Best Middle Eastern restaurants in London

If you’re bored of traditional British fare and fancy a change from fish and chips, then why not try out some Middle Eastern restaurants in London? If you’re craving some hummus, labneh or shawarma, then pick from our selection of London’s best Middle Eastern restaurants. When it comes to the best Middle Eastern restaurants in London, you’ll find them right here. If you want to step things up from your normal post-night-out kebab and sample what is fast becoming one of the capital’s hottest cuisines, you’ll find some of the finest examples at these London Middle Eastern restaurants. Scroll down to check out our list of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in London.

Posted on 07 January 2019

Best Middle Eastern restaurants in London

Find the best Middle Eastern restaurants in London with Square Meal’s excellent guide to the finest Middle Eastern restaurants in London. Middle Eastern cuisine has increased in popularity over recent years, with its subtle flavours and healthy ingredients. Middle Eastern cuisine encompasses the food of many different countries, from Turkey to Lebanon and Iran to Egypt to name but a few, and has brought an exciting, new way of eating to the tables of London.

Square Meal has put together a handpicked list of the top Middle Eastern restaurants in London, guaranteeing you experience the very best that Middle Eastern dining has to offer. From superb Turkish restaurants to fantastic Lebanese restaurants, London boasts an enviable selection of Middle Eastern restaurants.

Every one of the Middle Eastern restaurants featured in Square Meal’s list of London’s top Middle Eastern restaurants have been tried and tested by food critics and our own customers so check out the reviews and book a table online with Square Meal today. As well as the restaurants on this page, we have listings for Middle Eastern restaurants in Knightsbridge, and Chelsea and Fulham as well as Middle Eastern restaurants in many other areas of London . Each Square Meal listing features an independent review, as well as reviews from diners, together with unique special offers such as free drinks and discounts.


Yalla Yalla - Green's Court

Yalla Yalla - Green's Court

A welcome find down a jazzy old passageway between Berwick Street and Brewer Street, natty-looking Yalla Yalla serves ‘Beirut street food’ from a counter laden with baked goods. As well as falafel, shawarma and spicy potato or sausage wraps, there are savoury manaee’sh pastries with spinach or wild thyme and sumac, plus cherry or fig tarts. Bag a rustic wooden table and share some ‘highly affordable’ mezze, and ‘amazing, fresh and tasty’ mains such as charcoal-grilled minced lamb skewers (aka kafta meshoué) or marinated king prawns. Wines from the Bekaa Valley, including Château Kefraya, come in at around £5 a glass; otherwise, fruit juices (pomegranate, carrot, apple/mint/ginger) are available for refreshment. Be sure to book ahead or be prepared to wait, since it’s tiny and very popular.

Yalla Yalla - Green's Court

Nopi

Nopi

Aimed higher than his eponymous deli/café chain, Yottam Ottolenghi's "gleaming" spin-off hits its target with ease: the cream-coloured ground floor is a serene space artfully decorated with white tiles, polished marble and brass fittings, while downstairs offers large communal tables and an open kitchen. However, readers save most praise for Nopi's "exquisite", "healthy" and supremely tasty food: raw cauliflower is paired with sprouts, nectarines and Gorgonzola, sea trout gets a global makeover with koji rice, watercress pesto and labneh, while beef short-rib keeps more familiar company with smoked beer glaze and horseradish. Whether you're sharing dishes or going it alone with one of the more expensive mains, it's all about creativity and depth of flavour. Signature cocktails also pick up on the kitchen's eclectic ingredients. Some bemoan high prices and petite portions, but most reckon that Nopi is "worth every penny".

Nopi

Kenza

Kenza

Etched brass, glowing lanterns, tapestries, embroidered pillows and the aroma of sweet spices all help to give Kenza its atmospheric vibe (the name is Arabic for ‘treasure’). Set up by Algerian-born Tony Kitous (of Comptoir Libanais fame), this exotic hangout is known for its heady mix of “charming” service, blasting North African beats and home-style Lebanese cooking. Char-grilled meats, kebabs, tagines and other mainstays loom large, although we recommend the feast menu with its ample selection of mezze: tabbouleh, batata harra (spicy sautéed potatoes with red pepper), falafel, fatayer sabanegh (spinach, pine nut and sumac pastries) and suchlike. For mains, there might be moussaka or farowj meshwi – charcoal-grilled baby chicken with a Lebanese salad, rice and harissa, which can be matched to a North African wine from the international list. Afterwards, pop down to the cocktail lounge for DJ sounds and belly dancing.  

