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Doubles at Roti Joupa
Doubles at Roti Joupa
Michaël Protin/Eater London

The 38 Essential Restaurants in London

Eater’s recommended restaurants in London

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Doubles at Roti Joupa
| Michaël Protin/Eater London

Before the pandemic, the Eater 38 was our attempt to answer any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” It’s a curated list that covers the entire city, spanning numerous cuisines, neighbourhoods, and price points. It’s a list that tells the story of the London food scene: In July 2021, one that has tentatively but confidently emerged from a world of pivots, provisions, and delivery. It documents the dumplings, Sunday roasts, tacos, pizza, big plate chicken, udon noodles, pepper pot, and more: All that which makes London one of the best and most diverse places to eat in the world.

The autumn 2021 update of the Eater London 38 will include the revisions and replacements customary in “normal” times. But for now, what this list hopes to showcase is over three dozen restaurants which have done outstanding things in extraordinary times, have survived, thrived, and continue to enrich the city and its food culture.

A monthly updated guide to the best new restaurants in London complements this guide. Please share all tips, ideas, and suggestions with Eater editors by contacting us here.

London’s restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars reopened for indoor service on 17 May, with the rule of six in place. Customers can check with individual venues to determine their availability and Covid-secure measures before deciding to visit.

The government plans to lift all remaining restrictions, including social distancing rules, parties of six, and household mixing, on Monday 19 July.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Etles Uyghur Restaurant

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235 Hoe St, Walthamstow
London E17 9PP, UK

Chef-owner Mukaddes Yadikar’s acclaimed Uyghur restaurant, is Walthamstow’s finest neighbourhood restaurant. A great option both for smaller and larger households with dishes such as chaomian, a stir-fry of short, cut lengths of noodle wokked with chunks of of beef, spring onion and tomato; and the trademark da pan ji (‘big plate chicken’): a remarkably deep, savoury, and spicy chicken and potato stew, teeming with Sichuan peppercorns, served with flat hand-pulled noodles.

Big plate chicken at Etles
Andrew Leitch

2. Singburi

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593 High Rd Leytonstone, Leytonstone
London E11 4PA, UK

Chef Sirichai Kularbwong is still cooking, but for now Singburi remains takeaway only. Menu staples such as phad thai, wok-fried morning glory with garlic and fish sauce, and fiery, acidic tom yums will are available, but look to the blackboard menu for the restaurant’s hits — and never miss the moo krob, twice-fried pork with garlic, basil, and chilli, one of the city’s most accomplished and deliciously moreish dishes. Singburi’s small and welcoming dining room is likely not to reopen until later this summer.

Singburi, Leytonstone’s Thai restaurant, is up there with the very best in the city. It will remain open for delivery through the November COVID-19 lockdown Michaël Protin/Eater London

3. Esters

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55 Kynaston Rd, Stoke Newington
London N16 0EB, UK

Esters is a cafe and a brunch location that, out of principle, does not serve avocado. In other words, it’s a cafe with a little more ambition, one that verges into restaurant territory. So chef Jack Lloyd-Jones might scatter some herbs and nutritional yeast over poached eggs, whipped cod’s roe, broad beans, and buckwheat; or serve a sweet corn soup with nectarine, curry leaf, and crème fraiche. Weekends bring a meat-for-breakfast policy that eschews bacon for confit duck, lamb shoulder, or pork belly. A signature miso and white chocolate cookie, the creation of co-owner Nia Burr, is almost reason enough to visit. So too are coffees made with the same care and precision as the food, and house drinking vinegars and sodas in technicolour hues.

4. P. Franco

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107 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton
London E5 0NP, UK

The carousel of rotating chefs at this Hackney wine bar and shop are currently responsible for some of the capital’s most arresting gourmet artistry. This is the pared-back playground for some of the world’s most innovative and movable chefs. Amazingly — given use of only three inductions hobs — over the past four years, chefs William Gleave, Tim Spedding, George Tomlin and Giuseppes Lacorazza and Belvedere, respectively, have positioned P. Franco as one of the most exciting and ‘now’ showcases in town. River Cafe and Rochelle Canteen alumna Anna Tobias followed, with new chef Seb Myers now reasserting its debt to Parisian cave traditions, with thoughtful, idiosyncratic comfort food including a red mullet tartine and inky cuttlefish rice. It still feels just a bit special.

