clock menu more-arrow no yes
London’s most iconic dishes: smoked eel sandwich at Quo Vadis Ola Smit/Eater London

The Best London Restaurants for a Date

It’s important to get it right

View as Map

When it came to date-night dinners, Virginia Woolf knew how important it was to get the venue right. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” was her view. The food, of course, is important (especially at the start of a relationship, when the scene for what’s to come is being set; save BOGOF Wednesday at Pizza Express for further down the road), but even more crucial is the vibe. Pasta somewhere with low lights and staff who know when to step discreetly into the shadows will always beat a solemn procession of two-starred expectorations from the chef-patron of a Mayfair dining room/mortuary. Just remember: shareable dishes can be very romantic, but only if there really is enough for two on the plate.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Milk Beach

Copy Link
19 Lonsdale Road Queen's Park, Queen's Park
London NW6 6RA, UK

By day, Queens Park’s best-kept secret is a roastery with one of NW’s most enticing brunch menus. By night, the candles come out and it turns into a supremely romantic spot, serving impeccably chosen small plates and wines — natural, organic and skin contact (nudge, wink) are specialities. Start with sourdough from Little Bread Pedlar and Tuscan cured meats with pickles, then move onto orecchiette in wild garlic sauce with cured egg yolk.

Instagram/@milkbeachcafe

2. The Jackalope

Copy Link
43 Weymouth Mews, Marylebone
London W1G 7EQ, UK

When a Soho drinks date looks like it might be turning into dinner but no-one has booked anywhere, head for one of London’s best restaurant residencies. Former street food stall Liu Xiaomian’s well-filled bowls of Chongqing noodles in the basement of the refurbished Jackalope pub in Marylebone hum with Sichuan peppercorns and chilli oil — tingles guaranteed.

3. Minnow

Copy Link
Minnow, 21 The Pavement
London SW4 0HY, UK

Since it opened in 2017 this neighbourhood restaurant has been quietly going about its business, serving stylish but substantial plates (homemade fettuccine, asparagus and pesto; poached pear with ganache) in a room that’s more than a touch #AccidentallyWesAnderson. The truffle chips lend themselves to a bit of knowing finger-licking, while the mid-century jazz and blues playlist is spot on.

Minnow near Clapham Common
Facebook

4. Manteca

Copy Link
58-59 Great Marlborough St, Soho
London W1F 7JY, UK

One of London’s hottest new restaurants is also among its most date-appropriate. Chris Leach and David Carter, the team behind 10 Heddon Street, have established themselves in Soho with a roster of Italian delights like ‘nduja steamed mussels, brown crab cacio e pepe tonnarelli and Amalfi lemon sorbet. The pink fir potatoes with cod’s roe is the single sexiest thing on any Mayfair menu right now.

5. Andrew Edmunds Restaurant

Copy Link
46 Lexington St, Soho
London W1F 0LP, UK

Is there a better backdrop than Old Soho for the beginning (or, indeed, the end) of an affair? For more than 30 years Andrew Edmunds has been setting the scene with a Franco-British menu encompassing asparagus, dressed crab, confit duck and rhubarb jelly with cream. Upstairs it’s all flickering candlelight, wax dripping down claret bottles (steady on) and wildflower posies. The discreet tables downstairs, meanwhile, are very popular with men of a certain age whose wives don’t understand them — or maybe understand them a little too well.

Exterior of Andrew Edmunds restaurant in Soho
Andrew Edmunds on Lexington Street
Official

6. Randall & Aubin Soho

Copy Link
14- 16 Brewer St, Soho
London W1F 0SG, UK

“Satisfying appetites since 1911,” declares the menu at Brewer Street’s seafood specialist. Case closed, m’lud. Oysters, of course, are a headline act here, with French, English and Irish rocks available all year round, plus natives when there’s an R in the month. Low-lighting and tables narrow enough for leg-nudges, plus a large and very reasonably priced wine list, create a genuinely louche feel that’s hard to come by in W1 in 2018. Look out for the halibut with crisp mussel fritters: the original sexy fish.

Best seafood restaurants in London: Randall and Aubin in Soho
Fresh seafood at Randall & Aubin Soho
@randallandaubin

7. Quo Vadis

Copy Link
26-29 Dean St, Soho
London W1D 3LL, UK

“Quo Vadis was my guaranteed knicker-dropper,” confides one London food luminary, recalling the days before he met his husband-to-be. “Also, they [the staff] will never let on if you’re in with one boy one day and another the next.” A combination of super-strength cocktails, steaks cooked to perfection and shareable puddings (profiterole stack, anyone?) makes the grand dame of Dean Street a safe bet. It’s even managed to make Monday sexy — what could be more romantic than sharing half-price oysters and one of Jeremy Lee’s golden-hatted pies?

