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Regency Cafe
Photograph: Regency Cafe

London’s best restaurants for breakfast

Whether you’d like to start your day in a posh restaurant, a greasy spoon or a biker café – it’s all here

Written by
Time Out London Food & Drink
,
Angela Hui
&
Joe Mackertich
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Breakfast truly is the meal of myriad options. And, luckily for denizens of London, the capital city caters to every possible whim.

These days the city is home to the fry-up, the avo and eggs on toast, the shakshuka and many more besides. London genuinely might be the best place to eat breakfast in the entire world. Whether you’d like to start your day in a posh restaurant, a greasy spoon or a biker café, we've rounded up the ultimate list. From tapas to croissants and acai bowls – it’s all here.

The best breakfasts in London

  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Seven Dials

Inspired by the year she spent in Copenhagen, Alex Hely-Hutchinson’s Covent Garden café serves up a range of wholesome porridges for breakfast, plus birchers and toasties for maximum hygge. The almond-milk-soaked oats with chia seeds make for an indulgent start to the day, plus there are some exotic dishes worth a try, such as the loquat and sweet cicely porridge. Clumsies should slurp their coffee with caution: the mugs are so Nordic-chic that they don’t have handles.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • St James’s
  • price 3 of 4

This place looks a bit like a really glittering ocean-liner restaurant. Fittingly, then, breakfast is a glam affair, replete with cleansing drinks and a ‘healthy’ section packed out with chia seeds. If you’re after indulgence though 45 Jermyn Street can do that too: in the ‘favourites’ section you can binge on scrambled egg with caviar.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Clerkenwell

This cute Clerkenwell café’s secret weapon is its co-owner, a qualified nutritionist who wields her knowledge for noble ends: a healthy breakfast that also ticks the taste box. The massive full english is entirely oven-roasted and includes genuinely tasty, gluten-free toast, while the frittata muffins are each loaded with three eggs and daily changing extras. There’s a spread of cakes and pastries by the kitchen, too, so grab a seat at the back for drooling purposes – plus there are ace smoothies. 

 

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Covent Garden

The breakfast menu at this lauded, lavish New York-style brasserie covers the usual eggs every which way (boiled with soldiers, florentine, pimped omelettes), to American-style pancakes and almond waffles. The full english breakfast costs £15.75, but if you’d prefer something a little lighter (actually, a lot lighter), porridge, fruit salad or granola are good options, or get a £10 panier for the table filled with pastries and freshly baked bread. And don’t forget to visit the boulangerie on your way out.

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  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Covent Garden

In the lowlands between Holborn and Covent Garden lies The Black Penny, a cheery café where diners will struggle to choose just one of the enticing cooked breakfasts on offer – there’s brioche french toast, crispy confit duck hash and even bubble and squeak. Make sure you sample the Gatherer – one of the finest vegetarian breakfasts in central London (grilled halloumi, sautéed spinach, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and homemade baked beans) too. Also check out its Sloane Square branch. 

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Marylebone

This most fashionable of London restaurants is virtually impossible to get a dinner reservation at, unless you’re an A-list celeb. However, it does breakfast from 7am-10.30am on weekdays. Be warned: prices are very high. Eggs benedict costs £20, granola is £10 and a black truffe and cheese toasie is £28 – but the dishes are all excellent. There are also cold-pressed fresh juices, such as kale, cucumber and ginger. No bookings are taken, so arrive early – and smile!

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Clerkenwell
  • price 3 of 4

The dining room at this re-launched Victorian pub looks like a cross between a cottage and a conservatory. Cosy up and enjoy the gourmet spread of coconut and pecan granola, mushrooms on toast and avocado with poached eggs – or sample the delicious bacon-and-egg bap. Teas, coffees and fresh juices are also on offer.

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • King’s Cross
  • price 3 of 4

From the same crew behind The Palomar and The Barbary, this Tom Dixon-designed restaurant dishes out the flavours of modern Jerusalem – it’s a melting pot of the region’s most exciting edibles, from North Africa and the Middle East. Dishes include pancakes with date syrup, winter vegetables with tahini, plus a red or green shakshuka. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Tower Hill

This riverside joint near Tower Bridge has plenty going for it – ace aquatic views from the sunny south-facing terrace, a luxe brass wraparound bar, striking herringbone flooring – but the glam-but-chilled breakfast menu is one of its best features. The eggs line-up is benedict or kiln-smoked salmon royale, both served on toasted english muffins or ‘naked’; while the virtuous ‘garden breakfast’ comes with field mushrooms, roast tomato, eggs and halloumi. 

