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
What is it: A branch of the tapas restaurant at Coal Drops Yard.
Why go: To snack on Spanish delights like salt-baked prawns and crispy croquetas.
What is it: A boho-chic Persian joint in Soho from the group behind Bao and Hoppers.
Why go: The chargrilled poussin: practically perfect in every way.
What is it: A smart-casual riverside restaurant at a boutique Richmond hotel.
Why go: The food. The freebies. The flattering light. Oh, and did we mention the views?
What is it: A new branch of the chophouse in Shoreditch.
Why go: For a great-value plate of tender, caramelised chops.
What is it: The first permanent eatery from the street food supremos.
Why go: Awesome beef burgers. Meaty bites. Stellar service.
What is it: A tasting-menu neighbourhood restaurant from an ex-Pidgin chef.
Why go: For a home-from-home vibe, but without the washing up.
What is it: The fine-dining restaurant at Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel.
Why go: For Lego people you can spread on your bread.
What is it: The flagship London branch of a dumpling chain.
Why go: For wontons in black vinegar and chilli oil. But do get the prawn and pork pancake too.
What is it: A Shoreditch pizza and pasta restaurant with OTT interiors.
Why go: To say you’ve been. Oh, and for pasta carbonara served out of a parmesan wheel.
What is it: A classy Cantonese restaurant in Mayfair.
Why go: For the best Cantonese duck (that is, no pancakes) in town.
What is it: An all-day bakery, restaurant and bar in Newington Green.
Why go: For just-baked bread and bucketloads of ambiance.
What is it: A Filipino small plate joint in Hoxton.
Why go: To pop your kinilaw cherry.
What is it: A swish Indian restaurant in a Chelsea townhouse.
Why go: For stone bass and sago pud, plus a curry-load of charm.
What is it: A Clerkenwell restaurant in a former linoleum warehouse.
Why go: For the cheddar and sauerkraut croquettes, or the croissant bread-and-butter pud. Or both.
What is it: A homely Indian restaurant in Mayfair, from the chef behind Dum Biryani in Soho.
Why go: The goat biryani. Royally good rice.
What is it: A Bloomsbury restaurant serving food from China's Shaanxi province.
Why go: For the traditional liangpi noodles. Chilly but brilli(ant).
What is it: A stylish brasserie on Chelsea's posh Cheyne Walk.
Why go: For chargrilled, melt-in-the-mouth rib-eye steak.
What is it: A smart-casual neighbourhood restaurant from chef Jackson Boxer.
Why go: The brown bread ice cream with popcorn: a £5 holy grail of puds.
What is it: An outdoor terrace restaurant from Barrafina, offering tabletop grilling.
Why go: The pork collar. The milk-fed lambs’ kidneys. That £5 baby gem salad.
What is it: A sibling of the Peruvian fusion restaurant, this time in Shoreditch.
Why go: Because it’s time you tried Peruvian kimchi for yourself.
What is it: A neighbourhood restaurant in Hackney serving modern izakaya-style food.
Why go: Records in the corner. Service with a smile. Drinking food to die for.
What is it: A smart Sichuan restaurant in Stratford.
Why go: The jellyfish. Black vinegar, garlic and just enough crunch.
What is it: A second branch of Sushisamba, this time in Covent Garden.
Why go: For the wackiest sushi in town.
Venue says Elevate the holiday traditions with a series of festive dishes inspired by our chefs visit to the Peruvian Amazon, benefiting Cool Earth.
What is it: A low-key Puglian trattoria in Islington.
Why go: For a fava bean purée you'll want to bathe in.
Venue says Authentic Italian charm, Terra Rossa takes diners on a journey through the sun-baked region of Puglia renowned for its rich local cuisine.
What is it: A street-foody fried chicken joint in Brixton Market.
Why go: For the Meltdown: a phenomenal burger with melty, miso-laced cheese.
What is it: A younger sibling to the Clove Club, with creative small plates.
Why go: For roast artichoke with a sunflower seed and miso dip. Retro heaven.
Venue says A Shoreditch small plates, modern-American restaurant by Chase Lovecky and the team behind The Clove Club.
What is it: A British-French dining room above an iconic Old Soho boozer.
Why go: For the calf’s brains: a hyper-rich hit of offal.
What is it: The Soho outpost of famed Istanbul restaurant Yeni Lokanta.
Why go: Snazzy salad. Bread pudding fritters. And everything in between.
What is it: An all-day Fitzrovia dining room with South American influences.
Why go: For DIY tacos you won’t want to share.
What is it: An innovative tasting-menu restaurant in Marylebone.
Why go: Because, admit it, you love food more than the person sitting next to you.
Walking down a cobbled alley in London is a little like chasing a rainbow: sometimes, if you’re really lucky, there’s a pot of gold at the end. Master Wei is precisely that treasure. It may not look especially swish – though it is bright and clean – but that’s missing the point. You’re in search of this: the food. The menu focuses on dishes from the Shaanxi province of China, which is currently having a bit of a London moment, thanks to the popularity of its biang biang, or ‘wide belt’, noodles. If you don’t know what these are (let’s suppose you’ve been on a silent retreat for several years), the best place to start is to imagine something akin to pappardelle: the wide, ribbon-y kind. Now pimp that plate: making the noodles wider, thicker and longer, like something you might whip out to lash bits of your car together if your engine overheated. At Master Wei, they’ll come with a killer topping – chunks of tender beef or melting lamb, say, plus chilli sauce and pieces of pak choi – which they’ll mix in at the table. Whatever you choose, it’ll be singing with fire, garlic and oil, against the intensely satisfying chewiness of the noodles. But truthfully, though the belt noodles are terrific, what made Master Wei that bit more special was how well it did the lesser-seen dishes. Like, for instance, the potato sliver salad. Don’t expect the Teutonic, dairy-laced kind: this was a crisp, glossy, peppery number. A bowl of matchstick-thin spud slivers – and I mean the really tiny on
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.
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. Raw things are particularly brilliant: don’t miss the pickled oysters (even if you think you hate oysters), or anything in uncooked slivers. They make magic with that stuff here.
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.
Venue says Celebrate NYE at Hide! Bespoke tasting menus and Europe's largest wine list. Limited seats remaining, contact us for more info 0203 1468 888
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.
Look, eating in townhouses is really lovely. It’s kind of like eating in someone’s front room, if that someone happens to be really rich, own a high-ceilinged Georgian building in a smart part of town, and have a brilliant interior designer on speed-dial. But what’s nice about Kutir is that the food – which is of the fancy Indian ilk – is just as fabulous as the setting. Get breads and dal to make your pennies go further, and the sea bass or nargisi curries. You won’t regret it.
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.
The building used to be a linoleum warehouse. But then you guessed that, didn’t you? Now it’s a buzzy restaurant and bar, a huge semi-industrial space with its edges softened by plush armchairs. There’s a simple trick to eating well here: go big on the small stuff. The small plates are great, the snacks even better. Do not miss the cheddar and sauerkraut croquettes. And a grand finale of croissant and marmalade bread and butter pud. It’s divine.
Fed up of Insta-food that looks pretty but doesn’t do the job when it gets into your mouth? The French House is for you. The upstairs kitchen of the iconic Soho boozer has been taken over by Neil Borthwick – a real chef’s chef (and Mr Angela Hartnett, to boot) – who dishes out a tres French menu of occasionally ugly but always delicious food. Be sure to bag the calf’s brains.
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