Quo Vadis
Ola Smit

8. Lina Stores

Copy Link
51 Greek St, Soho
London W1D 4EH, UK

It’s always been Soho’s premier source of dinner per due provisions, and Lina Stores’ Greek Street restaurant feels purpose-built for Lady and the Tramp re-enactments. The group has kept things traditional: a snappy selection of meats, cheeses and antipasti gives way to plates of fresh pasta, all helped on its way by blood orange bellinis and an all-Italian wine list. Bag the love-seat table in the corner, then share the pane e olio, a plate of Bella di Cerignola olives and baby artichoke hearts, spaghetti with Dorset crab, chilli and lemon, and the cherry-and-almond tart.

A turquoise bowl of pasta at Lina Stores in Soho
Fresh pasta at Lina Stores
Official

9. Brunswick House

Copy Link
30 Wandsworth Rd
London SW8 2LG, UK

Blind-date awkwardness killing the vibe? Fear not — Jackson Boxer’s Brunswick House is one giant conversation-starter. From its location (the Vauxhall gyratory) to the decor (bold, old and gold are the operative words here; it merges with the Lassco architectural salvage yard), there’s plenty to keep things going until the drinks kick in. Then there’s the food, which never fails to delight and surprise: blushing longhorn rump, cep and watercress; roast figs and balsamic ice cream. A breakfast menu boasting smoked ham hock, comte and fried egg English muffins make this a fancy morning-after venue for south Londoners to have up their sleeves, too.

Best restaurants in Vauxhall London: Brunswick House
Brunswick House
Ola Smit

10. Italo

Copy Link
13 Bonnington Square, Vauxhall
London SW8 1TE, UK

When a Saturday night date turns into a Sunday morning one, this is the place to drag yourselves for breakfast. Charlie Boxer’s beloved deli Italo is the focal point of Bonnington Square, and one of south London’s friendliest spots. Weekend breakfast are roll-up-the-sleeves good: think babaganoush, harissa tomatoes and fudgy-yolked eggs, hoppers and thick-cut bacon rolls, all washed down with super-strong coffee and freshly squeezed blood orange juice. Had a really late one? Never fear — at midday the menu switches over to lunch.

Instagram/@italo_vauxhall_

11. Westerns Laundry

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

The home of one of London’s best blackboard menus is also one of its best date-night options. Westerns’ Laundry’s great strength is its flexibility. First date? Grab counter stools and split a cheeseboard, then a rum baba. Anniversary? Seafood, seafood, seafood: oysters, cuttlefish and ham croquettes, langoustines. No chance of awkward silences here either; it’s a big room and it’s always busy.

Best seafood restaurants in London: Prawns, cuttlefish, and natural wine at Westerns Laundry, one of the best restaurants in Islington Patricia Niven

12. Hutong

Copy Link
33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas St
London SE1 9RY, UK

Wooing a jaded foodie? Even they can’t fail to be impressed by the view from Hutong, which is right up on the 33rd floor of the Shard. The Northern Chinese-focused menu is a jaw-dropper too, with plenty of shareable dishes (Shandong shredded chicken with homemade butterfly buns; whole crispy seabass) and one of the city’s best dim sum selections (think Iberico pork xiao long bao, bean-curd rolls with monkfish and black truffle and shiitake buns). While undeniably delicious, the Sichuan-style deep-fried lobster — served with chilli, black beans and enough garlic to empty Transylvania — would be a bold first-date choice.

The view from Hutong
Paul Winch-Furness

13. Crispin

Copy Link
Pavilion on The Corner, White's Row
London E1 7NF, UK

An ice-breaker! Something every first date needs. The pavilion housing Crispin, which apparent represents “an origami-folded kite or bird,” is definitely a talking point. Ultra-modern exterior aside, it’s a winningly cosy little spot, with just a handful of tables. The menu changes every week, leaning towards indulgent but still weeknight-acceptable: scallops with chorizo and crispy capers, braised beef cheeks with dauphinoise potatoes, bread-and-butter pudding made from leftover Dusty Knuckle pastries. If game, go for the one-of-everything option at £27 a head.

14. Towpath

Copy Link
42 De Beauvoir Cres
London N1 5SB, UK

Seasonal and limited to the end of the week, this canalside classic is exclusive enough for some serious romance and laid-back enough for an early encounter. Breezy, a little Romantic with a capital R European dishes, the green tables, the Duralex glasses, the water, the dusk ... it always feels like an event.