The interior of Lower Clapton wine bar and restaurant P. Franco, that forms part of the best 24 hour restaurant travel itinerary for London — where to eat with one day in the city Ola Smit/Eater London

5. Westerns Laundry

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34 Drayton Park, Highbury East
London N5 1PB, UK

A relatively recent emphasis — in no small part because of a growing relationship between London restaurants and Cornish suppliers — is being placed on English waters. Westerns Laundry, by the same operators, Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell’s Western Laundry (the pair also oversees Primeur and Jolene), is one of London’s best seafood restaurants, in the past year featuring a covered terrace for outdoor eating alongside the main dining room, serving glorious plates like fideo pasta rich with cuttlefish, squid ink, and aioli; monkfish friggitelli and mojo verde; and John Dory, peas, braised gem lettuce, and pancetta. A stellar winelist, with low-intervention and classic options adds to the reasons to visit this outstanding, warmly lit and carefully designed Holloway restaurant.

6. Mangal 2

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4 Stoke Newington Rd
London, Greater London
+44 20 7254 7888
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Mangal 2 is probably Dalston’s most famous restaurant, preparing excellent Turkish food from a historic ocakbaşı — grilled chicken, lamb, and quail kebabs, pickled chillies, and a classic grilled onion, sumac and pomegranate molasses salad. The charismatic young general manager and son of the restaurants’s founder — Ferhat Dirik — has run the room with expert ease and humour for over a decade. For the last 12 months, he’s been joined in the kitchen by his brother Sertac; together they have reinvented and modernised one of east London’s most iconic, reliable, and fun restaurants.

7. Trullo

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300-302 St Paul's Rd, Highbury
London N1 2LH, UK

Trullo’s elegant dining room and simple, seasonal food, marks it out both as one London’s best Italian restaurants and one of the city’s finest neighbourhood restaurants. Dark wood, low lighting, white table cloths, and just-put-it-on-the-plate plating characterise it as decidedly anti-Instagram. Trullo’s spiritual parents are the two most important restaurants of a generation: the River Cafe and St. John, so dishes marry Italian traditions with British (and Italian) ingredients — fashioned into delicious antipasti, fresh pastas and secondi, dishes which often do a little time on the charcoal grill. Where sister site, Padella, is cheaper, faster, and increasingly difficult to get into, Trullo, which offers the same signature beef shin pappardelle and other Padella hits, is more of a grown-up place to eat and relax. A largely Italian (and natural-leaning) wine list is just as considered as everything else.

Trullo, in Highbury & Islington, is one of London’s best Italian restaurants
Lemon tart at Trullo
Trullo [Official Photo]

8. Thattukada

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229 High St N, East Ham
London E6 1JG, UK

East Ham is home to London’s largest Kerala community, and its greatest concentration of south Indian restaurants. The pick of them might be Thattukada, run by chef-owners Biju and Preeti Gopinath. Curries and roasts have a depth of flavour and spicing that belie their simple descriptions, and should be mopped up with crisp parottas or snow white appams. But it’s the legendary fries that are unmissable — half a chicken cut into segments then aggressively and skilfully fried with chilli and crispy onions; little netholi (anchovies) cooked and eaten whole, or battered mussels that pop thrillingly in the mouth.

Chicken fry at Thattukada in East Ham, an outstanding Kerala neighbourhood restaurant Tomas Jivanda/Eater London

9. Sonora Taquería

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13-23 Westgate St, Hackney
London E8 3RL, UK

A storied grilled chicken chain from northwestern Mexico arrived in courtyard market in east London in February 2020, before it became a tortilla delivery business and then evolved into a larger, niche taqueria specialising in the beefy cuisine of the Sonora region. Chef-owner Michelle Salazar de la Rocha fortifies fine flour tortillas with either vegetable fats or lard, and has lately fashioned those as barbacoa tacos (beef rib and shin); stewed chuck beef chile tacos; and a pulled beef chile verde taco. There are also quesadillas, the option to add a crunchy, cheesy crust to any taco, plus aguas frescas and micheladas. Sonora is right up there with the best Mexican food available in London.

