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) but these are the hottest at this very moment, in alphabetical order...
Where: 107 Upper Street, London, N1 1QN
In a nutshell: James Cochran comes to Islington
Buzz surrounding this Islington opening was high, even before a single pot had boiled. Not only was Cochran dealing with legal issues surrounding the trademarking of his own name, but he was also flying high in the current series of The Great British Menu. Good job then that the food more than lives up to the hype. Jay Rayner said of the buttermilk rabbit "I could eat bowls of it. Only professionalism stops me doing so."
Where: 39 William IV Street, London, WC2N 4DD
In a nutshell: Ex Locanda Locatelli chef does fresh pasta in Covent Garden
This Covent Garden pasta restaurant shows that there's still plenty of room for fresh pasta done well in London. It comes from Louis Korovilas, who has earned his pasta cred working for Georgio Locatelli. Expect affordable fresh pasta, some great counter dining action and, as Grace Dent puts it "Bancone’s gimmick is that you get a really lovely dinner and you don’t weep when the bill appears. It’s a trend that I hope will run and run."
Where: 27 Romilly St, Soho, London W1D 5AL
In a nutshell: Smart but traditional Persian-style kebabs and more
"It’s the new place from @jks_restaurants, so is guaranteed to be brilliant," tweeted blogger Chris Pople. And clearly the folk responsible for Brigadiers, Koya and Bao - to name a few - know what they're about. "Good kebabery skills," said food and wine writer Zeren Wilson on Instagram. "I went to a preview last week and loved it," said Bloomberg's Richard Vines on Twitter.
Where: Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E1 6JJ
In a nutshell: Ex Kitty Fisher's chef Tomos Parry's Shoreditch restaurant
He was an instant hit when he started at Kitty Fisher's (after a successful stint at Climpson's Arch) so all eyes were on Tomos Parry for his next venture. An impressive open kitchen sets the scene, making the cooking over fire central to the restaurant experience. And a partnership with the people behind Noble Rot means that the wine's pretty decent too. Expect wonderful cooking - the turbot and the beef chop should both be on your list. And don't miss the small plates, as Keith Miller in the Telegraph says - "spider crab, one of many Basque touches on the menu, was tossed with cabbage – perfect with its slightly funky flavour – and fennel." And of course it's just won a Michelin star too.
Where: 1 Westgate Street, London E8 3RL
In a nutshell: P Franco open their first standalone restaurant
The much-loved Clapton wine bar was always a highlight of East London when it came to food. Then they went one step further, opening their first full restaurant in Netil House where Ellory used to be. Grace Dent raved about the restaurant, saying "They made me enjoy things I thought I hated and gave me tastes I’d never imagined before." James Ramsden (co-owner of Pidgin and Magpie) said their Cantonese style duck hearts were the "best thing I've eaten all year" and Instagrammer Felicity Spector found herself "literally gasping in admiration at a dish of crab in a kind of ajo blanco." The FT's Tim Hayward concurred, admiring the kitchen team's "quiet self-confidence".
Where: 209 Westbourne Park Road, London W11 1EA
In a nutshell: Michel Roux Jr's daughter, Emily Roux's restaurant with her husband Diego Ferrari
When anyone in the Roux family opens a restaurant here, people take notice and judging from the first reviews in, they'd be right to. "Serious cooking, serious service, in a room without pretence," said Tom Parker Bowles in the Daily Mail. "Not so much mini-Gavroche as major Caractère." Blogger Andy Hayler was similarly enthusiastic, calling it "one of the best London restaurant openings for some time".
Where: 32 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TU
In a nutshell: Upscale piri piri and more...
This Southwark Portugeuse restaurant is cooking up Algarvian-style chicken frango (hence the name) for a new spin on piri piri style chicken, with plenty of focus on their wood-fired grill for that real authenticity. That chicken has been winning praise from Michael Deacon in The Telegraph who called it "glisteningly succulent" while Jay Rayner says "This is an elbows-out, face-down job, which gently wafted me back to the summer of ’78."
92 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2PN
In a nutshell: Newly two-Michelin-starred powerhouse in Notting Hill
Clare Smyth was in charge of Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road restaurant, keeping its three stars for a number of years. So all eyes were on Michelin to see how they'd reward her own place - which they did by taking it straight to two stars - a big accolade. Together with chef Jonny Bone, she's been winning plaudits after plaudits at the moment - don't be surprised to see this get three stars next year.
