101 things to do in London: restaurants, cafes and bars
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Scroll through the list below for our expert tips on the best restaurants and bars in London. Gourmet kebabs, subterranean suppers, Chinese delicacies and jellied eels – London has the world on a plate...
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Unique places to eat and drink in London
Ditch the cornflakes and explore what the city has to offer your empty stomach – try a classic full English in an East End caff such as E Pellicci in Bethnal Green, an exotic Antipodean concoction at Caravan or Lantana, or a posh brekkie at Dean Street Townhouse or The Wolseley: it’s well worth getting up for. Read our guide to London's best breakfasts and brunches
To the uninitiated, the kaleidoscope of Chinatown restaurants can make for a disorienting experience. It's all too easy to step into a rip-off tourist trap, but choose carefully and you’ll eat well. Set in the middle of Chinatown’s main artery, Gerrard Street, New Fook Lam Moon is always a safe bet. Head to Café de Hong Kong for an outstanding noodle selection or, if you fancy something a bit different, Little Lamb’s above-average Mongolian hotpots might fit the bill. Read our guide to the best restaurants in Chinatown
Stoke Newington Road, Dalston, is ocakbasi territory, and the tang of carbonised meat that hangs in the air leads hungry diners towards the many grills that line the busy street: there are enough Turkish grocers and football social clubs to give the area a strong ethnic identity. We like Mangal Ocakbasi on Arcola Street; 19 Numara Bos Cirrik round the corner; and Mangal II, also on Stoke Newington Road. More Turkish restaurants in London
... otherwise known as going to a dinner party with strangers. New supper clubs are always popping up, old ones quickly become passé and reservations are consistently hard to come by. Supperclub godmother MsMarmitelover’s Underground Restaurant remains very popular; the party keeps going after dessert at the Secret Larder; and you can experience high-end dining at Nuno Mendes’s Loft Project. Here’s how to get involved: subscribe to mailing lists, check Facebook and Twitter updates and jump on any opportunity to secure a place. Read our guide to 'underground restaurants' in London
Drink in a speakeasy
Economic depression and speakeasies seem to go together like Bonnie and Clyde. They’re all over London, but you need to be in the know. The thrill of illegal drinking may be missing, but the dress code, entertainment, secret door policy and hard liquor are all present and correct. Try Shoreditch’s Nightjar or The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town; The Experimental Cocktail Club in Chinatown; or the visually arresting Bathhouse in the City. Read our guide to London's best speakeasies
London has seen an explosion of artisan coffee shops in recent years – classic cappuccinos and espressos are well represented in all, but Kiwi speciality the flat white is making itself known everywhere too (sample the ace version at Kaffeine on Great Titchfield Street, W1). For truly groundbreaking brews, head to Prufrock, where halogen beam heaters and Japanese pour-over filters are used to create some of the best-tasting coffees in the city. Read our guide to the best coffee in London
Anyone who hasn’t lost an evening in the dark candlelit corners of this cellar bar by Charing Cross Station can’t call themselves a Londoner. Gordon’s was established in 1890 and little has changed since. Unlike most contemporary drinking establishments, there’s no music, no bright lights and no funky decor – which might explain why this is one of the most popular drinking spots in the West End. Choose from the extensive selection of wines by the glass, or plump for a sherry, Madeira or port, served from the barrel. On stifling summer evenings you can escape into the gardens – if you can squeeze yourself in among the crowd. Read more about Gordon’s Wine Bar
Long gone are the days when newspaper-wrapped fish and chips was the nation’s staple takeaway. Fish is still in demand, though, and increasingly chippies are rebranding themselves as sustainable and swanky. Look out for Poppies in the heart of Spitalfields, unusual fish and near-perfect chips from Fish Club, with two branches in Clapham, or Arbroath smokies and cream sauce in Finchley’s Two Brothers. Read our guide to London's best fish and chip restaurants
Flex those biceps and get ready to shake things up. No party swings like a cocktail party, so take the time to learn a few tricks with the pros. For some of the best lessons in town, splash out for one of Harvey Nichols's Saturday-morning masterclasses in the store’ fifth-floor bar (£60, including lunch), or head to Skylon at the Royal Festival Hall on the first Monday evening of the month, when top mixologist Zoran Peric hosts free lessons. Read our guide to London's best cocktail classes
For all the exciting entertainment and high culture the culture offers, a night down the pub is still a true Londoner’s favourite evening out. And why not, when the pubs are this good? Choose between boozers steeped in history, like the friendly Ye Olde Mitre Tavern in Holborn or the Holly Bush in Hampstead, or head for establishments that specialise in interesting beers, like the Euston Tap, Mason & Taylor in Shoreditch and The Old Brewery in Greenwich. Read our guide to London’s best bars and pubs
Anyone who has ever choked on a whelk will tell you that Britain’s contributions to the seafood canon aren’t to everyone’s taste. But if you do fancy some jellied eels, cockles, roll mops, winkles or pickled herring, then Tubby Isaacs, traditional East End purveyor of estuarial delicacies – in Petticoat Lane Market, on Goulston Street, near Aldgate East tube – is definitely the place to head for. You’d better Adam and Eve it. Read more about Petticoat Lane Market
Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, the Brick Lane Beigel Bake is open for business. The smell of hot bread pulled from the oven is irresistible, and its legendary bagels keep the clubbers, drinkers, cabbies and casual shoppers coming back time and time again. Salt beef and classic smoked salmon and cream cheese are our favourites. Also suggested by: InFormed London Read more about Brick Lane Beigel Bake
It’s the epitome of Britishness – sipping tea from delicate china, nibbling on crustless finger sandwiches and noshing on some pretty patisserie. A classic afternoon tea is best enjoyed in the grandeur of a London hotel, such as at the Lanesborough. Bea’s of Bloomsbury accompanies its tea with cupcakes, and for those in search of a most unusual afternoon treat, The Berkeley’s cakes are all inspired by the latest fashion trends. Read our guide to London's best afternoon teas
Wine and dine in a high-design setting
With bars and restaurants competing for the attention of eight million people, eating and drinking in London can be as much a feast for the eyes as for the stomach. Pop in for a drink at Sketch and take a tinkle in the pod-shaped toilets – complete with the sound of birdsong, or even a round of applause. A surreal 1930s vibe can be found at Bob Bob Ricard in Soho, while top chef Marcus Wareing's restaurant, The Gilbert Scott, inside the magnificently gothic St Pancras Renassiance Hotel, throws you straight back to the Victorian era. More restaurants and bars with 'wow factor'.
Indian cuisine is ubiquitous in London, but some of the finest eastern cooking is to be found on the western peripheries. In Southall, try New Asian Tandoori Centre for robust and assertive Punjabi curries, or Brilliant for the unique flavours of East African variants on Indian dishes. Or visit Ram’s in Harrow for tasty and authentic Gujarati food. Read our guide to London's best Indian restaurants
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