The 26 Best Date Night Restaurants In London guide image


The 26 Best Date Night Restaurants In London

So you’ve committed to leaving the house together. This guide will tell you exactly where to go.

Keeping romance alive can be tricky in the face of so many modern distractions. There’s the sheer bombardment of new crime documentaries on Netflix. And the siren song of checking Twitter 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, attempt to locate that matching set of underwear, 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. On a budget? Check out The Best London Restaurants For An Affordable Date.



Andrew Edmunds

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. The roasted hake and brown crab are excellent, the crispy polenta with purple sprouting broccoli is a good vegetarian option, and if they’ve got a soup—any soup—get it.

Like that single rose you 100% meant to buy on the way to the restaurant, Café Deco is small but perfectly formed. This bar, 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. But just in case that doesn’t ring your bell, you should also know that they have a truly brilliant selection of low-intervention wines.

Some dates require a bit of a party and, in the case of The Palomar, it’s a grown-up and octo-hummus-charged party. The counter is where you want to be at this Israeli-inspired spot in Chinatown. Know that you might have to put your name down for a seat if you haven’t made a booking. But 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 both flirting with the bartenders over just how tasty the falafel is.  

Getting into the wooden and brass-detailed lift up to Sessions Arts Club is a thrilling journey into the unknown the first time you do it. The second time, you simply know you’re going to one of the most perfectly moody restaurants, not just in Clerkenwell, but in all of London. No other lift takes you to a room quite as beautifully (and purposefully) dilapidated as this one. Enormous ceilings, peeling wallpaper, candles flickering, and modern European sharing plates of pane carasau, oysters, Jerusalem artichokes, and brown shrimp croquettes. Perfect.

Carousel is a Marylebone restaurant that’s home to a revolving line-up of impressive guest chefs from around the world. But they’ve also managed to create the perfect all-day neighbourhood wine bar with seasonal small plates like pork skewers, tempura pumpkin, and scallop crudo. The wine list is packed full of interesting low-intervention options and, perhaps most importantly, they manage to pull off that cool-meets-comforting thing that makes it perfect for impressing people without looking like you’re really trying. Which is exactly what you’re trying to do, isn’t it.


Having just spent 40 minutes dissecting people on Hinge with your single friend, you’ve just remembered that being in love is really, really nice. So it’s time to treat the person who has saved you from online dating to a nice dinner. Trullo is a very nice Italian restaurant in Islington, with very nice lighting, very nice food, very nice wine, and very nice booths. There’s pasta made fresh daily and great meat coming off the grill too. 

Westerns Laundry is on an anonymous stretch of road near the Emirates Stadium next to a car chop shop, with literally nothing to indicate that there’s a brilliant little wine bar and modern European restaurant inside. Once you do get inside though, the vibe and food are worth the orienteering class you needed to take to find it. Ask for the tables for two when you book, or sit at the bar to keep it casual. On warm evenings sitting outside on the covered terrace is the move.

Looking for a restaurant that says “god, you’re so fit when you’re not flossing your teeth”? Introducing Decimo. A loud and proud Mexican/Spanish-inspired spot on the 10th floor of The Standard in King’s Cross, it’s a foliage thirst trap with floor-to-ceiling windows, two big buzzing bars, skyline views, and six-foot cacti. If that doesn’t scream hot date night away from the comfort of your sofa, then we don’t know what will. The dishes here can stack up quickly, so stick to the must-orders like the pork tacos, lamb chops, fried potatoes, and some mandatory flirty margaritas.

You’ve had a couple of refreshing Ginger My Swagger rum cocktails and now your fingers are brushing your date’s as you both reach for a pillowy dumpling sitting in a rainbow egusi bowl. Chuku’s is a Nigerian tapas restaurant in Seven Sisters where sparks are bound to fly. This bright, cheerful spot does tender chicken wings—sweeter than your date's chat—and yam croquettes with a scotch bonnet sauce that’ll heat things up. Order lots and share it all, but you’re going to want a chin chin cheesecake each if another date is on the cards. 

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 a cosy two-person booth—this is a top-tier date night restaurant. 


Love isn’t about grand gestures, sexual frisson, and a lifetime of pretending you’ve read something by John Keats. All you actually need is a candle shoved in a wine bottle, some top dim sum, and a carafe of sake. You’ll find all of the above at My Neighbours The Dumplings, a buzzing little restaurant that’s a casual—and some might say romantic—five-minute stroll from Victoria Park. Get the har gau. They’re fantastic and perfectly chewy.

Love is love. And that’s true despite the fact that you’re a proud vegetarian but your partner regularly goes all hyena with a rack of ribs. Head for a cool and casual date night at Bubula, a vegetarian restaurant in Spitalfields, that’s not just serving some of the best Middle Eastern vegetarian food, but some of the best Middle Eastern food, full stop. You’re definitely going to want to get involved in the burnt butter hummus and the black seed honey-covered halloumi. For extra brownie points, phone ahead and ask for a couple of spots at the counter in the window. They’re the best seats in the house.

