10 Under-the-Radar Gems in London
Sometimes eating out in London can be an exhausting round of waiting lists, celebrity haunts, overpriced appetisers and words we can't pronounce. For moments when you want something a little less chaotic, there are plenty of under-the-radar gems where top-quality, interesting food and an unpretentious atmosphere keep locals coming back for more. Here are 10 of our favourite neighbourhood restaurants in London.
Don't be fooled by the fluorescent lighting and uninspired interior at this recently opened sushi bar off Baker Street. It's run a chef who previously worked at Nobu for 15 years and offers some of the best sushi in town. A few of Nobu's signature dishes make an appearance for a fraction of the price, such as miso black cod, yellowtail with jalapeño (pictured above) and sashimi tacos, but there are also new dishes to try (eel maki with foie gras, black cod rolls) and a 10% discount on takeaway orders.
39 Paddington St., W1U 4HH; 020 7487 5840
Fitzrovia: Honey & Co
At this charming Middle Eastern cafe — run by a husband-and-wife team who used to work at Ottolenghi and Nopi — you'll find salads, pastries, main dishes and meze to share in all the exotic and colourful flavours of the region.
25a Warren St., W1T 5LZ; 0207 388 6175
Notting Hill: Santo
The small and unpretentious Mexican cafe on the wrong side of Portobello Road serves up traditional fare full of sharp and punchy flavours that you can wash down with pitchers of zingy margaritas. The weekend DJ spinning salsa tunes turns the back room into a Latin fiesta.
299 Portobello Rd., W10 5TD; 020 8968 4590
Book a table to avoid disappointment as this tiny French bistro and wine bar (pictured below) complete with red-checked tablecloths, French-speaking staff and a charcuterie slicer on the bar. A menu of daily changing French classics — think coq au vin, rillettes and tête de veau — are displayed on a chalkboard to add to the warm villagey feel.
109 Bermondsey St., SE1 3XB; 020 7407 2140
Sophisticated and good-value European and French food is what you will find at this small restaurant tucked away on a residential street in Putney. The space isn't much to look at, but some call it the area's best-kept secret — and the locals certainly would like to keep it that way.
98 Felsham Rd., SW15 1DQ; 020 8789 3323
St. John's Wood: Oslo Court
This 30-year-old gem of a restaurant is housed in a bizarre 1930s block of flats in St. John's Wood. Decor is dated (think pink), service is charming and the menu of retro French dishes including duck à l’orange, beef Wellington, grilled grapefruit and steak Diane will take you back in time. The dessert trolley at the end of the meal is always a highlight.
Charlbert St., NW8 7EN; 020 7722 8795
St. James's: Matsuri
Sick of flashy Japanese restaurants serving the same fusion dishes? Head to this often-forgotten old favourite for traditional sushi and teppanyaki that is grilled at the table while you watch. It's a bit pricey and decor is somewhat dated, but there isn't a miso cod or rock shrimp in sight.
15 Bury St., SW1Y 6AL; 020 7839 1101
Bethnal Green: Song Que Cafe
If you can't figure out where to eat on this strip of Vietnamese restaurants in East London, this no-frills spot is the one to pick. Don't expect white-glove service or decor, but laid-back diners will appreciate the tasty, authentic dishes at gentle prices.
134 Kingsland Rd., E2 8DY; 020 7613 3222
St. John's Wood: Harry Morgan
This North London American-style deli isn't exactly a glamorous spot, but that won't matter once you taste the homemade Jewish comfort food on offer. Favourites like smoked salmon or salt-beef bagels, chopped liver and the most perfect chicken soup made with soft noodles are soothing and filling.
29-31 St. Johns Wood High St., NW8 7NH; 020 7722 1869
St. James's: The American Bar
Tucked away inside The Stafford Hotel off St. James's, this genuine American sports bar and restaurant will take you straight back to the 1930s. The walls are filled with sports memorabilia, the crowd is a fascinating and random mix, drinks are classic and well priced — and they do one of the best burgers in town.
St James's Pl., SW1A 1NJ; 020 7493 0111