Where To Go When You're Visiting London In 2023 guide image


Where To Go When You're Visiting London In 2023

All the restaurants you should be visiting in the British capital right now.

We’re probably a bit biased but London is the best city in the world. Depending on the number of unmissable Indian restaurants there are knocking around on Pluto, we’d even say it’s the best city in the universe. After all, we have pies, pints, and a big fancy clock called Ben. What more could you possibly want?

Well, the issue with London is that there is potentially too much to do. Too much to eat. Too many pubs. That’s where this guide comes in. Bookmark it, save it to your favourites, go ahead and print it for when that international wifi plan inevitably fails. Consider it your definitive guide to the hottest new places and the restaurants that are just as great now as they were in 1900. Have a great trip.

Buzzy & New Restaurants

Rambutan review image



10 Stoney St, London
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A seat at Rambutan’s counter involves watching as rotis are expertly scrunched and whizzed off to lucky diners. Prawns are cooked in a silky curry sauce, over the fiery aduppu, and tasted by the head chef before being given the nod of approval and scooped into little bowls. All the while, the cosy Sri Lankan restaurant in Borough Market fills up as the evening goes on, and another round of addictively doughy gundu dosas are ordered. 

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Bouchon Racine review image

Bouchon Racine

You can’t help but be wooed by Bouchon Racine from the moment you enter the seductive old-school bistro. Effortlessly delicious French classics come out of this cosy, loft-like space above The Three Compasses in Farringdon as if the kitchen has been there since the dawn of time. Be it glowing bayonne ham with a luscious celeriac remoulade or pungent, glowing green escargots à la bourguignonne. Like any institutional French bistro, the phone lines exist more in spirit than reality, but persevere for a booking and you will be welcomed like family. A correctly judged lunch ends when the sun decides to call it a day. Dinner only after the cognac has come out. 

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It can be easy to throw all fine dining Michelin-type restaurants into one tweezer-filled and foamy box, but Ikoyi really is a special place (with a pricey tasting menu). The Strand restaurant is West African in influence and, with its elegant curved metal fixtures and glimmering bronze wall, haute in style. It feels like a gourmand's nuclear bunker. The combination of these things—in the form of dishes like lobster custard-topped jollof rice or a suya-covered chocolate truffle that will stay with you for the rest of your life—makes for a truly unique dining experience.

Tatale, a pan-African restaurant in Southwark, is the kind of place where you can nestle into a big comfy cushion and feel any London-sponsored stress courtesy of TFL slowly evaporate from your body, quicker than you can say chin chin cheesecake. The drama here is provided by flavours—the slap of scotch bonnet alongside citric ackee croquettes, the zing of fermented locust beans in a hug of a stew, the dusty hot pepper rub on the chichinga buttermilk fried chicken. The mood is warm and relaxed, and the ultimate ‘another round of Stars beers’ enabler.

This Notting Hill restaurant is so much more than just the name of its internet-famous head chef. The flavours at Straker’s are bolshy, the wood-fire oven in the open kitchen is always blazing, and the tight-knit room means that heat from this restaurant isn’t solely borne from online buzz, but from the emergence of a new, great British restaurant. Good luck getting a table for dinner, otherwise go for a lovely, lazy lunch down Golborne Road instead.

The upstairs of Speedboat Bar is open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, complete with pool table and cocktails. And, once the food gets involved, you’ll understand why this is such good news. The Thai spot in Chinatown mixes fun and flavours perfectly. Chicken skin with zaep seasoning (essentially like pork scratchings covered in chilli powder and MSG) are incredibly moreish. Unapologetically fiery drunkard’s seafood and beef noodles are essential. And a deep-fried 7-11 pineapple pie with a scoop of taro ice cream is something to eat all day and all night.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Saltie Girl review image

Saltie Girl



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The energy of Saltie Girl is laid-back and fun, with aqua-coloured walls that whisk you far away from Mayfair and a huge neon sign in the toilet mirror making it near-impossible to resist whipping out your phone for a cheeky selfie. Even the seafood dishes are hit after hit. From a lobster roll with an industrial amount of butter and homemade salt and vinegar crisps that would make Walkers' stocks plummet if word got out, to a lobster waffle that has the perfect ratio of sweet to savoury.

