The best new restaurants in London

Where's hot? Where’s great? Err, this lot: London’s best new restaurants and cafés to have opened up in the last 12 months.
By Tania Ballantine |
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December 2018: We've given this feature a full-on overhaul: this is now our pick of the very best new restaurants of 2018. Look out for small plates supremos BrightLeroy and Levan; the smoky, Israeli-inspired flavours of Rovi and Coal Office, Burmese brilliance at Shoreditch's Lahpet, fusion excellence at Scully, and beautiful wild food at Borough newcomer Native.

Every week, a frankly stupid amount of brilliant new restaurants, cafés and street food joints arrive in London. Which makes whittling a shortlist of best newbies down to manageable size one helluva challenge. But here it is. The very best London restaurants of the last 12 months. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: eating out in London kicks ass.

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best restaurants in London

The best new restaurants in London

Restaurants, Middle Eastern

Berenjak

icon-location-pin Soho

Berenjak is to Persian cuisine as Bao is to Taiwanese, or Hoppers is to Sri Lankan: a casual little Soho joint where you can sample the street food flavours of a nation in an atmospheric space where you’ll want to hang out with your mates. Don’t miss the chargrilled poussin: it’s the best thing here.

Restaurants, Indian

Brigadiers

icon-location-pin Mansion House

One of the two best restaurants in the Bloomberg Arcade (the other being Kym’s), Brigadiers is a smart Indian grill from the folks behind Gymkhana and Trishna, to name two. Carved into a warren of different rooms, it’s a handsome spot with the intimate, welcoming vibe of a members’ club. We loved the Indo-Chinese chicken lettuce wraps, the fish-finger pao and the teeny ox cheek vindaloo samosas. You will too. 

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Restaurants, Contemporary Global

Bright

icon-location-pin South Hackney

From the crack team at popular Dalston wine shop P Franco comes this small-plates joint in the glass-sided box once home to Ellory (RIP). The modernist menu is as eclectic as it gets: think crusts-cut-off chicken katsu sarnies or mussels in a mackerel-laced broth with kohlrabi slivers.

London's best sushi restaurants, chisou
© Kevin Nicholson
Restaurants, Japanese

Chisou

icon-location-pin Mayfair

Chisou is a smart restaurant for people who are serious about sushi, but still want to have a fun time. You won’t find any fusion-y gimmicks here: it does, as it puts it, ‘Japanese food the way the Japanese like to eat it’. But neither is it a hushed ten-seater joint waiting to relieve you of a month’s salary. Go for terrific sushi and top-notch chicken karaage, stay for the signature baby spinach salad. 

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Restaurants, Middle Eastern

Coal Office

icon-location-pin King's Cross

The loveliest tunnel you’ll ever eat in, Coal Office is a joint venture from designer Tom Dixon and Israeli celeb chef Assaf Granit (whose group also gave us smoky Middle Eastern hits The Palomar and The Barbary). Yup. Dream team.

Restaurants, Contemporary European

Cora Pearl

icon-location-pin Covent Garden

Theatregoers who are fans of the dangerously atmospheric Shepherd Market bistro Kitty Fisher’s will be thrilled to see that she’s now got a sister in Covent Garden. Once again named in honour of famous courtesan, it’s dark and cosy, dishing up elegant takes on vintage comfort food. It’s already a hit with the A-listers, and an instant classic.

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Restaurants, Seafood

Cornerstone

icon-location-pin Hackney Wick

He trained under seafood supremo Nathan Outlaw, but now chef Tom Brown is making waves for himself, serving meticulous fine-dining food – with an emphasis on the fruits of the ocean – in this ruggedly handsome Hackney spot.

Restaurants, Spanish

The Counter at Sabor

icon-location-pin Mayfair

Having led Barrafina to glory, tapas queen Nieves Barragán Mohacho has finally gone solo, with a rustic and colourful three-venues-in-one site just off Regent Street. Sit at the counter, and order tortilla, black tomato salad and tartaleta to finish.

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Restaurants, Spanish

El Asador at Sabor

icon-location-pin Mayfair

If it’s tapas bar drama you want, you’ll have to stick to the street-level counter. Up here on the first floor, the kitchen is open, but a safe distance away, and at a right angle to the communal tables. That said, the food is excellent, you can actually book, and it’s the place where you’re more likely to find Spanish superstar Nieves Barragán Mohacho doing what she does best. Save up for a piece of the suckling pig (and get a great value tortilla, too).

