Get us in your inbox

Search
holborn restaurants, the black penny

The best restaurants in Holborn

From a light bite to a slap-up dinner, here are the best places to eat and drink near Holborn

Edited by
Alice Saville
Written by
Time Out London Food & Drink
Advertising

Holborn doesn't always have the most glamorous of reputations: sandwiched between trendier districts, it's full of harried office workers and bland lunch chains. But look a bit closer and you'll find some seriously good dining options, with none of the hype of Soho or the pre-theatre rush of Covent Garden. Whether you're after old school fish and chips, arty cafes, fancy fine dining or down-to-earth little neighbourhood eateries, you'll find it here. 

Recommended: Here are London's best restaurants

The best restaurants in Holborn

Roka Aldwych
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Holborn
  • price 1 of 4

As a stablemate of Zuma, Roka’s Aldwych branch gets the gold seal of approval from aficionados for its fresh-as-they-come sushi and juicy cuts of meat straight off the robata grill. It’s a flashy place to splurge on the expense account, although it’s also worth keeping an eye out for more affordable bottomless brunch deals with plenty of signature dishes washed down with wine. The restaurant’s dessert platter on ice has to be seen to be believed.

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Covent Garden

The queues are endless at this branch of no-bookings Barrafina in the hinterland between Holborn and Covent Garden, but your patience is amply rewarded once you claim your stool at the L-shaped marble counter. Flawless cooking is a given, and the hero kitchen doesn’t disappoint when it comes to delivering starry scene-stealing tapas – seafood empanadas, pork belly with chickpeas, chargrilled artichokes romesco and so on. Your money might go further in Spain, but who cares when the quality’s this good.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Holborn

Discreetly hidden next to Holborn station, this bustling below-stairs restaurant was spreading the Korean gospel long before kimchi, bulgogi and bibimbap became buzzwords in London. Tabletop hot plates do the business on everything from beef to deftly marinated pork belly, while the full menu includes most of the usual suspects – think bowls of spicy yuk kae jang soup, savoury pa jeon (seafood pancakes) and yuk hwae (Korea’s answer to steak tartare with soy, pear and egg yolk).

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Bloomsbury

More restaurant than wine bar these days, Noble Rot comes from the owners of the eponymous magazine, a cult read for London’s oenophiles. This venue also boasts some serious culinary cred, with Stephen Harris of the Michelin-starred Sportsman in Whitstable consulting on the seasonal menu. Expect wine-loving Franglais dishes ranging from lamb’s sweetbreads with broad beans to seared thornback ray with brown shrimp and caper butter. Wine buffs can pick up a copy of the mag while they’re there, too.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Covent Garden

The interior of this highly-instagrammable Italian restaurant is a hectic blend of Catholic kitsch, bright red tiles and zebra stripes. But the food is as straightforwardly delicious as the aesthetic is complex: satisfy your carb cravings with carbonara ravioli, sumptuously pillowy pizzas, or a slice of its mammoth 60cm tall stracciatella ice cream cake. 

Dapur
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Holborn

This cosy little Malaysian food spot serves up the kind of delicious workday lunch (it's closed at the weekend) that'll make even the grimmest Monday into a joy. Go for the standout beef rendang, or opt for veggie options like the pumpkin masak lemak.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Bloomsbury

The noodles served at this functional drop-in between Holborn and Bloomsbury are of the Chinese hand-pulled variety – stretched, folded, then stretched some more, before being piled up into big bundles or doused in sumptuous soup. Chang’s on-trend soup dumplings are also fragrant and perfectly chewy, while Sichuan classics such as mapo tofu or pig’s ears in chill oil will blow your head off – even if you’re used to living on the spicy edge.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Holborn

A real-deal chippy, Fryer’s Delight has been serving up the good stuff in Holborn since 1962. It may look like a London cabbie’s hole-up with its Formica-topped tables, long benches and old-school menu scrawled on the wall, but fans come from far and wide to sample its wares. Expect battered cod, rock, skate, fishcakes, roe, saveloys, pies and chicken – with chips, peas and ‘wallies’ (chubby pickled gherkins) on the side, plus tartare sauce and ketchup. Don’t forget a can of fizzy pop too.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Holborn

It’s a bonus to find proper Vietnamese cooking in Holborn, so load up on soups, summer rolls, bánh xeo (pancakes) and other classics at this handily placed venue. At lunchtime, local workers pop in for takeaway bánh mì (crisp baguettes stuffed with pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber and a filling of your choice), while the various versions of pho are perfectly decent renditions.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Aldwych

Hip and minimalist, with splashes of colour from its Ottolenghi-style displays of salads and cakes, this cute café is a boon for the crowds of tourists and legal eagles who circle around Aldwych. There’s coconut milk porridge for breakfast on-the-go, plus an array of inventive sandwiches, toasties and other savoury fillers, all backed by Assembly coffee and seasonal cold-pressed juices. Great food, good looks and a friendly vibe – who could ask for more?