Sonora Taqueria’s Michelle Salazar de la Rocha at her stall in Hackney, preparing a beef taco Michaël Protin/Eater London

10. Hill & Szrok Master Butcher & Cookshop

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60 Broadway Market, Hackney
London E8 4QJ, UK

Master butcher-turned lockdown provisioner par excellence, Broadway Market’s Hill & Szrok has taken to serving takeaway lunches that are just that little bit special, and outlast their necessity. They currently include the likes of cheeseburgers, meatball subs, pig’s head hotdogs, pie and mash, and chocolate chip cookies. The restaurant and wine bar, which features just one stool-high sharing table (that doubles as the butcher’s counter during the day) is again open in the evenings, preparing simple, seasonal mains from prime ingredients and large joints of meat to share — 1kg of cote de boeuf for £100, for example — alongside clever sides such as confit potatoes and onions cooked in stock.

A cheeseburger on a white plate
Cheeseburger at Hill & Szrok
Hill and Szrok/Instagram

11. Ombra

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1 Vyner St
London E2 9DG, UK

Chef Mitshel Ibrahim’s Vyner Street trattoria cannily slants mainstays of Italian cuisine to create a restaurant that feels like the London Italian that it is, rather than the Venetian bacaró that inspires it but to which it isn’t really to be compared. The canalside dining room and ample terrace awaits faithfully with Roman artichokes; pillowy gnocchi fritti anointed with mortadella; carne salada paired with shimeji mushrooms alongside Parmesan; and quality rotating pastas. The tiramisù is deservedly legendary.

Drinks al fresco on the terrace at Ombra in Hackney, late October 2020 before the second national coronavirus lockdown in England in November Michaël Protin/Eater London

12. Delhi Grill

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21 Chapel Market, Islington
London N1 9EZ, UK

An Islington stalwart which for a decade has offered a fun take on the street food-style snacks of Delhi and Punjab. Chaats, samosas, lamb chops, tikkas, and a selection of curries make for one of the most reliable bets in N1, and it also serves one of the best murgh makhani and butter chicken in the city. Try it with a hungry group.

Butter chicken, chicken fry and chutneys at Delhi Grill in Chapel Market, one of the best restaurants in Islington Ola Smit

13. The Laughing Heart

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277 Hackney Rd, London, E2 8NA, London
Hackney E2 8NA, UK

Restaurateur Charlie Mellor’s Laughing Heart in Hackney is not unlike the best of the new-wave wine bars of London and Paris. But unlike the small P. Franco and 40 Maltby Street, this two-floor restaurant is more conventional, in format at least. It’s moved away from its formerly raucous, broad menu into a tight prix-fixe that feels more attuned to its debt to French caves, with a classical bent — quail farcie; asparagus and morels en papillote. There’s also a bit of that old wit in a ham consommé with English peas. Mellor’s brilliant wine list is one that tells the story of a passionate relationship with the classical old world, and a deep knowledge and respect for the avant-garde in winemaking.

London restaurant The Laughing Heart The Laughing Heart [Official Photo]

14. Marksman

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254 Hackney Rd
London, Greater London
+44 20 7739 7393
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The Sunday roast is a pillar in British food culture, but surprisingly few restaurants better the home-cooked version of this national institution. The Marksman’s roast, one of the finest in the city, is worth travelling to Hackney for. But this is also a pub-restaurant to visit any day of the week — for delicious, seasonal, imaginative cooking — like cocoa beans, girolles and hen’s egg or brown crab and fennel pollen on toast — brilliantly British and refined, this should be the template for the gastropub 2.0 in London.

Peas, wild garlic and lardo at The Marksman on Hackney Road, the pub and dining roomthat forms part of the best 24 hour restaurant travel itinerary for London — where to eat with one day in the city

15. Roti King

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40 Doric Way
London, Greater London
+44 79 6609 3467

The area around Euston station is replete with no-frills, delicious places to eat. This little Malaysian basement setup from chef Sugen Gopal on Doric Way may be the best. Two pieces of freshly made, high-moisture roti canai — whether to eat in or take-away — are best served with curry dhal. That speciality costs only £4.50, though round two is likely.

roti canai and daal at Roti King, a classic London restaurant

16. Brawn

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49 Columbia Rd
Shoreditch, Greater London
+44 20 7729 5692
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Chef Ed Wilson’s hearty Franco-Italian menu is a showcase for his own personal love of food. To eat here is to share that passion, especially now with an increased emphasis on fresh pasta, and spectacular comfort food. Wines are predominantly natural and biodynamic. Illustrated wine posters, art, and curios on whitewashed brick walls also make the two relaxed dining rooms on Columbia Road among London’s most handsome and cool. Here also lie the city’s smallest and most beautiful bathrooms — among the very first to use Aesop, to boot.

