King’s Cross needs reliable restaurants. It’s important to know where to eat near one of London’s busiest stations and biggest libraries — The British — especially as disappointing chains lie in wait to catch unsuspecting travellers. So instead, find superb sustenance at all of King’s Cross’ best restaurants, listed below.Read More
Where to Eat Near King’s Cross Station
Two outstanding Ethiopian restaurants, serious sandwiches, one of London’s best croissants, a hidden gem for Indian cuisine, and more
Merkato Restaurant London
Calling Merkato a restaurant is maybe a disservice to its vibe, so low-key and relaxed that diners could easily sink into it like injera into kitfo, a heady, melting pile of chopped raw beef in warm butter and mitmita, a spice blend of bird’s eye chillis, salt, and spices normally including Ethiopian cardamom and clove. First-timers should take a look at the fifty-fifty — which pairs hot or mild lamb, aggressively fried, with any of the textbook vegetarian dishes.
Dishoom King's Cross
It’s beloved chain Dishoom, inspired by Mumbai’s Irani cafes. Get the bacon naan. Get the vada pav. Get the keema pav. Get the chef’s special — the part which is unique to King’s Cross — of lamb nihari.
Beer and Burger Store King’s Cross
King’s Cross is a railway station; people are hungry when they get off trains; people are susceptible to nominative determinist clarity when they are hungry. Enter Beer and Burger Store, which serves very good burgers and very good beers and decent chips and sees no reason to shout about anything else. It’s smashburgers here, with a monthly guest — currently a sloppy Joe vibe — and something called goop sauce which mercifully has nothing to do with Gwyneth Paltrow.
Caravan Granary Square
A redoubtable bastion of all-day dining, Caravan King’s Cross is here because it’s around for every meal of the day, does them all pretty well, and is a balm against paying over the odds for bad breakfast before a long train journey and consequently ruining it entirely. The cavernous space is a din of egg yolks and flat whites on weekends, but weekdays are better with fried jalapeño cornbread, jamon croquettes, and a pork schnitzel with fried egg (yes ok) and dill mustard cream. Its drink game has also improved, with a zippy range of kefirs alongside the consistent coffee. Open for delivery.
The Drop Wine Bar
The Harts’ crop of restaurants yawns over Coal Drops Yard like an arriving commuter, but given Spanish star Barrafina and its Pastor Mexican restaurants exist elsewhere, The Drop gets the pick as both a reliable after-work drinking spot and a wine bar whose menu edges it into “worth the trip” territory. All the cheese meat olives and that are decent, but head for beef and marmite mayonnaise toast, roast potatoes, and rabbit pie to go with a glass.
Sons + Daughters
James Ramsden and Sam Herlihy’s Pidgin is one of the most peripatetic restaurants in the city, so it’s fitting that their sandwich shop at the top of Coal Drops Yard hops from a prawn sandwich with prawn crackers, jalapeño, and pickled ginger, to a miso egg mayonnaise with truffle crisps, to a mortadella and taleggio number set off by a careful whisper of Thai basil.
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Coal Office Restaurant
Coal Office refers to itself as a “food and design playground,” which is obnoxious, but please try to get past it for the sake of the food part. The attitude comes across in some titles too — pizza from the past; beef fillet of Gallillee; Jericho’s lamb chops — but the dishes themselves put its wry playfulness to good use, strewing shawarma over bone marrow, blackening aubergines to pitch and baking kubala, manakish, and pretzel to be dolloped with the cargo from “A plate for the brave” — various heats of chilli, and chrain.
Kaki enters into London’s noble blackboard menu tradition with a new range of specials, recent stand-outs bringing braised pork in oolong and soy to this canalside, Caledonian Road-side looker. Classically Sichuan dishes are the move on the main menu, and this is a place to bring a group, jumping in and out of dishes like the frogs whose legs are now on the table. If wishing to impress fellow diners or just look like
a fool absolute boss, order the 800g — 1 kilogram seabass, which arrives colossal in a metal tray brimming with chilli oil and Sichuan peppercorn.
Hoppers King's Cross
Hoppers’ third iteration departs from its Marylebone and Soho siblings with a focus on Sri Lankan’s coastal cooking and environment, retaining hits from its other menus — Jaffna lamb chops, bone marrow varuval — and adding prawns grilled until sticky scarlet with black pepper and curry leaf, and a kari of blue swimmer crab. Its success has also been predicated on a creditable drinks menu, and this continues with green papaya highballs, sour swizzles, and and witty punches, like a “Mangrove Dream” made with vermouth, gin, lemongrass and tamarind.
