Best Indian restaurants in London

These top-notch Indian joints are guaranteed to spice up your life

Updated on 04 April 2019

Find the very best Indian restaurants in London with SquareMeal’s handpicked selection of the top Indian restaurants in the capital. Undoubtedly the nation’s favourite cuisine, Indian food is an exciting culinary journey of colour, rich flavours and aromas. A diverse cuisine that encompasses each region of India, Indian food is shaped by the religious and cultural beliefs of each area. Whether its a traditional Indian curry-house, contemporary flavours or authentic street-food staples on your mind, the capital is the place to find it. Read below to pick which one you want to visit, or make it your life's mission to tick every restaurant below off your to-dine list.

Farzi Café

Farzi Café

8 Haymarket, St. James's, London, SW1Y 4BP

Farzi Café is a phenomenon in India, with 10 restaurants across the country and one international outpost in Dubai. It’s known for its molecular gastronomy and tableside theatrics, and with its gold interiors and walls festooned with candle light, the new London Farzi certainly looks the destination-dining part.

One quirk is that cocktails are based on star signs, although our horoscope clearly wasn’t a good one, as a Sagittarius wasn’t on offer. We opted instead for the next closest, the Scorpio, which was served in an impressive bronze chalice that added a coppery taste to the peppery drink.

This, however, was where the expected theatrics stopped, although the restaurant more than made up for that disappointment with some stunning dishes. A ‘nano plate’ (Farzi’s name for nibbles) of Udupi paneer popcorn chicken was polished off with relish. From the small plates proper, a light and fluffy dal chawal arancini was reminiscent of an Indian falafel, while chicken tikka was fantastically smoky.

Belly pork tikka – sweet, sticky and melt-in-the-mouth – was the pick of our larger plates. A Tandoori goat shoulder also made for tender eating, with the sauce itself lending a citrus taste to the dish; it would have been great mopped up with some naan, but we’d already eaten it by the time our side order of bread was the last dish to arrive. For pudding, chocolate forest was an intriguingly vegetal take on Black Forest gateau, involving sweet beetroot and boozy cherries.

But impressive as the cooking is, our enjoyment of the food was hampered by sitting at cramped tables, elbow-to-elbow with our neighbours. Overlook this, however, and you’ll find some top-notch cooking underlined by a terrific atmosphere and professional service.

£50 - £79
Indian
Ooty

Ooty

66 Baker Street, London, London, W1U 7DJ

On the former site of the Galvin brothers' Bistrot de Luxe, Ooty is a south Indian specialist headed up by chef Manmeet Singh Bali. The restaurant is named after a hill-station town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and combines three separate spaces: an 80-cover dining room, a basement bar, and ‘Ooty station’ – an all-day casual dining space and cocktail bar.

Unlike the City boy brashness of Brigadiers or the fast-casual crowd-pleasers at Dishoom, Ooty offers a more refined and genteel approach to Indian cuisine.

The very pretty dining room bears little resemblance to the venue’s former life as an ersatz French bistro – think pastel tones, floral wallpaper and a ‘living’ wall of greenery (which our cheery waiter later admitted is artificial.)

Ooty’s menu of dishes inspired by Indian staples – albeit remixed for small-portioned fine dining – is mostly a winner. The best thing we ate was the kid goat sukka: strips of tender goat shoulder brimming with spice, served on uttapam (a doughy, omelette-like disc of spinach and artichoke) and finished with a fried duck egg quivering with a glossy yolk.  

Elsewhere, our tiger prawn biryani wasn’t as punchy as we’d hoped, but we were won over by the standout pudding of jaggery pineapple bake – juicy, charred golden chunks served on a bed of smoked cardamom rice pudding and finished with a scoop of black sesame ice cream; an unconventional, but seriously effective combination.

Some diners may lament Ooty's lack of bold flavours, but we were ultimately charmed by its cosy atmosphere, refined dishes and delightfully sweet staff.

£50 - £79
Indian
Tayyabs

Tayyabs

83-89 Fieldgate Street, London, E1 1JU

Standing in line at venerable Tayyabs, it’s impossible not to wonder if it’s all worth it. But, once the queuing is over (factor in an hour), you’ll soon forget the hassle as the sound, smell and (finally) the taste of those sizzling hot tandoori lamb chops assails you. Since this “manic” family-run canteen started life on its east London backstreet in 1972, it’s been gussied-up just a little (the new bronze chairs and latticed screens actually look pretty smart), but it remains one of London’s favourite low-budget eateries, as popular with families and students as it is with rowdy City parties and mates on the town. Of course, you must have the lamp chops, but don’t overlook the biryani specials, “amazing” pumpkin curry and the better-than-it-sounds ‘dry meat’. Tayyabs is BYO, so choose something spice-friendly to go with your nosh. “Quick service” is exactly what’s required too.

Under £30
Indian
Halal
Raj of Kensington

Raj of Kensington

1 Abingdon Road, London, W8 6AH

Tucked off Kensington High Street, this unassuming spot offers the classic neighbourhood Indian restaurant experience, but its food transcends the curry-house norm. The simple low-ceilinged dining room features beige leather chairs and white table linen: pleasant if hardly inspiring. In contrast, the food bursts with distinctive flavours in such dishes as pan-fried tiger prawns soaked in cider; or prune- and pepper-stuffed paneer kebab (grilled until crisp at the edges). Tandoori dishes and regulation main courses – rogan josh, butter chicken, lamb biryani – cost around £13, but it’s worth trying regional specialities such as Mangalorean chicken with curry leaves and coconut milk, or the chef’s specials: perfectly moist, pan-seared Gressingham duck breast, for instance, served with mustard-seed sauce and lemon rice. Well-considered cocktails are another forte, though the wine list has limited by-the-glass options. Service is rather serious (yet thorough), but overall Raj is a solid choice if you’re in the area.

