These are the ultimate restaurants the Big Smoke has to offer, according to Londoners.
We asked Londoners the question of the hour: ‘If you could eat at just one London restaurant for the rest of your life, where would you choose?.’ (Actually, we asked you guys this question back in October, but then the lockdown happened, and then it was Christmas, and really the time just slipped away from us…) Anyway! It turns out, you guys unsurprisingly have great taste, so we’ve rounded up your answers into one big list of London’s ultimate restaurants. They’ve been tried and tested by the most discerning critics in town, and are guaranteed to cause extreme salivation. Here’s where you’re itching to go post-lockdown! [Featured image: Gloria]
Please note: all of these restaurants are currently closed for dining under England’s current lockdown rules – however, many are offering takeaway or delivery options, so please feel free to support them that way!
1. Bombay Bustle, Mayfair
First up is Bombay Bustle, a Mayfair Indian restaurant perhaps best known for their ‘Samosas, Dosas, and Mimosas’ brunch. You know we love a good pun here at Secret London, but their excellence of their brunch plus brilliant biryanis makes it one of London’s ultimate restaurants in your eyes. Read all about it here.
2. Gloria, Shoreditch
It started with a cult lemon meringue pie and just snowballed from there, didn’t it? Gloria’s commitment to wildly OTT dishes and décor means any meal here is going to be a memorable one. Which is probably why you lot voted for it! More info here.
3. Dishoom, multiple locations
It’s a good thing that Dishoom has locations in Shoreditch, Covent Garden, King’s Cross, Carnaby, and Kensington, because so many people voted for it! If you’ve never tried the black daal or tucked into a Ruby Murray, 2021 is the year to correct that oversight. Read more here.
4. Wingmans, Kilburn and Soho
Another Secret London favourite – driven mostly by UK/IE chief Georgie’s love for the place – Wingman’s have branched out into the bottomless brunch game. If you can’t handle 90 minutes of endless wings, opt for the six-piece choice, with award-winning Buffalo and Bang Coq wings on the menu. Read all about it here.
5. Maggie Jones’s, Kensington
If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of London where you’re guaranteed a mouthwatering meal, hie thee to Maggie Jones’s. Designed to look like a rustic England farmhouse, it’s no surprise that the food is hearty and wholesome to match. Don’t skip the Sunday roasts either! More information here.
6. Brasserie Zèdel, Piccadilly
A ravishing French haunt found next to Piccadilly Circus, Brasserie Zèdel is known for Art Deco fixtures and surprisingly affordable French food. The Boeuf Bourguignon comes highly recommended, and since they go to the trouble of making 6000 profiteroles a month, it’d be rude not to try them. More info on this extraordinary eatery here.
7. Trullo, Islington
Fresh pasta is a dish London does very well, and few places do it better than Islington institution Trullo. Pappardelle with beef shin ragu is a must-try, but their grilled fish is reportedly a fine choice, too. Head to their website for more info.
8. Pizarro, Bermondsey
Another of our ultimate restaurants with a cheerleader on the Secret London team (this time, it’s our Editor Alex who’s backing this as the best in town), Pizarro is just one of the restaurants that makes Bermondsey Street a foodie haven. The Presa Ibérica is a standout amongst standouts, and the chocolate pot served with olive oil and salt is a fine way to finish. Read all about it here.
9. Padella, Borough Market and Shoreditch
The sister to Trullo is inarguably one of London’s true cult restaurants. Joining the long queue for Padella is a rite of passage for any London foodie, and even if you have to sit outside on a freezing December day (as we did), it’ll be worth it. For some of the city’s best pasta, it’s splendidly cheap. More information here.
10. Bun House, Soho
Pillowy soft buns are the order of choice at this brilliant Chinatown spot, each stamped with a vibrant red Cantonese character. No bad choices here, but the Pig Bun (sticky BBQ pork belly, lardo, and yam) and Custard Bun (salted egg yolk, coconut, and carrot) ought to be high on your must-try list. Read more here.
11. My Old Dutch, Holborn, Chelsea and Kensington
You’ve got to admire the sheer genius of someone who, when confronted with the question of London’s ultimate restaurant, opts for pancakes. Galaxy brain thinking right there. Anyway, My Old Dutch make ’em just as good as anyone, and since Secret London HQ used to be next door to one, we’ve been sorely tempted before! Head to their website for more.
12. My Neighbours the Dumplings, Clapton and Victoria Park
Dumplings. We just love ’em. So massive kudos to the person who voted for My Neighbours The Dumplings, who make some of the finest dumplings in town. Har gau, siu mai, pot stickers, they’ve got plenty and more, whether you head to the Clapton original or the newer site on the edge of Vicky Park. More info here.
13. The Mayfair Chippy, Mayfair
Can’t beat a whopping great battered fish and chips, can you? And whilst there are many contenders for the best fish and chips in London, the one emerging triumphant from our poll was The Mayfair Chippy, home to a delectable curry sauce and a cracking gluten-free battered fish. More on their website.
14. Circolo Popolare, Fitzrovia
Not one for subtlety, Circolo Popolare is home to 20,000 bottles of booze and gigantic pizzas. You know, standard rustic Italian style, just with a giant helping of Milanese excess. Whatever the origins, the results are pretty spectacular, and nabbed Circolo Popolare plenty of votes. Read all about it here.
15. Kricket, Soho, Brixton and White City
Having started out life in a shipping container at Pop Brixton, Kricket has now grown to three highly-regarded restaurants, each of which does an excellent line in Indian small plates. Tuck into the Keralan fried chicken or samphire pakoras and you’ll soon see why it made the list. Head to their website for more info.
16. Roti King, Euston
Flaky roti and magical melting Malaysian curries have powered Roti King to the top of many a must-visit list since it opened. You won’t find many cult restaurants tucked away in a basement beside Euston station, but that’s just part of Roti King’s charm. More info here.
17. Bar Douro, London Bridge and the City
Bar Douro serve up delightful Portuguese dishes inspired by the land, sea, and garden, but their gorgeous azulejo-led décor certainly doesn’t harm the appeal either. Kick back here and you can almost believe you’re hiding out in a family-run Lisbon restaurant. More info on their website.
18. Brasserie of Light, Fitzrovia
Nothing says good eating quite like a massive crystal horse, does it? Unsurprisingly found inside Selfridges, Brasserie of Light specialises in British dishes with international influences. Of course, roughyl 60% of the experience is about that horse, which was designed by Damien Hirst and boasts a wingspan of 30 feet. More info here.
19. Crust Bros, Waterloo
There’s a reason Crust Bros have been an ever-present on our guide to the best pizza places in London. It all starts with the chewy, blistered crust, spotted with their trademark leopard print. That’s the result of being cooked in a 500 degree wood-fired oven, with 60 seconds enough to produce the perfect pizza. Head to their website for more info.
20. Murger Han, Mayfair, Euston, and Bank
If you’re dining at one of Murger Han’s three equally excellent sites, there’s one thing you simply must do: the Noodle Pull. Add a hashtag, stick it on Instagram, and watch the likes roll in! Admittedly, Murger Han’s 12-foot noodles do most of the work, but your stomach and social media will be the ones reaping the rewards. See here for more info.
21. ROKA, multiple locations
You’ll find ROKA in Mayfair, Aldwych, Canary Wharf and Fitzrovia, but it’s the Fitzrovia branch that’ll most likely appear on your Instagram feed, thanks to the cherry blossomed-adorned basement. Maki rolls, sashimi, nigiri, and other thoughtfully-put together dishes are the hallmark of this excellent spot. More here.