Best restaurants for group dining in London

Going out to clubs can be a lot of fun, but sometimes a nice meal out with your friends, where you can actually hear each other, is just the ticket (we may be slightly biased). If you’re looking to take your friends for a meal

Updated on 15 August 2018

Looking for a London restaurant that will cater for your group or party? SquareMeal’s carefully selected list of the best restaurants for group dining in London provides an excellent guide to London’s top restaurants for group dining. Eating out with a group of friends, family or work colleagues is always good fun, but it’s often rather a task to find the right restaurant for everyone. SquareMeal’s list of the top restaurants for group dining in London aims to make your group booking in one of London’s restaurants a whole lot easier. Choose from the very best restaurants in London catering for group dining, some providing special group menus, private dining spaces for your group or bespoke services catered to your needs. Every one of the group dining restaurants featured in SquareMeal’s list of London’s top group dining restaurants have been tried and tested by food critics and our own customers so check out the reviews and book a table online with SquareMeal today.

Blacklock City

Blacklock City

13 Philpot Lane , London, EC3M 8AA

Considering the popularity of the original Blacklock in Soho, it’s no surprise that the chophouse has added to its portfolio. This City branch takes a larger form, seating 100 covers in an industrial-style basement of exposed brickwork and concrete floors with a crowd-pleasing, eclectic soundtrack. Founder Gordon Ker has made room on the menu for some new additions, such as the tangy pig’s head on toast to start, topped with gherkins, chilli pepper and lashings of gravy. Blacklock’s signature ‘all in’ option has wisely not been messed with and remains a must-order: a perfectly cooked stack of beef, lamb and pork chops served atop crisp, herb-flecked flatbreads, which have soaked up the meat juices. Cocktails can be found at the bulky brass bar upon entering, with sips including the Pink Lady (cider brandy, cider syrup and Prosecco) impressing, and all for just £5 each. Meanwhile, desserts add to the homely feel with vanilla cheesecake atop a crumbly biscuit base, served tableside out of a tray. Friendly, fun staff, reasonable prices and the option to book (unlike the original) cement Blacklock City’s position as a cut above the rest – we wouldn’t be surprised to see more.

£30 - £49
British
1 Lombard Street Brasserie

1 Lombard Street Brasserie

1 Lombard Street, City of London, London, EC3V 9AA

Next door to the Lord Mayor’s residence, 1 Lombard Street is firmly established in City diaries – although that’s not all down to the prime location or the handsome proportions of the Grade II-listed former banking hall. The Brasserie is both a habit and a pleasure for the local business community, who enjoy professional-grade people-watching under its high ceilings and Pietro Agostini cupola. Although 1776 (the fine-dining option) is well regarded, there’s nothing like a table in this buzzy all-day space for highly visible celebrations. The food might not steal the show, but standards are more than solid when it comes to crowd-pleasing iterations of Thai beef salad, grilled octopus with romanesco broccoli, veal milanese, no-nonsense steaks and curried fishcakes with lime yoghurt dip. Puddings are traditional standards, tidied up from the nursery and big on British fruit. By necessity, the wine list has got everyone covered, quick lunchers and big spenders included.

£50 - £79
Modern European
Afternoon tea
£50 - £79
Temper City

Temper City

2 Angel Court, 30 Throgmorton Street, City of London, London, EC2R 7HJ

Temper Soho opened to rave reviews in 2016, so we’re not surprised that BBQ-loving chef Neil Rankin has produced a sibling site in City development Angel Court. Next door to Coya, this much-larger Temper sticks to the meaty formula, serving up a range of tacos and flatbreads to share.

The name refers to Rankin’s commitment to tempering his meats, whether it’s Essex beef, Yorkshire pork or Welsh lamb. Take your pick from a high-octane cuisine-hopping menu that runs from must-order blowtorched mackerel tacos freshened with sweet white miso and mashed avocado to little bowls of Thai-style larb combining roasted rice with ‘burnt ends’ for a spicy clash of textures. We recommend ordering the full quota of sauces and finishing off with a gooey-centred cookie, baked in a cast-iron pan.

The wide-ranging selection of gins will entice booze hounds, but there are also soft options including a tart apple and grapefruit spritz. A pop soundtrack adds to Temper’s appeal, while enthusiastic, committed staff seal the deal at this thoroughly modern BBQ joint.