£30 - £49
Indian
Trishna

Trishna

15-17 Blandford Street, London, London, W1U 3DG

Trishna’s “modern take on Indian cuisine” is where the Sethi family’s restaurant story started. Their clutch of new openings may be markedly young ’n’ funky compared to the original, but that’s how Trishna’s fans like it – and there are plenty of them, including Michelin.

The food is beautifully presented to fit a restrained dining room with doors that open onto the street in summer. Although the prevailing breeze might not be coastal, much of the cooking has a noticeable briny tang: order pink prawns with chilli, garlic and smoked tomato chutney or quail pepper fry with Keralan spices to start, followed by the now-famous tandoori hariyali bream in a vivid green chilli-herb jacket.

Biriyanis are inventive, as in a wild mushroom and berry version with pink peppercorn raita, while venison and duck come with superior keema naans. Oenophile Sunaina Sethi has devised some “exceptional” wine pairings to match the complexity of the food: you are in safe hands.

£30 - £49
Indian
Fish
One michelin star
Zaika of Kensington

Zaika of Kensington

1 High street Kensington, London, W8 5NP

From its spectacular gothic setting (formerly a bank) to its regionally accented cooking, Zaika has carved out its own niche among the capital’s Indian restaurants. Dominated by high ceilings and wood panels, the interior has a whiff of Hogwarts about it, albeit with a large central cocktail bar. It makes a suitably regal setting for the kitchen’s speciality, the Awadhi cuisine of Lucknow in north India. Many dishes are cooked slowly over charcoal flames, giving a gentle smokiness to the likes of fish curry with ginger and coconut or murgh handi lazeez (a creamy chicken speciality flavoured with tomatoes and cashews). Elsewhere, expect Awadhi-style kebabs loaded with lamb, cheese, and garlic, plus fine-dining riffs such as seared scallops with puffed rice or grilled lobster with garlic and mango. All the usual sides and naans are present and correct, while wines have been picked to withstand the spice.

£30 - £49
Indian
Hoppers Soho

Hoppers Soho

49 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SG

Sometimes, very good things come in very small packages. This no-reservations South Indian eatery from the Sethi siblings (of Trishna and Gymkhana fame) goes from strength to strength, with the implementation of an app in 2016 eliminating one of very few negative points: the need to queue outside on Lexington Street. The average wait at dinner is still over an hour, but the pay-off is astoundingly good-value Sri Lankan and Tamil cuisine “full of delicate flavours and fragrances”. Pick an eponymous hopper (a bowl-shaped rice pancake) with a gooey egg embedded in its base or a sticky, crunchy dosa cone, then match your choice with a “perfectly balanced” kari (curry). Options range from lamb, black pork or fish to red pumpkin and gourd with cashew, irresistibly supported by fiery, must-order Bengali prawns or crisp and deeply meaty mutton rolls. Hoppers is perpetually packed, but “friendly, discreet staff” won’t rush you, so sit back and sip an exotic Margarita (pepped up with pickled lime and coconut salt) to compensate for the absence of a dessert menu.

£30 - £49
Indian
Veeraswamy

Veeraswamy

Victory House, 99 Regent Street, London, London, W1B 4RS

Founded in 1926, London’s oldest Indian is currently under the aegis of MW Eat, the company behind Chutney Mary and Amaya. Those regal beginnings live on in a blingy room with silver ceilings and multi-coloured glass lanterns, while the old colonial relationship remains alive and well in cooking that blends tip-top renditions of the classic repertoire with some dramatic house specials.

Kick off with punchily spiced chicken tikka ahead of a rich roast duck vindaloo, or go off-piste with raj kachori (a crunchy puri filled with yoghurt and vegetables), followed by a pie of flaky pastry cracked open to reveal slow-cooked lamb shank. Also, don’t neglect vegetable sides such as cauliflower with chilli and cumin, which might very well be the best thing that you eat all night. The plum Regent Street location means that tourists and Indian families rub shoulders with gangs of City boys, but charming staff cope deftly whether you’re here for romance or blowing the bonus.

£50 - £79
Indian
One michelin star
Cinnamon Kitchen City

Cinnamon Kitchen City

9 Devonshire Square, London, London, EC2M 4YL

Aptly located in an old spice warehouse, the “beautiful” City offshoot of Vivek Singh’s ever-expanding Cinnamon group is a style-conscious contemporary space tailor-made for the neighbourhood. Industrial-chic design features, subtle clubland beats and an open kitchen serve as the cool backdrop to a menu that delivers modern food of “amazing quality and flavour”. There’s plenty of inspired stuff on the carte, from tandoori cod with carom and nigella seeds or Indo-Chinese stir-fried chilli paneer to char-grilled duck breast with spiced confit roll or pan-seared hake with yellow lentils, masala roast potatoes and green mango pickle. Although spicing is rather restrained compared to some places, the freshness and class shine through: it’s “quite simply heaven on a plate”, drools one fan. Desserts also spring a few surprises, from roast white chocolate and cardamom cream with buttermilk sorbet to ‘reverse malai’ (milk doughnuts, milk ice cream, berries and pistachio). The six-course tasting menu also comes highly recommended, while impressive service and an Asian-infused cocktail list cement the restaurant’s excellent reputation.