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Spitalfields
  • price 3 of 4

An all-day café in a handsome glass and zinc pavilion – this place bashes out quality dishes with slick service. The food here is well executed – avocado sourdough toast, eggs benedict and halloumi flatbread with harissa eggs – and the specialty coffees (made with Assembly Roast) are awesome.

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Soho

Even at an early hour, the dark-panelled dining rooms of this ever-popular all-day Soho restaurant buzz with the animated chatter of media types. The smooth service eases things along nicely, too. It’s largely classics on the breakfast menu: eggs all ways, porridge, kedgeree, full english. There are fruit smoothies and Scots will be heartened to see tattie scones and lorne (square) sausage on the menu. 

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Covent Garden

The newly renovated Covent Garden branch of this Bombay-styled café is ideally placed for morning meetings but has enough colonial knick-knacks to make you feel a million miles away from London. The Parsi power breakfasts, bacon naan roll and gently spiced chai are a hit among the masses. Green-chilli-flecked scrambled eggs are just as popular – a warming plate with traditional (and fluffy) pau buns served on the side. In a hurry? The bacon naan roll is a cult favourite, and you can grab it and go.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Liverpool Street

The richly indulgent breakfast menu here has it all: English fry-ups, shakshuka and South American-style scrambled eggs, plus a waffle section owned by the signature duck ’n’ waffle – crispy duck leg confit on a sweet waffle, topped with a fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup. Temptation abounds: truffled and baked duck eggs are served with wild mushrooms, lots of melted gruyère and toast soldiers, while drinks options include cocktails, bubbly and hot chocolate.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Bethnal Green

If ever proof were needed that not all caffs are created equal, this Grade II-listed greasy spoon on Bethnal Green Road is it. People come here as much for the atmosphere and decor as for the (good-end-of-average) grub. Inside, it has an almost opulent feel, harking back to a time when caff culture was king in the capital. Chrome-lined vitrolite panels cover the outside, and the wood-panelled interior is full of formica tables and art deco touches. Food is still prepared with pride every day by Mama Maria – queen of the kitchen since 1966.

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • City of London

Businessmen are clearly the target demographic for the mainly massive and meaty breakfasts at this esteemed steakhouse (the Guildhall branch is the only one serving at this time of day). You could opt for porridge or granola, but that’s missing the point – here, it’s all about steak, hash browns and eggs; short-rib bubble and squeak; Manx kippers with poached eggs; or a full English that would fill an elephant. All the incidentals – filter coffee, squeezed juice – are also excellent.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Covent Garden

This bistro may be known for its former chef Ollie Dabbous, but now under Sylvain Roucayrol it’s become an extremely decent Basque-influenced spot. Try the iberico ham toastie with quail’s eggs, lip-smacking churros and chocolate, or go all out with the full Basque breakfast. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Mayfair
  • price 4 of 4

The ground floor of super-chef Ollie Dabbous’s Michelin-starred restaurant-and-bar complex serves up a range of divine breakfast treats. There are the pimped-up basics – like the Jersey milk porridge or the viennoiserie (freshly baked on site daily) – but also some more adventurous, pricier options (try the smoked eel omelette or oysters with caviar).

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Warren Street

Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer’s Warren Street modest Israeli-run café delivers the breakfast goods with the likes of an overspilling sabich; shakshuka; and a big sharing mezze for the whole table to hare. Or, if you want something on the o grab buns, yoghurt and loaves to take away.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Brasseries
  • Kensington

Breakfast might look like an afterthought on The Ivy Kensington Brasserie’s all-day dining menu, but despite the less-than-imaginative options, you’re guaranteed to get impeccable food for a bright start to your day. Luxurious dishes such as the lobster-and-asparagus gratin are highlights and really play to the westside London crowd. 

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Soho

Udon noodle joint Koya has gone well beyond its remit, opening for morning meals too. As well as the classic Japanese combo of grilled fish, miso soup, pickles and rice, Koya Soho turns breakfast on its head with morning udon dishes such as hot noodles with raw egg and soy sauce (kama tama udon), and full-english-breakfast-inspired egg, bacon and shiitake mushroom udon.

