London’s restaurant scene is more diverse than you might think. Here, you’ll find great Indian and Japanese food, alongside more traditional English fare. Much like traveling to any major city, narrowing down the options can be tricky – especially when finding something your entire family will like.
While Ellie is an adventurous eater, there were things on some menus, even I was not keen to try. Below, I’ve included the places we liked best (and left off the ones we did not.) You’ll also find tips on how to order at pubs and whether or not tipping is customary – little bits and pieces to make your experience go smoothly.
The Best London Restaurants
Mayfair Chippy: The most perfect fish and chips. Elliott is not a fish eater, and she was able to find something here too.
New York Bar: We had a very peaceful, old school and fancy lunch here. The food was spot-on, and we were all completely charmed with our waiter and the space.
Darjeeling Express: This was a truly incredible meal. We had lunch here and left stuffed and happy. For dinner, they offer a set menu option that I’m sure is spectacular too. (If this one sounds familiar, it’s probably because of this.)
The Wolsely: The Wolsely feels super swanky. Get the schnitzel.
Osteria del Mercato: We stopped here for lunch. They delivered solid Italian food that was a nice break from all the English food we’d been eating.
Franco Manca: This pizza place won’t make any notable restaurant lists. However, if you are traveling with kids, I can’t recommend it enough. Sometimes, on vacation, you just need pizza, and Franco Manca has multiple locations, which means you’ll probably find one close to wherever you are hungry.
Hawksmoor: Hawksmoor is a very classic, English steakhouse. You will love it.
Sunday in Brooklyn: Located in Notting Hill, Sunday in Brooklyn was the perfect brunch spot. After eating lots of heavy food over the last few days, it was nice to have something a little lighter.
ROKA: We had a blast trying a little bit of everything on this menu. Also, the people watching was very good.
GAIL’S: They have multiple locations. In fact, there was one that was just a 3 minute walk from our hotel, The Clermont London, Victoria. We went there a lot.
Little Bread Pedlar: This was my favorite bakery of the trip.
Entree: We were big fans of the croissants here. This was also really close to our hotel.
Soderberg: Here, you’ll find Swedish cardamom buns. Delicious!
Eating Out in London
For most of our trips, I book dinner reservations for every single night. This way, we know we won’t have to wait around to eat. It minimizes all of our grumpiness. And, to be frank, it is nearly impossible to walk into a restaurant any more. Online bookings make reserving a spot so easy.
However, I rarely ever make lunch reservations, because I’m not always sure how long something will take or when we might be hungry. This strategy typically works out well for us, as long as we can make it to lunch on the earlier side of things.
We had no idea what we were doing the first time we went into a pub. It was incredibly awkward. So, we went back to the hotel and googled how it works. Basically, you order everything at the bar – drinks and food – and find your own table. Easy peasy, but very confusing if you’ve never done it before.
It’s customary to tip 10-15 percent in London. If they apply a service charge, you won’t need to add gratuity.
We had really lovely service in London, but there are a few cultural differences. Waiters and waitresses are very attentive, but give diners space to enjoy their food and drinks without interruption. To let them know you finished your course and are ready for whatever is next, place your fork and knife together on your plate. Then, to signal for the bill, you will need to make eye contact with the waiter or waitress and ask for it directly. This blog has lots of wonderful tips for eating out.
Any time a restaurant had sticky toffee pudding on the menu, Elliott and I each ordred it. We never regretted that decision. Ever.