£30 - £49
South American
Barbecue
Brigadiers

Brigadiers

1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, City of 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
Bleeding Heart Bistro

Bleeding Heart Bistro

Bleeding Heart Yard, Farringdon, London, EC1N 8SJ

Quirky and colourful, this classically styled French bistro could almost be a set from the hit movie Amélie. Inside, vintage posters line the ochre walls, table settings show off the tricolore palette and there are wine bottles everywhere; the outside area is a delight in summer, when lobster and rosé are the top shouts at tables on the cobbles. The offer may be a little corny but it "always delivers". Of course, the food is straight out of the bourgeois French repertoire, so expect the likes of moules marinière or asparagus with hollandaise sauce ahead of omelette aux fines herbes, lapin à la moutarde or salade niçoise. Retro also rules when it comes to desserts such as petit pot au chocolat with whipped cream. Wine lovers can take advantage of the full cellars at the Bleeding Heart restaurant across the way. "Top service" too.

£30 - £49
French
Bunga Bunga Covent Garden

Bunga Bunga Covent Garden

167 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5PG

Touting itself as ‘bigger, better and bunga-ier’ than the original Bunga Bunga in Battersea, the West End incarnation of this fabulously OTT party destination is ‘on’ all day long. On the ground floor at Bungatini, you can get Italian pastries and super-strength coffee in the morning, homemade panini and its signature pizzas during the day. In the basement, however, Bunga Bunga is all about the cabaret and supper clubbing. It’s accessed via a meat locker that’s overseen by a theatrical ‘butcher’, immersing diners in its narrative before treating them to an all-singing, all-dancing show. Expect a late night…

Bars
Ishtar

Ishtar

10-12 Crawford Street, London, London, W1U 6AZ

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. 

£30 - £49
Turkish
Lemonia

Lemonia

89 Regent's Park Road, London, NW1 8UY

Occupying its corner spot for more than 30 years, Lemonia must surely qualify for the ‘institution’ moniker by now. The place is run by Greek-Cypriots who do their best to offer a slice of Mediterranean sunshine, even when the weather isn’t playing ball. Cosy booths and hanging baskets help recreate the taverna feel inside, and when the sky is blue the terrace garden with its plentiful foliage comes into its own. The food consists of unreconstructed Hellenic staples – what you might hope for, really, and probably what most people would expect: tarama, hummus, grilled halloumi and suchlike to get going, but there’s octopus salad, too. Main courses have the same familiar ring: it’s like being on holiday on your favourite Greek island. Moussaka, stifado, grilled fish and hearty charcoal-flamed meats rarely disappoint, and Greek bottles star on the wine list. Want a set meal? The meze awaits.

£30 - £49
Greek
£50 - £79
The Mercer

The Mercer

34 Threadneedle Street, London, EC2R 8AY

Built for business, The Mercer’s black-and-white dining room has all the comforts required to sustain a working lunch or dinner, without the pretence of a leisure destination. It’s a balance that works for regulars who value straightforward British cooking and smartly paced service over gentle design and oodles of innovation. The menu offers some fond nods to the past including London ‘particular’ soup, rotating daily specials (corned beef hash means it’s Monday) and savouries listed alongside the cheese. Some ideas such as oysters with cucumber, gin and dill dressing are a little lighter, while mains major on simple grills, roast fish or venison, plus the house beef and Guinness pie. To conclude, desserts of vanilla rice pudding with roasted nectarines or white and dark chocolate mousse with clementine are largely of the soft and comforting variety. A neat selection of English bottles is a point of interest on an otherwise rather straight-laced list.

£50 - £79
British
Bunga Bunga Battersea

Bunga Bunga Battersea

37 Battersea Bridge Road, London, SW11 3BA

Fun, flamboyant and fabulous, Bunga Bunga gets the party started – and knows how to keep it going. Named after the notorious romps organised by Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, it mixes all the clichés of Italian holidays with a sprinkling of euro trash to create a glorious tongue-in-cheek homage to the land that invented pizza. And seriously good pizza it is too: proper crispy bases loaded with quality toppings, such as the Julius Cheeser (gorgonzola, taleggio, mozzarella and goat’s cheese) or Po-pa-polla with sticky chicken, pancetta and barbecue sauce. Elsewhere, the menu runs to loaded antipasti boards, crisp zucchini fritti and creamy arancini balls, followed by gelato and classic tiramisu. To drink there’s Prosecco, Peroni and Aperol Spritzes, plus crowd-pleasing cocktails such as fruity, vodka-laced sharer The Vespa. Bunga Bunga is perfect for big groups, who can carry on the celebrations in Il Club upstairs at weekends, when there’s also a Saturday party brunch with karaoke. Private parties meanwhile can book L’Osservatorio or the top-floor Martini Prosecco Beach Bar, complete with parasols and its own photo-booth.