Advertising
Holborn Dining Room
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Holborn
  • price 3 of 4

A grand British brasserie, the Holborn Dining Room within the Rosewood hotel is all plush red-leather banquettes, pillars, tweed detailing and marble floors – like a bustling salon or an old, gentlemen’s club. The menu matches the aesthetic with true Brit dishes such as hot buttered shrimp, roast pork belly or lemon curd slice – although top billing goes to the meaty output of the pie-making room. The food is complemented by one of the largest stocks of gin in London.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Bloomsbury

If you’re heading from Holborn towards the British Museum, take time to visit this lively Japanese eatery specialising in okonomiyaki – savoury omelettes/pancakes that are whipped up in front of your very eyes on a special hotplate fitted into each table. All you have to do is pick your fillings and garnishes. Alternatively, dip into the selection of teppanyaki grills, soba noodles, gyoza and the like, finishing off with a mitsumame fruit salad and sweet red beans.

Advertising
Ippudo Central Saint Giles
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • St Giles

It’s an easy hop from Holborn station to this flagship London branch of the super-slick Ippudo chain – a deafening multi-storey labyrinth overlooking St Giles Piazza. The speciality is big-flavoured bowls of tonkotsu featuring sliced pork loin, cloud-ear mushrooms and own-made noodles, but Ippudo trades on variety – so you can also get hirata bins, black cod with miso, seared wagyu beef, chicken karaage, rice bowls and lots more besides, plus fun cocktails and premium sakés. No bookings, so be ready for long queues.

Kintan
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Holborn

It’s all about roll-your-sleeves-up DIY at this branch of Kintan – a bargain-basement Japanese eatery specialising in yakiniku, a variant of Korean BBQ involving a smoky thick-ridged grill built into each table. The fully illustrated medley ranges from USDA kalbi short-rib to duck breast and tiger prawns, but we’re sold on the pre-marinated spicy pork. Wipe-clean menus are splashed with red-sticker deals, while daily ‘happy hours’ just keep rolling on – so you’re quids in from the start.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Covent Garden

If you enjoy luxuriating in sumptuous vintage glamour, you’re going to love Margot – a gloriously old-school Italian complete with a behatted doorman, a jazzy crooning soundtrack, flattering lighting and a wealth of brasserie luxe trappings. The food is smart and elegantly rendered (think pan-fried hake with fregola, shellfish and sea herbs), although it almost plays second fiddle to the ritzy surrounds, cosseting staff and dizzying 300-bin wine list. Worth the trip from Holborn station to Great Queen Street.

The Black Penny
  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Covent Garden

A terrific breakfast, brunch and lunch spot midway between Holborn and Covent Garden stations, this cheery café/takeaway is right on the money. Early birds come here for brioche French toast, bubble ’n’ squeak and confit duck hash, while others take time out over sprightly salads, soups, stews and quiches. With enticing sweet treats, invigorating coffee, piles of arty magazines and a super-soulful soundtrack added to the mix, it’s tempting to spend all day here.

Advertising
Café Murano Covent Garden
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Covent Garden
  • price 3 of 4

A few minutes’ stroll from Holborn station, in Covent Garden’s ‘Opera Quarter’, this is queen bee Angela Hartnett in casual mode, offering laid-back café-luxe and a menu of hearty Italian flavours, peasant classics and intricate cicchetti plates. You can opt for a helping of pasta (tortelli with lemon, ricotta and marjoram) or go the whole hog with some antipasti and dolci too. Start things off with a CM spritz, before settling into the gorgeous reds from small Italian producers.

Opera Tavern
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Covent Garden
  • price 2 of 4

Although it parted company with the Salt Yard group in 2018, it’s business as usual at this old stager opposite the Drury Lane Theatre (less than ten minutes’ walk from Holborn station). Once a thespian watering hole, it now serves up charcuterie, cheeses and modish small plates such as Gorgonzola-topped beef and lardo sliders. The food is solid rather than spectacular, although OT is just the ticket if you fancy knocking back a few sherries with some croquetas.

Advertising
The Delaunay
  • Restaurants
  • Brasseries
  • Aldwych

Strutting its stuff down Aldwych way since 2012, this crowd-pulling take on a grand European café comes from the ever-productive duo of Corbin & King (The Wolseley, Brasserie Zedel, Bellanger etc). The menu covers breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner and everything in between – think pancakes, brioche burgers, tartes flambées, schnitzels, choucroute, sausages and indulgent viennoiserie. For something more laid-back, try the no-bookings counter next door with its tempting range of sandwiches, pastries and light bites.

  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Holborn

This hip cafe is decked with gorgeous abstract murals, making it a standout hangout spot on bland Grays Inn Road. Opt for one of their carefully made coffees, or go for their Greek-inflected menu of brunch and daytime food options. Pick a bottle of their homemade coffee sriracha to enjoy later. 

Recommended
    You may also like
      Bestselling Time Out offers
        Advertising

        The best things in life are free.

        Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

        Loading animation
        Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

        🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

        Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!