The restaurant scene in London has never been hotter. Big name chefs and restaurants from all over the world have their eyes on us, new trends are popping up all the time and areas previously devoid of decent food are becoming hot culinary destinations.
We update this list regularly 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. We know there are plenty of great classic restaurants (and we're covering them in our Top 40 - London's Best Restaurants feature) but these are the hottest, in alphabetical order....
21 Kingly St, Soho, London W1B 5QA
In a nutshell: Crab and a lot more in Carnaby
Claw's signature dish "drenched in garlic and lime butter... are a lovely thing to eat," says blogger Samphire and Salsify. "It’s wonderful to see businesses like @clawfood go from market stall to pop up to restaurant. Especially when they champion sustainable British seafood. XO crayfish a highlight," declared food writer Miranda York on Instagram.
The Coal Shed
Unit 3.1 One Tower Bridge, 4 Crown Square, London, SE1 2SE
In a nutshell: Brighton fave makes it big in the city
The people behind Brighton-based The Salt Room and The Coal Shed have brought the latter up to London. As Fay Maschler said "Here is a savvy kitchen, maybe even a millennial kitchen, open to global influences but not overcome." Giles Coren found the goat "a thing of beauty and all I could ever ask from a plate of food." All in all he had "a cracking meal" there.
9a St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
In a nutshell: Hong Kong restaurant comes to London Bridge
There's always a sense of trepidation when a restaurant that's done very well overseas decides to try its hand in London. But this Hong Kong import in a drop-dead gorgeous room has been mainly a hit. Fay Maschler found the salt and pepper squid here "as different from the usual rendition of this dish as to be almost unrecognisable." - in a good way. In the Sunday Times, Marina O'Loughlini 'levitates with pleasure' while eating the duck skin.
1 St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4AH
In a nutshell: West African food in St James's Market
Even before Ikoyi opened, we marvelled at the plates they were previewing on Instagram. Everything looked WONDERFUL. But could the place live up to the the Insta hype? Fay Maschler certainly thought so, saying "there is a titillating undercurrent of unfamiliarity (for some of us anyway) filtered through a high end, sometimes Nordic skill set, coupled with a sense of celebration and inclusion fostered by amiable staff. Win-win for London." And Giles Coren is now exhorting Londoners to try it saying, "it is all fantastically well executed."
NEW: Indian Accent
16 Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4HW
In a nutshell: Much lauded Indian restaurant comes to London
In her second review of 2018 Fay Maschler accorded this with one of her rare five stars, "This is Indian food but not as we know it, Jim." Grace Dent was similarly delighted with her meal here calling the soy keema "one of the greatest vegetarian offerings I’ve ever tasted." even if she didn't think she'd be back on her own dime.
10-12 Bloomberg Arcade, London, EC4N 8AR
In a nutshell: Popular udon noodles in Bloomberg Arcade
Wine writer Zeren Wilson was wowed by the roast celeriac with mustord miso butter and clementine powder - an "eye wideningly surprising combination. Wonderful." The Guardian Cook Instagram account agreed calling it "a triumph..a highly flavoured yet beautifully light respite to heavy festive food."
119 Queens Road, Peckham, London SE15 2EZ
In a nutshell: Peckham gets a South Afrian inspired eatery
"A vibrant new addition to the neighbourhood," concluded the Standard's Ben Norum, who loved the Pigs head tortellini which he says "burst with a deep meaty flavour that neatly contrasts the gently fragrant broth they bob in." While babka expert Felicity Spector said, "the food is wonderful and it’s warm and welcoming and beautifully designed."
36 Snowsfields Yard, London SE1 3SU
In a nutshell: Top chef Leandro Carreira's solo spot
Ever since he wowed everybody with a stint at Climpson's Arch, all eyes have been on Leandro Carreira to see what he'd be bringing to the table when he opened his first spot. And now he's opened in London Bridge with part wine bar. bart restaurant - with many of his Portuguese influences intact. It's bound to be an instant hit. "Excellent cooking and a procession of great dishes and wines," says Instagrammer Chris Prowler. "Go as a group and taste as many things as you can, an absolute pleasure!"
70-74 City Road, London EC1
In a nutshell: Casual bistro dining from a promising chef
Arriving at his first restaurant via the kitchens of St John Bread & Wine, Lockhart, and the Chiltern Firehouse, expectations for Niall Davidson's Nuala are running high. Fay Maschler picks out the dauphenoise with lamb fat gravy for particular praise "How fitting that a predominantly Gaelic enterprise should excel in spuds."
39 Endell St, London WC2H 9BA
In a nutshell: The next restaurant from the people behind The Ten Cases
The first review for Parsons is in - and it's a good 'un. Fay Maschler gives this seafood spot in WC2 four stars, praising it for an "irresistable" menu from which "the croquettes, tanned, fat and rubble-rough with panko crumbs, must not be missed". It's also a hit with blogger Chris Pople who says it's "so close to perfect as makes no odds."