Quintessential London Spots

This Clerkenwell institution is London’s most famous British restaurant. Its ‘nose-to-tail’ cooking approach first defined by head chef and workwear icon Fergus Henderson is known the world over. Its pies are, quite simply, an experience that every person should have at least once in their life. In fact, the whole restaurant is. From the signal-less bar and bakery area filled with the noise of glasses clinking and madeleines baking, to the all-white dining room where lunch will turn into dinner and dinner into the next day. Everything about St. John is simply and straightforwardly iconic.

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

Royal China Club review image

Royal China Club

No one does dim sum quite like Royal China Club. The roasted pork buns have an endless comfort factor, the pork and shrimp dumplings will make you a certified har kau enthusiast, and the prawn cheung fun is an edible revelation that will have you contemplating whether two visits in one trip is feasible. This sprawling sophisticated spot in Marylebone has been known as the place for excellent Cantonese cuisine since 2005. Although the whole peking duck is one of London’s best dinnertime sharing dishes, we recommend you come during the day so you can get involved in that winning dim sum.

There are family-run restaurants and then there’s witnessing E. Pellicci’s manager Nevio Jnr. hollering to his mum Maria in the kitchen that the man at table six is from Scotland and also, they’d like the full English with extra black pudding. An Italian cafe in Bethnal Green, open since 1900, this place runs on strong cuppas, various formats of fried bread, and importantly, banter. It’s high-energy hilarity where you can indulge in The Best Fry-Up Of Your Life circa 8am or a truly epic portion of lasagne come afternoon. Inspect the pictures of celebrity patrons that line the panelled wooden walls and for the love of god, never leave the bread pudding unfinished.

If you haven’t been to Noble Rot and you’re reading this, stop, leave where you are and get in a taxi. Or a plane. Or a boat. The point is, Noble Rot is a wine bar, first and foremost, much like David Bowie was a singer, first and foremost. This place is undeniably special. The bar looks out onto Lamb’s Conduit Street and it’s somewhere you can get very comfortable with a glass of burgundy. Don’t get too comfortable though because you’ll want to have dinner in the restaurant. It’s all dim lighting and the buzz of conversation—i.e. the bistro of your dreams. The menu changes daily and it’s a classic, beautiful, French-British thing including The Best Bread In London. Anyway, why are you still reading? We’ll see you there.

Owner and head chef Faye Gomes’ Guyanese cooking and heartwarming hospitality will have you coming back to Kaieteur Kitchen in Elephant and Castle again and again. This feels less like a restaurant and more like the neighbour’s kitchen you never want to leave. Staple dishes like oxtail and curry chicken are delicious enough, but it’s the specials you want to look out for. Pepper pot is a slow-cooked meaty puddle of brown deliciousness, with meat so tender it gives up before your plate is put down, and a sauce so rich with cloves, cassava, and cinnamon, that leaving even a drop is a crime. 

Fun fact: Maggie Jones’s is named after a code name used by Princess Margaret. But what you really need to know is that this is quite possibly the most charming restaurant in London. Set over two floors and packed out with rustic tables and wooden church booths, everything from the assortment of countryside paraphernalia hanging from the ceiling to the menu of British classics never fails to provide ultimate comfort. The signature fish pie at the Kensington spot is one of London’s must-try dishes but be sure to allow room for Maggie’s fantastic apple crumble.