Brawn, on Columbia Road in Hackney, one of the best restaurants in London

17. Kate's Cafe and Restaurant

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174 Balaam St
London E13 8RD, UK

Chef Kate Armah’s outstanding Ghanaian restaurant’s sharing platter that includes tsofi, chicken wings, kebabs, plantain, and more is a manifestation of its bountiful hospitality — at this famous east London neighbourhood institution. Other highlights include akonfem (guinea fowl), red red (fried plantain with black eye bean stew and gari foto), and any of the soups — which come served with either fufu, omo tuo, banku, kenkey, kokonte, or rice.

Takeaway boxes on top of the counter at Kate’s Cafe, one of London’s outstanding Ghanaian restaurants
Kate’s Cafe serves some of the city’s outstanding Ghanaian cuisine
Michaël Protin/Eater London

18. Quality Wines

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88 Farringdon Rd, Farringdon
London EC1R 3EA, UK

After a refurbishment of both kitchen and premises, this Mediterranean haven on the Farringdon Road is back to the kind of form that has made it one of the most essential of the city’s essential kitchens in recent years. Chef Nick Bramham’s cooking is now leaning more towards the Aegean, with the likes of giouvarlakia bringing herbed meatballs bobbing in avgolemono. The menu will change weekly and will travel across southern Europe, but look out for Bramham’s clever riffs on BLTs, lobster rolls, and perfectly seasoned pasta dishes after peerless gildas, before perfect sour cherry cannoli.

Pig fat cannoli at Quality Wines in Farringdon, the Eater London dish of the year in the Eater London Awards 2019 Mason Noteboom/Quality Wines

19. Brat

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4 Redchurch St
London E1 6JL, UK

Michelin-starred Brat, which lives above Smoking Goat in Shoreditch, is named after the old English colloquialism for turbot. Grilled seafood (including whole turbot) sourced from Cornwall is the focus. Lamb from Wales, beef from the English south west, and mostly grilled seasonal fruit and vegetables from all over is given plenty of attention, too. Chef Tomos Parry differentiates himself slightly from other grill chefs, aiming to emulate methods used in the north of Spain — namly the use of wood fire to cook his range of ingredients slowly. A comparatively classical 100-bin wine list has been organised by the team from Noble Rot, which is another way of saying it is very good.

Best seafood restaurants in London: Slow-grilled seafood is the focus at Brat, chef Tomos Parry’s restaurant in Shoreditch
Slow-grilled seafood is the focus at Brat in Shoreditch
Ben McMahon/Brat

20. Honey & Co

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25 Warren St
City of Westminster, Greater London
(+44) 207-3886175
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After Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver, a section of Britain was Ottolenghiised: The Israeli chef became the go-to chef for the de rigueur dinner party. Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer worked for Ottolenghi before opening Honey & Co, their warm, welcoming little cafe-dining room in Fitzrovia, serving smart dishes like slow-cooked lamb shoulder shawarma and prawns baked in a spiced tomato and pepper matbucha sauce with cracked wheat, as well as first-rate freshly baked pita and a spectacular range of cakes and sweet bakes. It is among London’s finest examples of Middle Eastern cuisine, which doesn’t just sate a populist craving for sumac and co., but continues to be one of the most charming and intimate restaurant spaces in the city.

21. Lyle's

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Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St
London E1 6JJ, UK

This handsome, minimalist blonde wood-and-concrete Shoreditch restaurant is a marriage of its co-owner James Lowe’s British heritage (St. John Bread & Wine) and his many stints across the globe, including one at Noma. Lowe is a gifted chef and one of London’s foremost proponents of the quality of British produce. His relaxed brand of fine dining regularly celebrates mutton, game and goat, as well as wood fire-cooked seafood and seasonal English vegetables.

