The 18 Best Restaurants In Chelsea guide image


The 18 Best Restaurants In Chelsea

Where you should be eating in SW3.

When you think of Chelsea what do you think of? Red trousers? Very good dogs waddling along everywhere? People eating oysters at 2pm on a Tuesday? If you thought of any of the above, then you would be correct. But you should also think of excellent restaurants. Although Chelsea might not have the finest dining scene in London, it does have a very decent range of eating options, from all-day cafes, to fancy Indian, to hearty French brasseries.

If you're in the area, check out our guide to neighbouring Kensington.


Elystan Street

The fine dining restaurant in Chelsea has the feel of a living room where you’re worried about breaking anything for fear of bankrupting yourself. Despite the chill/unchill atmosphere, the food at this restaurant is tasty. This isn’t fiddly, fancy stuff you play around with. It’s bolshy flavours—scallop and crab-stuffed courgette flower, gorgeous lamb with a garlic purée you want to exfoliate with—that you can gobble up like a trust fund. The à la carte menu is similarly bolshy in price, as is the tasting menu. But for a blowout meal or a treat-yourself set lunch, Elystan Street is a restaurant you could easily settle into.

Hunan is one of the ultimate ‘if you know, you know’ restaurants in London. The Chinese fine dining restaurant is discretely located on the Belgravia side, with a ‘trust me’ tasting menu situation. Just tell them what you don’t like and they’ll do the rest. We’ve tried incredible prawn toast and crispy duck here, along with spicy pork that arrives on your plate in a bag. It’s a great shout for lunch, but ask for the seats closest to the window as the back of the restaurant can feel a bit cramped.

This jaw-dropping Chelsea pub serves quintessential British cosiness with the gliding confidence and sophistication of a Julian Fellowes dame. There’s an open fire, fish and chips on the menu, and deep armchairs that will swallow you whole after a third pint. But there are also stained glass windows behind the bar, rare bottles of £650 Bordeaux on the wine list, and those deep snuggle-fest armchairs are upholstered in ivy velvet. However, you can easily get away with wearing your dad jeans to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon here.

La Mia Mamma’s whole thing is that they serve proper Italian food handmade by real Italian ‘mammas’. The kind who will forcefeed you additional pasta like you haven’t eaten since birth. Honestly, if you’re not already sold then we’re not sure that we can be friends. Even on weekdays you’ll find the spot packed with families, waltzing in shouting ‘buonasera’ with three generations in tow. This place is fun, loud, and just the right amount of cheesy. But don’t underestimate the food here. It’s some of the best handmade pasta in London.

Zheng’s menu spans Cantonese, Sichuan, and Malaysian cuisine—and a bracket we’re going to politely call ‘original’. Do your best to ignore the creamy wasabi sauce and the toasted almonds on top of king prawns and focus on the Malaysian part of the menu, because it’s pretty good. This is by no means London’s best Malaysian restaurant but it’s a Chelsea date night favourite for good reason. The room is moodily lit, the satay is tender, and there’s plenty to please everyone. Its SW3 prices are more than your average rendang but if that’s no bother, Zheng is a solid spot for any occasion.

Chelsea locals wander in for half a dozen rock oysters while dates clink glasses over a plate of salmon sashimi outside this seafood bar. The small slick space, part fishmonger and part restaurant, is reminiscent of a sushi counter—but the small plates menu draws inspiration from all over. There are meaty chunks of chilled smoked eel with cucumber, lobster mi cut (part-cooked) which appears to be a favourite with families around these parts, and larger hot dishes like monkfish with an XO sauce. To its credit, it doesn’t force itself to be a full meal kind of place. Rather, like the excellent produce you can buy here, you can make it whatever you want it to be.

Sometimes SW3 can feel like its own world compared to the rest of London, but in Thali it has a restaurant of comforting familiarity. The bustle of this Chelsea curry house—complete with white tablecloths, red walls, and a lurid orange, creamy makhani that’s on pretty much every group's table—is impossible not to like. Everything is pleasing rather than perfect and, while the tarka dal may not be the most punchily spiced you’ve ever had, there’s little to dislike about this local’s favourite.