1. Milk Beach

19 Lonsdale Road Queen's Park, Queen's Park, London NW6 6RA, UK
Instagram/@milkbeachcafe

By day, Queens Park’s best-kept secret is a roastery with one of NW’s most enticing brunch menus. By night, the candles come out and it turns into a supremely romantic spot, serving impeccably chosen small plates and wines — natural, organic and skin contact (nudge, wink) are specialities. Start with sourdough from Little Bread Pedlar and Tuscan cured meats with pickles, then move onto orecchiette in wild garlic sauce with cured egg yolk.

19 Lonsdale Road Queen's Park, Queen's Park
London NW6 6RA, UK

2. The Jackalope

43 Weymouth Mews, Marylebone, London W1G 7EQ, UK

When a Soho drinks date looks like it might be turning into dinner but no-one has booked anywhere, head for one of London’s best restaurant residencies. Former street food stall Liu Xiaomian’s well-filled bowls of Chongqing noodles in the basement of the refurbished Jackalope pub in Marylebone hum with Sichuan peppercorns and chilli oil — tingles guaranteed.

43 Weymouth Mews, Marylebone
London W1G 7EQ, UK

3. Minnow

Minnow, 21 The Pavement, London SW4 0HY, UK
Minnow near Clapham Common
Facebook

Since it opened in 2017 this neighbourhood restaurant has been quietly going about its business, serving stylish but substantial plates (homemade fettuccine, asparagus and pesto; poached pear with ganache) in a room that’s more than a touch #AccidentallyWesAnderson. The truffle chips lend themselves to a bit of knowing finger-licking, while the mid-century jazz and blues playlist is spot on.

Minnow, 21 The Pavement
London SW4 0HY, UK

4. Manteca

58-59 Great Marlborough St, Soho, London W1F 7JY, UK

One of London’s hottest new restaurants is also among its most date-appropriate. Chris Leach and David Carter, the team behind 10 Heddon Street, have established themselves in Soho with a roster of Italian delights like ‘nduja steamed mussels, brown crab cacio e pepe tonnarelli and Amalfi lemon sorbet. The pink fir potatoes with cod’s roe is the single sexiest thing on any Mayfair menu right now.

58-59 Great Marlborough St, Soho
London W1F 7JY, UK

5. Andrew Edmunds Restaurant

46 Lexington St, Soho, London W1F 0LP, UK
Exterior of Andrew Edmunds restaurant in Soho
Andrew Edmunds on Lexington Street
Official

Is there a better backdrop than Old Soho for the beginning (or, indeed, the end) of an affair? For more than 30 years Andrew Edmunds has been setting the scene with a Franco-British menu encompassing asparagus, dressed crab, confit duck and rhubarb jelly with cream. Upstairs it’s all flickering candlelight, wax dripping down claret bottles (steady on) and wildflower posies. The discreet tables downstairs, meanwhile, are very popular with men of a certain age whose wives don’t understand them — or maybe understand them a little too well.

46 Lexington St, Soho
London W1F 0LP, UK

6. Randall & Aubin Soho

14- 16 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 0SG, UK
Best seafood restaurants in London: Randall and Aubin in Soho
Fresh seafood at Randall & Aubin Soho
@randallandaubin

“Satisfying appetites since 1911,” declares the menu at Brewer Street’s seafood specialist. Case closed, m’lud. Oysters, of course, are a headline act here, with French, English and Irish rocks available all year round, plus natives when there’s an R in the month. Low-lighting and tables narrow enough for leg-nudges, plus a large and very reasonably priced wine list, create a genuinely louche feel that’s hard to come by in W1 in 2018. Look out for the halibut with crisp mussel fritters: the original sexy fish.

14- 16 Brewer St, Soho
London W1F 0SG, UK

7. Quo Vadis

26-29 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3LL, UK
Quo Vadis
Ola Smit

“Quo Vadis was my guaranteed knicker-dropper,” confides one London food luminary, recalling the days before he met his husband-to-be. “Also, they [the staff] will never let on if you’re in with one boy one day and another the next.” A combination of super-strength cocktails, steaks cooked to perfection and shareable puddings (profiterole stack, anyone?) makes the grand dame of Dean Street a safe bet. It’s even managed to make Monday sexy — what could be more romantic than sharing half-price oysters and one of Jeremy Lee’s golden-hatted pies?