£30 - £49
Pizza
Italian
Lahpet

Lahpet

58 Bethnal Green Road, London, London, E1 8JW

Lahpet started life as a residency at Maltby Street Market and has now found its first bricks-and-mortar site on a prime spot just past Boxpark. A neutral colour palette of copper finishes and faux foliage looks the Shoreditch part, but what really sets this place apart is its contemporary take on Burmese cuisine, best described as a mix of Chinese, Laotian, Indian and Thai influences.

Starting snacks including a supremely buttery and flaky yellow pea paratha, and miniature dumplings in which a translucent skin conceals a Balachaung filling alive with ginger and fiery chilli. Elsewhere, the vibrant Lahpet salad (made with tea leaves) is crunchy with peanuts, and pillowy-soft roast aubergine comes stuffed with a heady mix of dried shrimp and oyster mushrooms, best enjoyed with a side of sticky coconut rice. Desserts include banana and caramelised peanut ice cream, crowned with a shard of dark chocolate and rolled in poppy seeds, while classic cocktails are remixed with floral flavours in the likes of a Lemongrass Mimosa. Keenly priced and with a buzzy atmosphere, Lahpet is an intriguing addition to London’s Asian restaurant scene.           

Under £30
Burmese
Pearl Liang

Pearl Liang

8 Sheldon Square, London, W2 6EZ

Pearl Liang is not your normal Chinese drop-in. Firstly, there’s the room – a subterranean space that makes up for its lack of natural light with sexy purple upholstery and snazzy flower-blossom designs. Then there’s the ‘sublime’ cooking, which goes the extra mile for authenticity as it romps through the Chinese regional repertoire, taking in everything from excellent crispy duck with homemade pancakes to sweet-and-sour chicken jazzed up with pomegranate. Premium seafood also abounds – from steamed razor clams and scallops stuffed with crabmeat to a hatful of turbot specialities – and the kitchen is happy to go walkabout for the likes of lobster sashimi. The lengthy line-up of dim sum is a lunchtime crowd-puller (think prawn and radish dumplings, chicken’s feet, fried octopus cakes and BBQ pork puffs), and there are some classic cocktails for a post-work refresher.

£30 - £49
Chinese
Dim Sum
Dishoom King

Dishoom King's Cross

5 Stable Street, London, N1C 4AB

Deliberately evoking a railway café in old Bombay during the 1920s, this branch of Dishoom attracts young hipsters and die-hard Indian food fans in equal measure. The multi-tiered restaurant gets packed as efficient staff dart between close-set tables – although you may need to wait in the cocktail bar with a Bombay Martini until there’s a space available. Like its siblings in Shoreditch and Covent Garden, the signature black dhal is legendary, along with fiery-crusted lamb chops served with refreshing, yoghurt raita for dipping. Otherwise, bowls of ‘Ruby Murray’ go well with floppy roti bread, and the menu also runs to street snacks, kebabs, biryanis and desserts such as kulfi on a stick. Drink fruity lassi, exotic ‘coolers’, a bottle of London Fields IPA or something from the modest wine list while you bob to the Indian music and revel in the fun of the place.

£30 - £49
Indian
Temper Covent Garden

Temper Covent Garden

5 Mercer Walk, Mercers Yard, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9FA

Chef Neil Rankin has decided on Covent Garden as the location for his third Temper site, following branches in Soho and the City. It’s one of a growing number of decent restaurants opening in an area that’s keen to shake off its tourist-trap reputation. Although the decor here follows brand guidelines (note the central counter kitchen), the focus is on small starting plates of pasta followed by giant sharing pizzas for mains.