We remember the days when this King’s Road spot used to serve their pizzas on a wooden sharing platter that stretched all the way from one side of the table to the other. Although we kind of miss them, we’re also kind of grateful that we don’t have to worry about sharing the now regular-sized pizzas with anyone else. Topped with everything from burrata to spicy salami, the pizzas here are thin with chewy sourdough crusts, making this the perfect spot in Chelsea when you want romantic rustic interiors and a solid margherita for around a tenner.

At Stanley’s, you’ll find perfectly trimmed trees, endless flowers, and sophisticated food that falls somewhere between British and Mediterranean. This place is absolutely perfect for date night or a grown-up birthday dinner with your deeply fabulous friends. Prices can stack up quickly, because, hello, you’re in Chelsea, but it’s all entirely worth it. There’s some perfectly lovely seating inside but really you’re here for the satisfaction of eating beef tartar and a whole grilled fish out in that charming courtyard.

This little pan-Asian noodle bar’s combination of a charming courtyard setting and tasty affordable dishes that range from laksa, to noodle salads, to phở, make it an excellent quick lunch or early dinner choice. Everything is around a tenner, and it’s a very useful (and tasty) option if you’re in the area.

There are many, many Italian restaurants in Chelsea. There are the old-school ones, the very expensive ones, and then the ones you shouldn’t miss. Il Trillo is a combination of all three. It’s been open for over 30 years and has a slightly dated but endearing feel. Although it can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Most of the handmade pastas come in half portions, so the best game plan is to swing by with a group, order several, and make your way through the pretty epic wine list. Thanks to the garden out back, which is open all year-round, this place is also prime date night material.

How into French brasseries are you? If the answer is very, then you’ll really like Colbert. This all-day spot on Sloane Square is a bit like being slapped around the face by a macaron-wielding maman who’s also singing Aux Champs-Elysées into an old-fashioned microphone. But in a good way. Expect all the usual classics like steak tartare, oysters, and îles flottantes. For summer days, there’s also a Parisian-style terrace.

Daylesford’s farm is in Gloucestershire but this all-day restaurant is where you should go for a coffee, some cold-pressed juice, and a pretty satisfying meal. Lunch options include pizzas or their signature chopped salad, but if you’re after something more substantial, their seasonal salads are very good. And adding a venison rump in sage and truffle butter, if it’s on, is always a strong move. It’s a great spot to get a laptop out and spend the afternoon working as well.

Chicama is kind of like a mash-up between a great little Peruvian place and a pink velvet, marble bar spot. That means you can either come for a casual weeknight catch-up and sit out on the patio or in the rustic front dining area, or get a little bit suave at the bar with a couple of pisco cocktails. The seafood is alright, but what you really want to get involved in are the vegetable dishes. Special shoutout to the courgette and cornmeal beignets with chilli jam.

For something more low-key in this part of town, New Culture Revolution is casual, reasonably priced, and a pretty spot for dining solo without anyone presuming that your kind of famous friend got caught in traffic after their Missguided ambassador meeting. They’ve got a big menu of Chinese classics, from pan-fried dumplings, to braised beef clay pots, to kung pao chicken.

Chelsea has a pretty bougie and expensive reputation, and places like Villa Mamas don’t necessarily help. A mix of starters like ‘eggplant explosion’ (aubergine in whey sauce), hummus, and mathrooba (a chicken stew) will leave you around £30 out of pocket. That said, the food at this Bahranian spot is tasty and if you’ve got money to spend, then you could do a lot worse than sharing a couple of small plates and a main between two.

Walking through Chelsea’s residential streets, it’s hard not to look at the gleaming houses and think: nope, it’s not gonna happen. For us at least, Kutir is the closest we’ll ever get. This fancy Indian restaurant is in a townhouse off the King’s Road, but that’s not the only reason to come here. Dishes like chicken tikka masala are extremely tasty. If you’re not sure about shelling out over £20 for this straight away, check out the lunch set menu which is £35 for three courses.

Bandol is a chic and shiny spot inspired by the south of France that has a live tree in the middle of the dining room. Because mother nature never goes out of fashion. Or something like that. The menu is a mix of sharing plates like tuna tartare and aubergine millefeuille, with larger mains like lobster linguine. This place is the perfect start to a boozy night where you want to get a bit dressed up (sit at the golden bar), or as your final destination for a date with someone who enjoys a bit of glitz.

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photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

The 18 Best Restaurants In Chelsea guide image