The minute we finished putting together our first Hot Right Now list, it became clear that we were going to need another chart of London restaurants to run alongside it. One to feature restaurants that have stood the test of time - restaurants that after the first months of frenzied excitement had died down continued to turn out amazing food.
The Hot Dinners Top 40 is our chart of London's great restaurants. Every place on this list has been opened for longer than six months. Each one is worthy of a visit by anyone interested in good food. We hope it'll be a handy list to give anyone visiting London who wants to know where's great to eat out, but we hope it's equally as useful a guide for Londoners, looking to try some of this city's more established restaurants.
Yes, it was really hard getting it down to 40, but you have to draw a line somewhere and we rather liked the idea of producing our own version of the pop charts.
30 St Cross Street, London EC1N 8UH
Tucked away behind a minimalist frontage off a Farringdon side street, Anglo's a restaurant happy to sit back and let the food rather than decor do the talking. Chef Mark Jarvis arrived in EC1 via the Bingham in Richmond and Le Manoir and is assisted in the teeny kitchen by Jack Cashmore who was previously at Sat Baines & In De Wulf. The menu is an ever-changing snapshot of the season, but one standout dish remains since we first went in the opening weeks - the cheese and onion on malt loaf which you must have.
70 Wilton Road, Victoria, London SW1V 1DE
Legions of London foodies can't be wrong. Andrew Wong took over his parent's traditional Chinese restaurant in Victoria back in 2013 and proceeded to shake up the SW1 dining scene in no uncertain way. The 10 course tasting menu in the evening takes inspiration from Chinese history, but what you really want to do is come here for the lunchtime dim sum menu. Wong's duck egg custard tarts may be the Instagram dish to have, but we hear his mushroom puffs are even better.
10 Adelaide Street, London WC2N 4HZ
The original Barrafina has now relocated to Dean Street, but the best in the group is now their Adelaide Street location, we think. But whichever Barrafina you end up in, you'll be sure of some of the very best tapas in town, courtesy of the Hart Bros. Go prepared to queue, but know that it'll be worth it once you score a seat. A particularly good place to go for solo diners who can swank in past groups in the queue to nab a prized stool at the counter.
53 Lexington St, London W1F 9AS
Originally starting out as street food, Bao hit Soho in a big way. A seat at the small restaurant quickly became - and remained - one of the hottest spots in town. It's rare not to have to wait for a table, but their signature bao buns have always made that wait worth the while. The pork bao is easily one of London's top dishes but everything here is worth having. Go in a group and order the entire menu, ideally.
1 Upper James Street, Soho, London W1F 9DF
Any restaurant which has a button that is reserved for ordering Champagne is onto a winner from the beginning. Bob Bob Ricard is one of the restaurants we always recommend to out-of-towners who want a special night out, that's not too formal. No expense was spared on the decor, yet it's still ostentatious without being too obviously "bling". While you can still eat here relatively affordably, it would be a shame not to splash out on dishes like the caviar and the lobster macaroni.
156 Canonbury Road, London N1 2UP
Lee Tiernan's Black Axe Mangal is one of those places where we always return to and wonder why we don't make weekly visits. Sometimes billed as a twist on London's kebabs, it's much, much more than that. The oven turns out phenomenally good bread (the squid ink bread is incomparable) while the regularly changing menu featuring all cuts of meat cooked beautifully is a wonder to behold. Just don't expect to be able to hear anything your dining companion says to you.
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT
Now not only one of the best restaurants in London, The Clove Club is the highest British entry on the World's 50 Best list. The food is inventive, often thrilling but it's the restaurant as a whole that works so well - those playlists, the great cocktails, the genuinely warm service. A proper showcase for modern British cooking.
Also try: Head over to Shoreditch where the people behind The Clove Club have set up their second restaurant, Luca.
15 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, London SW4 0HY
The Dairy is what you get if you take a chef trained under Raymond Blanc, inspired by stages at Noma and Frantzen and then let him loose in his own space on Clapham Common. Robin Gill's set lunch is one of London's glorious bargains and while locals may happily pop in for a dish or two and a glass of wine, anyone travelling here will want to spend time working their way through the tasting menu. If it's possible for a restaurant to be both relaxed and exciting then the Dairy manages just that.