£30 - £49
Indian
Amaya

Amaya

Halkin Arcade, 19 Motcomb Street, London, London, SW1X 8JT

A clever combination of flattering lighting and a genius design spec that brings the ‘theatre’ kitchen unobtrusively into the slinky dining room would be enough for most restaurants to make a fashionable leap into the limelight, but Amaya has its Michelin-starred food and brilliant service too.

Readers confirm that this glamorous venue is up there with the Indian big boys thanks to spot-on cooking, “wonderful variety” and a menu that cherry-picks influences from across the subcontinent. Plenty of “superior” high-end ingredients are woven in too: foie gras gets the tandoori treatment, and lightly stir-fried lobster masala also features. Don’t miss the subtly spiced chicken tikkas, the tandoori ocean prawns or the sizzling specialities from the tawa hotplate and sigri grill (white sweet potatoes, wild venison, stonkingly good lamb chops fired with smoked chilli).

Most dishes are designed for sharing and arrive from the open kitchen as and when they’re ready. A spice-friendly wine list matches the food in every department, but it would be a mistake to overlook the cocktails.

£30 - £49
Indian
One michelin star
Café Spice Namasté

Café Spice Namasté

16 Prescot Street, London, London, E1 8AZ

High ceilings, Victorian brass lamps and swagged curtains in spicy shades create a blend of east and west that's as seamless as the fusion in Cyrus Todiwala's "lovely, unusual Indian food". The high-profile chef is also a renowned champion of British produce, which appears in everything from the homemade pickles and chutneys to the prime fillet from the Duke of Buccleuch's estate that goes into a fiery beef tikka. Elsewhere, Goan flavours are to the fore in dishes such as a classic 'white' king prawn curry with organic red rice or spicy Chiltern pork vindalho, although regional riffs range from a luxurious Parsee-style chicken curry with puréed nuts and coconut to tamarind-marinated duck tikka from Kerala. Café Spice Namasté has long championed the pairing of wine with spicy food and there are helpful tasting notes on the list, which includes a Soul Tree Shiraz from India's Nasik Valley.

£30 - £49
Indian
£30 - £49
Tamarind Mayfair

Tamarind Mayfair

20 Queen Street, London, London, W1J 5PR

Tamarind has been one of the most famous names on London’s restaurant scene since it became the first Indian ever to win a Michelin star in 2001. Now it has re-opened after an eight-month refurbishment with a pair of émigrés from two of London’s other most famous Indian restaurants: Karunesh Khanna, former head chef at Amaya, and Manav Tuli, former head chef of Chutney Mary.

 

Neither chef, however, has managed to replicate the allure of the cooking at the restaurants they have left behind. We loved the roti-like pastry case of a chicken biryani, but the contents within tasted more like casserole than curry. A Keralan prawn curry, meanwhile, seemed similarly under-powered on the flavour front, although there was no faulting the quality nor generosity of the king prawns.

 

Vegetable dishes may be a better way to go – we adored a dish of caramelised Brussels sprouts with chestnuts that would make it taste deliciously like Christmas all-year round – while an excellent non-alcoholic drink involving molasses made it a pleasure to stay sober. 

 

Khanna and Tuli both have terrific CVs, and we hope that our meal – competent rather than compelling – was a result of them settling into new premises that have more than doubled in size and been completely re-modelled by superstar designer David D’Almada.

 

The basement dining room has been lightened, brightened (overly so, we felt) and an open kitchen added, while there is a new, more loungey space upstairs; each is linked to the other by a high-shine street-level lobby that looks like the entrance to an especially lucrative private-wealth manager.

 

Still, we’ll give Tamarind a second chance. This is a restaurant that convinced Londoners of the sophistication of Indian cooking, and it remains a name to conjure with. Fingers crossed the new team can add the magic on the food front.

 

£50 - £79
Indian
Gymkhana

Gymkhana

42 Albemarle Street, London, London, W1S 4JH

A “classy”, low-lit contemporary Indian from the multi-talented Sethi family (Trishna, Bao, Lyle’s et al), Gymkhana channels colonial clubbiness over two floors on Albemarle Street – with a dash of “French brasserie” thrown in.

Food-wise, fans reckon that the “real stars are the starters”, and we have to agree after sampling the kid-goat methi keema piled into buttered buns, and soft (almost scrambled) duck egg bhurji with lobster and Malabar paratha. Happy customers also appreciate the flexibility of the service, with “efficient”, unflappable staff willing and able to accommodate last-minute changes to party sizes and orders.

In these situations, add a muntjac biriyani with pomegranate and mint raita (an instant classic) to your order of paneer tikka with cashew nut and corn chaat, partridge pepper fry, a “fiery, blow your head off” wild boar vindaloo or tiger prawns with red pepper chutney, then sit back and watch the contentment set in. Thoughtfully chosen wines and specially brewed Gymkhana lager get top marks, or you could try a Quinine Sour with fresh curry leaves in the atmospheric basement bar.