There are plenty of low-lit, wine-led, aspirational-feeling restaurants in Hackney, but Brawn is the one that makes it feel effortless every time. It’s on the corner of Columbia Road and the whitewashed room always feels like it’s got a bit of buzz about it. The food is of the European and Mediterranean-leaning sharing plates variety, and their parmesan fritters are the stuff of candlelit, date night legend. You can eat as much or as little as you want, especially if you’re drinking. The wine list is not to be ignored.

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. 


Grab the love of your life and head to Seabird for a truly memorable champagne-infused dinner where you’ll get all doe-eyed about eating on a rooftop in the shadow of the Shard. Or just bring yourself for a romantic moment with a mollusc, soundtracked by the internal monologue of “I am living my very best life”. Because at Seabird, you are. This seafood spot in Southwark is serious about its oysters—there are over 10 varieties—but isn’t remotely stuffy, and servers are happy to guide you through your options with zero side-eye. Which is ideal if it’s an early-in-the-game date when you visit. 

You’re dating but you don’t want to put a label on it? You need a restaurant that’s equally as ambiguous. Sticks'n'Sushi is a mini-chain with spots across London and calls itself a blend between “a Japanese traditionalist and a Danish anarchist”. Like your relationship status, it’s complicated. But here’s what you need to know. The sleek interiors at the Wimbledon location are perfect for a romantic date night that involves some pretty solid maki topped with things like tuna and barbecue sauce, crispy kataifi, and trout roe. 

Lulu's is a cosy, Herne Hill wine bar that gets our heart beating. It’s giving quintessential date night vibes, with lights hanging from the trees outside and Richard Curtis levels of quaintness. Ostensibly a shop and deli, but really a dinky candlelit bar serving warming food—Lulu’s is ripe for meet-cute moments over shoestring fries and great wine.

When you realise you really like someone, you need to level stuff out. Maintain expectations. Not too high, not too low. You want to show this person what life will be like on the reg—basically, pretty good and pretty cool. That’s what Theo’s is. This is the neighbourhood pizza place that everyone wishes they had. The pizzas are delicious and very fresh, and there’s a happy buzz to the Elephant and Castle spot as couples compare mozzarella cheese pulls and cool down with Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches after scotch bonnet ‘nduja pizzas. If you’re local, you’ll both want to make this ‘your place’.

Nestled in a Bermondsey park, Pique-Nique is date night ready. Everything from the fairy light-strewn conservatory which wraps around the building, to the exposed wooden beams and twinkly candles, to the charming service, creates a place primed for wooing. Even the hearty French mains like glistening, juicy roast chicken or tender chateaubriand are “to share for two”. There’s no stuffiness though, so it’s ideal for a low-key date night meal when you still want to wear jeans, or early-in-the-game dates when you want to impress without scaring them away.

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.

Date night couples and gossiping friends crowd into Mambow, a Malaysian small plates spot in Peckham’s Market Stalls, for sour, earthy ikan assam pedas (fish curry) and lor bak, a salty pork and prawn roll encased in crunchy, deep-fried bean curd skin. Perch at the bar, glass in hand, for a more casual date, or find a spot in the shared market dining space if you plan to stay longer. 


Excellent dips, tender buttery grilled meats, and an intimate dining room that’s basically the ultimate wingman—come to Sinuhe when you want to amp the romance up to the max. This charming little Persian spot on Hereford Road has a standout mirza gasemi that we’re pretty sure has the power to turn around bad dates. 

The only thing that could possibly go wrong on a date at Shikumen, a Chinese spot in Shepherd’s Bush, is if you didn’t do your pre-selection dim sum due diligence before arriving, and get in an argument over which fantastic round of appetisers to order from their long menu. For future reference, the answer to this question is the xiao long bao, the seafood dim sum platter, and the enoki mushroom spring rolls. Save room for the main attraction, their signature roasted peking duck. It’s one of the best in London.

You can tell almost everything you need to know about this upmarket Greek spot within 10 minutes of being here. You’ll be greeted by a smile. You’ll smell fresh fish and mint. You’ll be taken to a table either inside or out on their vine-covered terrace. You’ll be presented with a shot glass of salmon-coloured liquid, and they’ll say “Welcome, in here we have mastika, lime, watermelon, and sparkling water, enjoy.” One part fun, two parts tasty, and the rest pure adult. That’s basically the recipe for date night at this Notting Hill restaurant.

Yashin Sushi is a small but decidedly upmarket Kensington spot that excels in drama by way of raw fish. The counter seating enables a whole lot of expert knife envy and thoughts around whether it’s socially acceptable to lean over and grab a little truffle-infused ponzu jelly. The vibe is calm and conservative, rather than anything lively, so if you’re looking for a venue where the food brings the excitement—this is your place.

The Mediterranean-influenced menu at Carmel is the kind of food that everyone can dip into and enjoy. The restaurant in Queen’s Park has a comfortable, lean-back-with-a-negroni-sbagliato feel to it, and a date here can be as low-key as a couple of glasses of wine and flatbread. Or, go for a full sit-down affair with heritage beets, lamb shawarma, and more. It’s also open from afternoon to evening, so if you aren’t after a late one and Netflix is calling, it can make that happen.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The 26 Best Date Night Restaurants In London guide image