Also try: The people behind the Dairy also have The Manor nearby, and Paradise Garage in Bethnal Green.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
One of the few London restaurants on the World's 50 Best list, Heston's only London gaff is still hugely popular. The dishes that captured everyone's attention when it opened - the Meat Fruit (chicken liver parfait shaped like a mandarin) and the Tipsy Cake are still on the menu and are must-order dishes if you haven't got round to trying them yet. Keep an eye out for A-list diners, the hotel is a well-known celebrity haunt.
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4A
This was the first restaurant in recent times that challenged the idea that a great view in a restaurant was often used to detract from lacklustre food. And the Duck & Waffle really does have a spectacular view (and amazing lifts too). This ever-evolving 24-hour restaurant at the top of the Heron Tower represents some of the best cooking in London, under Head Chef Daniel Doherty. It's also one of our favourite places for a weekend breakfast in London - a good bet if you want to steer clear of the relatively pricey wine list, just bloody hard to get a table at.
49 Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR
Simon Rogan had already dabbled in London before with Roganic, but his restaurant in Claridges took things up several notches. Expect a huge attention to seasonal and local food, and it's also blessed with one of the best kitchen tables in town with Aulis. So if you've ever wanted to try L'Enclume but just haven't managed to make it all the way up to Cartmel, this is the perfect alternative.
68 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HP
Ramsay has had a challenging time of it in London of late but his main London restaurant is still viewed by many as one of the best fine dining experiences in London. The restaurant has relatively recently had a refurb and while Claire Smyth is no longer in the kitchen it's still seen as one of London's best under Matt Abé. It's neither cheap nor easy to get into, but definitely worth the effort for a special occasion.
42 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JH
Gymkahana's Karam Sethi was carving out a reputation for himself and his cooking at Trishna, but while that was well received, it was the opening of Sethi's second restaurant Gymkhana that had all the critics fawning and which won him multiple awards. Easily one of the best Indian restaurants (if not the best) in London at the moment.
Also try: The much-loved Hoppers for dosas and hoppers in Soho, by the same people behind Gymkhana.
157 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ
While steak clearly is a BIG thing at Hawksmoor, in many respects eating at one of their restaurants is much more than just steak. From the cocktails (the Full-Fat Old Fashioned is one of our favourites in London) to the burgers and some amazing desserts - the salted caramel rolos are unmissable - Hawksmoor is the very epitome of the excellent all-rounder. We've picked the original here, but you can be sure of a good time at any of their London restaurants.
Also try: Hawksmoor have spots all over town, from Borough to Covent Garden.
301-303 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4HH
In this time of barbecue and burgers, there aren't too many places doing that molecular gastronomy style of intricate cooking in London - but there is one place that's still up there with the best. Self-taught chef and former food blogger Mikael Jonsson keeps himself busy preparing some of the most challenging and best food in London and his fans go nuts about eating here. Oh, and he bakes the best bread in London. No question.
252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
The main reason for the rise of Holborn Dining Room's fortunes is down to the work of their head chef, Calum Franklin. Follow him on Instagram if you want to be permanently hungry and also to marvel what he's able to do with pastry. Aim for anything pie-related on the menu (there's always at least one on the go) and you'll be sure of a work of genius here.
25a Warren Street, London W1T 5LZ
This tiny restaurant at the north end of Fitzrovia is much loved for its deceptively simple Middle-Eastern cooking and also for being one of the friendliest places to eat in London. Run by Itmar and Sarit Packer (Sarit was previously at Nopi and Ottolenghi) it really has the feel of a neighbourhood restaurant in the middle of London. This couple were at the forefront of Levantine cooking just as it became a trend and they continue to lead the field.
Also try: The nearby Honey and Smoke for the team's Middle Eastern Grill.
5 West St, London WC2H 9NQ
The Ivy has been around in London for 100 years and, thanks to a recent revamp, is once again one of London's top institutions. Expect a modern European/British menu here, but you're really coming for the room and the slightly luvvie vibe, not to mention the ministrations of Senior Maitre d' Fernando Peire. 100 years on and it still feels very much one of the places to be.
28-34 St. Martin's Court, London WC2N 4AL
One of London's pre-eminent seafood restaurants, J Sheekey has long been popular with actors who head here straight from treading the boards at theatres nearby. But while the restaurant is great for rubbernecking, we prefer sitting up at the bar (not the new oyster bar, but the small one in between that and the main dining room). The fish pie is a great comforter and at just over £17 a total bargain for this part of town.
