The Best Restaurants Near The National Gallery

Where to eat when all that art has made you hungry.
The Best Restaurants Near The National Gallery image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Going to London’s museums and art galleries is one of the best ways to spend a day in this city. But it’s also a lot of effort. There’s all that standing, the countless thoughtful head tilts, and the anxiety of pretending you know the difference between cubism and expressionism. That’s why it’s important to go to the right restaurants that are not only nearby, but where you can sit down, relax, refuel, and Google whether that painting you saw was of a fruit basket or a parrot. These are the best spots to hit after spending a few hours at The National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerCatching Up With Mates
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Unlike the artwork you just spent an hour and a half pretending to like, the beef rendang at Rasa Sayang doesn’t have a sign on the wall explaining the various interpretations. But if it did, we think it would go something like this: "A 3D model, Rasa Sayang’s rendang represents the Malaysian mountains recreated with mounds of brown beef so tender that they tremble at the mention of a fork." And our interpretation? The tender beef—that’s been slow-cooked for six hours in a hearty, thick, coconut-heavy sauce—is satisfying, sweet, and will stay in your mind longer than any impressionist artwork will.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

This spot is Temporarily Closed.

We’d use any excuse to book a dinner at this tiny Sri Lankan spot in Soho, and a day at The National Gallery—which is a short six-minute walk away—is all the reason we need. This is our go-to place when we’re trying to impress. The flavours are excellent, the modern twists on traditional Sri Lankan dishes are exciting, and the room oozes cool. Take a seat at the counter if it’s feeling like a date, or one of the intimate booths if you’re here with a small group.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



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They say you don’t truly know someone until you’ve gone to an art gallery together. And today you found out that you don’t share the same sense of humour when it comes to pointing at 15th-century paintings and saying “look, it’s your boyfriend.” Right now this friendship is hanging on by a Nashville fried chicken thread, so take them to Arcade Food Hall. It’s a loud, indoor food hall where you’ll find things that taste far too good to be in a food hall. You don’t have to agree on what to get, and your friend could be eating sushi while you’re demolishing a smashburger. And you’ll both agree that this was an excellent shout.

Knowing you’ve got dinner at Fatt Pundit lined up is a surefire way to mistake any and all paintings that include anything with legs hanging in the National Portrait Gallery as one big lamb chop. Sorry, Harry Styles. This Indo-Chinese spot in Covent Garden is known for having some pretty epic chops, but that’s just one of many excellent things on the menu. Come with a group so you can try a little bit of everything.  Crackling spinach is non-negotiable, the sticky sesame vegetables are smothered in a rich sauce, and the malabar monkfish curry is the way to go when all that pretending-to-be-interested-in-art has tired you out.

You just saw a toddler lick a 700 year-old painting. To say it was distressing would be an understatement. You need wine and you need it now. Old-school seafood restaurant J Sheekey is an excellent spot for a glass of wine and, shockingly, for some seafood, especially if you get involved in their shellfish. This place also has a real looker of an outdoor terrace in Covent Garden, and, sure, it’s expensive, but it’s worth it for the excellent signature fish pie.

Underwhelmed by everything you saw at the galleries? Head to Beijing Dumpling. There are plenty of great restaurants in London's Chinatown, but seeing a stack of bamboo steamers appear before you at Beijing Dumpling is sort of like Christmas morning for adults with a real thing for pork xiao long bao. This little spot on Lisle Street makes big-deal dumplings. We’re talking seafood dumplings that are salty and sippable, pan-fried pork dumplings that are totally simple in the best possible way, and those spicy soup dumplings that we’ll always return for. 

You can watch Bancone make their pasta in the window of this Covent Garden spot. Think of it like being at the gallery but with more salivating and less questioning of whether you really wanted to see that many naked torsos in one day. Just up from Trafalgar Square, this place has a short menu of fresh pasta dishes that are as affordable as they are tasty. Be warned, it gets busy so book ahead.

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Whether you’re doing it for out-of-towners, to see a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, or for the gram—make your trip to London’s tourist attractions bearable with a stop-off at one of these restaurants.

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Burmese noodle soups, excellent dim sum, some of London's best tapas, and more.

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