Hello!! This list is my list of favorite restaurants in London as of right now, but I expect it to change frequently. This is a local list, not a Michelin-starred list. It’s a fun list, a list of memories-waiting-to-be-created. That’s what’s important when you’re traveling, I think. Certain London restaurants and my blog stats tell me that people really like this page and get a lot from it. (Restaurants tell me that people walk in with this page from my London restaurant blog printed out.) Hey, if you’re one of those people, please tell me. And thanks for visiting. xoxo
(Last updated, 6-August-2015.)
1. Bob Bob Ricard, Soho.
Russian pleasure palace. Press the champagne button. Have all the caviar. Wash it down with vodka. A terrifically good time and not as pretentious as champagne and caviar makes it sound. Takes reservations. MAKE THEM.
2. Jose, Bermondsey
Eat all the jamon. It tastes like acorns. They have croquetas that change daily! Wash all that down with lots of Albarino or whatever the charming guys behind the bar recommend. Small and charming. Be ready to stand. Does not take reservations. If you walk there from London Bridge, you might be like “Where the ???? am I going?? Don’t worry. You will be fine.
3. Hix Oyster & Chophouse, Smithfield Market/Farringdon
My “local.” Everything I eat here is beautiful. I bring friends and they say “WOW.” But yet, on a Sunday afternoon, it’s fairly empty. Just you and the jazz band and the lovely service. The menu changes quite frequently, but if you see the Isle of Wight tomatoes on bread, get them. Beware the Sunday roast lunch special…it is LARGE. Hix takes reservations, but if you’re solo, you can probably show up on the day/night and have dinner at the bar. A good place to go if you want to have food that is more traditionally British.
4. 40 Maltby Street, Bermondsey
I can’t seem to stay away from this little wine bar down on Rope Walk in Bermondsey. Friendly staff, great vibe, delicious small bits of deliciousness.
5. Barrafina, Soho
RAZOR CLAMS. That is all. A tapas bar in Soho that does some seriously great stuff and was finally awarded a well-deserved Michelin star. No reservations and best when there is just one or two of you. Good for solo dining. (My 2009 blog post is from the earlier days. Everything I’ve had since has been pretty darn good.) They’ve since expanded to multiple locations but the original Soho branch is still my favorite.
6. Fernandez & Wells. Soho.
If only there were a branch by my office. I would seriously eat their chorizo sandwiches every day. I would probably drink a lot of rioja too. That’s a bad idea. But I’d still do it. A “pop in for a glass of wine and some jamon” kinda of place. Very very very small. (Seriously…maybe room for 15 people.) Does not take reservations. Good for a little drink and snack with a good friend.
7. St. John. Clerkenwell.
Welsh rarebit for me, please. Go here if you want to eat pig’s ears and bone marrow salad. I think it’s fair to say that most London restaurant bloggers love this place. I like the bar and hang out there quite often, enjoying the plentiful bar snacks. Maybe I’ll see you. Takes reservations in the restaurant but you can show up at the bar most evenings and make a meal of the snacks too. For various reasons, I’ve had a lot of lunches in the bar at St. John lately, and I can heartily recommend the soup of the day. Sometimes they give you bread and butter for free. Get the house white and enjoy. Lunch in the bar can be a very good value for the food that you eat.
8. Sichaun Folk, Spitalfields
I love this friendly little Szechuan off Brick Lane. Great lunch specials and the kids that run the place are ace. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reservations accepted.
9. Song Que, Shoreditch
So I am a little addicted to Vietnamese food since visiting Vietnam in March of 2014. So I like to dip in here for some hearty beef Pho on the weekends. Crowded and the service can be cranky sometimes but the crowds know what they are onto. Get one of the university kids to tell you what to order.
10. Tayyabs. Whitechapel.
Part of me doesn’t want to tell you about the deliciousness of the lamb chops here. Stay away. I also like the lentils and aubergine and I don’t want you to have any of that either. One of my good friends took me here almost immediately after I moved to London in 2004 and now blames me for the long queues at Tayyabs. He also drastically overestimates the power of my London restaurant blog. Takes reservations but is totally crazy times crowded — like really crowded. Go early.