70 Charlotte St, London W1T 4QG
A restaurant within a restaurant, tucked away behind the curtains at the back of Bubbledogs, Kitchen Table is really the largest chef's table in London. Take a stool and prepare for some fireworks. Husband and wife team James Knappett and Sandia Chang met when working at Per Se but the setup here is more inspired by Brooklyn Fare. There are just 19 seats and the 12-14 course dinner menu is entirely inspired by what amazing ingredients arrive fresh from the market that day.
1a Launceston Place, London W8 5RL
Sitting pretty in an impossibly pretty Kensington street, Launceston Place was always a lovely place to come for a special occasion. However, the arrival of wunderkind Head Chef Ben Murphy this year has elevated the restaurant to somewhere that deserves to be on more foodies must-try lists. Murphy's food injects some fun into what could have been a little fusty and the front-of-house service will make you feel totally cosseted. Come for a long, lazy lunch.
127 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AQ
One of the few London restaurants to make it as far as the top 10 of the World's 50 Best, this is often cited to us by fellow foodies as their favourite place in town. Fronted by Brett Graham it manages to mix high-end Michelin-starred food with a relaxed service, while still keeping the locals happy too.
Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ
The Sethi family (Gymkhana, Bubbledogs, Bao and Hoppers) have a great record when it comes to supporting talent. So when they backed James Lowe it merely confirmed what those who'd enjoyed his cooking at so many Young Turks supperclubs already knew, that Lowe was One To Watch. In this ultra pared-back Shoreditch restaurant he now has full rein to showcase his talents. Get on their newsletter list to be the first to hear about the restaurant's regular team-ups with interesting chefs from all over the world too.
254 Hackney Road, London E2 7SJ
Taking over an east London pub, two St John veterans Tom Harris and Jon Rotheram have catapulted this spot to one of London's best. Either snacks in the pub or a meal upstairs are recommended, with an inventive seasonal menu on hand. But whatever you do make sure to leave some room for the brown butter and honey tart. It's a bucket list dessert for London, that's for sure.
74 Welbeck Street, London W1G 0BA
If you're not as old as us, it might be hard to imagine that, until not that long ago, it was bloody hard to get a decent burger in London. But MEATliquor changed all that and was in many ways the catalyst for a huge sea change in London's dining scene, mainly by proving that people will queue for a good burger just as they would for a nightclub. Notwithstanding the fact that MEATliquor still makes some of the best burgers in London, we simply wouldn't have the choice we have now without them.
34 - 36 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE
Back in 1997 when Moro first opened, Exmouth Market was still a scruffy Clerkenwell street and this restaurant with its implausibly good looking bar staff and open kitchen was the second most exciting thing to happen to the area food-wise since The Eagle threw open its doors. Run by the marvellously-monikered Sam and Sam Clark, it's still turning out great food in a room that's packed every day of the week. Grab a glass of sherry up at the bar, or nab one of the more sought-after window tables and enjoy a lazy, boozy afternoon here.
Also try: There's offshoot Morito next door, but it's really the Hackney Morito you'll also want to head to for some East London Morito action.
20 Queen Street, London, W1J 5PR
Yes, on the one hand this is all very Mayfair - yards of linen napery, deep plush carpet, a certain type of ultra wealthy diner, but there's some thrilling food coming out of Angela Hartnett's kitchen that belies the calm of the dining room. What's more, the wine list is genuinely exciting - making this a place you'll want to deliver yourself into the hands of the sommelier.Cafe Muranos come highly recommended.
51 Lamb's Conduit St, London WC1N 3NB
We were already pretty excited when we heard that the boys behind Noble Rot magazine were opening a wine bar near Holborn. But kicking off the kitchen with a little help from wonderful out-of-town The Sportsman's chef Stephen Harris, that was something else. And the food here is a perfect match for a very-fine-indeed wine list. Don't leave without having the extraordinarily good bread or the signature dish, the slip sole.
182 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8EW
Want to be looked after to within an inch of your life? Well this is the restaurant you come to. Properly old-school French, Otto's has carved out a niche for itself because of a serious bit of kit called the duck press. This dish sees the breast sliced, then the rest of the duck (bar the legs) pressed in the special screw press giving a juice to which Cognac and duck liver are added before it's poured over the rare slices which finish cooking in the sauce. Both very rich and very pricey (£140 for - as they put it - one duck, two people, three courses) but, by all accounts, like nothing else in town.