£50 - £79
Indian
One michelin star
Kricket Soho

Kricket Soho

12 Denman Street, London, W1D 7HH

Cooked up by Rik Campbell and Will Bowlby, casual Kricket is a “modern memoir to time spent living and working in Mumbai”. The duo’s original shipping-container eatery at Pop Brixton has been making waves since 2015, but this is a proper restaurant with snazzy London embellishments including an open kitchen and dining counter, plus tables in the darker, atmospheric basement. The succinct small-plates menu changes daily, and Kricket’s game is a gentle one – the heavy pepper dusting on the signature Keralan-fried chicken is as fiery as it gets. Bhel puris come with a swirl of tamarind stickiness, crunchy puffed rice and dollops of yoghurt, while bright yellow kichri combines rice and lentils with morsels of haddock and lightly pickled cauliflower – all beautifully presented. Barbecue-blackened sweet potatoes and crunchy samphire pakoras make a convincing case for vegetarianism, while spice-infused cocktails and cheeky rum masala chai pep up the drinks list. With its fair pricing, cool vibe and bright, eager-to-please staff, Kricket is settling in very comfortably.

£30 - £49
Indian
The Cinnamon Club

The Cinnamon Club

The Old Westminster Library, 30-32 Great Smith Street, London, London, SW1P 3BU

Despite expanding his ‘Cinnamon’ brand and his portfolio, Indian celeb chef Vivek Singh hasn’t taken his eye off the ball here in Westminster. Cinnamon Club remains the mothership and still hums with an influential hotchpotch of politicians, lobbyists, hacks and opinion formers.

A recent refurb improved the interiors while still referencing the grand old library premises, and Singh’s authentic but contemporary cooking remains consistently delicious. This is modern Indian dining at its best and readers love it: “faultless food, never disappoints”, cheers one fan. We’re also enamoured of the “wonderful setting and stunning flavours” and have enjoyed countless hits, from tandoori octopus with fennel salad to fenugreek-infused roast cod with curry leaf and lime crumble.

Textures and contrasts also make an impact: seared sea bass comes with luscious red lentils, coconut ginger sauce and crisp puffed buckwheat, roast saddle of lamb has saffron sauce and pickled root vegetables for company, and rice vermicelli partners wild king prawns flavoured with mango and coriander. To finish, France meets India in irresistible desserts such as lemon and ginger brûlée with masala-spiced sablé biscuits. The fact that sommeliers are on hand to guide diners through the wine list says a great deal about this supremely accomplished Indian destination.

£50 - £79
Indian
Jikoni

Jikoni

19-21 Blandford Street, London, London, W1D 3DH

It has been a rollercoaster six years for Ravinder Bhogal. Since Gordon Ramsay dubbed her the ‘new Fanny Craddock’ on his TV show The F Word she has launched award-winning cookbooks, TV shows and supper clubs. But Jikoni, her first restaurant, is her crowning glory. It’s a cosy little site, furnished with floral tablecloths, scatter cushions and fabric lampshades, kept on the formal side of kitsch by a smart marble bar and white walls. Jikoni means ‘kitchen’ in Swahili, and Bhogal’s east African-cum-Indian-cum-British heritage is reflected in a menu that infuses comforting Brit classics with exotic spices. Witness her three takes on the Scotch egg – our favourite saw soft, gooey quail’s egg wrapped in a prawn toast mix, served with banana ketchup. Elsewhere, crunchy, battered ‘popcorn’ cauliflower scattered with chilli and garlic, and soft-shell crab on a spicy relish, were standout small plates. Best main course was a half-lobster in a spicy coconut moilee curry sauce, topped with more shredded, creamed coconut (£24). But Bhogal can also deliver on a budget: a shepherd’s pie made with big chunks of scrag-end and infused with gentle spices was also top-drawer, and generously portioned for £14. There were only two let-downs – an uninspiring tapioca and mango jelly pudding, and a watery gin and cucumber lassi. Yet, with polished staff who buy-in to the ‘dinner at an insanely talented friend’s house’ vibe, and a fan-base injecting a real buzz, Bhogal has opened a wonderfully unique little restaurant.

£30 - £49
International
Sagar Covent Garden

Sagar Covent Garden

31 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JS

There’s budget dining & then there’s Sagar, the ridiculously affordable trio of southern Indian vegetarian restaurants. This modest London group has achieved something close to cult status among students & indeed anyone feeling the pinch. The no-frills surroundings don’t exactly inspire reverie, but the lack of show is part of the charm. Expect decent, dependable regional dishes including idli (rice dumplings), dosas & uttappams (lentil ‘pizzas’ with spicy toppings) joined by a full quota of veggie curries, fluffy rice & home-baked breads, best enjoyed with a Kingfisher beer. For unbeatable value, settle on the mini lunchtime thali (£4.50) or pick up one of the unbeatable takeaway lunch boxes (two veggie curries, raita, rice, a paratha & a tiny salad for just £2.95).

Under £30
Indian
£30 - £49
Bombay Bustle

Bombay Bustle

29 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PA

Following rave reviews of its autumn 2016 opening Jamavar, Leela Palaces Group has opened a second Mayfair Indian, on the former site of Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus. Street food and chaat is the big idea here, inspired by India’s dabbawala lunchbox deliveries, with a pastel-coloured interior designed to reflect the railway network that supports the service – look out for a nifty hat rack-cum-mirror, overhead luggage racks and cut-glass screens.

Small plates include doughy naan topped with lightly-spiced scrambled egg and earthy truffle shavings, vegetable samosas wrapped in never-bettered pastry and lashed with refreshing mint chutney, and warm chunks of meltingly tender goat meat served with bread rolls for dipping. The menu is bulked up by more substantial items such as biryanis and tandoor chops, but we’d recommend the mild Madras chicken curry, accompanied by a side of rice and a moreish wafer-thin podi dosa, ideal for scooping up leftovers.