The dining room at Lyle’s, in Shoreditch Ola Smit

22. Sushi Tetsu

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12 Jerusalem Passage
London, Greater London
+44 20 3217 0090
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Clerkenwell’s Sushi Tetsu might be the hardest reservation to secure in London. That’s in part because there are only seven seats. It’s also because pound-for-pound, it serves the best (value) sushi in the city. To observe chef Toru Takahashi’s knife skills and to eat his omakase menu while receiving Harumi Takahashi’s gently flawless hospitality (the two are married) is to experience one of London’s most complete and completely brilliant restaurants.

23. Master Wei Xi'An

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13 Cosmo Pl, Holborn
London WC1N 3AP, UK

The Xi’an Chinese cooking that has made chef Wei Guirong — an alumnus of Sichuanese restaurant Barshu in Chinatown a star of London dining, is now at home in Bloomsbury. Master Wei is Guirong’s first solo project — following her joint venture, Xi’an Impression by the Emirates Stadium in Highbury, a tiny restaurant which has rightly earned cult status among lovers of regional Chinese food in the capital. At Master Wei the focus is on the region’s flour-foods, mianshi: peerless biang biang noodle dishes, with vegetables or beef and hot chilli oil; fine liang pi, cold skin noodles with a cool, refreshing, umami rich dressing, and the chef’s inimitable “burgers” with a cumin-spiced beef or pork filling.

Master Wei in Bloomsbury is Eater London’s Restaurant of the Year 2019 Sam Ashton/Eater London

24. St. John Bread and Wine

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94-96 Commercial St
Spitalfields, Greater London
+44 20 3301 8069
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While the original St. John is rightly regarded as the most important British restaurant in a generation, Bread & Wine, the sister site in Spitalfields, is a better and more interesting restaurant today. If food were a religion, then this would be its church. Welsh rarebit, bone marrow and parsley salad, foie gras on toast, mussels with cider, devilled kidneys; half a dozen madeleines; and a whole roast suckling pig are classics: lunch here is one of the purest, most heavenly restaurant experiences in London.

Welsh rarebit, liver toast, and madeleines at St. John Bread and Wine

25. Dumpling Shack

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Old Spitalfields Market, Brushfield St, Shadwell
London E1 6BG, UK

The shengjianbao — pork and leek fried soup dumplings — prawn wontons in an umami-rich chilli oil, beef dan dan noodles, and spring onion pancakes at John Li’s Spitalfields stall Dumpling Shack make up the short menu, which spans the cuisines of Shanghai, Sichuan, and Hong Kong. It is incredibly consistent, such is Li and his team’s dedication to quality and to taste. Li’s expansion in late 2019 to the neighbouring stall with Fen Noodles, offering hand-pulled big plate chicken noodles from the Xinjiang region in northwest China, indicates that he may yet open a restaurant proper — which is an exciting prospect for London’s Chinese restaurant scene.

London’s best Chinese dumplings include sheng jian bao at Dumpling Shack Dumpling Shack [Official Photo]

26. Koya Soho

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50 Frith St
Soho, Greater London
+44 20 7434 4463
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Chef-owner Shuko Oda’s little bar in Soho is among London’s most acclaimed Japanese restaurants. Over a long, blond wooden counter, chefs calmly and politely pass hot bowls of steaming broth containing the noodles made on site, topped with the likes of tempura prawn. The specials board of comparatively modern small plates changes every day and exhibits some of the city’s best undiscovered treasures; the traditional Japanese breakfast is the most steadying in London.

27. Santa Maria

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11 Bond St
London W5 5AP, UK

Excellent London pizzerias are ten a penny these days, but at Ealing’s homage to Naples, there remains something original. Flash-cooking in a wood-fired oven blisters the crust, while the interior remains chewy and yields spectacularly. Toppings are almost accessories, given the excellence of the base, but there too — in fior di latte, and tomatoes — there’s quality. (The original Ealing branch has closed to make way for a vegan restaurant, with its pizza flagship now at this address, a few hundred metres down the road.)