Look up, high above Wong Kei’s sign, and you’ll learn that before it was the Cantonese canteen and Chinatown institution it is today, it was home to a renowned Victorian wigmaker. This was a noteworthy building then, and it continues to be a noteworthy building now. Without Wong Kei and its slapped-on-your-table wonton noodle soups and roasted meats bathing in sweet shining umami gravy, London would be a much poorer place. Not least for those that know the value of a steaming hot meal for under £10.

Of London’s many classic old-school eating and drinking institutions, The French House is perhaps the most famous. Fondly referred to as ‘The French’ by its regular patrons and those who’ve watched one too many Guy Ritchie films, the Soho boozer-cum-devious upstairs dining room isn’t just historic. Of course, the no mobile phones rule and famous patrons, both literary and the literally wankered, add a little glitz, but it’s everything about The French that’s fantastic. Whether you’re sinking cidres downstairs or settling in upstairs on a Thursday—its imperious steak et frites day—you always feel part of something a little secret and potentially sordid.

Much like lie-ins and singing Thong Song when gloriously smashed, Gökyüzü is pretty much universally liked. This all-day Turkish spot in Harringay has been open for more than 20 years and serves the kind of silence-inducing manti that will keep you coming back. Booking a big table here is easy, making it perfect for big group dinners. Plus you can get involved in its legendary sharing platters.

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

Koya Soho review image

Koya Soho

If you want to ‘eat like a Londoner’ then we must sadly inform you that most of this city’s occupants tend to panic-eat sandwiches while running for the tube and avoiding eye contact with strangers at all costs. We’re not going to recommend you do that, but we are going to encourage you to try Koya, a Japanese restaurant that Londoners keep in their back pocket for when a serious noodle craving strikes. Come here for fresh hand-pulled udon at the bar while enjoying the buzz of the kitchen. The tempura, katsu, and those thick noodles make this place permanently popular, so prepare to queue. Londoners love that. 

Kind Of Fancy Places

The order of your trip should go: think about coming to London, immediately book a table at Sessions, book your flight, and be charmed by this spot on Clerkenwell Green. It’s a home to candle flames and charming staff who serve nonchalantly elegant, European-leaning food made for swilling glasses of wine and seducing over. There’s improbably long panisse, luscious squid and calamarata, a wine list that wills you to stay forever, and the wondrous feeling of hours flying by in a perfect restaurant.

The River Café is a Hammersmith restaurant that is so beloved and famous that it even has its own designer merch. This is an Italian institution that has been serving rosemary pizzettas and pancetta-covered pigeons since a time when London thought antipasti was a movement against pastries. It has earned its reputation through the glorious medium of exquisite food that goes far beyond spaghetti and the signature chocolate nemesis tart. A meal here will undoubtedly cost you a small fortune, but on the right summer’s day, sitting beside the Thames spooning luscious seafood risotto is one of the most life-affirming special occasion meals you can ever experience.

Like finding a tenner in some long-lost jeans, coming to Bibi feels like making the ultimate discovery. Tucked into a corner just seconds away from the chaos of Oxford Street, this Indian spot is small but significant, with a menu of incredibly designed dishes, from melt-in-the-mouth orkney scallop in a tangy lemonade dressing, to tender grilled chicken in a cashew and yoghurt whey sauce that you’ll want to lick off the plate. We could tell you about the counter seating or the fun gola cocktails, but the reason you should come here, and the reason you’ll return, is for the sensational food.

What says you’re living life (in a Kourtney Kardashian voice), like champagne, oysters, and magnificent views of London? Not much, that’s what. Located on the 14th floor of The Hoxton hotel in Southwark, this seafood specialist has an outdoor space that feels distinctly New York rooftop meets Cote d’Azur vacation. There’s a skyline view of London, palm trees, and one of the best oyster experiences you can have. And if you’re really trying to show your 87 followers how great your life is, order the whole lobster as well.

