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counter culture
© Jamie Lau

The 15 best London restaurant openings of 2016

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Drumroll, please! Here they are: the most exciting places to feed us since we made all those failed resolutions.

The Barbary, Neal's Yard, Covent Garden

 

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From the folks that gave us Israeli hotspot The Palomar comes its even sexier younger sister, with 24 stools set around the action.

Top tip: Get there by 6.30pm on a weekday and you might get a seat.

Bao, Fitzrovia

 

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Just as great – and great value – as the filled steamed Taiwanese buns original, but in a smarter setting (plus cosy seats downstairs).

Top tip: Go beyond bao and sample the rice bowls and brand new sides.

Bombetta, Snaresbrook

 

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The regional Puglian speciality of cured meat and cheese parcels is making a splash in Snaresbrook.

Top tip: Don’t just order the bombetta – the salads and sides are ace, too.

Chick ’n’ Sours, Covent Garden

 

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Not only the home of the most game-changing fried chook burger in town, it’s also a cool hangout and incredibly good value.

Top tip: Order the green slaw and the sriracha mayo too. They rock.

Counter Culture, Clapham

 

The small plates at this tiny, grungy little counter restaurant from The Dairy will blow you away.

Top tip: Ask to sit at the ‘chef’s counter’ – they’re the best seats.

Dominique Ansel Bakery, Victoria


You may think you’ve tried this doughnut-croissant hybrid, but the recipe (developed at the NYC bakery) is patented: there’s no Cronut like an original Cronut.

Top tip: Don’t just order a Cronut – try the terrific upside-down banana paella, too.

Kerb, Camden

 

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At last, decent grab-and-go in Camden Market, thanks to clusters of stalls from acclaimed street food collective Kerb. That’s right: eat from Kimchinary, Mother Clucker and Club Mexicana in one sitting.

Top tip: Start behind (permanent) café Lantana.

Kiln, Soho

 

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From the same crew as Smoking Goat, you can get all the edgy, smoky-sweet-sour-salt-and-spice flavour, only this time sitting at a kitchen counter bar.

Top tip: Call first to see if the suckling pig is in.

Legs, Hackney


Don’t be fooled by Magnus Reid’s ‘scruffy surfer dude’ look: the chef and owner of this neighbourhood-restaurant-cum-wine-bar knows how to put a good-looking (and beautiful-tasting) plate of food together.

Top tip: Order a bowl of the deep-fried potatoes – they’re delish.

Molly Bakes, Dalston

 

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It’s official: 2016 was the year of the freakshake. A huge monstrosity of a milkshake, pimped to the max with whipped cream, brownies, Oreo chunks and chocolate sauce. And guess what? It’s actually great.

Top tip: Chocolate’s the go-to, but we prefer the moreish peanut number.

Native, Neal's Yard, Covent Garden

 

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Some ingredients at this charming Neal’s Yard restaurant may be wild, native and foraged, but the end result is refined and exciting.

Top tip: Ask to sit in the nook under the stairs – it’s super-cute.

Padella, London Bridge

 

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There’s more to life than pasta and pesto. Try this dinky Borough Market spot (from the folks behind Trullo in N1) – it’s great value, too.

Top tip: The eight-hour beef shin ragù with pappardelle is a must.

Randy’s Wing Bar, Hackney Wick

 

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This street-food-stall-turned-restaurant does a mean line in wings. You name an edgy flavour, they’ll do it. Service is also great.

Top tip: Buffalo wings are their signature, but go with gangnam.

Som Saa, Spitalfields

 

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The one-time hit residency (from two chefs who met at Nahm) now serves its thrilling northern Thai flavours in slick, sexy, crowdfunded surrounds.

Top tip: If you go as a four you’ll be able to book and request a ‘cabina’.

Temper, Soho

 

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The chargrill takes centre stage at Neil Rankin’s new basement restaurant, where slabs of meat are barbecued, then carved into small plates and rough fusion tacos.

Top tip: Sit at the counter for drama or ask for a booth if you’re a gang.

Find more amazing restaurants in our countdown: the 100 best restaurants in London.

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