The pasta, especially, impresses: we enjoyed golden, nugget-like fried tortellini filled with melted St-Marcellin cheese and a stream of honey; and were also taken by the stringy lardo carbonara, a creamy delight that dissolves on the tongue. Next, Temper’s pizzas are all in good fun – even if they occasionally seem to favour appearance over flavour. We tried the Detroit, a rectangular sharing pizza with puffed-up dough, and opted for half-and-half toppings: the sinfully dirty ‘cheeseburger’ option mixes tender aged-beef ragu with a mouth-puckering combination of sharp pickles, tangy burger sauce and fiery yellow mustard, while the goat ragu choice is like posh spag Bol on a pizza: as homey and comforting as it sounds.

The calorific theme continues for afters, via desserts such as the indulgent, gooey deep-dish Nutella cookie. Keenly priced and plenty of fun – and with a well-stocked bar to boot (tuck into Vermouth, Negronis or Aperol Spritz) – Covent Garden’s Temper is a solid option for a night of ‘screw the diet’ feasting and drinking.

£30 - £49
Steak
South American
Barbecue
Moro

Moro

34-36 Exmouth Market, London, London, EC1R 4QE

The word “love” crops up repeatedly in Moro’s plaudits – a sure sign that it’s still held in high regard after rocking on for two decades. From day one, Sam and Samantha Clark’s ground-breaking eatery made an impact with its zinc-topped bar, pavement tables, wood-fired oven and compelling Spanish/North African cuisine. The whole shebang still thrills, although nothing can trump the food: heady spicing and subtly matched flavours are at the heart of things, from a lamb and saffron broth with wee dumplings, or a rustic salad of warm white beans and celery topped with bottarga, to luscious chocolate and apricot tart. In between, the wood-fired oven makes easy work of sesame chicken (served with couscous), while the charcoal grill offers up lamb with fava bean and bitter leaf purée. Alternatively, pick some small plates from the tapas bar menu – perhaps fried spiced chickpeas or anchovies on toast. The wine list shows the same geographical interests as the menu, and the sherry line-up warrants proper consideration. “Fabulous, I just love this place”, raves one fan.

£30 - £49
North African
Tapas
Spanish
Berners Tavern at The London Edition

Berners Tavern at The London Edition

10 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 3NP

“I love this place!” chimes one reader – and rightly so. Jason Atherton’s 21st-century reinvention of hotel dining has made Berners Tavern one of the hottest tickets in town. Sporting “the most beautiful dining room in London” (think towering ceilings, mosaics, gilt-framed oil paintings and a soaring, yellow-lit bar), this place oozes glamour, pizzazz and grandeur, without feeling remotely “stuffy”. There are many foodie triumphs here, although the reimagining of the hotel dining-room trolley is one to really savour – watch as a giant, perfectly cooked pork pie is sliced tableside and artfully arranged with pickled carrots, fennel, piccalilli and mustards. Other classic British options include the “best prawn cocktail ever” (loaded with sweet lobster jelly, avocado and crispy shallots), but the menu’s versatility ranges from gloriously indulgent five-cheese macaroni topped with slow-cooked beef blade (“to die for”) to roast Cornish cod with crispy squid, basil fregola and soothing tomato consommé. For a final touch of theatre, go for the buttermilk Alaska, finished with flaming liquor, soft hunks of rhubarb and pistachio. Service at Berners Tavern is “second to none” – as we’ve come to expect from Mr Atherton. 

£50 - £79
Modern European
Afternoon tea
Rivington Grill Greenwich

Rivington Grill Greenwich

178 Greenwich High Road, Greenwich, London, SE10 8NN

Whether you’re chomping burgers in the bar before a film at the Picturehouse next door, or literally going the whole hog with a suckling-pig feast for 45 on the comfier mezzanine level – this modern brasserie offers a safe pair of hands in genteel SE10. Clues to the Rivington’s pedigree (owners Caprice Holdings also run The Ivy and J Sheekey; the original branch is in Shoreditch) come with a 60-strong gin list and a roll-call of British comfort food. The place-mat menu features an ‘on toast’ section (think devilled kidneys or buck rarebit) alongside the likes of a sturdy Highland venison steamed pudding, or beer-battered haddock. To match the fuss-free food, a concise wine list incorporates good-value bottles from Oregon, Lebanon and even Morocco. Weekend breakfasts, BYO Mondays and free kids’ meals also keep Greenwich folk loyal. “A perfect local restaurant for all occasions” as one reader puts it.

