Aulis
The constantly changing menu at Aulis—expect around 15 courses—is a chance for the chefs to let loose, experimenting with the best ingredients money can buy. It’s as much immersive theater as fine dining, with chefs cooking just across the counter. Come for a seamless succession of wildly inventive dishes that both look and taste exquisite, with a pairing of unusual but reliably delicious wine with each course.
A: Soho London | Hours: Tues-Sat. 7:30pm | T: +44(0)20 3948 9665 | Price: $$$ | E: aulislondon@simonrogan.co.uk | W: aulis.london | Reservations: Required

Barrafina
Every dish has earned its place on the menu at Barrafina, a cult tapas bar with an ever-present queue, from the crisp-skinned chicken in Romesco sauce to the molten, magnificent tortilla. The best way to order it is to watch the chefs at work and get whatever’s looking good. The convivial vibe makes solo dining an extra attractive prospect, but it’s also a great place to take a date (so you can share more plates).
A: 26-27 Dean St, Soho | Hours: Mon-Sat. 12pm-3pm & 5pm-11pm Sun. 1pm-3:30pm & 5:30pm-10pm | T: +44 (0)207 440 1486 | Price: $$$ | E: info@barrafina.co.uk | W: barrafina.co.uk | Reservations: Recommended

Claude Bosi at Bibendum
This is just the place for a blow-out meal: one that starts with champagne and witty amuse-bouches and ends with a show-stopping cheese trolley. Tables get booked up weeks ahead, and there’s a tangible air of expectation for the seven-course tasting menu that blends beautifully elaborate dishes with rustic French cooking. Service is smooth and formal, the sommelier is very helpful, and the meal is unforgettable. Even the set lunch menu feels gratifyingly grand.
A: Michelin House, 81 Fulham Rd, Chelsea | Hours: Wed-Sun. 12pm-2:15pm & 6:30-9:45pm| T: +44 (0)207 581 5817 | Price: $$$ | E: enquiries@bibendum.co.uk | W: bibendum.co.uk | Reservations: Recommended

Clipstone
Beneath Clipstone’s modern minimalism (plain white tiles, bare walls, and back-to-school-style wooden chairs) is the warmth of an old-time bistro. Sip on aged Negronis or choose a glass from their poetic wine list while you decide what to order—larger dishes are cooked on the robata grill and seasonal small plates, designed to share, punch well above their weight. Come here when you want to eat well, without too much fuss and formality.
A: 5 Clipstone St, Fitzrovia | Hours: Mon-Sat. 12pm-2:30pm & 6pm-10pm | T: +44 (0)207 637 0871 | Price: $$$ | E: info@clipstonerestaurant.co.uk | W: clipstonerestaurant.co.uk | Reservations: Recommended

Clove Club
Set behind a glossy blue door in Shoreditch’s stately old town hall, fuss and frills are out at this Michelin-starred joint, but the tasting menu is dizzyingly ambitious. Plates are rooted in impeccably-sourced seasonal British produce and fizzing with ideas (think Orkney scallops served with clementine and truffles, or duck consommé theatrically poured into your glass of 100-year-old Madeira), while house cocktails are just as creative. A Michelin star means it’s always busy, but a seat at the candlelit, cozy bar works just as well.
A: Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St | Hours: Mon-Sat. 12pm-2:30pm & 6pm-11:30pm| T: +44 (0)207 729 6496 | Price: $$$ | E: hello@thecloveclub.com | W: thecloveclub.com | Reservations: Recommended

Gymkhana
This handsomely-appointed Mayfair address was inspired by India’s gymkhanas: social and sporting clubs dating from the days of the Raj. Drinks are cleverly spiced and thoroughly original and the wine list is a weighty, leather-bound affair. The restaurant scored a Michelin star the year after it opened and has kept it ever since, thanks to its polished northern Indian cuisine and masterful way with game. Come for a dinner that feels special without being stiffly formal.
A: 42 Albemarle St, Mayfair | Hours: Mon-Sat. 12pm-2:30pm & 5:30pm-10:15pm | T: +44 (0)203 011 5900 | Price: $$$ | E: info@gymkhanalondon.com | W: gymkhanalondon.com | Reservations: Recommended