19 Ganton St, London W1F 7BU
In a nutshell: In a nutshell Fresh pastas and Italian cocktail slushies from Stevie Parle
Given Parle's track record, expect it to be hard to find a seat here any night of the week. Felicity Cloake from the Guardian visited and said "for a simple, satisfying plate of pasta in a congenial environment just yards from Europe’s busiest shopping street (and priced at 75p less than the mac’n’cheese at the chain pub around the corner), I reckon it’s pretty near perfect."
64 Dean Street, London W1D 4QG
In a nutshell: Barca beachy vibes in the heart of Soho
Fay Maschler doesn't dole out five stars regularly, so when she does it's worth sitting up and taking note. She loved her meal at Rambla, stating "It is not often that authenticity is handled with such a keen collector’s eye for gastronomic advances." Felicity Cloake in The Guardian praised their oxtail canelones which she reckoned was "the most pleasure you’ll get in Soho for a fiver these days."
The ICA, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH
In a nutshell: Shoreditch classic finds a second home on The Mall
There were probably a lot of folk wondering where the oddball Rochelle Canteen would survive in translation when it opened a second place at the ICA just down the road from Buckingham Palace. Happily, it appears to have done just that. Fay Maschler gave it four stars in the Standard adding that "Desserts deserve a rave of their own, particularly a smooth meringue with a chewy heart." Jay Rayner is a huge fan of the pie (as were Hot Dinners) and says "It is solid and sustaining. It is British cooking, by way of summers in the Dordogne."
5-7 Blandford St, Marylebone, London W1U 3DB
In a nutshell: Simon Rogan is back in London
Back in town with his revival of Roganic, Simon Rogan is getting great reviews on Instagram although no print critic has stopped by yet. In particular, Roganic's desserts have won praise with Instagrammer Felicity Spector who was stunned by; "The huge amount of work and skill which has gone into this menu."
152 Tooley St, London SE1 2TU
In a nutshell: The return of the classy Mexican restaurant
Santo Remedio's closure last year was a blow to many - like us - who loved its take on Mexican cuisine, finally really showcasing what was possible if it was done really well. So their return to London, in their brand new Bermondsey location, is very welcome indeed. Tim Hayward in the FT says "I had the distinct impression that I was either going to get my heart ripped out and sacrificed to the Condor God or be fed the best corn of my life." Happily it was the latter.
64 Shoreditch High Street London E1 6JJ
In a nutshell: Fiery Thai challenges convention moving from west to east London
Going in the opposite direction to everyone else, Smoking Goat began life in Charing Cross and is now branching out east. "Another banging addition to the London food scene," said Instagrammer Clerkenwell Boy of this new opening. "There've been a couple of lukewarm reviews for this, the second, eastern version of the edge-of-Soho Thai barbecue and beer-food bar and restaurant," mentions food writer Ed Smith of Rocket & Squash, "Which is nuts, because the sourcing is first class (the finest mussel I've ever had, ever, ever — in a d'tom yam soup) and the delivery fiery/"
34 Drayton Park, London N5 1PB
In a nutshell: Follow-up Highbury spot from the people behind Primeur.
It's clear we loved Westerns Laundry, but what did everyone else think of this rather beautiful new restaurant tucked away off Holloway Road? US site Infatuation declared it somewhere to go "when you want to want something cool, but want to keep it a little low key". Food blogger and wine expert Zeren Wilson said it "hums in the evening with the same energy, joie de vivre and candlelit charm of Primeur." Grace Dent gave it a rare set of top marks saying; "So many places wax lyrically about being fresh and remarkable. This one actually is."
30 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DL
In a nutshell: Bao does Taiwanese dining in Chinatown.
The third opening from the team behind the two Bao restaurants, Xu is "a couple of tweaks – and a pudding menu – away from being truly excellent" says Matthew Bayley in The Telegraph. He reserves particular praise for the cuttlefish toast - "Imagine the world’s greatest prawn toast." It gets 5 stars from Time Out where Tania Ballantine says "Everything I ate was terrific". Fay was pretty light with her praise but Marina O'Loughlin in the Guardian turned out to be a fan, pronouncing it "quite simply gorgeous". And an initially cautious Giles Coren had "as good an Asian meal as I think you can get in this town. Or country."
Ones to watch...
There are always a few just-opened restaurants that aren't quite ready for the list - but worth keeping an eye on...
- Harry's Dolce Vita - Harry's Bar - but without the membership. Bound to be a hit.
- Sabor - This restaurant from ex-Barrafina chef Nieves Barragan has only just opened, but we've heard extremely good things from people who have been to the closed soft launch. Expect this to be a big hit.
- Kettners - Soho House have opened this restaurant and hotel in the middle of Soho. Can it have the same impact as their last hotel, The Ned?
- Sorella - the people behind the Dairy closed The Manor, but Alalfi-inspired Sorella has risen in its place.
Where's Hot, mapped.
Here's how the Hot Dinners "Where's Hot" restaurants are spread across town.