Kenza

Honey & Co

Honey & Co

Freshness and subtle spicing are the hallmarks of Honey & Co’s relentlessly popular re-invigoration of Middle Eastern dining. Punters pack the diminutive room surrounded by shelves deep-laden with preserves, produce and cookbooks, while the kitchen delivers “adventure and flair” right through the day. Like the space itself, staff are warm and inclusive, showing a passion for a menu that blends comfort and care. Mezze is the smart sociable choice, with tables heaving under bowls of pillowy hummus, carrot falafels, braised aubergines, feta borek, house pickles, labneh, olives and home-baked breads – all before the mains arrive. Our roast lamb on a zingy grape and bulgur salad was highly enjoyable, though minced lamb with a tahini and yoghurt crust proved an indulgence too far. The iced teas are a booze-free delight and the cheesecake with Greek thyme honey is irresistible. Meanwhile, breakfast pastries are a “favourite pick-me-up” for one regular.

Honey & Co

Arabica Bar & Kitchen

Arabica Bar & Kitchen

Deep in Borough Market, this restaurant spin-off from Arabica's popular food and spice stall has made quite an impression on readers, who love the "sheer breadth of tastes" on a menu that stretches "from Athens via Yerevan and Old Jaff to Cairo". The whole place may shake as trains rattle overhead, but its dramatic location beneath a railway arch (plus blaring music) adds to the fun-loving, "strangely comforting" vibe. Hits from the vast Middle Eastern/international menu have included big, crunchy lamb kibbeh, "superbly done" lahmacun (Armenian pizza), authentic tarama and slices of raw yellowfin tuna in a spiky dressing of citrus, chilli and rose water – although we're also fans of the knafeh (warm Levantine cheese pastry topped with orange-blossom honey and crushed pistachios). The cost of numerous small plates can soon add up, but punters are rarely disappointed.

Arabica Bar & Kitchen

Iznik

Iznik

Named after the Turkish city famous for the elaborate tiles that adorn its walls, this family-run restaurant has the air of an exotic eastern bazaar. Iznik has been feeding locals for more than 20 years, and although some complain about slow or apathetic service at the busiest times, the packed tables are testament to the quality of the creative Ottoman cuisine. There’s a decent selection of hot and cold mezze, most under £5, as well as the expected mixed grill. But mains also include more adventurous choices such as king prawns sautéed with walnut and garlic. Vegetarians are well catered for, with the likes of kuru dolma (sun-dried aubergine and courgette filled with bulgur dressed with yoghurt). To drink, there’s refreshing Efes Pilsen, along with wines from a somewhat pricey list. Finish with ayva tatlisi (quince braised in syrup, with cream), just one of the sweet temptations.

Iznik

Hazev

Hazev

London's Tas chain is renowned for its fresh, affordable Turkish flavours, and this is exactly what the founder's Canary Wharf spot provides, albeit in a smarter setting than most of its sister eateries. The waterside backdrop is a good start, and the spacious interior also bodes well. While meaty aromas waft through from the kitchen, the veggie mezze also offers temptation – borek pastries, mücver goats' cheese and courgette patties, grilled sweet peppers with 'white cheese' or spinach with yoghurt and garlic. Kofte, shish kebabs and more complex plates of lamb or chicken come with couscous, though casseroles and seafood dishes are also worth considering – we like the prawn guvech stew, rich in plump crustacea. The space is split into three sections, so you're equally welcome to pop in for a full meal, a snack in the deli or a drink at the bar.