34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN
When a group of top Jerusalem chefs came to London to open The Palomar, we didn't quite know what to expect. But a few years down the line and they've breathed new life into counter dining with one of the most raucous counter spots in town. That's coupled with some top Levantine small plates - the pot of "Polenta Jerusalem Style" is the must-have here. Don't book a table, wait in line and sit up at the counter which is where all the fun is to be had.The Barbary, is another exercise in counter dining done right.
6 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TQ
London has some top spots for pasta already, but nothing quite like Padella. Set up by the people behind the very successful Trullo in Islington, this keeps things simple. No reservations, a short list of dishes and some of the very best pasta in London which also happen to be the best value dishes in town. We can't keep away from the place, to be honest, and their pappardelle with 8 hour Dexter beef shin ragu may well be our top pasta dish ever.
52 Wilton Way, London E8 1BG
Setting up shop in a Hackney backstreet, Pidgin saw supperclub host James Ramsden team up with Sam Herlihy to create the kind of place that won plaudits from critics and locals alike. Pidgin has a weekly changing set menu that is about as seasonal as it gets. A perfect neighbourhood restaurant, in that you could come back week after week and never have the same dish twice, it's also worth crossing town for too. Michelin recognised it with a star in its most recent batch of awards.
8-10 Pollen Street, London W1S 1NQ
Jason Atherton, at this stage, is arguably the most successful restaurateur in London with an empire that continues to grow without diminishing the quality of its offering. But the original, Pollen Street Social, remains the place to go if you want to get the very best of Atherton. This was one of the first London restaurants to add a separate dessert bar and the cocktails are a huge highlight too. The set lunch here remains a perfect introduction.
92–94 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3EA
The Quality Chop House, which has been open since 1869, at one point looked in danger of disappearing forever before it was lovingly restored by Will Lander and Josie Stead. Now it's both a restaurant and wine bar featuring menus that are created in the morning based on what's been delivered. Come for the very best of British cooking, or just as easily pop in for charcuterie or wine or to pick something up from the adjoining butcher and deli.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA
It may have originally been the canteen to Ruth Rogers' rather well known architect husband's company, but this is now about as far from a works canteen as it's possible to get. Set down a leafy residential street, with gardens stretching down to the Thames, the River Cafe turns out beautiful Italian food with the best produce at an eye-watering price. You get what you pay for - it's just a question of whether you can afford the price tag.
43A Commercial Street, London E1 6BD
Som Saa were originally set up as a residency in Climpson's Arch and became known as serving up the best Thai food in town. Now happily esconced in their permanent spot on the edge of the City, they've easily kept that crown. For something that will change the way you think about Thai food, and generally for some of the best food in town, look no further.
26 St John Street, London EC1M 4AY
St John seems to be an unofficial finishing school for some of London's top chefs - so many of them have worked in the original or at Bread and Wine. But Fergus Henderson's original is seen by many as one of the very best restaurants in London and a perfect example of nose-to-tail British cuisine. It's also well worth popping into the bar for seedcake and Madeira and to try some of the separate bar menu dishes if you want a taste of the place without the full pricetag.their Maltby Street outpost.
201 Tooley Street, London SE1 2UE
Tucked behind Tower Bridge and in the shadow of The Shard, Tom Sellers' literary-themed restaurant is a must-visit. The building was purpose built for Story and it's an elegant dining room, Story got its first Michelin star mere months after opening and Sellers is gunning for his second. The set lunch is great value, and it includes Sellers' legendary beef dripping candle.
12 Jerusalem Passage, London EC1V 4JP
While there are a few very good sushi restaurants in London, this tiny Clerkenwell restaurant is viewed by many to be the holy grail. The trouble is that it's the very devil to get into, seating only seven and bookings are like gold-dust. They open the list a month in advance and there is a waiting list - so be prepared to be lightning fast when it comes to calling the minute the lines open. Keep an eye on their Twitter feed too which occasionally broadcasts last minute tables.
55 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX
This restaurant is older than America. If you need another reason beyond that to entice you, then the brilliantly-sourced seafood and game is one, the impeccable cosseting service another. Sit up at the oyster bar if you're just popping in for bivalves or nab yourself a corner table and watch the captains of industry at play as you spoon Stilton souffle into your mouth. Leave room for one of the more extensive savouries courses in the country.