Travel

11 London Restaurants You Need To Book A Table At In 2024

By David Congram

a bistro style restaurant

The United Kingdom might not be known for its dentistry or food but in my opinion, only one of these rebukes cuts mustard—and plenty of holidayers to the British capital will heartily tell you so, while loosening their belts a notch (or two).

London is a veritable revolving door of imaginative restaurateurs with deep pockets, and for this very reason has long attracted talented chefs from every corner of the globe. Lists of this kind often focus on the finer end of the dining spectrum, where every additional Michelen star represents another six-month wait for a table.

Trust me, London is so much more than posh nosh. After all, this is Nigella and Heston country – indulgence ought to be maximal, in whatever weird and wonderful form that might take. 

So, cram your luggage full of elasticated waistbands before unfurling a napkin, these are London's best restaurants you need to book this year.

Mystic Burek

Sydenham

a burek ice cream sandwich

Get ready to indulge in the tasty flavours of the Balkans because Spasia Dinkovski is bringing the heat with her delectable Balkan bureks—permanently. If you haven't had the pleasure, Spasia has been wowing foodies with her mouthwatering creations (and it all started from the back of her car) with the likes of börek ice cream sandwiches, cream cheese and feta filo doughnuts and even rhubarb, coconut and cereal milk cream slices. In big news, Mystic Burek is finally opening its very first brick and mortar in Sydenham and will have its doors wide open from Thursdays through to Saturdays. It's also pinned itself as BYO—bonus!

Carlotta

Marylebone

a bistro style restaurant

You could be forgiven for walking through Carlotta’s doors and believing you’ve stepped back in time to an Italian wedding reception in family-owned trattoria somewhere in New Jersey, at some point in the mid-1980s. Think ruched curtain walls, chrome and leather and terrazzo, Sinatra, black ceramic panthers and, naturally, wedding cake. 

Head chef Armando’s menu is as Italian as it comes, all the way down to contributions from his Nonna Gina. But there is a distinct Americano twist here too (order the Fettuccine Alfredo al Tartufo), not to mention plenty of the United Kingdom’s freshest produce (the Tartare di Vitello Tonnato made from high-welfare Cheshire rose veal is a popular choice).

Carlotta is the latest from the Big Momma Group, whose restaurants take home just as many awards for their dishes as they do for interior design. Jacuzzi in Kensington – also from the Big Momma portfolio—is likewise well worth a visit. Bookings essential. 

Bob Bob Ricard

Soho, Central

As you slide into Bob Bob Ricard’s intimate black velvet booths, a little brass button on your table asks you to ‘press for champagne’. You’re in for a good time. 

With two establishments in London (Central and Soho), Bob Bob Ricard pours more champagne than any other restaurant in Britain, which comes as no surprise whatsoever. Inspired by the golden age of travel, these interiors by the legendary David Collins promise cork-poppingly Orient Express luxuriance…for a fraction of the price.

More than a decade ago, Bob Bob Ricard made a stir when it put a £75 mark-up cap on its extensive list of fine wines, however pricey the plonk. It has firmly kept to its word, still offering the best value in best wine and champagne in town. 

Bob Bob Ricard’s menu of French and British classics is billed as “comfort food fit for a special occasion”. Try its famed Beef Wellington—doubtless, you’ll probably agree.

Norma

Fitzrovia

patio style tables and chairs under an umbrella
Nearby at Norma in gallery-filled Fitzrovia, this elegant townhouse offers a fever dream of moreish Moorish-ness: iridescent tiling, patinated coppers and curved archways framing ever more sexy and secluded tables covered in plates of lardo, seafood carpaccio and burrata. 

Brainchild of Ben Tish, Norma is the place to book for the evening if you’re looking to make a move (wink-wink). But don’t discount its abbreviated (albeit totally solid) primi menu for a fuss-free decently-priced pasta at lunchtime.

Your waiter will recommend the strozzapreti pork, anchovy and orange. Listen to your waiter. 

Zedel

Piccadilly

Zedel is bonkers. Truly. Keep travelling down the twisting staircase, past old posters of Parisian chanteuses and nouvelle vague movie stars, until the noise of a Piccadilly Circus traffic jam is drowned out by blaring jazz. You’ll find yourself in front of a live band, in a ballroom of gilded marble columns and soaring mirrored walls.

Zedel’s brasserie is all haute Parisian fare, all gorgeous, all ooh la la, but (mon dieu!) at a miraculously affordable price. With a stacked wine list of the very best French grapes by the glass, carafe or bottle, along with an equally comprehensive cocktail menu, Zedel’s prix-fixe menu of classic dishes of Old France is only £16.95 for two courses, or £19.75 for three.

F Cooke

Various locations

a brick and mortar pie store

You’ve had your fill of buttery French fancies at Zedel, and plenty of slippery Sicilian seafood at Norma and Carlotta, so how about some proper English grub? Tidy. Jump on the Tube and head out east.