We enjoyed what we ate, although heat and spice have been toned down for risk-averse Mayfair palates. Fun cocktails and knowledgeable staff are further pluses at a diverting newcomer that, while hardly a cheap eat, is more kindly priced than other Indians this side of Regent Street.

£30 - £49
Indian
Kutir

Kutir

10 Lincoln Street, London, SW3 2TS

Number 10 Lincoln Street is an address with an impressive pedigree for Indian restaurants. Its previous resident was chef Vineet Bhatia’s Michelin-starred Rasoi; now it’s home to this first solo restaurant from chef-patron Rohit Ghai, who trails a comet’s tail of starry Indian establishments behind him, having been head chef at Gymkhana and launched Jamavar and Bombay Bustle.

‘Kutir’ means ‘a small cottage in the middle of nowhere’ in Sanskrit and while the location on a side street near Sloane Square is hardly off the beaten track, it does feel homely, although this being Chelsea, it’s the sort of home that World of Interiors might splash on its cover. Diners must ring a doorbell (or rap the silver elephant door knocker) to gain admittance to a series of dining rooms tricked out with Zoffany wallpaper and fragranced with a rose-scented diffuser.

It’s an entrancing setting for modern Indian cooking that beguiles with spicing that is delicate and distinct. Take the 24-hour lamb rogan josh, involving lamb shoulder slow-cooked for a whole day at 90C and spooned with a glossy brown sauce made from the bones, and served alongside a cigar-shaped samosa of lamb’s offal rolled inside the thinnest, crispest pastry. Nose-to-tail eating doesn’t get any more refined. 

Roast duck breast, meanwhile, comes with a cashew sauce as creamy as anything you’d find in French cuisine, although it’s not all so sophisticated: lamb chops are as primal a thrill as you’ll eat anywhere, but it’s typical of Ghai’s thoughtful approach that the palate-refreshing dish of sprouts on the side demands equal attention. Vegetarians, meanwhile, are well served by inspired combinations such as soft paneer offset by the crunch of sweetcorn. 

Diners who find much modern Indian cooking too dainty are unlikely to be won over by the likes of a pair of perfectly cooked scallops presented on a silver banana leaf, and still less, perhaps, by the series of ‘Expeditions’ tasting menus with matching wines. And while prices are not outlandish for the quality of cooking or location, Kutir is unlikely to become a home-from-home for all but the most well-heeled of Chelsea locals. But for anyone interested to see how one of London’s foremost chefs is evolving the Indian repertoire with individuality and ambition, 10 Lincoln Street remains an address to remember.

Food image: Stuart Milne

Interior image: Tim Atkins

Indian
Tamarind Kitchen

Tamarind Kitchen

167-169 Wardour Street, London, W1F 8WR

Following a complete rebrand and move upmarket, this less-formal offshoot of Tamarind (the Michelin-starred Mayfair Indian) is now a twinkling den of dark woods, swirling incense and low-lit corners. On our early visit it was already buzzing, both at the window-side tables – which glow from lights installed within them – and among elevated booths at the rear. There’s an equally handsome basement dining room for Soho overspill, while bartenders shake up sparky, fruit-laden cocktails at the small entrance bar. The two-page menu is simple to navigate, exploring small plates and Indian kebabs before curry-dominated mains and sides. The delicately presented likes of a whole, deep-fried soft shell crab with a potato, yoghurt and turmeric salad was pleasant, if timidly flavoured, as were seared scallops with slivers of jarringly hard parsnip slices. We recommend fast-forwarding to the curries, because our Alleppey-style fish curry of tamarind, mustard and curry leaves delivered one velvety punch of hot flavour after another. Side-step feeble naans in favour of steamed rice and some tempered, yellow-lentil dahl and don’t neglect the very pretty dessert options. Thanks to its bold reimagining, this Tamarind site now delivers succinct quality and cosseting vibes.

£30 - £49
Indian
Quilon

Quilon

41 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AF

Serene and peaceful, with shell motifs and an undulating wave-like ceiling pointing up the maritime theme, this Michelin-starred South Indian specialist is perfectly positioned under the mighty Taj Hotel in Victoria – a comfortable refuelling point for residents, local businesses and well-heeled visitors. Seafood is the undoubted high point of the menu, and dishes such as crab cakes gently spiced with curry leaves, ginger and chilli or giant juicy shell-on prawns cooked in an onion, tomato and coconut masala are well worth a trip across town. There’s also plenty for meat eaters and vegetarians: slow-cooked lamb shank, steeped in herbs and spices is meltingly good, while a dish of snow peas and asparagus, sautéed with coconut, mustard, curry leaves and chilli is supremely moreish. Service isn’t exactly slick, but it’s well-meaning, kind and enthusiastic. The wine list has been carefully designed to match the food – look out for plenty of aromatic whites and soft easy-drinking reds.

£30 - £49
Indian
Namaasté Kitchen

Namaasté Kitchen

64 Parkway, London, NW1 7AH

Grilling is the name of the game here and all the fiery action is on show as chefs skilfully handle the tandoor, sigri and tawa before your eyes. But that’s not to say this is a rough-and-ready sort of place, not a bit of it. Namaasté Kitchen has creamy leather banquettes, designer light fittings, and even a couple of chef’s tables – in other words, it’s a pin-sharp modern Indian restaurant. The menu reaches well beyond the curry-house favourites, with chukandari venison cooked in the tandoor (flavoured with beetroot and fennel), followed by Goan sea bass served with dhokla, or a Dorset crab vindaloo. Spicing is well judged throughout and everything looks rather splendid on the plate. To finish, mango brûlée is a contemporary fusion that wins the day. The wine list has a decent global spread, including options under £20.

