Londoners love these 14 neighbourhood restaurants

Enjoy MICHELIN-starred dishes in a relaxed bistro-like atmosphere at Portland. Credit: Portland

Neighbourhood restaurants in the British capital are like second homes for savvy Londoners. When a meal at home doesn’t quite cut it—or when they’re craving a casual get-together with friends—people flock to these tried and tested havens. 

Spice-forward African Caribbean dishes draw in fans at a beloved Fitzrovia spot. An adored Hackney bakery transforms into a candlelit escape serving British Mediterranean plates three nights a week. Housemade pasta, a top-notch wine list, and warm service bring regulars to an Italian place with locations in St. Katharine Docks, Aldgate, and Canary Wharf.

These London restaurants deliver high-quality food and consistently good vibes, all while being extensions of their multicultural backdrop. Read on for a guide to 14 neighbourhood favourites to book now.

 

CENTRAL

Flesh & Buns (Covent Garden and Oxford Circus)

A table spread of Japanese-inspired dishes featuring steamed buns, fried chicken, sliced meat and cocktails at Flesh & Buns, a restaurant in London

Feast on a banquet of modern Japanese-inspired dishes at Flesh & Buns. Credit: Flesh & Buns

Flesh & Buns is an inviting place inspired by izakayas, or casual drinking and gathering spots found all over Japan. Start your evening with a frozen yuzu margarita cocktail in the low-lit bar downstairs. When it’s time to eat, head up for an immersive experience in booths separated by noren, traditional Japanese fabric room dividers. Standout dishes include fried chicken wings, steamed buns with crispy duck or pork, and sticky miso-grilled aubergines. Finish with a black sesame creme brulee and you’ll see why this pub-style haunt sees plenty of returnees. 

Book now for Covent Garden 

Book now for Oxford Circus 

Portland (Marylebone)

Jars with assorted pickles stand in a row at Portland, a restaurant in London.

Enjoy a variety of in-house pickles at Portland, where the food pushes fine-dining boundaries. Credit: Patricia Niven, Portland

MICHELIN-starred Portland is a rare casual fine-dining restaurant. Its relaxed bistro-like atmosphere and expertly executed Mediterranean-inspired dishes have drummed up a loyal following among Marylebone locals. Diners can choose between a six-course tasting menu or a three-course a la carte option. Expect dishes such as mussels with clams, white asparagus, and wild garlic, and sea bass with parmesan gnocchi, winter tomato, black olives, and lobster sauce. Pair the food with one of the wines from the restaurant’s extensive list, which spotlights top-notch bottles from Australia and South Africa.

Book now

 

Riding House (Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury)

Blue banquette-style seats are placed around a stocked bar at Riding House, a restaurant in London

African-Caribbean flavours are on the menu at chef Henry Omereye’s latest Bloomsbury spot. Credit: Riding House

Renowned chef Henry Omereye has wowed Fitzrovia residents with his exquisite African-Caribbean dishes at Riding House Cafe for over a decade. He’s doing more of the same at the restaurant’s newer Bloomsbury location. Locals love the sleek and spacious establishment for dishes such as fried chicken wings with a Bajan pepper sauce, and a host of skewers including king prawns with Aleppo peppers, and miso salmon with preserved lemon aioli. In-the-know locals come for the £35 tasting menu that offers some of the greatest hits, along with an £18 wine flight option. Round things out with a tropical cocktail such as the Ginger Fox with rum, gingerbread reduction, and lemon, or the Masako Martini with sake and lychee liqueur.

Book now for Fitzrovia

Book now for Bloomsbury

 

EAST

Bife (Spitalfields)

Argentinian restaurant BiFe became an instant neighbourhood star after opening in Spitalfields in 2018. Diners keep coming for the restaurant’s killer empanadas and alfajores cookies, made from founder Jose Luis’s family recipes. Though the main event here is Argentinian grass-fed beef, offered in various cuts for tableside grilling, in schnitzel form, or in lomitos (Córdoba-style gourmet sandwiches). The mains pair well with a predominantly red Argentinian wine selection. Enjoy it all in a homey red-brick space lined with family photos.

Book now

 

Emilia’s Crafted Pasta (Aldgate, St Katharine Docks and Canary Wharf)

A forkful of pappardelle in slow-cooked meat sauce at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta in London

Pappardelle in slow-cooked meat sauce at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta. Credit: Emilia’s Crafted Pasta

Walk past Emilia’s Crafted Pasta on any given morning and you’ll spy pasta chefs kneading, shaping, and rolling dough. Those housemade noodles make their way onto soul-warming dishes such as casarecce pasta with a creamy walnut sauce and chestnut mushrooms and ravioli stuffed with lamb and a buttery sage-infused sauce. The Italian wine list complements the food well, as do non-alcoholic drinks such as pomegranate and bitter citrus sodas. To all that, add one of two scenic backdrops—a marina or an open kitchen giving a 360-degree view of handcrafted pasta being made, depending on which Emilia’s location you choose—and you’ve got a winning formula for a neighbourhood gem.

Book now for Aldgate

Book now for St Katharine Docks

Book now for Canary Wharf

 

WEST

Maggie Jones (Kensington)

Prawn cocktail, shepherd’s pie, and a side of salad and mash sit on a laid table at Maggie Jones, a restaurant in London.