£30 - £49
British
Chai Ki - Toddy Shop Bar

Chai Ki - Toddy Shop Bar

1 Crossrail Place, London, E14 5AR

In their native Kerala, toddy shops are routinely set in makeshift shacks, but you’ll find this one occupying a concrete shell amid the soaring canyons of Canary Wharf. It’s the drinking den attached to Chai Ki (Roti Chai’s Docklands sibling), and the sleek, post-industrial decor is as slickly sewn together as the clientele’s Armani suits. Nevertheless, both drinks and street food here successfully evoke the subcontinent. Order the house toddy (Ceylon Arrack, pineapple, and milky, spiced masala-chai tea); a Red Mist (gin, red wine and grapes); or a G&T (Tanqueray Rangpur, cranberry juice, lime and tonic, £6.50), one of a selection of fruity takes on the classic sundowner. Breakfast on savoury pancakes, kedgeree or omelettes with a Mumbai-style Bloody Mary, and from noon tuck into tasty tiffin, made to share: aubergine, snow-pea and sweet-potato korma (£9.50), perhaps; or pulled pork shoulder, coconut, curry leaf and green chilli with Malabar paratha.

Indian
J Sheekey

J Sheekey

28-32 St Martin's Court, London, London, WC2N 4AL

“Old school dining at its best” says a devoted admirer of J Sheekey – a fondly admired veteran of the theatreland scene that is not only chic and fashionable but also democratic. With its cheerful buzz, fish “of the highest quality” and “some of the best service ever”, it invites diners to enjoy all the pleasures in a cosseting setting of leather banquettes and antique mirrors, with surrealist paintings and photos of legendary actors on the wood-panelled walls. Trawl through the menu for classics ranging from dressed crab and potted shrimps to magnificent fruits de mer and an inimitable fish pie, plus grilled halibut on the bone, fine Dover sole and lobster thermidor, but also be prepared for some daring detours – perhaps sardines marinated with harissa and pistachio dukkah or charred octopus with exotic green peppers. Fabulous puddings include crème brûlée and banoffee cheesecake, but we head straight for the Bramley apple pie and interesting tarts such as black fig with mascarpone and honey ice cream. To drink, fish-friendly wines include many Coravin selections – in short, J Sheekey is “an absolute must”. 

£50 - £79
Fish
The Grill on The Market

The Grill on The Market

2-3 West Smithfield, London, EC1A 9JX

High on testosterone and low on subtlety, The Grill on The Market seduces carnivores from the Square Mile with its sizzling selection of Longhorn and Aberdeen Angus steaks. Rumps, rib-eyes and sirloins are the obvious ports of call for famished City suits, but rock oysters, Dover sole and lobsters are also represented on the lengthy menu. Those with a bulging wallet and an empty stomach might opt for a Wagyu fillet (‘the daddy of all steaks’ taken from a cow that has been reared on beer and massaged from birth), matched with something beefy from the predictably ample selection of Old and New World reds. Saturday brunch includes unlimited bubbly – provided three or more punters are gathered together (online bookings only). The interior of the dining room drips boudoir excess with its over-the-top chandeliers, ornate mirrors and dusky lighting.

£30 - £49
International
Bleeding Heart Tavern

Bleeding Heart Tavern

Bleeding Heart Yard, Farringdon, London, EC1N 8SJ

The laid-back brother to the neighbouring Bleeding Heart French restaurant and Bleeding Heart Bistro, this pub is as British as it gets. Pints are poured for Farringdon suits, while a broad range of diners eat in the relaxing basement; we witnessed dates, work dinners and a smart family group all tucking in. The formula is simple: well-priced, enjoyably familiar food. Our venison Scotch eggs arrived oozing and were matched with tangy cranberry relish, while a healthy portion of braised rabbit leg sat on a creamy bed of rice and tarragon sauce. Meaty suckling pig with crackling came classically dressed with rosemary potatoes and green beans; equally tempting was the daily fish option and a Scottish rib-eye for under £20. We’d recommend the more casual ground floor if you’re coming for a drink – draught Adnams ales, perhaps, or a choice of ten wines by the glass or carafe. The Tavern dates from 1746 and has kept its historic feel: if you need a classic London pub, this is it.