£30 - £49
Indian
Babur

Babur

119 Brockley Rise, London, London, SE23 1JP

Readers applaud this “gem” of an Indian restaurant for its “artfully chosen” decor, “superb” cocktails and “exceptional” food. Babur is a long-standing neighbourhood favourite, where furnishings have become increasingly stylish over the years (currently, bare brick, tiled flooring, low-hanging lights and wooden partitions holding vibrant flower displays) and the Sunday buffet remains consistently popular. Food encompasses both northern and southern Indian cookery, so you’ll find clove-smoked lamb chops from the tandoor, as well as wild mushroom and pea dosa. But the new menu also contains a healthy dose of innovation. Dishes such as steamed spice-crusted shoulder of lamb with beetroot rice combine prime British ingredients with bold Punjabi flavours. Ostrich is marinated in a fierce Rajasthani masala, and even goat gets a look-in: slow-cooked to perfection and transformed with aromatic spices. To match these dishes, Master of Wine Peter McCombie has put together a list of food-friendly bottles.

£30 - £49
Indian
Darjeeling Express

Darjeeling Express

2nd Floor, 6-8 Kingly Street, London, W1B 5PW

Touted by The Cinnamon Club supremo Vivek Singh (no less) as one of London’s top Indian female chefs, Asma Khan is now fronting her own gaff – a relaxed, comforting venue that provides a showcase for her blend of north Indian and Bengali cooking.

Walking into Darjeeling Express feels like popping over to a friend’s house for a (very well-cooked) dinner, with warm, casually dressed staff and a kitchen team made up of women who learnt their craft from their mothers. The results on the plate are excellent: crumbly minced mutton cakes come stuffed with hung yoghurt and chopped mint leaves, while the must-order Tangra chilli and garlic prawns are zapped with a tongue-popping five-spice blend.

To follow, you might find slow-cooked Bengali goat curry, but we’re sold on the spice-laden venison meatballs bobbing in a creamy tomato and green-chilli gravy. Sides include fiery beetroot croquettes, although we’d recommend keeping things simple with the delicious red onion and chilli-flecked roti. With Darjeeling Express, Kingly Court has a new jewel in its crown.  

Under £30
Indian
Masala Zone Covent Garden

Masala Zone Covent Garden

48 Floral Street, London, WC2E 9DA

Restaurant group MW Eat reopened this popular Masala Zone late in 2016. Following an extensive renovation, it now makes an exuberant backdrop for business lunches and private parties. Our favourite new touch is the striking collection of 350 ceremonial Rajasthani puppets that hang from the ceiling in the main dining area. You’ll find the private dining room downstairs. This exotic space echoes the rich decor on the floor above and gives groups access to all of the kitchen’s best-known dishes. Look out, in particular, for traditional Indian street food, family-style sharing thalis and regional curries.

£30 - £49
Indian
Indian Accent

Indian Accent

16 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4HW

Few restaurants have arrived in the capital as garlanded with awards as the London outpost of Indian Accent. The New Delhi original is the only restaurant in India on the World’s 50 Best list and is regularly voted the country’s top place to eat; similar plaudits have rained down on its New York sibling since it opened in 2016. Here in London, we’re a little more used to the idea of a high-end Indian restaurant and there was a danger that Indian Accent, which has taken over the old Chor Bizarre site in Mayfair, might feel a little late to the party, but chef Manish Methrota’s sure-footed updating of traditional Indian cooking – respectful of heritage while being unmistakably individual – is a very welcome addition. And at four courses for £65, it is currently a bit of a bargain for the quality on offer in this location. 

Highlights for us included soy keema mopped up with soft little pillows of pao buns (vegetarian options are excellent); tenderly succulent pork ribs, beautifully marinated with onion seeds; an Indian spin on crispy duck, with ghee roast lamb proving just as juicy; and smoked bacon kulcha that we would gladly have made an entire meal of, dipping into the deeply flavoured dal. Service (especially from those staff flown in from New York) is on the ball, eye-opening wine matching is a strength, and the room is a stunner, with striking green upholstery set against a marble and pearl backdrop that practically glows with the expense lavished on it. In short, this Indian Accent is well worth adopting.  

£50 - £79
Indian
Dishoom Covent Garden

Dishoom Covent Garden

12 Upper St Martins Lane, London, WC2H 9FB

Now with branches in Shoreditch, King’s Cross and Soho, Dishoom is going from strength to strength as its take on the café culture of old Bombay hits the spot with hungry Londoners. Quirky vintage styling includes bright Bollywood posters and formal family portraits, while pendant lamps and monochrome tiles keep things bang up to date in the bustling dining room. Drop in any time: you’ll find bacon naan rolls and sweet chai for breakfast, ahead of a reliable all-day menu that readers recommend as a “great standby for last-minute” dining. Highlights at Dishoom include an aromatic biryani dish of chicken berry Britannia, spiced lamb keema scooped up with buttery pau buns, and the “fantastic” house black dhal. The drinks list keeps up the good work, with lassis and craft beers, plus “different and delicious” cocktails to enjoy in the basement bar if you’re waiting for a table. “Reasonable prices” and “prompt service” too.

