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What to eat in London

A traveling insider's guide on what and where to eat in London. | By Joanna Tweedy | November 16, 2022

From sophisticated afternoon teas in London’s vibrant West End to sky-high dining with a view by the River Thames on the South Bank, England’s capital caters for every taste and budget. Read on to discover a bit of local London flavor and get ready to dig in!

  • Taste a classic: Enjoy a traditional supper at London's oldest fish and chip restaurant

  • Add a French flare: Head to fashionable Soho for decadent Parisian fare

  • Cocktail hour: Say cheers with fancy cocktails in Mayfair


Still the coolest place to drink and dine in London’s West End — and just a stone’s throw from the city’s theaters — historic Soho is awash with culinary opportunity. Centuries-old pubs (The Shakespeare’s Head on Great Marlborough Street dates back to 1735), Michelin-starred eateries, trendy pop-ups and late-night cafes happily sit side-by-side in this charming quarter.

Drinks: Swift

A quick eight-minute walk from Covent Garden lands you right in the heart of Old Compton Street, one of Soho’s liveliest thoroughfares. Here you'll find Swift’s stylish upstairs bar. Cheers with some pre-dinner delights such as Rhubarb Sours and Mandarin Bellinis. Later, the speakeasy-style basement bar swings into life, with live music and a cocktail menu dedicated to famous faces — try the gin-infused Imperial Gimlet created in honor of the late Queen Mother.

Meals: Brasserie Zedel

Diners at Brasserie Zedel, a short stroll from tourist hub Piccadilly Circus, are transported to 1930s Paris as soon as they enter the dining room of this Soho institution. Authentic art deco interiors make this beautiful brasserie — which also boasts a cocktail bar, cabaret show and Parisian-style cafe — a wonderful place to people-watch as you sip your way through a tantalizing wine list and sample delectable French cuisine.

Dessert: Cutter & Squidge

Now a firm Soho favorite after opening in 2015, Cutter & Squidge has amassed legions of fans with its signature home-baked biskies (cookies filled with frosting), melt-in-the-mouth brownies and lavishly topped cupcakes. Good news for those with dietary restrictions: They have great vegan and gluten-free options too! For a real treat, book afternoon tea in the Potion Room downstairs, where tiered sandwiches, scones and pretty patisseries are served up in a wizarding world-inspired classroom.


Just a 15-minute walk south of Covent Garden over Waterloo Bridge puts you on the South Bank’s bustling pedestrianized promenade, close to the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall and British Film Institute (BFI) — where many London restaurants come with a view.

Drinks: The Distillery

Tucked inside Hilton London Bankside, in a building that once housed a Victorian essence factory, The Distillery majors on flavor-packed drinks using homemade aromatics, infusions and bitters — all served up in an ambient Thameside setting. Leather Chesterfield sofas in chocolate brown, an alfresco terrace and a mirrored bar stocked with over 100 gins make it hard to stay for just one tipple.

Meals: OXO Tower Restaurant

A chance to dine inside one of the English capital’s most iconic buildings, this fine-dining experience lives up to every glowing restaurant review. Ride the elevator to the eighth floor, where executive head chef Jeremy Bloor creates dishes from locally sourced UK ingredients. Reserve a window table and experience a panoramic view featuring St Paul’s Cathedral, shimmering skyscrapers and the always-busy River Thames.

Dessert: Humble Crumble

Just east of the South Bank lies historic Borough Market, where English foodie trends often take off. At pink-hued dessert bar Humble Crumble, you’ll find a 21st-century spin on a classic English pudding. Build your own artisanal hot fruit crumble (British Bramley apples are a favorite) with inventive toppings including blow-torched marshmallow and edible glitter.


One of London's fanciest postcodes attracts the world’s best chefs to restaurants that line its elegant streets. Mayfair is the perfect spot if you’re planning a special night out — you might even find an A-lister at the next table!

Drinks: Mr Fogg's Residence

Few central London watering holes can match Mr Fogg’s Residence for eccentricity. This Mayfair bar is inspired by fictional explorer Phileas. J. Fogg, and its extraordinary Victorian-style interior features curios from around the world. The theatrical cocktails served up are as adventurous as Mr Fogg’s imagined travels, often including rare ingredients and name-checking famous cities such as the Bay View, (San Francisco) and the Liberty and Truth (New York).

Meals: Bibi

This contemporary North Indian eatery creates South Asian comfort food with street-food flair ideal for sharing (think chaats and grills). Delicate dishes marry seasonal British ingredients with Indian culinary heritage, drawing from Chef-Patron Chet Sharma's years spent cooking and sourcing for some of the most esteemed Michelin-starred U.K. restaurants. Bask in the ambiance of the warm-hued dining room as you dine on entrees like Cornish lobster tikka.

Dessert: Badiani Mayfair

If only ice cream will do for dessert, then make it artisanal Italian gelato and sorbet that’s scooped up in a converted church in the heart of Mayfair. Badiani, which began on the streets of Florence, boasts specialties including pinguinos (gelato on a stick) and gelato cookies. Or keep it straightforward and go for a four-ingredient buontalenti, a deliciously simple vanilla ice cream.

Still feeling peckish? Few dishes can match fish and chips for a traditional English supper, so why not head to London's oldest takeaway, Rock & Sole Plaice for a deep-fried treat (with mushy peas and vinegar, of course)? Trust us, your trip won't be complete without this comforting, pared-back classic. That leaves us with only one thing left to say: Bon Appetit!

Joanna Tweedy is an award-winning travel writer and editor who lives in London. A former UK national newspaper travel editor, she now contributes across many titles, and specializes in writing about family travel, wellness breaks and luxury vacations.

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