Santa Maria Pizzeria has sites in Ealing, Chelsea, and Fitzrovia. The brand serves some of the finest Neapolitan pizza in the city
Santa Bufalina at Sant Maria, one of London’s greatest pizzas
Ola Smit/Eater London

28. Food House

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48-36 Gerrard St
London W1D 5QQ, UK

One of the comparatively recent new-wave of Sichuan and Xi’an restaurants in Chinatown, Food House (風味食堂) is run by a younger generation of chefs and restaurateurs. Indeed, it might be the trendiest restaurant in central London. Hordes of immaculately dressed shoppers and students gather for hot pots, whole fish in chilli oil, numbing-spiced chongqing noodles, cumin-studded grilled skewers, and Chinese hamburgers while competing with the staff for the coolest look. But while this extremely trendy restaurant is definitely a scene all of its own, it is not at all unwelcoming; in fact, it’s perfect for either a date or a group booking.

Inside Food House in London’s Chinatown
Inside Food House in London’s Chinatown
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

29. Normah's

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Normah's 23-25 inside Queensway, Market, Bayswater
London W2 4QJ, UK

Chef Normah Abd Hamid and her family team offer a Malaysian comfort menu that makes the restaurant one of the best in the city from a nook of a unit in Queensway Market. Sour, hot assam pedas; roti to rival London’s King in Euston; and beef rendang or nasi lemak to go alongside. One of central London’s best restaurants to visit with a small group of friends; one to take out-of-towners visiting the city.

Curry prawn laksa at Normah’s in Bayswater, one of the best-value restaurants in London
Curry prawn laksa at Normah’s
Michaël Protin/Eater London

30. Gymkhana

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42 Albemarle St, Mayfair
London W1S 4JH, UK

Mayfair’s Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Gymkhana is one of few London restaurants that claim to straddle the line between celebrity restaurant hype and quality cooking, in a city where the two so rarely meet. Tandoori masala lamb chops, chicken butter masala, and its trademark wild muntjac biryani remain stand-outs. The prices match the level of cooking (and the Mayfair surrounds) making the restaurant one for special occasions.

Muntjac biryani at Michelin-starred Gymkhana Gymkhana [Official Photo]

31. The Wolseley

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160 Piccadilly, St. James's
London W1J 9EB, UK

Restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King opened this ambitious pillar of the London restaurant industry, a homage to Europe’s “grand cafés,” 18 years ago. It’s a spectacular room which has long set the standard for all-day dining in this city. It also borders on the theatrical; this is an experience that’s about more than the food. And yet, breakfast is its most formidable offering, with a rich, creamy, savoury omelette Arnold Bennett as the highlight. It feels like it’s been in London forever.

Omelette Arnold Bennett at The Wolesley on Piccadilly, a second breakfast spot that forms part of the best 24 hour restaurant travel itinerary for London — where to eat with one day in the city The Wolseley [Official Photo]

32. BAO Borough

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13 Stoney St
London SE1 9AD, UK

Maybe Bao’s coolest restaurant to-date. This restaurant, bar, and karaoke venue takes as much inspiration from Tokyo as it does from Tapei: a triumphant interpretation of those cities’ nightlife culture. Design-minded operators — Erchen Chang, Shing Tat Chung, and Wai Ting Chung — have created the most original restaurant space and drinking venue of the year. As well as Bao classics and the unmistakable parade of delightful gua bao, there are small plates life beef, rice, and egg yolk; pork jowl with raw young leeks, and Sichuan oil. But it might be the beverages that set this location apart yet further: softs include a playful, refreshing, and delicious grape soda with a thick cap of aloe foam; while on tap there’s Suntory whisky soda.

Bao in Borough Market is the best designed London restaurant of 2019, Eater London awards Bao [Official Photo]

33. 40 Maltby St

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40 Maltby St
Camberwell, Greater London
+44 20 7237 9247
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A treasure. Unmoved by the comings and goings of trends, Bermondsey’s 40 Maltby St is a 40-cover answer to the question, pejorative as it may often be: What is British food? Steve Williams is a chef’s chef — cited by James Lowe, Brett Graham, and Florence Knight in their top five in the city. Raef Hodgson of distributor Gergovie Wines — which features largely low-intervention styles — runs the front-of-house without hubris. Check Instagram for the menu, which is always going to feature in-jokes and delicious dishes such as pork schnitzel with raw celeriac, mustard, and braised potatoes, onion, and thyme; and a chestnut and brown sugar meringue.