Hazev

The Palomar

The Palomar

“What an experience!” shouts a fan of The Palomar – a fun-loving foodie hangout driven by funky chef Tomer Amedi’s infectious joie de vivre. The whole place feels like a house party, complete with hard drinks, kooky cocktails, loud beats, kitchen banter and “laid-back staff”. A grill-focused menu references the cuisine of modern Jerusalem, so be prepared for highly original food with a seasonal slant: we’re hooked on the ‘chicken under pressure’ with citrus, lentils and courgettes, the ‘Josperised’ octopus with chickpea msabacha, and the Persian pappardelle with artichoke, lemon and mangetout. Elsewhere, the bread is “fantastic” and the chopped liver is “sublime”, while the pick of the puds has to be ‘kiss kiss bang bang’ – a wicked confection of pomegranate ‘basbousa’ semolina cake, halva ice cream and almond palmier. You’ll need to queue for a seat at the no-bookings counter, but it’s worth it just to watch the kitchen’s livewire performances. When it’s really firing (and that’s most of the time), The Palomar is Soho at its best – and the perfect spot if you want to “impress your friends”.

The Palomar

Kazan

Kazan

“Quite a find among the tourist dross at the back of Victoria”, Kazan is all about Ottoman opulence – antique lamps and silk cushions may have given way to sleek contemporary looks, but the soft glow from teardrop-shaped lights and the privacy afforded by ornate screens create a seductively romantic atmosphere. The kitchen shows its class with a mix of Turkish family favourites and Ottoman-style specialities – so expect numerous hot and cold appetisers (try the ‘drunken’ calamari marinated in vodka), plus ‘fire grills’ and specialities ranging from hunkar begendi (stewed spiced lamb on smoked aubergine relish) to monkfish and prawn kebabs with bulgur and salad. To finish, check out delights such as dark chocolate ‘pyramids’ with pistachio ice cream or apricots stuffed with clotted cream and walnuts. At lunchtime, there are speedy set menus and mezze feasts to share – perfect with an ice-cold Efes beer.

Kazan

Mangal 1

Mangal 1

As smoke fills a side road off busy Stoke Newington High Street, large buckets of charcoal are carried in to feed the roaring monster inside this Turkish ocakbasi restaurant. You're face to face with the ocak grill as soon as you enter, and tables are packed tightly into the small room, but sit here rather than in the calmer extension next door, because the thrill of the grill is what it's all about. A chilled cabinet is stocked with kebabs, chops, chicken wings and quails – just order a plate of juicy mixed meats and a pile of spanking-fresh salad, plus some creamy cacik (yoghurt with cucumber and garlic) and tuck in. You can buy Turkish beer and red wine, but almost everyone brings their own – making dinner here even more of a bargain.

Mangal 1

Noura Belgravia

Noura Belgravia

Dreamt up by two brothers who found fame in Paris during the 80s, the Noura chain has several outlets in the capital, including this impressive flagship in Belgravia– a two-tiered eatery comprising a casual brasserie and a more classy restaurant. The massive menu is built for sharing and covers all bases from hot and cold mezze to intensely succulent slabs of roasted or grilled meat (the mixed shawarma offers a bit of everything) and some terrific veggie choices ranging from meatless moussaka to bamieh (okra cooked with tomato and coriander). For afters, Lebanese-inspired ice creams, baklava or aish el saraya (a richly caramelised bread pudding with clotted cream) should fit the bill. A wallet-friendly lunch menu (£22.50) feeds the business crowd, while black-tied service keeps things slick and professional.

Noura Belgravia

Ishbilia

Ishbilia

Given the seasonal influx of Middle Eastern residents hereabouts, it’s hardly surprising that there are plenty of eateries designed with them in mind – although this friendly Lebanese was doing great trade before London became such a summer destination for the super-rich. Families dropping in for lunch and supper tend to take up most of the large terrace and ground floor, but the richly decorated alcoves downstairs are ideal for private dinners and liaisons. There’s a huge array of mezze to choose from, but their moutabal topped with pomegranate, and creamy hummus kawarmah with diced lamb and pine nuts get our vote. After that, progress to some charcoal-grilled kebabs or a home-style stew served with rice, before rounding off with a lip-sticking baklava. Though most customers stick to water and tea, there’s a decent wine list for those who want it.

