Hot Dinners recommends

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.


Top 40 list

maltby40 Maltby Street

40 Maltby St London SE1 3PA

Try and pick a time to try this Bermondsey restaurant when the market's not on, to give yourself time to fully appreciate it without jostling with the foodie weekend masses. Chef Stephen Williams (ex Ledbury and Harwood Arms) is quietly turning out extraordinary dishes that have fellow chefs and restaurateurs regularly citing this as one of their favourite places in town. And it's not just the food that's good, given that it's owned by Gergovie Wines, you can expect a very decent wine list here too.

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awongA Wong

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.

Also try - Andrew Wong's second restaurant at Bloomberg Arcade, Kym's.

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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. 

Also try: Head northwards to Fitzrovia for the second Bao, where you can book some tables.

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barbaryThe Barbary

16 Neal's Yard, London WC2H 9DP

When siblings Zoe and Layo Paskin opened this teeny Neal's Yard restaurant it was off the back of the tsunami of critical plaudits for their first restaurant The Palomar. And while the original is great, we have a particular fondness for The Barbary. The horseshoe counter means every diner is thrust into the energy of the kitchen. Flaming lamb cutlets are great, but leave room for dessert particularly the hashcake.

Also try - the excellent counter scene at The Palomar and their nearby pub The Blue Posts.

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11-15 Swallow St, London W1B 4DG

For over 100 years this Piccadilly institution has been serving up oysters and other seafood to London's well-heeled clientele. Nowadays it's a more egalitarian establishment, presided over by chef-patron Richard Corrigan who has run things here for more than a decade. And while oysters are still very much the thing here - with an annual shucking contest to mark the beginning of the natives season - everything else is given just as much care and attention. They even smoke their own salmon up on the rooftop.

Also try - Corrigan's, the chef's other restaurant in Mayfair (and pay a visit to Dickie's Bar there).

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bobbobBob Bob Ricard

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.

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blackaxemangalBlack Axe Mangal

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.

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Bocca di LupoNEW: Bocca di Lupo

12 Archer St, London W1D 7BB

There are readers who have argued, rightly really, that this Piccadilly spot should have been in our Top 40 from the word go. Jacob Kenedy's Italian first opened its doors back in 2008 and since then has been quietly, unassumingly going about its business of serving up excellent regional Italian food since then. Go and graze on the small plates, enjoy the amazing wine list, and make sure you sit up at the counter.

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4 Redchurch St, London E1 6JL

Tomas Parry presides over the fire here in Shoreditch - his first solo venture since leaving Kitty Fishers. This upstairs dining room (you'll find it above Smoking Goat) looks like it's been on this spot since Dickensian London, but the vibe couldn't be more of the moment. The turbot is very much the signature dish here, but expect to find all manner of meats thrown on the wood-fired grill plus a top wine list from Noble Rot's Keeling Andrew & Co. Who needs a trip to Etxebarri when we have our own homegrown take on Basque food culture right here in London?

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49 Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG

A lot of people have a real fondness for Brawn. In a recent Twitter discussion on the best restaurant in London to be a regular at, food writer Diana Henry declared, "Brawn and QCH. I'd eat in them both every week if I could." Owned and run by Ed Wilson, who used to be group chef at Terroirs it's the archetypal neighbourhood restaurant, serving up a super seasonal and regularly changing menu - just don't leave without ordering at least one pasta dish.

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BrightNEW: Bright

1 Westgate Street, London E8 3RL

News that the folk behind P Franco were opening their first full-blown restaurant (so not a wine bar with food) in Hackney was met with huge delight by their legions of fans. Running the kitchen here in the old Ellory space is William Gleave and Peppe Belvedere - they serve up a consise menu of snacks, pasta and more - the katsu sandwich is one not to miss.

Also try: The original P Franco with its changing roster of chefs or Peg in Hackney. 

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The Clove ClubThe Clove Club

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: Also from the Clove Club are the nearby restaurants Luca. and Two Lights. 

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coreCore by Clare Smyth

92 Kensington Park Rd, London W11 2PN

Clare Smyth's Notting Hill restaurant took a little while to find its groove, but it's now firmly motoring towards Michelin glory - having secured two out of the three stars it's clearly gunning for. Expert superlative cooking in a more relaxed setting than the fine dining palaces of old. There are no starched tablecloths (or indeed any tablecloths at all) to be found here, just food that looks exquisite and tastes fantastic.

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3 Prince Edward Road, London E9 5LX

Chef Tom Brown pretty much hit a home run with the critics since opening his Hackney restaurant with Jay Rayner the latest to pile on the plaudits, saying the team here picks the best seafood and makes it "shine through wit, technique and good taste". The shrimp crumpet is the must-order dish, but you'll be hard-pressed to find any dish that doesn't delight here. An eye-opener for anyone who loves their fish.

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The DairyThe Dairy

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 run the Amalfi-inspired Sorella nearby.

