We update this list monthly with the restaurants causing the biggest stir in town - the ones which reviewers are thrilled about, where tables are like gold dust or places that are just serving the most interesting and inventive food in town right now. If you're looking for all-time classics, see our Top 40 - London's Best Restaurants feature) as these are the hottest at this very moment, in alphabetical order...
Where: 6 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2JP
In a nutshell: Punjabi in Dalston
Attawa originally launched right in the middle of the lockdown, kicking things off with a delivery-only option. Since then, the Punjabi restaurant in Dalston has opened to the public with a menu by Arbinder Duggal, a semi-finalist on MasterChef: The Professionals. Grace Dent popped in for an early takeaway and was a fan: "His fragrant, creamy black dal makani is the stuff of dreams; possibly London’s greatest, most pacifying use of lentils."
Where: 318-326 Hornsey Road, London, N7 7HE
In a nutshell: Jolene's sibling
This is from the team behind Primeur, Jolene and Westerns Laundry and it continues their hugely successful run of north London restaurants. Something of a spin-off from Jolene, this features a huge bakery out the back (so it's a great new source of baked goods for the area) and serves up a menu of excellent pizza slices and charcuterie.
Where: Arch 374 Helmsley Place Hackney E8 3SB
In a nutshell: Brat goes alfresco
Brat returned from the lockdown all guns blazing, launching this Hackney residency before they had even reopened the main restaurant in Shoreditch. Serving up new dishes alongside Brat classics it's been a huge hit, now extended to the end of the year. Marina O'Loughlin visited and was impressed "...the skill is there, uncompromisingly. They’re on fire."
Where: Unit 9, Market Row, Brixton, London SW9 8LB
In a nutshell: West African in Brixton
This is the first standalone restaurant from Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare. She'd previously been running supperclubs until winning the Brixton Kitchen competition gave her the opportunity for this permanent restaurant. The West African dishes combine the best of British and African produce - it'll be there until early 2021, so it's worth catching asap.
Where: 274 High Road, Tottenham, London, N15 4RR
In a nutshell: Nigerian tapas in Tottenham
Chuku's hosted popular pop-ups and residencies across town before settling in Tottenham mere weeks before the lockdown but they've now returned stronger than ever. They specialise in what they call Nigerian tapas - small plates with African influence. Plaudits have poured in - Grace Dent was a fan, saying "There is no better way to deal with Chuku’s – just sit back and let them feed you." And in the Standard, Jimi Famurewa said they returned from lockdown even better than before: "Boldly conceived, buoyantly atmospheric and packing a new fire-breathing flavouring oomph".
Where: 102 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0LA
In a nutshell: Stoke Newington pub reborn
This Stoke Newington pub comes from the same people as the Anchor and Hope and the Canton Arms, bringing a welcome overhaul to a popular local pub. As with the other locations, there's a seasonal menu (from Harry Kaufman in the kitchen). Having run as a food shop during the lockdown, it's been a big success since reopening and impressed Grace Dent who said "The Clarence Tavern had the worst grand opening imaginable. Its second attempt is worth singing about."
Where: 153-157 Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 3LW
In a nutshell: Dairy Mk II
There was a short, bad week where it looked like The Dairy was to be no more - forced to close in its original Clapham location. However, Bermonds Locke came to the rescue, giving the restaurant a brand new (and slightly larger) space in Bermondsey. The same team is back in the kitchen and on the floor and the Dairy magic continues in the new location.
Where: 10 Heddon St, Mayfair, London W1B 4BX
In a nutshell: Sustainable fireworks in Mayfair
Fallow was originally the latest short term residency at 10 Heddon Street, but they've settled in for a while longer and have developed into one of the really interesting new restaurants in the area. There's also an extensive terrace if you still prefer dining outside.