Ishbilia

Al Hamra

Al Hamra

Trapped in the gastro-bubble of newly revitalised Shepherd Market, this unchanging bastion of Lebanese culinary tradition now seems a tad anachronistic. The menu is an inexhaustible, 100-strong selection of hot and cold mezze standards that yields bankable takes on baba gannouj, hoummos, falafel, tabbouleh and kibbeh, supported by a grill with real charcoal, meat-led mains showcasing at least 20 ways with lamb, and daily supplies of fresh fish – although you can always veer off the predictable path with a plate of lamb’s testicles or some chopped raw lamb with bulgur wheat. Kindly priced Château Musar, award-winning window-box blooms, and outdoor seating add some extra sheen to Al Hamra’s solidly sound cooking – although painful cover charges, surly service and acres of patterned felt are in definite need of sprucing up.

Al Hamra

Maroush Gardens

Maroush Gardens

Very much the word on the street – as long as that street is Edgware Road – the Maroush family takes in Maroush I (the party one), Beirut Express (the quick one), Maroush Deli (the retail one), Sidi Maarouf (the tented one) and more besides. Maroush Gardens, with its soaring greenery and water feature, is the most upmarket and has a cool sense of escape about it. The cooking reflects what’s on offer at the rest of the group: okra or beans cooked in a rich tomato sauce, kibbeh, grills and rice pudding fragrant with rosewater. Readers report some disappointing moments in the various venues (overcharging and indifferent service in particular), although the staff at MG come across as kind and courteous. 

Maroush Gardens

Best Mangal

Best Mangal

Best Mangal’s oçakbasi-grilled food has proved so popular that it now owns three jam-packed outlets less than a mile apart. It’s easy to see the attraction – the Broadway branch’s charcoal grill sends lip-tingling barbecue aromas all the way to Stamford Bridge while turning out juicy, flame-licked meat to order. The interiors might be utilitarian, but the food more than makes up for it: kick off with plates of hot and cold mezze, then go for an open kebab of marinated lamb with zingy salad and a bowl of Turkish breads, or opt for something more exotic – say grilled spatchcock quail, washed down with plenty of Efes beer. To end, nibble on sticky Turkish pastries before setting into the shisha lounge for some fruity puffing. All three sites also do a roaring takeaway trade.

Best Mangal

Antepliler

Antepliler

With a hugely popular café, patisserie & restaurant in Harringay under their belt, the owners of this shiny new Turkish venue have nearly 20 years’ experience, & it shows. They’ve created a glamorous space, with twinkling lights, pale-blue damask on the chairs, tables inlaid with mother of pearl, & folding doors that open to tempt in Islington’s café society. All the expected mezze are here, packed with fresh herbs & spices, & served by friendly yet professional staff. Main courses, most around £10, focus on lamb & chicken, marinated & smoky from the charcoal grill. Pide ‘pizzas’ are a speciality, & come with enticing toppings such as minced meat, garlic, tomatoes & peppers, cheese & herbs, & spicy Turkish sausage. On the drinks list, the Anatolian house wine is joined by an interesting selection of international grapes.

Antepliler

Pasha - Upper Street

Pasha - Upper Street

Owned by the same family since the 1960s, this polished Turkish restaurant now counts Boris Johnson among its fans. The usual eastern clichés are absent from the chic, modern room, though the young waiters still play their traditional role with a twinkle in the eye as they greet the ladies. There’s the odd report of slipping standards when it comes to the food, though the fairly lengthy menu still holds plenty of enticements. Incongruously, traditional British roasts are served on Sundays, but it’s the Turkish dishes that tempt the taste buds. How about incik (slow-cooked shoulder of lamb with tomatoes, onions and oregano) or moussaka made to a family recipe, followed by apricots filled with cream and pistachio nuts? A short choice of cocktails for pre-dinner sipping joins a few well-chosen wines on the drinks list.