King's Cross, London N1C 4PQ
In a nutshell: The new King's Cross designer space has a LOT of restaurants and bars in it
Just like Victoria's Nova development and the City's Bloomberg Arcade before it, this new shopping/eating/drinking space at the back of King's Cross is impossible to ignore. This time though the space is physically beautiful (thanks Thomas Heatherwick) - and the mix of restaurants suitably eclectic from three by the Hart Bros Group to a Vermuteria by Anthony Demetre and that's even before we see what Pip Lacey's Hicce, the new Morty and Bob and Bodega Rita's is going to be like. "Team Barrafina smashed it already," said the Guardian's Bob Granleese on Instagram, "Well of course they did."
3 Prince Edward Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LX
In a nutshell: Seasonal dining in Hackney
Tom Brown's had plenty of seafood experience, most recently at Outlaw's at the Capital - but now he's opened his own place in Hackney and there's still plenty of seafood on the menu. Food blogger Elizabeth Auerbach said she "was immediately impressed with his cooking from the first bite on" and Giles Coren declared the food "out of this world... I’ve never been one for tarama on veg. So I smeared it on their otherworldly sourdough toast with dripping and my eyes just rolled back in my head …".
21 Newington Green, London N16 9PU
In a nutshell: The Westerns Laundry crowd on Newington Green (inc bakery)
Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell, who brought us Primeur and Westerns Laundry, have stayed local with their third opening. This time they've joined forces with Groove Armada DJ-turned farmer Andy Cato to open this all day space. "So impressed with the on-site milling and the real dedication to producing the best tasting bread." said Instagrammer Felicity Spector. And our meal there (Test Drive to come) was wonderful.
180-182 Earls Court Road, London SW5 9QG
In a nutshell: Filipino fast food sensation
Even before the Filipino fried chicken folk opened their first London restaurant there were queues round the block (18 hours for the opening day). Now it's down to around two hours. "Worth every second in the freezing queue," said one happy fan on Instagram. We thought it was pretty good but, let's face it, if you're queueing for hours in the cold for fast food, then it's probably a taste of home that you're really after.
Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Pl, Westminster, London SW1A 2BD
In a nutshell: Tom Kerridge leaves Marlow for London
Tom Kerridge has been a Marlow institution for years, well before his TV fame, and his Hand and Flowers pub is still the only pub in the UK to have two Michelin stars. This sees him finally arriving in London with an opulent restaurant at the Corinthia. And the critics are loving it too as Grace Dent said "This is a British restaurant that celebrates British things in a charming and non-laboured manner" while Giles Coren praised the truffled egg: "Magnificent dish. Creamy, lush, properly seasoned again, nice and salty."
70 Charlotte St, London W1T 4QG
In a nutshell: Hidden-away secret kitchen with two Michelin stars
As one of London's new 2 Michelin-starred restaurants, the focus has returned firmly to James Knappett and Sandia Chang's Fitzrovian space. At the front - gourmet hot dogs and grower Champagnes - behind the curtain at the back, an all-counter restaurant presided over by James. "Each of the 11 little courses delivers eyebrow-raising surprises or sheer, sensual gratification, frequently both," said Marina O'Loughlin when she reviewed this place on opening.
19 Bloomberg Arcade, London EC4N 8AR
In a nutshell: A Wong comes to the City
Andrew Wong's eponymous A Wong restaurant has been a hit in Victoria for years, finally winning a Michelin star last year. And now he's joined the restaurants at Bloomberg Arcade bringing in a menu that's influenced by Chinatown and a bloody great big tree in the middle of the bar (it's rather impressive). No critic reviews as yet, but we've already been and it's definitely a winner.
64 Grafton Way, London W1T 5DN
In a nutshell: Selin Kiazim's Oklava follow-up
Selin Kiazim's Oklava in Shoreditch has been a quiet, consistent hit, so there was always going to be a lot of attention on their follow up. This Fitzrovia restaurant sees her once again teaming up with Oklava's Laura Christie for this Turkish restaurant. And it's already impressed The Standard, as David Sexton said: "Kyseri is a treat of the kind that only a restaurant culture as vigorous and varied as London’s makes possible."