Sumi is a place that’s sure of itself. Not in a “we have royal oscietra caviar on the menu” type of way, even though they absolutely do. But in a “we make some of the best sushi in London and we know it” type of way. The high-quality food is unsurprising seeing as it’s the second restaurant from the eponymous sushi chef at Endo at the Rotunda. But one of the best things about this Notting Hill spot, after the excellent temaki, is the laid-back atmosphere. The Muji-esque interior, casual high tables, and charming terrace, paired with the exceptional things they’re doing with fish, all make this a destination for sushi.

Kol is a fever dream. Actually, technically, it’s a restaurant in Marylebone serving Mexican tasting menus. But what you really need to know is that Kol is crafting the kind of genius—yes, genius—dishes that will confuse, delight, and make you want to pick the brain of the chef who somehow made British gooseberries into a sexy salsa. The warm terracotta dining room is the perfect holiday-postcard setting for a meal that is memorable for all the right reasons: smoky mezcal broths, deeply satisfying carnitas, and a fine dining experience that is never fussy, only fantastic.

Neighbourhood Spots Where You Can Feel Like A Local 

Sudu is a homely Malaysian restaurant in Queen’s Park that invites intimate catch-ups and romantic date nights—even if they end with aggressive hissing if they ask to split the last roti. The aromatic chicken rice, comforting nasi goreng kampung, and the charming server who turns out to be the bartender’s mum do a good job of tricking you into thinking you’re at a friend's house. This is a comforting, familiar space where “of course you can take the corner table”, and “the usual” means a jug-of-water-to-hand-kind-of-spicy beef rendang.

Towpath in Haggerston is one of London’s most undisputed top spots during the summer. The seasonal cafe is only open during our sporadic warmer months and a glorious canal-side seat, alongside a plate of confit garlic and goats’ curd on toast, is very hot property when the sun does decide to shine. Although the brunch and lunch menu is what we find ourselves eating most often—crispy fried eggs alongside a pool of mojo verde is a forever food—there’s also the occasional evening set-up which is extremely dreamy as well.

What’s your initial association with chalkboards? School? Horror film screech soundtracks? Well, after a trip to Singburi your number one association will be this Thai spot’s daily changing chalkboard menu of things like southern prawn curries, gang know wan nua, and a beef green curry that should be slurped up with wild abandon. Trust the blackboard, trust the fact that you’re about to have one of the best meals of your life. Located in Leytonstone, it’s a little bit of a schlep from central or west London but you’ve already come this far and the moo krob alone is worth the journey. 

Let’s just kick this off by saying that La Mia Mamma is a bloody great laugh. It serves proper Italian food handmade by real Italian ‘mammas’, who will force-feed you additional pasta like you haven’t eaten since birth. If you’re not already sold, we’re not sure we can be friends. Even on weekdays you’ll find this Chelsea spot packed with Italian families, waltzing in shouting ‘buonasera’ with three generations in tow. But don’t underestimate the food. It’s some of the best handmade pasta in London and if you’re here on a birthday trip, know that the mammas will get out their tambourines to celebrate. 

We could go on for hours about La Chingada’s crispy el pastor or soft suadero tacos. Or one of its hot salsas, a deep brown habanero number. Same with the fried chicken, a juicy golden pile waiting to be smothered in the tingly, vinegar-ish red of chile de arbol and butter sauce. But it’s not just the food. It’s the day-glo chicken shop aesthetic. It’s the standing, the leaning, and the eating. It’s the day we spent ordering, eating, drinking, ordering, smoking, digesting, ordering, and eating some more. A meal on the pavement may not be everybody’s thing, but it is ours and, even if it isn’t, you can sit indoors. The mango margaritas are also excellent.

You’ve probably heard of Arsenal. It’s a football team of minimal importance in comparison to this tiny little Chinese restaurant which is located opposite the Emirates Stadium. Your order should go as follows: the cold liangpi noodles, the hot beef biang biang noodles in chilli sauce, the boneless chicken in ginger sauce, a pork burger, and another pork burger for whichever poor soul is about to watch you get all ‘this is living’ over the sensational spice factor of those cold noodles. We know that sounds like a lot of food but trust us, you need to try all of the above—it’ll set you back around £40. 