34. Kaieteur Kitchen

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Castle Square, Elephant and Castle
London SE1, UK
07466 616137

Chef Faye Gomes’ peerless Guyanese market stall has relocated to Castle Square following the controversial demolition of Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre next to which Gomes had traded for 17 years. For the chef’s trademark, long-prepared and slow-cooked traditional dishes like pepper pot, garlic pork, and cow foot souse, check in advance on Gomes’ Instagram. Or turn up for a surprise, to try dishes which draw on the many culinary influences and colonial legacies of Guyana: dal puri roti;pholourie; fried fish with tomato; potato, green mango, okra, and coconut curry; stewed brown chicken which, like the pepper pot, is coloured and enriched with cassareep, a liquid extraction from cassava root, as well as clove and cinnamon; and stew pumpkin.

Guyanese meat and rice at Kaieteur Kitchen in Elephant and Castle, one of the best value restaurants in central London Tomas Jivanda/Eater London

35. River Café

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Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd
London, Greater London
+44 20 7386 4200
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Ruth Rogers and the late, Rose Gray have had a profound impact on the restaurant industry in London. This leafy riverside overlook might not be the cheapest place to eat Italian food, but it’s unshakable commitment to the importance of ingredients has influenced a generation of chefs. The River Cafe alumni roster reads like the Harlem Globetrotters of food: Jamie Oliver, Theo Randall, April Bloomfield, Sam Clark, and Anna Tobias. It remains the benchmark for Italian food outside of Italy, producing bagna cauda, risotto verde, and fritto misto to challenge the most wizened trattorie.

36. Nandine - Camberwell Church St

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45 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell
London SE5 8TR, UK

The second branch for this south London institution: Nandine — “kitchen” in Kurdish — is run by Pary Baban, her husband Pola, and sons Rang and Raman. During the day it serves a menu of brunch dishes, mezze, and intricate pastries. Technicoloured and abundant mezze platters served in the evening include kubba (minced beef and rice patties), onion dolma, and qawarma. Pastries like borek — made with a Kurdish pastry called galgali — and baklava are not to be missed.

A Kurdish mezze platter at Nandine Nandine [Official Photo]

37. Roti Joupa

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12 Clapham High St
London SW4 7UT, UK
020 7627 8637

Trinidadian culinary culture is as much, if not more, a derivative and evolution of Indian as African cuisine, with curries, dhals, bhajis, and rotis staples in the diet. Doubles — curried chickpeas inside two fried baras, one of the most delicious and fortifying customs at breakfast — can be found here, a takeaway on the edge of Clapham Common, and a specialist in Trinidadian roti breads. Elsewhere there’s curry goat, stew chicken, buss-up shot (broken paratha-like roti), and pholourie (fried dough balls) served with tamarind chutney. To drink? Mauby Fizz and Solo sodas, or sorrel (a sweet-spiced hibiscus flower cordial.)

The best Trinidadian roti and Caribbean food in London: Fried baras filled with chickpea curry from Roti Joupa on Clapham Common, London
Doubles at Roti Joupa in Clapham North
Adam Coghlan/Eater London

38. Tasty Jerk

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88 Whitehorse Ln, South Norwood
London SE25 6RQ, UK

Possibly London’s best Jamaican jerk shop. On the edge of Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park and with a smoky aroma detectable from many hundred metres, this stark room is dedicated to one thing: immaculately, judiciously seasoned protein grilled without remorse. The age of these oil drums and the time-honoured expertise of chef Murphy Lawrence and his team turn out jerked pork belly, chicken, goat, and even lobster, that is penetrated with smoke, and lifted by allspice, Scotch bonnet, and salt. Tasty Jerk is a heady, intoxicating, and remarkably good value eating experience.

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1. Etles Uyghur Restaurant

235 Hoe St, Walthamstow, London E17 9PP, UK
Big plate chicken at Etles
Andrew Leitch

Chef-owner Mukaddes Yadikar’s acclaimed Uyghur restaurant, is Walthamstow’s finest neighbourhood restaurant. A great option both for smaller and larger households with dishes such as chaomian, a stir-fry of short, cut lengths of noodle wokked with chunks of of beef, spring onion and tomato; and the trademark da pan ji (‘big plate chicken’): a remarkably deep, savoury, and spicy chicken and potato stew, teeming with Sichuan peppercorns, served with flat hand-pulled noodles.