18 Phipp Street, London EC2A 4NU
In a nutshell: Michelin-starred Ellory moves to Shoreditch
A big hit in London Fields - and Michelin-starred to boot - there have been changes for Ellory. They've moved from their original digs into the heart of Shoreditch and changed the name in the process (it was the nickname of the original). With that comes more of a bistro focus. David Sexton was a fan of their asparagus dish - "This felt like a delicious rebuke to the sloppiness of asparagus with hollandaise, an impressive composition more than it was commonplace food." And Grace Dent declared the move a total success saying: "Ellory was good – we all loved Ellory – but Leroy is much, much better."
74-76 York St, Marylebone, London W1H 1QN
In a nutshell: Duck and Waffle's Dan Doherty opens a pub
All eyes were on Dan Doherty when he left his previous restaurant overlooking the city, Duck and Waffle. He's taken on the Royal Oak in Fitzrovia and will be gradually refining the menu over the next few months - and there's still the promise of something extra special to come in the space upstairs. If you want to see a chef in his element, watching the development of the menu, this is the place to come. And expect a mean scotch egg too.
55 Wells Street London W1A 3AE
In a nutshell: Ottolenghi does fire and fermentation
The "perfect place to take one of your oldest semi-vegetarian, fully gluten-intolerant friends without even the merest sprinkle of resentment at missing out," enthused the Guardian's Felicity Cloake on Instagram. Jay Rayner was also a fan: "This is vivid, thrilling stuff. Yes, if you go for the works you will build up a big bill. But this is cooking that stays with you."
171 Holloway Rd, London N7 8LX
In a nutshell: Laksa and more as this Malaysian restaurant goes permanent
Sambal Shiok has been popping up in various locations all over town for five years, serving up great Malaysian food - and most importantly what's viewed by many as the BEST laksa in town. Now owner Mandy Yin has set up a permanent position on Holloway Road, and she describes it as "like a ramen bar but instead focusing on Malaysian Nyonya laksa". In a visit to the pop-up, Jay Rayner said " It’s powerful, satisfying and for me at least, the very stuff of memories." And visiting the new restaurant, Giles Coren said: "Sambal Shiok is a place of joy and great cooking."
70 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4QX
In a nutshell: Brunswick House's Jackson Boxer teams up with chef Andrew Clarke in Shoreditch.
With hits like Brunswick House (and the much-missed Rita's), all eyes were on Jackson Boxer's next opening, St Leonards which has taken over the big Shoreditch space vacated by Eyre Brothers. Teaming up with Andrew Clarke, they've the very best mix of raw bar delights mixed with flaming cooking (and a spacious bar space that is much-needed in the area). Jay Rayner hints that it may divide people - "Dinner at St Leonards, lubricated by well-priced, classic French wines, is not so much a meal out as a funfair ride." However, Marina O'Loughlin is in love: "To my “ideal restaurants” list, I’m now adding St Leonards. It has all the hallmarks of a classic in the making."
28-30 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8DA
In a nutshell: The Clove Club goes American
London's foodie crowd have been vying for tables at Two Lights since it opened this week and already the feedback for chef Chase Lovecky's modern American food is good. Chef Tom Hunt says it reminds him of Wildair and fellow chef Lee Westcott praised the "relaxed vibe, tasty food and great drinks." While Fay Maschler was a fan of the crab on chips: "Crabmeat wreathed in light mayo topped with sprigs of vegetable pickle on batons of finely layered deep-fried potatoes so greaseless they leave no trace on the paper beneath is just a brilliant notion. "
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...
- Milk Beach - We're hearing good things about this Queens Park cafe with ex Duck and Waffle and P Franco chefs involved
- Gridiron - this Mayfair restaurant has Hawksmoor's Richard Turner and wine writer Fiona Beckett on the dream team
- Levan - the next from Nicholas Balfe, the man behind Salon.
Ones to watch, open soon...
Opening in November, we think you should be looking out for...
- Hicce - Another addition to Coal Drops Yard, this is ex Murano head chef Pip Lacey's solo restaurant.
- Cakes and Bubbles - next level pastries at Cafe Royal from Albert Adria.
- Kutir - the next restaurant from ex Gymkhana and Jamavar chef Rohit Ghai.
- Tamarind Mayfair - the previously Michelin-starred restaurant returns after a big revamp
Where's Hot, mapped.
Here's how the Hot Dinners "Where's Hot" restaurants are spread across town.