26-29 Dean St, Soho
London W1D 3LL, UK

8. Lina Stores

51 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4EH, UK
A turquoise bowl of pasta at Lina Stores in Soho
Fresh pasta at Lina Stores
Official

It’s always been Soho’s premier source of dinner per due provisions, and Lina Stores’ Greek Street restaurant feels purpose-built for Lady and the Tramp re-enactments. The group has kept things traditional: a snappy selection of meats, cheeses and antipasti gives way to plates of fresh pasta, all helped on its way by blood orange bellinis and an all-Italian wine list. Bag the love-seat table in the corner, then share the pane e olio, a plate of Bella di Cerignola olives and baby artichoke hearts, spaghetti with Dorset crab, chilli and lemon, and the cherry-and-almond tart.

51 Greek St, Soho
London W1D 4EH, UK

9. Brunswick House

30 Wandsworth Rd, London SW8 2LG, UK
Best restaurants in Vauxhall London: Brunswick House
Brunswick House
Ola Smit

Blind-date awkwardness killing the vibe? Fear not — Jackson Boxer’s Brunswick House is one giant conversation-starter. From its location (the Vauxhall gyratory) to the decor (bold, old and gold are the operative words here; it merges with the Lassco architectural salvage yard), there’s plenty to keep things going until the drinks kick in. Then there’s the food, which never fails to delight and surprise: blushing longhorn rump, cep and watercress; roast figs and balsamic ice cream. A breakfast menu boasting smoked ham hock, comte and fried egg English muffins make this a fancy morning-after venue for south Londoners to have up their sleeves, too.

30 Wandsworth Rd
London SW8 2LG, UK

10. Italo

13 Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, London SW8 1TE, UK
Instagram/@italo_vauxhall_

When a Saturday night date turns into a Sunday morning one, this is the place to drag yourselves for breakfast. Charlie Boxer’s beloved deli Italo is the focal point of Bonnington Square, and one of south London’s friendliest spots. Weekend breakfast are roll-up-the-sleeves good: think babaganoush, harissa tomatoes and fudgy-yolked eggs, hoppers and thick-cut bacon rolls, all washed down with super-strong coffee and freshly squeezed blood orange juice. Had a really late one? Never fear — at midday the menu switches over to lunch.

13 Bonnington Square, Vauxhall
London SW8 1TE, UK

11. Westerns Laundry

34 Drayton Park, Highbury East, London N5 1PB, UK
Best seafood restaurants in London: Prawns, cuttlefish, and natural wine at Westerns Laundry, one of the best restaurants in Islington Patricia Niven

The home of one of London’s best blackboard menus is also one of its best date-night options. Westerns’ Laundry’s great strength is its flexibility. First date? Grab counter stools and split a cheeseboard, then a rum baba. Anniversary? Seafood, seafood, seafood: oysters, cuttlefish and ham croquettes, langoustines. No chance of awkward silences here either; it’s a big room and it’s always busy.

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

12. Hutong

33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY, UK
The view from Hutong
Paul Winch-Furness

Wooing a jaded foodie? Even they can’t fail to be impressed by the view from Hutong, which is right up on the 33rd floor of the Shard. The Northern Chinese-focused menu is a jaw-dropper too, with plenty of shareable dishes (Shandong shredded chicken with homemade butterfly buns; whole crispy seabass) and one of the city’s best dim sum selections (think Iberico pork xiao long bao, bean-curd rolls with monkfish and black truffle and shiitake buns). While undeniably delicious, the Sichuan-style deep-fried lobster — served with chilli, black beans and enough garlic to empty Transylvania — would be a bold first-date choice.

33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas St
London SE1 9RY, UK

13. Crispin

Pavilion on The Corner, White's Row, London E1 7NF, UK

An ice-breaker! Something every first date needs. The pavilion housing Crispin, which apparent represents “an origami-folded kite or bird,” is definitely a talking point. Ultra-modern exterior aside, it’s a winningly cosy little spot, with just a handful of tables. The menu changes every week, leaning towards indulgent but still weeknight-acceptable: scallops with chorizo and crispy capers, braised beef cheeks with dauphinoise potatoes, bread-and-butter pudding made from leftover Dusty Knuckle pastries. If game, go for the one-of-everything option at £27 a head.

Pavilion on The Corner, White's Row
London E1 7NF, UK

14. Towpath

42 De Beauvoir Cres, London N1 5SB, UK

Seasonal and limited to the end of the week, this canalside classic is exclusive enough for some serious romance and laid-back enough for an early encounter. Breezy, a little Romantic with a capital R European dishes, the green tables, the Duralex glasses, the water, the dusk ... it always feels like an event.

42 De Beauvoir Cres
London N1 5SB, UK

Related Maps