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Dinner by HestonDinner by Heston Blumenthal

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, and has recently had a big refurb too. 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. 

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guineaGuinea Grill

30 Bruton Place, London W1J 6NL

Back when it first opened (in the 1400s) the inn on this site was mainly for local farm workers. Now you're more likely to be sitting beside a table of hedge funders or - just as likely - a foodie lured over to the posh part of town by the fact that the ebullient Oisin Rogers is in charge of things here. Meat is the order of the day here either in the form of Aberdeenshire dry-aged steaks or in the multi-award-winning steak and kidney pies. We hear the Sunday lunches are quite the thing too.

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The French HouseNEW: The French House

49 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 5BG

The French House has a notable recent history of enticing interesting chefs. Fergus Henderson started here. Tom Oldroyd and Florence Knight both cooked here when it was Polpetto and now it's the turn of Neil Borthwick, formerly of Merchants Tavern. Since he started here under the radar at the tail end of 2018 the buzz has returned to this lovely upstairs dining room - tables here are hard to get, so enticing is Borthwick's simple but elegantly created dishes. 

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42 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JH

Gymkhana'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 team also run the much-loved Hoppers for dosas and hoppers and Indian gastropub Brigadiers in the City.

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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 restaurants all over town, from Borough to Covent Garden. 

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holborndiningroomHolborn Dining Room

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.

Also try: The pie room counter if you're just passing. Because pies.

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Honey & CoHoney & Co

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.

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58 Brewer St, London W1F 9TL

Kiln, from the same people behind The Smoking Goat and focused around simple yet sophisticated Thai cooking, has slowly been getting better and better since opening, all the while picking up a devoted following. So much so that this small Soho restaurant, with a big focus around counter dining, has been voted best restaurant in the country at the National Restaurant Awards. 

Also try: The relocated Smoking Goat in Shoreditch for more from the same team. 

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Kitchen TableKitchen Table

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.

Also try: You'll have to pass through it to get to Kitchen Table, but Bubbledogs Champagne bar from the same team is worth a look too.  

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12 Denman St, Soho, London W1D 7HH

After beginning life in a shipping container as one of the first restaurants in Pop Brixton, Kricket has come far. Inspired by Indian cuisine, they offer an ever-changing menu of Indian small plates. And they feature what may be one of our favourite snacks in town, the samphire pakora dish. Head to Soho for some great counter action, or to their second restaurant in Brixton (and look out for a third in White City soon). 

Also try: They have restaurants in Brixton and White City too. 

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The Laughing HeartNEW: The Laughing Heart

277 Hackney Rd, London E2 8NA

We've been avid watchers of head chef Tom Anglesea's Instagram account in the run up to his appearance on this year's Great British Menu. The food looks just wonderful - it's all we can do to stop ourselves grabbing our oystercard and hoofing it out of the door whenever he posts. Expect to see the best British produce given treatments inspired by flavours and cooking techniques from all over the world.

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The LedburyThe Ledbury

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. 

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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. And so it's turned out with James Lowe's restaurant which is now in the World's 50 Best list. In this ultra pared-back Shoreditch restaurant Lowe has full rein to showcase his talents with a modern ever-changing menu. 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.

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marksmanThe Marksman

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.

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noblerotNoble Rot

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.

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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.

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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.

Also try: The team's original restaurant in Islington, Trullo, where you'll also find some excellent pasta. 

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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. 

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Quality Chop HouseQuality Chop House

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.

Also try: The people behind the Quality Chop House have two very highly rated restaurants north of Oxford Street - Portland and Clipstone.

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River CaféRiver Café

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.

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35 Heddon St, London W1B 4BP

Mere days after it opened on Heddon Street, it was clear that London was in possession of an instant classic. Run by the perfect double act of chef Nieves Barragán and GM Josè Etura it's the kind of restaurant everyone wants to try, and once they've been are immediately plotting a return visit. It's a restaurant of two halves (if you ignore the stand-up bar section) with the (bookable) Asador on the upper level and counter dining by the open kitchen on the ground floor. Obviously, you're going to want the croquetas, but we adored the Presa Iberica 5 Jotas served on Mojo Verde.

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somsaaSom Saa

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 some of the best Thai food in town. Now happily ensconced in their permanent spot on the edge of the City, they've easily kept that crown. Look out for their lates sessions when they open the bar and restaurant into the wee small hours with a range of snacks to keep the party going.

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St JohnSt John

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.

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Sushi TetsuSushi Tetsu

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.

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westerknsWesterns Laundry

34 Drayton Park, London N5 1PB

Owners David Gingell and Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim also run nearby Primeur, but for our money this Holloway spot is the best of the two. There's a distinct focus on seafood and the menu changes everyday, although if the cuttlefish croquettes with aioli are on there, make sure you order those. In summertime you can take a glass of something cold out on the front courtyard and if you're really pushing the boat out, ask for the leather-bound, handwritten, ‘black book’ of fine wines.

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