The Cooke family has run F Cooke in London’s East End for 160 years and counting, making it not only the oldest but arguably the O.G. fast food restaurants in the world. Forget burgers and fries, think Victoriana, because F Cooke: Eel, Mash and Pie is just that.

Pies will cost you less than a fiver, and jellied eels not much more. Take mash on the side and don’t say no to the parsley liquor, a sauce concoction of eel juice and parsley (ask for gravy and you’ll be slapped). Be brave. Trust me, it’s delicious. 

Tayyabs

Whitechapel

Stay out east to explore Brick Lane’s famous curry houses in Aldgate and Whitechapel. An evening stroll down the lane dodging the cheerfully persuasive hawkers, with the scent of spices curling though the air, is a must.

Wind along Whitechapel Road through the Jack The Ripper tour groups to discover Tayyabs, a stalwart of the East End’s thriving Punjabi heritage. Founded 1972, this family-owned and -run establishment is thronged by queues every night of the week but fear not, with a generous supply of tables across multiple storeys, you won’t be lining up for long.

With a BYOB-friendly policy (hot tip: the off-licence next door offers a great selection of Transylvanian wines), you can’t go wrong with Tayyyabs’ ultra famous lamb chops, arriving at your table sizzling in the pan.  

Mallow

Borough

dumplings on a plate

For a 100 per-cent plant based affair, making the trek past the Tower Of London to Borough Market for Mallow is not to be missed. 

From the team behind the much-loved ethical dining establishment, Mildreds, Mallow serves exclusively seasonal, sustainable food, drawing inspiration from the gastronomic cultures across the world. In keeping with its minimal waste policy, all ingredients are sourced from small, sustainable businesses, many of which are sited locally in Greater London.

This means two things: firstly, Mallow is worth visiting again and again thanks to its frequently changing menu and, secondly, you’ll discover the wealth of London bustling providores supplying everything from coffee beans to tempeh, tofu to high-quality tea.

Bustronome

Central London

Any foodie worth their salt will tell you that gastro-touring is just as much about discovering streetlife as it is about discovering the food. Ignazio Nuccio, the Michelin-star-minted chef, takes voyage gourmand quite literally as creative director of Bustronome – fine dining by bus. As you do. 

Bustronome’s haute cuisine four-course lunches and six-course dinners are brought to your table on a high-end double-decker bus, all while you admire views of London’s cityscape accompanied by commentary via an audio tour guide. With wine and champagne pairings, generous vegetarian options, dedicated adult and children menus and an abiding commitment to sourcing the premium quality British produce, think of Bustronome as less a bus trip and more the best-appointed terrace in town.

Daisy And May Green

Regents Canal

an open air cafe on a canal

Hop off the bus and and onto a barge for a very downunder affair on top of the world with Daisy and May Green. Bringing Australian coffee culture to London, the Daisy and May Green beloved boats are hard to miss, covered prow to stern in punch-in-the-face vibrant murals by the godfather of British pop art, Sir Peter Blake.

The beloved haunt of many an expat Australian, Darcie and May’s open roof terrace is a popular summer destination for brunch and dinner. With establishments across London, both floating and not, Darcie and May’s quintessentially Antipodean cuisine might just make you a little bit homesick. Pick up a box of their ‘Luxury Aussie Lamingtons’ on the way out. Made from scratch daily in their Paddington bakery, these pillowy treats support those on the frontline in the NHS across the UK.

The Peers’ Dining Room

Westminster

Dine with the rich and powerful at The Peers’ Dining Room, House Of Lords, Palace Of Westminster. You read that correctly yes, the palace, the big clock one, you know...from the postcards. 

The historic dedicated dining room of the House of Lords, the second chamber of the United Kingdom’s parliament, occupies the southern wing of the Palace, and caters to posh totties, toffs and members of the public (suited and booted, naturally).

Feast like a lord on a fairly top-shelf three-course menu of gorblimey British cuisine, followed by coffee and petit fours. I recommend you arrive a little early for a drink by the bar which overlooks the Thames, before sitting down to pinkies-up twists on Herefordshire beef, Kentish beetroot ravioli, Brixham lemon sole and more. Menus are released to the House and the press periodically, so be sure to pick up a copy of the Times for a taste of what’s cookin’.

Final tip: With some 30 million visitors per year, and about nine million residents, London’s restaurants are always in high demand. Securing a table can often prove tricky business, so best call in advance. 

When it comes to your next adventure, Flight Centre is your perfect partner for letting you book your way with ease. With deals for everyone on flights, accommodation and packages, book now instore, online or via the app.

Of course, you'll need somwhere to stay, so best hop on over here to scope out London's best hotels.

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, and if you purchase something through the links in this article, we will earn a commission from those partners. Additionally, this article is sponsored by Flight Centre and proudly endorsed by Urban List. To find out more about who we work with and why read our editorial policy here.

Image credit:Jerome Galland, Jerome Galland, Norma, F Cooke, Mallow London, Daisy And May Green

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