Pasha - Upper Street

Ishtar

Ishtar

The inviting open frontage is a big advantage for this Turkish grill in the summer months, while the interior makes an equally bullish statement of intent: green walls, contemporary candelabra-style light fittings and a copper ceiling signal that this is no run-of-the-mill kebab joint. That said, the charcoal grill is a significant player, adding a smoky tinge to marinated aubergines, lamb chops or skewered minced chicken and peppers (curiously wrapped in a tortilla), but the kitchen also makes its point with rich flavours, slightly fussy presentation and a menu that runs from tabbouleh and falafel to poached octopus, braised lamb shank in tomato sauce and veggie moussaka. Set lunches and express menus are a big draw, while the drinks list includes a couple of Turkish wines. Handy if you’re looking for something posher than the ethnic eateries on nearby Edgware Road. 

Ishtar

Byblos Harbour

Byblos Harbour

Tiny Byblos Harbour is one of the few Docklands restaurants to successfully achieve that elusive neighbourhood feel and credit must go to the staff who go out of their way to welcome locals and visitors from the nether regions of the capital. Billed as a ‘Lebanese brasserie’, it sets out its stall with a tempting array of hot and cold mezze – baba gannouj, foul moudamas (fava beans) and kibbeh (minced lamb and wheat balls) – before parading its main events. Expect a choice of grills such as lamb cutlets or baby chicken, which can be matched with a bottle of Château Musar from the short wine list. After that, a shot of arak or a shisha pipe on the waterside terrace keep it all authentic. A moped service whizzes £4 wraps to businesses around the estate.

Byblos Harbour

Al Waha Restaurant

Al Waha Restaurant

One of London’s smarter Lebanese options, Al Waha still has the friendly neighbourhood vibe that has made it a Westboune Grove fixture since the 1990s. Waiters navigate between the closely-set tables in the split-level dining room; tables by the windows have the best atmosphere, while those on the mezzanine are better suited to larger groups. As you might expect, hot and cold mezze are the menu’s highlight and will suit most appetites as an entire meal. Our top picks are hummus kawarmah (topped with diced lamb and pine nuts), the kibbeh nayeh (raw lamb with crushed wheat, spices and garnished with onions), the pizza-like arayes topped with minced lamb, parsley, sesame paste and pine nuts, and sambousek, cheese-stuffed pastries. Should you still have room, chicken, lamb and fish to follow comes with an irresistible smoky edge from the charcoal grill. To drink, the well-priced wine list leads with Lebanon and has loads under £30, while prices overall are very reasonable for the quality of food and the generosity if the portions.

Al Waha Restaurant

Pucci Mayfair

Pucci Mayfair

Legendary King’s Road hotspot Pucci Pizza – a hangout of Rod Stewart and Bryan Ferry in its 1980s heyday – has been re-booted for the 21st-century in W1. Mayfair is the new Chelsea according to Rufus Albanese, owner of the new incarnation and heir to the original, and he’s followed the money here to Maddox Street, where in a nod to the area’s high-spending locals you’ll find Lebanese-style sharing plates alongside crisp-based pizzas. It’s an odd combination and the flavours don’t quite harmonise, but if you don’t mix and match pizza with mezze, you’ll eat well here. We preferred a light Maddox pizza, topped with tomato, a sprinkling of mozzarella di bufala, bresaola, rocket and plenty of parmesan shavings, to truffle toppings richer than Pucci’s target market of well-heeled diners.  The beautifully presented Lebanese dishes, though, were the highlight of our meal, transforming the table into a colourful paradise of speckled ceramic vessels. A wedge of delica pumpkin was a sweet delight, drizzled with honey, toasted pomegranates and London Fettle feta. Pair this with the tangy house-made labneh, a Middle Eastern yoghurt jazzed up with caraway, beetroot and pistachio, which can also be used as a creamy dip for the brioche-like barbari bread. The succulent lamb chops, though eye-wateringly expensive at £26, were a triumph, grilled to perfection on a bed of tzatziki and harissa. Should you have room, divvy up a generous portion of sharing-style Pavlova, topped with prosecco-soaked peaches and with a sharp lemon verbena filling. A largely Italian wine list includes a delicate Piedmont white and a velvety Primitivo number that paired nicely with our dishes. Apart from the mash-up of pizza and mezze, there’s nothing new on offer at Pucci, but exposed brick walls and velvet banquettes add to the mood of casual luxe, while floor-to-ceiling windows offer plenty of posing opportunities.   Image credit: Leef Photography

Pucci Mayfair