What's New and Exciting in London's Dining Scene

Whether you fancy Turkish breakfast, Sri Lankan soft serve, or refined pub fare, there’s never been a better time to eat your way through London.

Photo: Courtesy of Apricity

This year, London's dining scene has exploded with a constellation of Michelin-starred restaurants, buzzy markets, and innovative chefs and makers focusing on home-grown ingredients. In the last few months alone, the city has seen a bounty of new restaurants and bars, making it a better time than ever to dine out in London.

For one, it's now quite easy to taste your way through the extraordinary farms outside of the city. Start at Apricity, Chantelle Nicholson's sunny, sustainable restaurant in Mayfair, where you can sample thoughtful dishes like sweet roasted carrots coupled with pesto made from their leafy tops, and tender, slow-cooked beef sourced from a family-run English farm. Beverage options are equally thoughtful, with low-intervention wines and cocktails that draw on the kitchen's peelings and trims, including the zero waste miso espresso martini. A few blocks away, in Marylebone, Pujol and El Bulli alum Adriana Cavita opened her eponymous restaurant in May. The chef's first solo venture, Cavita puts her own vibrant spin on traditional Mexican dishes, like tlayuda with smoked beets and chile butter.

At The George in Fitzrovia, the traditional pub gets a posh upgrade, both in the space — decked in leather tufted banquettes and rich wood-paneled walls — and a menu of boosted British classics. Cap off crispy jacket potatoes with masala baked beans and local cheese with a show-stopping Knickerbocker Glory. Also in Fitzrovia, Carousel just reopened in a bigger space, continuing to showcase an ever-changing roster of international guest chefs. Coming up: a twelve-course menu from Swedish chef Palle Paulsson.

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A bit south, chef Esra Muslu is showcasing Turkish cuisine at Zahter with wood-fired Bosnak Mantisi, platters of herb-flecked lamb meatballs, and the flakiest, pistachio-dusted baklava. Breakfast, featuring shakshuka and spinach and feta-filled pastries, makes an especially lovely start to the day. In Soho, restaurateur Missy Flynn and chef Gabriel Pryce recently opened their new location of Rita's, the restaurant that began as a pop-up in Hackney a decade ago. Open for lunch and dinner, find American-inspired plates full of flavor and unpretentious heart. Don't miss the messy-delicious tear and share garlic bread.

Next to Harrods (swank shopping mecca, maybe you've heard of it), find the equally swank Ciccetti. Opened in the spring, the all-day Knightsbridge restaurant is part of the San Carlo group, which also operates Bottega, Fumo, Gran Cafe, and other upscale spots. Stop in at lunchtime for a plate of truffle and pecorino ravioli paired with a Negroni. (The extensive menu also includes a plant-based section.)

Seven Dials Market
Courtesy of London's West End

A decade after opening in Shoreditch, Burmese restaurant Lahpet just opened its second location in Covent Garden. There, in the lush space, find bowls of tamarind-scented fish noodle soup, plates of king prawn curry, and margaritas made with betel leaf tequila and dusted with Himalayan pink salt. Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, the husband and wife team behind beloved Middle Eastern restaurant Honey & Co, just opened their new space in Bloomsbury with seasonally-changing favorites like lamb shawarma and peach salad with goat cheese and orange blossom dressing.

Inside the Africa Centre in Southwark, Akwasi Brenya-Mensa opened his long-awaited Pan-African restaurant Tatale in July. With dishes like red bean stew and ackee croquettes, the menu honors the restaurateur's Ghanaian heritage.

Even London's long-established markets and food halls are showcasing something new. In historic Borough Market, Iranian grill Beranjak just opened with shareable plates of kebabs, whole rotisserie chicken, saffron rice, and a lineup of dips. JKS Restaurants, the group behind the new outpost, also took over Arcade Food Hall, just off Tottenham Court Road, in the spring. The new roster of dining options includes southern Thai spot Plaza Khao Gaeng, Bebek! Bebek! pedaling juicy satay and other Indonesian street food, and "luxury dessert counter" Benham & Froud Jelladrome selling layered trifles so artful, they belong in the Tate.

In Covent Garden, the lively Seven Dials Market has been operating inside a former banana warehouse since late 2019, but newcomers have popped up among the dozen-or-so food and drink outlets. Try Chinese bakery Ong Ong Buns, where you'll find rows of fluffy Hong Kong-style buns — filled with sweet custard or barbecue pork — alongside vegan treats and tea. Also new, Shuk offers perfectly-spiced falafel tucked into a fresh-baked pita. Pair one with a refreshing iced lemon and mint slushie.

And while a trip to London wouldn't be complete without a visit to a storied pub for a pint of Fuller's, the city is home to plenty of buzzy new bars that are well worth a visit. At the 210-year-old Royal Theatre Drury Lane, tucked into a side alley, find the Garden. The all-day oasis opens with brunch in the morning, and serves small plates, snacks, and cocktails until past curtain call. A little south, Bottle + Rye just opened in Brixton. The polished, Parisian-esque wine bar specializes in natural wines and craft cocktails drawing from made-in-house syrups and other ingredients. Focused on Spanish wines, Borough Yards welcomed the new Bar Daskal in June. The menu includes plenty of sherry, alongside plates of jamón, olives, and other tapas.

Just steps away from Bar Daskal, make time to visit Rambutan Ice. Cook and cookbook author Cynthia Shanmugalingam has a forthcoming Sri Lankan restaurant set to open in Borough Market, but in the meantime, she's putting on a glorious "summer of soft serve." Flavors like coconut and toasted rice, mango, and banana can add a little chill to the hottest heatwave, and cap off a delicious day of exploring London's dining scene.

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