£30 - £49
Cafes
Indian
Chokhi Dhani

Chokhi Dhani

Unit E2, 2 Riverlight Quay, Nine Elms Lane, London, London, SW8 5AW

A life-size 14-foot-high bronze elephant greets you outside Chokhi Dhani, setting the tone for a menu and interiors inspired by the grand maharajahs of Rajasthan. This Indian brand is known for combining food, entertainment and shopping in its home country, so it’s no surprise that the venue is stuffed with authentic arts and crafts– many available to buy – while fortune tellers and henna artists keep punters amused at weekends. The ground floor and terrace offer Indian street food such as ragada (potato patties topped with spicy white peas), while upstairs the à la carte menu features theatrically presented signature dishes, plus classic Rajasthani small plates and grills from the tandoor. Highlights included kadak momo chaat, a deep-fried potato basket filled with crispy vegetable dumplings and spicy chickpeas laced with tangy tamarind sauce; aromatic seafood pilau wrapped in banana leaves; and murgh joshila, moist poussin and chicken thighs cooked to perfection on the tandoor. Indian-themed cocktails and interesting wines are a further plus, as are the riverside views.

£30 - £49
Indian
Gunpowder Spitalfields

Gunpowder Spitalfields

11 White's Row, London, E1 7NF

On a backstreet behind Spitalfields Market, this cosy no-bookings Indian may be small and unassuming, but the menu is certainly explosive. “Great food, lovely atmosphere, fantastic service”, exclaims one fan – and we share his enthusiasm for Gunpowder’s spicy offer.

Set against an unfussy backdrop of exposed brickwork and steel chairs, the concise menu is rich in rustic Indian sharing dishes inspired by family recipes. Readers have singled out the venison and vermicelli ‘doughnut’, the aloo chat and the “sticky and sweet” Nagaland pork ribs with crunchy tamarind kachumber, but we’re fans of the ‘chutney cheese sandwich’ and the organic baby chicken char-grilled in tandoori spices.

The short dessert list also offers something for everyone: molten spice chocolate cake, comforting ‘old monk’ rum pudding or refreshing passion fruit and mint granita. Wine straddle the globe, but don’t ignore the Asian-inspired cocktails, made with ingredients such as masala Coca-Cola. “Reasonable prices” seal the deal.

£30 - £49
Indian
Chutney Mary

Chutney Mary

73 St James's Street, London, London, SW1A 1PH

Formerly residing on the King’s Road, Chutney Mary is now one of St James’s sumptuously decorated jewels. A smart doorman is on hand as you walk through to the buzzy Pukka Bar, where house cocktails such as a zesty Rangpur Gimlet with kaffir lime leaves set the scene for what is to follow – namely “high Indian cuisine” overlaid with judicious spicing and luxurious touches.

Hedonists can indulge in tandoori foie gras or lobster chilli fry, although standouts from our recent visit included juicy scallops in Mangalorean sauce (a southern Indian blend of coconut, fenugreek and turmeric) and moreish baked venison samosas, crispy cones stuffed with rich, moist meat. Elsewhere, a hearty Bengal lamb curry, scooped up with buttery naan, delivers the comforting warmth of slow-cooked spices, while a lighter prawn biryani is shot through with ginger, green chilli and saffron.

After that, desserts such as Madras coffee cappuccino kulfi are imaginative Anglo-Indian mash-ups noted for their eye-catching presentation (a feature of all Chutney Mary’s food). Staff are “an absolute delight”, and the thoughtfully assembled wine list is a solid match for the spicy fare – try an Alsace Gewürztraminer with those scallops.

£50 - £79
Indian
Jamavar

Jamavar

8 Mount Street, London, London, W1K 3NF

“Magnificent cooking in elegant old-colonial surroundings” is the promise at Jamavar – a Mayfair revelation that reminds readers just how good Indian cuisine can be in the right hands. The regionally inspired food is a perfect fit for the wood-panelled dining room’s “calm and refined” atmosphere. Top calls are many and varied: peppery soft-shell crab perked up with damson chutney; delicate scallops on a mound of puffed rice; char-grilled and pulled ‘Old Delhi’ butter chicken; stone bass tikka with green cardamom and avocado relish – in fact there isn’t a dud to be seen among the line-up of “memorable” dishes. 

Such “high-calibre” food doesn’t come cheap and the sharing plates aren’t exactly generous, but set lunches and early-bird dinners are currently a Mayfair bargain. Smart and comfortable without seeming obtrusive, Jamavar is a destination that can confidently allow the food to do the talking. What was a downstairs bar is now a second dining room – much needed, judging by the packed house when we visited. 

£50 - £79
Indian
One michelin star
Potli

Potli

319-321 King Street, London, W6 9NH

Set on the Hammersmith-Chiswick borders, this colourful modern enterprise offers a bazaar experience with its take on Indian street food. Journey through the subcontinent with appetisers such as puffed flour and semolina crisps from Mumbai’s Chowpatty beach, sesame chilli paneer from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk market, and karara crab with fiery dynamite sauce from Kolkata’s Chowringhee Lane. We especially enjoyed the juicy tandoori-baked Badami masala lamb chops spiced with ginger and garam masala. Alternatively, try a curry of whole sea bream simmered in a hot, sweet-and-sour Goan sauce, or a railway mutton curry cooked on the bone. Hiron laal maas is another speciality – prime venison haunch simmered in a rich, generously spiced Rajasthani sauce. Further highlights include an inexpensive weekday set lunch and a family lunch menu at weekends. For a tipple, choose from various fragrant or spiced Martinis or stick to the wine list which comes with helpful pairing notes.