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Ole & Steen
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • St James’s

The bread’s the star of the breakfast menu at this swish Danish bakery. It’s all about simple, dough-based flavour combos: floury white rolls stuffed with bacon; a parma ham and cheese toasted focaccia seasoned with just the subtlest lick of mustard-mayo. Take yours to go, or dine in style on Ole & Steen’s smart dark-wood tables. Avo and eggs, luxury porridge and yoghurt are on offer, too – but when the bread’s this good, why branch out?  There are other outlets in Richmond, Canary Wharf, Bedford Avenue, Victoria, Wigmore Street, Westfield, High Street Kensington, Charing Cross, and Eccleston Yards. 

  • Restaurants
  • Pâtisseries
  • Islington

The Dualit toasters on each table have been a feature ever since this enduringly popular hotspot opened. But really, with a breakfast menu this intriguing, why would you go for toast that you can just as easily make at home? Ottolenghi has put shakshuka, the North African dish of eggs, peppers and tomatoes, on London’s culinary map; and it’s raised baked beans to glorious heights in dishes with chunks of ham hock and fried eggs. This is probably what your first breakfast in heaven tastes like.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Shoreditch

Kiwi-owned Ozone Coffee Roasters is a big hit with the office workers. Order eggs whatever which way from eggs benedict on crunchy bubble ‘n’ squeak cakes to Turkish eggs with labneh, and omelettes. Or, f you don't fancy the yolky stuff there’s granola, pancakes and banana bread with hazlnut butter and jam. 

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Pimlico
  • price 1 of 4

This is the mother of all caffs. The iconic full English and fry up specialist has been around since 1946 and has rightly gained its institutation status. Go back in time and plonk yourself at one of the Mid Century tables. Order all the stodge: eggs, lasagne, omelettes, baked potatoes and every conceivable cooked breakfast.

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Shoreditch

An understated canteen set in a classy converted bike shed, Rochelle Canteen is best enjoyed in the summer: what’s nicer than breakfasting outside surrounded by flowers? The menu here is short and sweet: choose between porridge, eggs on toast and a few other items. NB: It opens at 9am, so it’s one for the later workers.  

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Fitzrovia
  • price 3 of 4

More spacious than Islington’s original Ottolenghi, Rovi bashes out dishes with Middle Eastern, Greek and Asian flavours. There is the shakshuka with duck egg, or the grilled manouri cheese with za’atar honey, alongside scrambled eggs on jalapeño cornbread and the ‘full house’ breakfast with a sumptuous potato rosti.

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Spitalfields

For the most part, the Spitalfields offshoot of Fergus Henderson’s pioneering, clattery nose-to-tail joint replicates the Smithfield original in miniature, but it’s got an early-morning advantage over its alma mater: breakfast. It’s marvellous – a gutsy trip through trad classics such as devilled kidneys, ‘scotch woodcock’ (toast with scrambled eggs and gentleman’s relish) and slabs of just-crisp blood pudding with house brown sauce. Even the granola – topped with poached apricots and rich yoghurt – is ace. And the best thing? The glorious, excessively buttery bacon sanwich is back in action.

  • Restaurants
  • Brasseries
  • Piccadilly

If you like to start your day with a sense of occasion, it doesn’t get much better than The Wolseley, Piccadilly’s iconic art deco grand café. From a just-baked pastry or an omelette Arnold Bennett, to a decadent kedgeree or the creamed porridge with peach and apricot compote. Prices are not low – the oligarchic caviar-and-lobster omelette is a whopping £55 but at a place of this exceptional quality you wouldn’t expect them to be. During the week, things kick off at 7am. 

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Southwark

A word-of-mouth favourite of Southwark Street’s many jobbing architects, journos and early-rising tourists, The Table is an ace little spot for grab-and-go coffees, pastries and superlative sandwiches. It’s also a fine place to dine in, with a wider brekkie menu heavy on eggs, avocado and pancakes, as well as a vaunted vegan riff on a full english. You can also ask for some off-the-menu granola. More ‘old-school’ morning meetings could – should! – be incentivised with a breakfast cocktail.

  • Restaurants
  • Global
  • Fitzrovia
  • price 4 of 4

It may be named after a Venezuelan jungle plant, but this eatery serves a fusion of modern European and South American. The bakery selection is on point (try the Danish basket), and there is also an extensive egg menu, including the royale, benedict and florentine. 

Or while away the weekend?

  • Restaurants

Brunch in London is bigger than ever. You can barely set foot out your front door at the weekend without stumbling across a steaming pan of shakshuka or finding the waft of waffles in the air. So let us guide you to the best spots in town for a kick-ass weekend brunch in London, from boozy bottomless brunches to traditional Full English fry-ups and even New York-style feasts, you can start off your weekend in style. 

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