact and gleaming rocks on fingers.

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