If Netil Market is the OG, Soho is the hypebeast, Fitzrovia is for the development nerds, and Borough Market was inevitable, then Cafe Bao finds the group on its most stylised form in King’s Cross, with a menu that pays tribute to yoshoku cuisine while kind of thumbing its nose at it with a 1970s vibe. An explosive Taiwanese “chicken Kiev”; a ham hock congee pie; a banoffee sundae — these all run deep on comfort but in an ironised fashion that only Bao can really pull off in such a spotlight.
Roti King’s roti king may no longer be central London’s standard bearer for roti prata or canai. The best version of the rich, flaky bread used to mop up good dal or even better sour fish curries might now be found in this newish Malaysian spot by King’s Cross on Caledonian road. Word is that it’s truly elite when fresh, merely very good when reheated. Elsewhere there are outstanding plates of kway toew goreng, flat noodles which hold onto an umami-heavy, perfectly balanced seasoning, with bamboo shoots, chilli, crispy onions, and scallions; protein is more or less irrelevant. Make sure to order a side pot of sambal and be prepared to compete with the c.millions of delivery orders flying in and out throughout a sit-down meal.
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Addis, resident for 19 years on Caledonian Road, is more self-consciously transportive than near neighbour Merkato, with a slightly greater focus on meat dishes rewarded with tibs, lamb, chillis and onions blasted with heat until fused; kitfo prepared three ways — raw, medium, or well done for cowards — and a neat example of seneg kariya, chilli peppers as long as fingers stuffed with onions and peppers and blistered till ready to prise open.
Supawan Thai Food
Biting into peek gai yud sai, fried chicken wings standing as proud as rabbits’ ears and stuffed with aggressively seasoned minced chicken, prawn, mushrooms, and glass noodles round the corner from King’s Cross feels like a small victory. Perhaps no more violence has been done to Thai cuisine and forced upon Thai restaurateurs in the name of appeasing “local taste” than any other cuisine in London, and Supawan’s enthusiastically friendly staff, homey vibe and uncompromising menu feels like a corrective.
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Walking into Q’s Kitchen chicken shop and ordering chicken and chips would be like telling an in-demand football manager that their club hadn’t broken any financial regulations when they had. A grave and embarrassing mistake soon to be revealed in the press. The correct procedure is to walk past the staff at a well-known locally headquartered newspaper and look to the right hand side of the counter, where a small blackboard might promise biryani, beef paya glistening with molten marrow, and rarely — very rarely — chapli kebabs. Possibly the best-value lunch in the area.
The black sheep in the Camino group whose Spanish-ish outlets pop up over the city, in that it’s actually good, Pepito is a sherry bar first and a cured meat, cheese and tapas slinger second, in a cute, neatly tiled space lined with bottles like books in a library. Get a flight if feeling flush, or just go for a bone dry manzanilla that tastes like raisins on a windswept beach.
A margherita at Pizza Union costs £3.95, will arrive in roughly 10 minutes, and it’s a properly decent, Roman-style assembly of sweet, garlic-raspy tomato, fragrant basil, and admittedly uncomplicated crust. There are pots of olives and marinated garlic, a nutella pizza dessert, and more interesting pizzas — yes, ‘nduja is here, relax — with fridges full of grab-your-own beers. Fast, casual, good: everything a near-station restaurant needs to be. Open for takeaway.
Dim Sum Duck | 点都得
Nominative determinism is an underrated quality when it comes to naming restaurants, but this turquoise shopfront on King’s Cross Road goes all in. Certain details are a little mysterious — an intrepid visitor of premises license registers and company filings might deduce a connection to the famed Royal China Club — but the clarity of the prawn and chive dumplings, the soupiness of the xiaolongbao, and the slipperiness of the cheung fun are all undeniable.
Serene, light wood lures diners off the horn-honking King’s Cross Road for bowls of miso soup, baskets of gossamer tempura, and deep bowls of writhing udon in broth, of which the kitsune, with its bobbing dinghy of tofu, is a stand-out. All vegan, no shouting about it, all-round excellent.
Aux Pains de Papy
Butter is at the heart of a croissant. Aux Pains de Papy founder Mathieu Esposito knows this, and the croissants at this très Français bakery on Grays Inn Road are the most faithful to France’s high bottom level for pastry and consequently one of the best in London. Honeycomb layers, a properly burnished exterior, and butter, so much butter. Best enjoyed warm on a mad dash down the road, with pains aux chocolats, croissants amandes, and a noble Paris Brest also worth a look.
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Decimo @ The Standard London
Blow-out territory. Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’ rooftop looker at the area’s coolest hotel is the best of London’s newest nu-hotel restaurants, combining the city’s critics’ current obsession with “FuN ReStAuRanTs,” decent-to-excellent Spanish and Mexican dishes, and the kind of prices that are prohibitive to having a normal one and must lead to “having a normal one” instead. The tortilla with caviar is pretty but no-one in recorded history has ever eaten it, so rely on the deep-water shrimp on ice, mangalitza pork, and mushroom “bomba rice” instead.