Where: Portobello Dock, 344 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 5BU
In a nutshell: Dock Kitchen reimagined
The Dock Kitchen itself may be no more, but Stevie Parle's return to the location that made his name was big news indeed. The restaurant is Flora and the overall space is called Joy - something that this alfresco restaurant has brought to everyone who's visited. Grace Dent said "there is joy in Portobello" while Tom Parker Bowles said "This place makes me very happy. Joy indeed."
Where: 36 Duke Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6DF
In a nutshell: Sexy new St James spot
Maison Francois has taken over the space that used to be Green's - but has changed it beyond recognition. A hugely impressive room hosts a full-on-French meal that takes in classics like their now-signature oeuf en gelee. Already a hit, Maison Francois is also blessed with a new bar in the basement called Frank's which is an ideal place for cocktails and charcuterie.
Where: 2 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4NB
In a nutshell: Gay Hussar becomes Noble Rot
This opening saw Noble Rot, who have had a huge success with their original restaurant and wine bar near Holborn, take over the Gay Hussar building in Soho. They've launched with a menu that pays the odd homage to the classic Hungarian restaurant from Alex Jackson, the chef behind the sadly closed Sardine. Backed up by the usual excellent wines from Noble Rot, this has inevitably been an instant hit.
Where: 33-41 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RR
In a nutshell: Rotating tasting menus
Six by Nico has already been well established across the country and it's easy to understand the success. Six-course tasting menus that change every six weeks at a great price for Fitzrovia. It bridges the gap between fine dining and casual dining and quickly become a hit in its London location. While not everyone has been won over, Giles Coren was impressed "It’s great. The Scottish-Italian chef, Nico Simeone, whose place this is, can really cook. Or whoever is cooking for him can."
Where: 6 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2JP
In a nutshell: Korean meets European fine dining
This London Bridge restaurant is the first solo project from husband and wife team Woongchul Park and Bomee Ki, whose food combines European cooking techniques with touches inspired by their Korean heritage - resulting in something quite unique. Tim Hayward is a big fan and in the FT said "What actually occurs here is all-out down-and-dirty fusion and the results are fascinating."
Where: Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, Shadwell, London E1 7QX
In a nutshell: Modern British in Whitechapel
Townsend, which opened earlier this year, were one of the early restaurants to switch quickly to delivery and that deftness is replicated in an ever-changing menu of dishes that results in a menu where you simply want to try everything. A pre-lockdown visit impressed Fay Maschler and Chris Pople who said "Townsend is doing more or less everything right for a restaurant in 2020",
Where: Lieutenant Ellis Way, Cheshunt EN7 5HW
In a nutshell: Robin Gill goes to the country
While this list is primarily London, new hotel Birch and its restaurant Zebra Riding Club is just a few hundred feet away from the London boundary and well worth the drip. Birch sees the Dairy's Robin Gill in charge of the food in two restaurants - both are great but the Club is where things really shine with an excellent seasonally changing menu, making good use of local produce. Grace Dent certainly liked it - "Life’s a Birch – or at least it is when Robin Gill is there in the midst, making magic."
Ones to watch, open now...
From London's recently-opened restaurants here are the ones who aren't quite ready for the list but are worth keeping an eye on...
- Stanley's - with an excellent courtyard space in Chelsea
- Pantechnicon - huge new shopping and dining destination in Belgravia
- Smoke + Salt - who have landed a permanent space in Tooting
- Taka - The Japanese restaurant has taken over the ex-Providores space in Marylebone
- Louie - Southern American dining in Covent Garden
- The Nook - very promising wine bar/cafe in Islington
For more - read our guide to all the new restaurant openings in London.
Ones to watch, opening in October...
Here's what to watch in the coming month
- Behind - Behind the scenes in this London Fields chef's table restaurant
- Kol - Noma Mexico chef comes to London
- The Silver Birch - Neighbourhood dining in Chiswick from ex Kym's chef
- Pali Hill - Indian restaurant upstairs, illicit cocktail bar downstairs.
For more restaurant openings - read our guide to upcoming restaurants in October.
Where's Hot, mapped.
Here's how the Hot Dinners "Where's Hot" restaurants are spread across town.
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