£30 - £49
Indian
Benares

Benares

12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London, London, W1J 6BS

A beacon for Asian fine dining since 2003, Michelin-starred Benares brings French-inspired refinement to spice-based cooking “without depleting the authenticity of Indian flavour”. The kitchen delivers “awesome food” and “real creativity” across the board, although tasting menus are the undoubted showcase for the kitchen's talents – from pan-seared scallops with broccoli couscous and pine-nut podi (dry powder) to a crisp, puffy chicken tikka pie or tandoori lamb cutlets with rich, rogan-inspired jus and creamy black dhal makhani. Inventive set lunches might include piri-piri quail with smoked beetroot or prawn curry with Bengali-spiced kimchi, while a dessert of tarte Tatin infused with anise and fennel typifies the crossover approach. Kindly, engaging staff deliver “spotless service” in the slick, smart, white-on-black dining room, while street food and quirky cocktails are the main business in the lounge bar. Wine picks tackle the spicing admirably. “Pricey, but perfect for special occasions”, says a fan.

£50 - £79
Indian
Halal
One michelin star
Little Kolkata

Little Kolkata

51-53 Shelton Street, London, WC2H 9JU

Little Kolkata began life as a supper club and it has retained the intimate and cosy feel of its origins now that it has found a permanent site in the backstreets of Covent Garden. The basic interior might be worn-looking in places, but this adds to the homely ambience created by clay plates and tactile brass tables. Even the higgledy-piggledy steps down to the loos add character.

But while the decor might be plain, the food is vibrant and colorful. Most Indian restaurants in Britain are Bangladeshi-owned, but Little Kolkata is one of the few to put the food of Bangladesh centre stage.  

To start, doi papri chaat, an aromatic and creamy mix of potato, wafer and yoghurt, cooled our tongues after the Calcutta-style chilli chicken, which was just inside our comfort zone for spice. To follow, baby chicken in a cashew, rose water and saffron sauce had been slow-cooked for so long that even the bone was tender enough to cut with a spoon.

Truffle paratha, a sweet twist on the usually savoury dish, stood out from the sides we tried; a brownie with subtle hints of coffee and cardamom was a very rich treat to finish with, but the small portion made it the only dish we tried that seemed poor value for money.

Otherwise, though, Little Kolkata’s Bangladeshi food, varied choice of sharing dishes and reasonable prices are more than enough reason to visit. 

£30 - £49
Indian
Brigadiers

Brigadiers

1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, London, London, EC4N 8AR

The headlining act of the Bloomberg Arcade, Brigadiers is the hotly anticipated new restaurant from JKS, aka siblings Jyotin, Karam and Sunaina Sethi, who have a Midas touch for whatever they choose to invest in (Lyle’s, Sabor, Bao, Bubbledogs) or front themselves (Hoppers, Trishna, Gymkhana – and now Brigadiers).  

Brigadiers is an Indian barbecue restaurant and sports bar, pitched in mood midway between the cheap thrills of Hoppers and the Mayfair flash of Gymkhana (prices, however, are definitely more Gymkhana). And like all the Sethis’ projects, it is precision-tuned to the location. Here in the City that means two bars, three private rooms, a pool room with a self-service whisky dispenser, plus TVs locked to Sky Sports. The inspiration is apparently the army mess bars of India, although it may as well be the fantasy of a teenage boy.

Except this being JKS, the food and drinks are far more sophisticated than that. The long menu is tailor-made for sharing in groups, not least because you’ll want to order as much as possible from the half-dozen sections, from ‘beer snacks’ and ‘sizzlers and kebabs’ to ‘steak, ribs and chops’ and ‘rotisserie and wood oven’.

There are two show-stopping must-orders. Beef chuck bone-marrow keema, sloppy and slippery, is scooped up with chilli-cheese kulcha, which taste like a stuffed pizza crust. We also put these to good use chasing the sauce left over from barbecue butter chicken wings, smeared with ghee and cashew cream like sublime, softly flavoured satay.

Other highlights included the flavour riot of masala chicken skins with lime pickle, and from the more substantial end of the menu, rib-eye steak beautifully spiced in a dry tandoori masala. Lettuce dressed in yoghurt and mint provided fresh relief.

To drink, there are lagers and stouts on tap, cocktails on draught, and 15 wines by the glass from a global list that quickly ascends past the £40 mark all the way to a pay-cheque blowing fine wine selection that, for once, doesn’t focus on Bordeaux and Burgundy – like everything else in this raucous newcomer, a hot blast of fun for City dining, especially if you’ve a glass in hand on the terrace when the sun hits at 5pm. 

£50 - £79
Indian

Naturally London is filled with Indian restaurants, from the casual curry houses of Brick Lane to the fine dining joints of the West End, so making your choice may sometimes prove to be hard work. SquareMeal’s list of the best Indian restaurants in London is an excellent guide, featuring only the best of the best. Every one of the restaurants featured in SquareMeal’s list of London’s top Indian restaurants has been tried and tested by our expert team of independent food critics as well as regular customers, so check out the reviews and book a table online with SquareMeal today. Indian cuisine also lends itself well to vegetarian dining – if that's your bag, check out our pick of the best vegetarian restaurants in London