235 Hoe St, Walthamstow
London E17 9PP, UK

2. Singburi

593 High Rd Leytonstone, Leytonstone, London E11 4PA, UK
Singburi, Leytonstone’s Thai restaurant, is up there with the very best in the city. It will remain open for delivery through the November COVID-19 lockdown Michaël Protin/Eater London

Chef Sirichai Kularbwong is still cooking, but for now Singburi remains takeaway only. Menu staples such as phad thai, wok-fried morning glory with garlic and fish sauce, and fiery, acidic tom yums will are available, but look to the blackboard menu for the restaurant’s hits — and never miss the moo krob, twice-fried pork with garlic, basil, and chilli, one of the city’s most accomplished and deliciously moreish dishes. Singburi’s small and welcoming dining room is likely not to reopen until later this summer.

593 High Rd Leytonstone, Leytonstone
London E11 4PA, UK

3. Esters

55 Kynaston Rd, Stoke Newington, London N16 0EB, UK

Esters is a cafe and a brunch location that, out of principle, does not serve avocado. In other words, it’s a cafe with a little more ambition, one that verges into restaurant territory. So chef Jack Lloyd-Jones might scatter some herbs and nutritional yeast over poached eggs, whipped cod’s roe, broad beans, and buckwheat; or serve a sweet corn soup with nectarine, curry leaf, and crème fraiche. Weekends bring a meat-for-breakfast policy that eschews bacon for confit duck, lamb shoulder, or pork belly. A signature miso and white chocolate cookie, the creation of co-owner Nia Burr, is almost reason enough to visit. So too are coffees made with the same care and precision as the food, and house drinking vinegars and sodas in technicolour hues.

55 Kynaston Rd, Stoke Newington
London N16 0EB, UK

4. P. Franco

107 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, London E5 0NP, UK
The interior of Lower Clapton wine bar and restaurant P. Franco, that forms part of the best 24 hour restaurant travel itinerary for London — where to eat with one day in the city Ola Smit/Eater London

The carousel of rotating chefs at this Hackney wine bar and shop are currently responsible for some of the capital’s most arresting gourmet artistry. This is the pared-back playground for some of the world’s most innovative and movable chefs. Amazingly — given use of only three inductions hobs — over the past four years, chefs William Gleave, Tim Spedding, George Tomlin and Giuseppes Lacorazza and Belvedere, respectively, have positioned P. Franco as one of the most exciting and ‘now’ showcases in town. River Cafe and Rochelle Canteen alumna Anna Tobias followed, with new chef Seb Myers now reasserting its debt to Parisian cave traditions, with thoughtful, idiosyncratic comfort food including a red mullet tartine and inky cuttlefish rice. It still feels just a bit special.

107 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton
London E5 0NP, UK

5. Westerns Laundry

34 Drayton Park, Highbury East, London N5 1PB, UK

A relatively recent emphasis — in no small part because of a growing relationship between London restaurants and Cornish suppliers — is being placed on English waters. Westerns Laundry, by the same operators, Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell’s Western Laundry (the pair also oversees Primeur and Jolene), is one of London’s best seafood restaurants, in the past year featuring a covered terrace for outdoor eating alongside the main dining room, serving glorious plates like fideo pasta rich with cuttlefish, squid ink, and aioli; monkfish friggitelli and mojo verde; and John Dory, peas, braised gem lettuce, and pancetta. A stellar winelist, with low-intervention and classic options adds to the reasons to visit this outstanding, warmly lit and carefully designed Holloway restaurant.

34 Drayton Park, Highbury East
London N5 1PB, UK

6. Mangal 2

4 Stoke Newington Rd, London, Greater London

Mangal 2 is probably Dalston’s most famous restaurant, preparing excellent Turkish food from a historic ocakbaşı — grilled chicken, lamb, and quail kebabs, pickled chillies, and a classic grilled onion, sumac and pomegranate molasses salad. The charismatic young general manager and son of the restaurants’s founder — Ferhat Dirik — has run the room with expert ease and humour for over a decade. For the last 12 months, he’s been joined in the kitchen by his brother Sertac; together they have reinvented and modernised one of east London’s most iconic, reliable, and fun restaurants.

4 Stoke Newington Rd
London, Greater London

7. Trullo

300-302 St Paul's Rd, Highbury, London N1 2LH, UK