£30 - £49
British
£30 - £49
Blueprint Café

Blueprint Café

28 Shad Thames, Bermondsey, London, SE1 2YD

“On the button… I really rate this place!” enthuses one fan of the Blueprint Café – a bright, airy eatery floating above the Thames. A row of tables along one wall offers “fabulous” river views, although the main draw is top-notch cooking at prices that “don’t even break the bank”. The seasonal carte kicks off with crowd-pleasers such as potted duck with piccalilli or beetroot and goats’ curd salad, while mains have a sturdy patriotic feel – think chicken and leek pie, whole plaice with chips or Colne Valley lamb rump with cockles and samphire. There are “fabulously creamy” risottos too, while desserts offer yoghurt pannacotta and lemon cheesecake alongside lemon posset and Eton mess. The overall feel is sleek, efficient and a tad corporate (as you might expect from a D&D London outlet), although there’s no strain on the wallet: “go for their lunch menu!” recommends one price-conscious fan.

£30 - £49
British
£30 - £49
Maggie Jones

Maggie Jones's

6 Old Court Place, London, W8 4PL

With its hotchpotch of trinkets, high-backed antique pews, wicker baskets, dried flowers and dripping candles in wine bottles, redoubtable Maggie Jones’s looks like a set from a Richard Curtis film – although the food “feels like it predates Four Weddings and a Funeral”. Appropriately, the kitchen plays it straight, and the cooking is old-school British to the core – think asparagus with vinaigrette, steak and kidney pie or stuffed roast chicken with bread sauce. Fish fans might go for grilled salmon with hollandaise and there’s game in season too, while old-fashioned desserts could feature Cambridge burnt cream, apple crumble or bread-and-butter pudding. French house wine is served from a magnum, and diners are merely charged for what they drink – a cute touch. Added to that, Maggie’s “friendly prices”, set deals and easy-going charms ensure regular full houses.

£30 - £49
British
£50 - £79
Barcelona Tapas Bar y Restaurante - Middlesex Street

Barcelona Tapas Bar y Restaurante - Middlesex Street

1 Middlesex Street, Whitechapel, London, EC3A 7DT

EC3 may be all suits and briefcases, but this branch of Barcelona Tapas is a far cry from minimalist, corporate style. Summoning up the spirit of Las Ramblas, the space is decked out with gaudy mosaics and colourful tiles, while a flamenco soundtrack strums away in the background. The long tapas menu covers all bases, moving from charcuterie and cheeses via ‘los classicos’ small plates and the odd modern riff to more substantial items for sharing. Albondigas (meatballs), patatas bravas and crispy deep-fried baby squid with salsa romesco keep it familiar, while generous helpings of morcilla de Burgos with roasted peppers, skewers of spice-infused lamb or pans of paella are perfect for large groups. A fistful of desserts includes the usual crema catalana and Santiago tart, while the vast drinks list encompasses sangria, Spanish-style G&Ts and regional wines. Takeaways and local deliveries too.

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish
A Cena

A Cena

418 Richmond Road, London, London, TW1 2EB

The choice of well-heeled locals for suppers and minor celebrations, A Cena continues to please. It’s an attractive space: all polished wood and white tablecloths. If possible, sit where the room mushrooms out behind the bar, as here the atmosphere is generally buzzing and the draughts have nowhere to go. The kitchen is perfectly competent at cooking the modish range of Italian dishes on the menu – start with a deep, rich Chianti-braised beef bruschetta, or a simple Parma ham and mascarpone risotto; move on to grilled sea bream with capers and lemon, or Gloucester Old Spot cutlet with baked aubergine and oregano. The standard may not cut the mustard in Knightsbridge, but it’s better than you might expect in the ‘burbs, and prices are kind: especially for the express lunch and dinner menus. There’s an interesting Italian wine list to match, and a barman versed in grown-up cocktails to boot.

£30 - £49
Italian
Nopi

Nopi

21-22 Warwick Street, Soho, London, W1B 5NE

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".

£50 - £79
Mediterranean
Fusion
Mandarin Kitchen

Mandarin Kitchen

14-16 Queensway, London, W2 3RX

Orange banquettes and a textured ceiling suggest that the Mandarin Kitchen has changed little since it opened in the 70s, but that’s no deterrent to the swarms of mostly oriental customers who regularly pack this Chinese seafood specialist. Its lobster dishes have a near-legendary reputation, and the kitchen gets through a thousand of these luxury crustacea each week: choose from six versions, including steamed with ginger and spring onion or braised with black bean and green pepper sauce, but be sure to order some soft noodles on the side. Mandarin’s maritime menagerie also extends to steamed scallops and razor clams with garlic and soy sauce, roasted baby squid with chilli, steamed sea bass and various takes on crab, eel, turbot and others. Table 19, with its semi-circular orange booth, is great for groups.

