“Only in America” is a phrase you often hear British people say, normally followed by a heavy sigh. Luckily for us, America’s delicious food has made its way across the Atlantic Ocean bringing the likes of hot dogs, burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese. If you’re looking to indulge in some hearty US fayre, take your pick from our choice of the best American restaurants in the capital that range from Downtown casual to Upper East Side glamour.
Avenue, St James’s
Why: A veteran of the London dining scene since 1996, Avenue benefited from a makeover a few years back that has kept its interiors up-to-date via glass chandeliers and moody modern art. The menu had an update too, and now takes in South American and Asian influences, including the likes of yellowfin tuna sashimi and jalapeño cornbread, all the way through to stacked burgers, steaks from the grill and sides of mac ’n’ cheese.
Where: 7-9 St James's Street, SW1A 1EE
Christopher’s, Covent Garden
Why: Christopher’s may have celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016, but the handsome Grade II-listed Victorian building has a longer history than that and was once home to London's first licensed casino. There's no need to take a gamble on the menu of reliably good stateside staples: think Maryland crab cakes to start, followed by a 30-day aged Black Angus steak and New York cheesecake for dessert.
Where: 18 Wellington Street, WC2E 7DD
The Colony Grill Room at The Beaumont, Mayfair
Why: Elegance and a warm welcome come as standard at this hotel grill room that has powerful echoes of New York’s old-timers with its art deco murals and framed photographic portraits. The menu majors in all-day comfort food with a distinctly American twang – feast on the likes of buttermilk pancakes topped with syrup and bacon for breakfast, while later in the day, hamburgers and steaks are followed by ice-cream sundaes.
Where: The Beaumont, 8 Balderton Street, W1K 6TF
Cut at 45 Park Lane, Mayfair
Why: Standing out from the steakhouse crowd thanks to its glam interiors and the clout of A-list chef Wolfgang Puck, Cut majors in steaks of the USDA, South Devon Angus, New York sirloin and dizzyingly expensive Wagyu variety. Desserts are all-American treats such as cheesecake and baked Alaska, while those looking to indulge their sweet tooth further can sit down to enjoy a US take on afternoon tea featuring cake pops and maple and bacon macarons.
Where: 45 Park Lane, W1K 1PN
The Electric Diner, Notting Hill
Why: Adding a grungy vibe to Soho House’s Electric Cinema, this stylish eatery ensures you won’t go hungry during one of its well-chosen films. The long, vaulted room is every inch the New York diner complete with red leather booths and a long, kitchen-facing bar, while the menu is all-American too, featuring the likes of hot dogs in brioche rolls and double cheeseburgers stacked with bacon. US ales will quench your thirst.
Where: 191 Portobello Road, W11 2ED
Why: Although this group of sleek steak joints originated in Russia, the interiors are packaged up into a neat little American bow – think polished mahogany, leather booths and monochrome scenes of 1950s Americana. Classy starters include lobster cocktail with a lime mayonnaise, while hearty (and pricy) steaks are the stars of the show. Pad out your meal with seductive sides such as truffle and Parmesan chips, and grilled lobster tail with garlic butter.
Where: 26 Maddox Street, W1S 1QH
Joe Allen, Covent Garden
Why: Joe Allen remains a Theatreland legend and pulls in punters who come for its buzzy atmosphere and menu of American comfort food. The likes of a Joe’s hot dog and a five-cheese mac ’n’ cheese are adequate, rather than amazing, but it’s Joe Allen’s unbeatable atmosphere and open-to-all feel that will keep you coming back for more.
Where: 2 Burleigh Street, WC2E 7PX
Red Rooster, Shoreditch
Why: The quirky luxury of The Curtain hotel’s Southern soul food restaurant sure turns heads. Painfully cool staff dish up a menu of comfort food including the likes of fluffy cornbread, chicken and waffles and shrimp ’n’ grits, with the lively atmosphere buoyed along by live music most evenings. Visit at the weekend to try the gospel brunch with performances from a choir.
Where: 45 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT
Smith & Wollensky, Covent Garden
Why: This smart US import follows its transatlantic forebears by focusing on USDA, British and Irish beef butchered on the premises and hung in an impressive dry-ageing room. Located in the art deco Adelphi Building, S&W's interior will knock your socks off with its parquet floors, leather banquettes and striking murals that create a gloriously decadent 1920s feel. Prices are hefty, but backed up by sizeable portions and slick service.
Where: 1-11 John Adam Street, WC2N 6HT