This Nigerian barbecue spot in Peckham isn’t somewhere you’re going to spend a particularly long time—save for a few counters to lean on, it’s predominantly takeaway-only. But once you find a bench, bus stop, or whatever else to dine from, you’ll soon realise that this suya is going to live long in the memory. Alhaji’s yaji (a homemade spice mix of chilli, peanut, ginger, and garlic) will do the tango with your taste buds and the tenderly grilled meat, in particular the tozo, is second to none.

Spots For A Casual Bite Or Drink

It’s little surprise that a Borrower-sized wine bar off Newington Green, lit by flickering candles and filled with heads being thrown back in laughter, is one of London’s most gratifyingly lovely (and scene-y) spots. If you’re into walk-in only wine bars and lazily eating charcuterie at the bar, then Cadet is a no-brainer. There are snacky bits and seasonal small plates but what N16’s latest hot spot truly excels in is a kind of innate charm. A charm that means every plate of turbot or slice of peerless pâté-en-croûte tastes even greater than the sum of its ingredients.

Coming to London without eating as many sandwiches as you physically can is pretty much illegal in our books. And this kiosk inside Shepherd’s Bush Market serves Algerian street food in the form of sandwiches filled with your choice of lamb’s liver, merguez, marinated chicken, fish fillet, or minced meat. All the meats are cooked to order and as well as the meaty filling, each sandwich is stuffed with chips, a fried egg, the perfect amount of salad, and harissa. The chicken is our favourite but they’re all excellent so order with confidence.

There’s no lack of superb wine-focused bars and small plates restaurants in London but 40 Maltby Street continues to do it better than a majority of the rest. The converted railway arch in Bermondsey serves small plates and truly sensational sandwiches with consistency. Open Wednesday to Saturday with a changing menu that jumps from terrine to fritters to rhubarb jelly with Jersey cream, this is an any mood, any situation kind of establishment. Just be warned, it’s walk-in only and you’ll need to hit up its Instagram page for intel on the current menu. 

“When I was in London I went to a guest chef experience in Fitzrovia,” you say as the crowd goes wild and your school bully sheds a single solemn tear, amazed at just how cultured and inherently fabulous you are. OK, we might be being a smidge dramatic but it does sound very sophisticated doesn’t it? Carousel is part cool and casual wine bar and part guest chef experience—like musical chairs with a list of international culinary darlings from Europe and beyond. There’s only one sitting a night for this so be sure to book ahead. Planning not your thing? Simply rock up and eat the anchovy-loaded crisps alongside a bottle of orange in the wine bar. 

Borough Market is one of the places that makes us eternally grateful that we live in London. It’s also one of the places that makes us question whether it’s normal to get so excited about kitsch French cheese packaging. Outside of the artisan cheesemonger and fresh vegetable stalls, Borough Market is also home to some truly great places to eat. You’ve got Brindisa and its go-to chorizo roll, freshly shucked oysters at the Richard Haward stall, some of London’s best doughnuts over at Bread Ahead, and so many more excellent spots. Almost everything here is designed to grab and go so find a nice little spot in the sunshine to stand and eat your chosen dish.

The now-legendary first restaurant of the essential Taiwanese mini-chain is famous for its long queues. And the food at Bao in Soho is definitely worth waiting in line for. The best way to go about it is to pop in for a snack around 4pm, when you should be able to get in quickly and be eating pillow-y bao in no time. It’s an in and out kind of place, so it works well for this. The bao are what a lot of people come for, but you definitely want to try some of the small plates like beef cheek nuggets or Taiwanese fried chicken. Did we mention the umeshu negroni that’s packed with plum sake? Easily one of the most reliably refreshing cocktails this city has to offer. 

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