Restaurants, British

Ham

icon-location-pin West Hampstead

A smart destination restaurant in West Hampstead, Hām may be on the pricy side, but the service and food make it worth saving up for. Hām’s secret is that it serves luxuriously simple cooking, but every plate is cut through with something unexpected. Look out for the kickass tempura and asparagus bowl, or the saddleback pork with anchovies.

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Restaurants, Contemporary European

Hatched

icon-location-pin Wandsworth

If you’re south of the river and but want W1 standards without actually crossing the damn thing, Hatched is the place to be. Sure, it had a few niggles to iron out (slightly bright lights, slightly slow service), but man alive the food is good. Try it before everyone else finds out. 

Venue says Between Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Town, we strive to deliver exciting dishes, from around the world in a cosy and relaxed atmosphere.

Restaurants, Contemporary European

Hide Above

icon-location-pin Mayfair

While the street-level Hide Ground has its merits (like having an à la carte menu, meaning you can – slightly – reduce the pain of the bill), it’s this smaller, tasting-menu-only room on the galleried first floor that’s the real draw. Light and airy (it’s the feminine ‘yin’ to Hide Ground’s ‘yang’), it combines the exquisite food of super-chef Ollie Dabbous with service that’s as polished as it gets. But get someone else to pay: it ain’t cheap.  

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kricket soho
© Paul Winch-Furness
Restaurants, Indian

Kricket Brixton

icon-location-pin Brixton

Home at last. Having started life in a Pop Brixton shipping container, then moved to Soho for its first bricks-and-mortar site, it’s fitting that the second branch of this Indian-with-a-Brit-twist small-plates restaurant should be right back in SW9, in the hood where it all started. Oh, and it’s brilliant, too. 

Restaurants, South African

Kudu

icon-location-pin Peckham

It’s not just homesick Saffas who love this place. Retro with a feminine edge, with sweet staff to boot, this Queen’s Road spot does a mean line in small and sharing plates, only South  African-style. Try the lamb braai: it’s seriously lekker.

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Restaurants, Chinese

Kym's

icon-location-pin Mansion House

Drumroll please: of all the restaurants in swish City development Bloomberg Arcade, this one’s the best. We’re talking regional Chinese street food from top chef Andrew Wong in a relaxed, buzzy space, plus a non-offensive price tag.

Restaurants, Burmese

Lahpet

icon-location-pin Shoreditch

If you loved the original Lahpet, with its thrilling Burmese flavours (Thai-slash-Indian-ish), then you’ll adore this reboot. The space is larger and more stylish – we love the booths – but the food is as ace as ever. Don’t miss the yellow pea paratha.

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Restaurants, Contemporary European

Leroy

icon-location-pin Shoreditch

It’s not just a Shoreditch reincarnation of Hackney’s Michelin-starred Ellory with a simpler name. It’s better than the original: lighter, more relaxed, and with the kind of tapas-sized modish plates of food you’ll want to drink wine with.

Restaurants, British

Levan

icon-location-pin Peckham Rye

Levan is more than just a spin-off of Brixton’s Salon. It’s a neighbourhood hangout with the full package: good looks, great music, the kind of staff you want to be friends with and modern European dishes that are special, but never too fussy.

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Restaurants, British

Native

icon-location-pin Southwark

Don’t be frightened of Native’s menu. Yes, many of the ingredients are wild, and occasionally they’re foraged, but the flavours are subtle and sophisticated. As is the brand new site: it’s like being inside the pages of a glossy magazine.

Restaurants, American

Two Lights

icon-location-pin Shoreditch

From the cool cats that gave us laidback Michelin-starred spot The Clove Club comes this casual hangout on Kingsland Road. Don’t be fooled by the chillaxed vibe: the varied menu’s an absolute beaut (and the whole roasted artichoke a must).

Venue says A Shoreditch small plates, modern-American restaurant by Chase Lovecky and the team behind The Clove Club.

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Restaurants, Contemporary European

Roganic

icon-location-pin Marylebone

If nothing else, the Roganic crew deserve an award for making this once-awkward site on Marylebone’s Blandford Street, formerly home to L’autre Pied, into a place of cool, calm loveliness. On the whole, the food – from star chef Simon Rogan – is stunning. This is a tasting-menu-only kind of a place (with long or short options, plus a £35 set business lunch that’s a steal). And we especially like the service: the GM is a delight.

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