£30 - £49
Chinese
£50 - £79
Mango Tree

Mango Tree

46 Grosvenor Place, Victoria, London, SW1X 7EQ

Mango Tree's extravagant entrance gives way to a small bar where spiky-haired Thai bartenders are ready to indulge their clientele with devilishly potent cocktails. Meanwhile, hungry guests descend into the enormous dining space, with its plush leather banquettes, showy floral arrangements and beautiful bamboo blinds. The kitchen serves up Thai classics, but with some added panache when it comes to flavour and presentation: a green curry of corn-fed chicken, aubergine and sweet basil arrives in a freshly cut pineapple, while pad thai is gussied up with spiky spring onions, red chillis and a mound of crushed peanuts. Otherwise, order from the chef's special menu, which takes a whistle-stop tour of Thailand. Mango Tree also delivers top-class service: sleek staff armed with walkie-talkies stay unshakably polite despite the high-decibel atmosphere.

£30 - £49
Thai
Under £30
Joe

Joe's Brasserie

130 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, London, SW6 2UL

“It would take a nuclear apocalypse to stop this place from being busy”, notes a reader. As reliable as it is predictable, Joe’s is a magnate for hordes of local twentysomethings, who flock here for the easy-going vibe, international brasserie food and well-rounded, good-value wine list – it’s an offshoot of the reputable Brinkley's group. The never-changing menu packs in old faithfuls such as duck rillettes, cottage pie with petits pois, Thai green curry, lamb burgers, salmon and prawn fishcakes or steak and chips with peppercorn sauce, with perhaps crème brûlée or a hot chocolate brownie for afters. Prices never threaten, and the suntrap front terrace is a bonus in fine weather. Weekend brunch brings in the crowds for eggs florentine or smoked chicken hash washed down with Bloody Marys. Joe's also does a mean Sunday roast.

£30 - £49
International
£30 - £49
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
Temper Soho

Temper Soho

25 Broadwick Street, Soho, London, W1F 0DF

This buzzing bonfire of a restaurant is the first solo venture from BBQ-obsessed Neil Rankin, who co-founded Smokehouse and worked at Pitt Cue Co (now Little Pitt) back in the day. Temper is dedicated to the art and craft of cooking meat: below the small, ground-floor taco bar lies an expansive room featuring a theatrical open kitchen with a wood-fired grill and clay oven – bag one of the counter stools for a ringside seat. The name refers to Rankin’s commitment to tempering his meats, whether it’s Essex beef, Yorkshire pork or Welsh lamb. Take your pick from a high-octane cuisine-hopping menu that runs from must-order blowtorched mackerel tacos freshened with sweet white miso and mashed avocado to little bowls of Thai-style larb combining roasted rice with ‘burnt ends’ for a spicy clash of textures. We recommend ordering the full quota of sauces and finishing off with a gooey-centred cookie, baked in a cast-iron pan. Well-considered cocktails, Aussie wines and mezcal flights dominate the drinks list, while enthusiastic, committed staff seal the deal at this thoroughly modern BBQ bunker.

£30 - £49
South American
Barbecue
SquareMeal Gold List
Chai Ki - Restaurant

Chai Ki - Restaurant

1 Crossrail Place, London, E14 5AR

Along with the accompanying Toddy Shop bar, this offshoot of the Roti Chai mini-chain resides within the striking Crossrail Place. Offering traditional Indian soul food and subtle spicing, the all-day menu conjures up flavours from the subcontinent's coastal drinking dens – from sharing plates of Coorgi pulled pork or burnt chilli chicken with Indo-Chinese sauce to South Indian vegetable korma, baby back ribs with Himalayan chilli rub or Hyderabadi duck with cracked wheat, saffron and rock moss in a brioche bun. Breakfast brings funky snacks and the 'full nashta', while the evening brings more ambitious dishes in the adjoining dining room – think chicken tikka with pear, mint and mango thyme dressing. With saffron-coloured curtains, leather banquettes and a secluded waterside terrace out back, Chai Ki is a welcome escape from E14's commuter conveyor belt.

£30 - £49
Indian