Highlights at Maggie Jones include a creamy prawn cocktail and the hearty shepherd’s pie. Credit: Maggie Jones

Maggie Jones has ruled the Kensington dining scene for 40 years and remains an area go-to for date nights, solo suppers, and dinners with friends. The candles in wine bottles and fresh flowers all make for a relaxed but charming atmosphere. Highlights on the rustic British menu include the prawn cocktail, the shepherd’s pie, and seabream in fennel sauce. Pair the food with an option from the largely French wine list featuring selections from Burgundy, Bordeaux, and the Loire Valley. Bonus points for the restaurant’s dog-friendly policy.

 

The Counter (Notting Hill)

Superb Anatolian flavours and open-fire cooking are just a few reasons the Counter is a West London darling. Diners love coming here to gather over shareable barbecue-style dishes. Dig into flavourful dips such as the chocolate babaganoush aubergine (a mix of white chocolate, dukkah, dill oil, and rose) and the pickled tzatziki with strained yoghurt, cucumber,  pickles, and sumac. For an extra intimate experience, dine around the open counter that gives the restaurant its name. Here, you can watch as chefs flaunt Middle Eastern charcoal grilling techniques to churn out crowd favourites including kofta, skewers, and lamb chops.
Book now

 

NORTH 

Jolene (Well Street and Stoke Newington)

By day, Jolene is a bakery serving chorizo sandwiches and breakfast pastries. From Thursday through Saturday evenings, though, the restaurant transforms into a candlelit spot with a rotating small plates selection. Start with the focaccia, and then move on to dishes from the ever-evolving menu. Your meal may include pappardelle with pork ragu and pecorino cheese or cured meat and cheese boards. The wooden tables, exposed brick walls, and all-natural wine list make this a reliable spot for date nights or relaxed solo meals.

Book now for Well Street

Book now for Stoke Newington

 

Farang (Highbury)

A plate of prawn noodles sits alongside chile oil and peanuts at Farang in London.

Diners can enjoy Thai classics such as jungle curry and wok-fried noodles at Farang. Credit: Farang

Farang is led by chef Sebby Holmes, who travelled and cooked in Thailand extensively before joining the restaurant. Dishes meld Thai recipes with British ingredients, including spicy coconut curry with Cornish monkfish and Yorkshire beef cheek curry with pickled ginger and sweet basil. Farang also entices area residents with its many vegetarian options, including marinated aubergine tossed with fresh seasonal fruits, cashews, and herbs. Also on offer is a dedicated feasting menu featuring wontons with confit duck and whole crispy sea bass. Pair your meal with a Thai lager, grab a seat among Farang’s hanging plants, and know that you’ll be back.

Book now

 

Primeur (Stoke Newington)

Diners can’t get enough of Primeur’s locavore menu, friendly servers, and candlelit ambience (fun fact: it’s set in a converted garage). Take a seat at one of the cosy tables or snag a spot by the bar to watch chefs prepare petite seasonal dishes—Primeur led the charge on the city’s shared plates trend when it opened in 2014. The menu changes weekly, but recent versions have included crispy confit pork belly with Korean chile and sesame, and fresh mackerel escabeche with pickled mussels and saffron. Get the signature negroni to cap off your memorable meal.

Book now

 

Perilla (Newington Green)

The cosy light-filled interiors at Perilla make it ideal for a laidback weeknight dinner. Tuck into a daily changing European menu—carbonara here comes with cauliflower and mushrooms, and the focaccia is slathered with tomato and topped with fish roe, oysters, and basil leaves. Pair the food with one of the house cocktails (including the Paloma or cherry Manhattan), or choose from unusual wine options from Georgia and Hungary.

Book now

 

SOUTH

Indian Room (Balham) 

This modern glass-fronted Indian restaurant is so popular that its menu has a section dedicated to its most-ordered dishes. Among the consistent crowd-pleasers are a fragrant lamb madras and a spicy chicken vindaloo. Other must-tries include a peri peri king prawn chot pota, served with flame-grilled onions and sizzling vegetables. Indian Room’s simple decor and attentive service all add up to a comfortable ambiance that you’ll want to revisit.
Book now

 

Hawksmoor Borough (Borough)

Two plates of sliced T-bone steak, chips, and wine at Hawksmoor in London.

Hawksmoor steaks have been lauded as some of the best in the city. Credit: Hawksmoor

In a former hops warehouse on the edge of bustling Borough Market, Hawksmoor Borough combines the swagger of a New York City steakhouse with the warmth of a neighbourhood mainstay. The menu includes grass-fed steak and seafood (sustainably sourced from small British farms and Brixham fish market) and accompaniments such as beef dripping chips and creamed spinach. Though reservations are strongly encouraged for the dining room, regulars know that the award-winning bar accepts walk-ins. Sidle up and sip on some of the best cocktails in London, including the full fat old fashioned, made with butter-infused bourbon.

Book now

 

Mestizo (Chelsea and Camden)

Small bowls of meat, condiments, and garnishes are lined up at Mestizo, a restaurant in London .

A range of vibrant condiments and garnishes liven up the Mexican main dishes at Mestizo. Credit: Mestizo

Mestizo has delighted faithfuls with its world-class Mexican menu since 2005. Pick between a large selection of tamales, tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, and mole, all of which are prepared using ingredients from small-scale farmers. The restaurant is especially accommodating of those with dietary restrictions, offering dishes for vegan, gluten-free, and nut-intolerant diners. Returning diners know that every night is a fiesta: the restaurant buzzes with lively music as diners sip on a wide range of margaritas flavoured with mango and lychee.

Book now for Chelsea

Book now for Camden

 

Shekha Vyas is a London-based reporter, writing about business, lifestyle, and food. Follow her on Instagram at @shekhav or on TikTok at @tastingbritain.