Pidgin
Behind a discreet grey frontage, Pidgin is understated but buzzing, with copper-edged tables, forest-green banquettes and branches on the walls instead of art. Dishes, which change every week, artfully riff on texture as well as taste, like Jerusalem artichoke cooked three ways and served with silky miso custard. With the same four courses at lunch and dinner, this must be one of London’s shortest menus, but the dishes are complex, artfully-balanced, with flavors that linger in the mind.
A: 52 Wilton Way | Hours: Wed-Thurs. 6pm-11pm Fri-Sun. 1pm-11pm | T: +44 (0)207 254 8311 | Price: $$$ | E: info@pidginlondon.com | W: pidginlondon.com | Reservations: Recommended

Spring
Set in the grandly neo-classical Somerset House, Spring offers up a dreamy dining room, all pastel hues, Italian marble, and blossoming wall art—light-filled in the daytime, softly luminous at night. A dozen changing starters and mains showcase the best of what’s in season—often grown on Fern Verrow’s 16-acre biodynamic farm. It’s a deliciously grown-up place to come for dinner: expensive, quietly elegant, and oblivious to trends.
A: Somerset House, New Wing, Lancaster Place | Hours: Mon-Sat. 12pm-2:30pm & 5:30pm-10:30pm | T: +44 (0)203 011 0115| Price: $$$ | E: press@springrestaurant.co.uk | W: springrestaurant.co.uk | Reservations: Recommended

The Game Bird
Game Bird serves old-school British comfort food and game, ferried from the kitchens on enormous trays by waiters in dapper blue waistcoats. The crowd (more establishment than edgy) is there for the vintage wines, seasonal game, and nostalgia-inducing puddings. Cocktails are expensive but made with real panache, while main dishes are substantial and solidly British. You’ll feel like a guest at a grand country house, with a large and well-trained staff.
A: The Stafford London, 16-18 St James’s Place | Hours: Mon-Fri. 7am-10pm Sat-Sun. 7:30am-10pm | T: +44 (0)207 493 0111 | Price: $$$ | E: restaurant@thestaffordlondon.com | W: thestaffordlondon.com | Reservations: Recommended

The Ledbury
Set in chichi Notting Hill, this is one of the city’s destination eateries. Tables are in high demand, and best reserved a few months ahead. The menu’s a love-letter to the British countryside, prepared with an inimitable self-assurance, and is perfect for a special occasion. Sneak in for the (slightly) cheaper four-course lunch or invest in the full tasting menu.
A: 127 Ledbury Rd, Notting Hill | Hours: Wed-Sun. 12pm-2pm & 6:30pm-9:45pm Mon-Tues. 6:30-9:45pm | T: +44 (0) 20 7792 9090 | Price: $$$ | E: info@theledbury.com | W: theledbury.com | Reservations: Recommended

The River Cafe
Thirty years after it opened, there’s still nowhere else in London quite like the River Café, Ruth Roger’s iconic Thames-side restaurant. Join the noisy mix of media types, off-duty movie stars, and artists for a wonderfully evocative menu, conjuring up vague but heady fantasies of a new life in rural Tuscany, with a wine list that’s a grand tour of Italy. On a languid summer’s afternoon, there’s no better place to be in all of London.
A: Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, Hammersmith | Hours: Mon-Sat. 12:30pm-5pm & 7-11pm Sun. 12:30pm-5pm | T: +44 (0)207 386 4200 | Price: $$$ | E: info@rivercafe.co.uk | W: rivercafe.co.uk | Reservations: Recommended

The Wolseley
Set in a 1920s car showroom, this grand all-day brasserie exudes a heady glamor, with its gleaming marble floors, red-and-gold Japanese panels, and sleek leather banquettes. Londoners tend to come to take in breakfast and the paper, with a menu that runs from stacked pancakes to an impeccable omelet Arnold Bennett, layered with smoked haddock and creamy hollandaise. The stately surroundings that never feel too stiffly formal; drop by on a whim for just about anything you fancy.
A: 160 Piccadilly, St. James’s | Hours: Mon-Fri. 7am-12am Sat-Sun. 8am-11pm| T: +44 (0)207 499 6996| Price: $$$ | E: info@thewolseley.com | W: thewolseley.com | Reservations: Recommended

Source: Conde Nast Traveller