Best restaurants in Clerkenwell

It’s an area that’s often associated with creative firms and smart apartment blocks, but Clerkenwell has a lot to offer when it comes to eating and drinking too. Street food markets, stylish gastropubs and some exceptional restaurants can be found here, if you know where to look…

Updated on 16 October 2019

There’s more to this quiet pocket of London than its cobbled streets and ivy-clad Georgian townhouses, and by ‘more’, we mean a wealth of fantastic spots for eating and drinking. Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty lunch at one of Clerkenwell’s many gastropubs, casual dining at an ex- street food market stall or fine dining, you can find it in Clerkenwell.

We’ve hand-picked what we consider to be the best restaurants in Clerkenwell so you can make an informed choice when dining there. Perhaps you’re looking for a suitable spot for a business lunch, or else somewhere that offers bottomless brunch. Whatever the occasion, we’re sure you’ll find one of these Clerkenwell restaurants a great fit.

Luca

Luca

88 St John Street, Farringdon, London, EC1M 4EH

Billed as a ‘Britalian’ restaurant, the kitchen at this striking multi-room restaurant makes its mark by fusing seasonal British ingredients with the hearty traditions of Italian cuisine. From moreish antipasti to cleverly crafted desserts and everything in between, expect brilliance from Clove Club maestro Isaac McHale and his team. Ever-attentive, helpful staff add to the experience that gets top marks from us every time.   

£50 - £79
Italian
Panzo Pizza

Panzo Pizza

50 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE

Muted tiled walls and natural wood flooring (complemented by warm, copper accents and some greenery) give this Nordic-inspired pizzeria a cosy feel, while the short but sweet menu keeps dining simple. Individually sized Neapolitan-style pizzas made with double-cooked dough combining rice, soy and wheat flour are Panzo’s USP, along with a tight collection of wines on tap and decent prices.

Under £30
Pizza
Northbank

Northbank

1 Paul's Walk, London, EC4V 3QH

If it’s views of some London’s most iconic landmarks you’re after, Northbank won’t disappoint. As popular with City workers as it is with tourists seeking spectacular views of the Southbank, Northbank serves up a modern menu that makes much of its Cornish connections. Fresh fish is delivered daily from day boats off the Cornish coast, but there’s a good selection of dishes in case you fancy something from the land instead.   

£30 - £49
British
£30 - £49
Paternoster Chop House

Paternoster Chop House

Unit 1, Warwick Court, Chancery Lane, London, EC4M 7DX

Yes, it’s the First Dates restaurant, but don’t let its TV fame distract you from its serious steaks. Not one for vegetarians, Paternoster Chop House deals in meat, with roast bone marrow among the starters, and steak and kidney pudding, Black Angus rib-eyes, Middle White pork chops and suchlike on the main menu. Hand-cut chips and other essential sides can bump up the bill, although the set menu is particularly good value.

British
The Green Clerkenwell

The Green Clerkenwell

29 Clerkenwell Green, Farringdon, London, EC1R 0DU

Slightly more Farringdon/Barbican than Clerkenwell, but worth the short walk south, this smart pub is split into two. Downstairs you’ll find a buzzy bar kitted out with sanded-down wooden tables and plenty of craft beers and organic wines, while upstairs is a more subdued affair, with large windows and mismatched tables and chairs. Food is a cut-above the typical pub offering and backed up by charming service.

Pubs
British
The Coach Clerkenwell

The Coach Clerkenwell

26-28 Ray Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 3DJ

Established in 1790, this pub has been the heart of the lively Clerkenwell community for generations. Lovingly restored, and with a menu from chef-restaurateur Henry Harris that blends French and British cuisine, it will take you from breakfast right through to dinner. The Coach also serves highly drinkable ales and draught lagers from independent or family-run breweries including Timothy Taylor, Portobello Brewery, Thornbridge and Stiegl.

£30 - £49
Gastropub
Oriole

Oriole

Smithfield Market, London, EC1A 9LH

Named after the brightly coloured, musical oriole bird, this sumptuous subterranean space is an oasis of warmth that combines beautiful décor, glowing hospitality and top-notch refreshments. Both drinks and decor roam the globe for inspiration so expect sips such as the Japanese-inspired Yonezawa (saké, shochu and rum with a tiger nut infusion and tayberry vinegar) and nibbles including shrimp tostadas, pork buns and Padron peppers.

Bars
The Eagle - Farringdon Road

The Eagle - Farringdon Road

159 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3AL

Since launching in 1991, The Eagle has maintained a reputation for gastropub food of the best sort. As the menu changes daily and is scrawled on blackboards, it’s never possible to predict what you might eat, but we guarantee that whatever it is will be very good. Arriving early or late is the best strategy when it comes to securing a table, but you still ought to be prepared to share bigger tables when it’s busy.

£30 - £49
Gastropub
£50 - £79
Club Gascon

Club Gascon

57 West Smithfield, London, EC1A 9DS

It’s still one of the best places to eat duck and foie gras (as it has been since opening in 1998), but in these low-waste and sustainable times, it now sports a ‘Garden’ section on its menu, which features six veg-focused starters and mains. Elsewhere you’ll find innovative concoctions such as roast grouse with popcorn, Guinness and oyster sauce, and a dessert menu that shouldn’t be missed. Clever wine matching remains a strength also.

£50 - £79
French
One michelin star
£50 - £79
Berber & Q Shawarma Bar

Berber & Q Shawarma Bar

46 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE

Low lighting and a hip-hop soundtrack are just two of the many things that make this trendy shawarma bar worth a visit. Primarily a walk-in restaurant operating on a first-come-first-served basis, Berber & Q Shawarma Bar is the place to go if you’re craving flavourful North African and Middle Eastern cuisine. From mezze to mains, sugary desserts and cocktails, this petite spot has it all.

£30 - £49
North African
Middle Eastern
Sushi Tetsu

Sushi Tetsu

12 Jerusalem Passage, London, London, EC1V 4JP

The strict booking system in place at this revered sushi restaurant might be a little off-putting, but anyone serious about dining here will put in the effort and be rewarded once seated. Kobe-trained chef Toru Takahashi’s take on the high-end artistry of traditional sushi is wondrous to behold while his wife Harumi is the kindest and most courteous of hosts. Definitely persevere in booking this one.

£50 - £79
Sushi
Vanilla Black

Vanilla Black

17-18 Tooks Court, London, EC4A 1LB

This high-end vegetarian restaurant was serving up experimental veggie food long before it was fashionable and remains one of London’s best spots for creative meat-free fare. Expect imaginative combinations such as cornmeal, beetroot and horseradish with aged garlic oil, artichokes in hay, parsley root and hazelnut milk, but be prepared to pay for them. It’s not over the top, but it’s not cheap either.

£30 - £49
Vegetarian
The White Swan Pub & Dining Room

The White Swan Pub & Dining Room

108 Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1ES

Upholding the archetypal British tradition of meeting, feasting, and drinking fine wines and ales, The White Swan pub and chophouse deals in classic British fare in convivial surrounds. Choose between a seat in the cosy wood-panelled bar on the ground floor or opt for a spot in the upstairs dining room with its pristine white tablecloths, heavy leather chairs and a mirrored ceiling.

Gastropub
Moro

Moro

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

It’s all about intoxicating spicing, fine ingredients and subtly matched but forceful flavours at this North African/Spanish fusion restaurant. Whether you pull up a seat at the bar or book a table for plates of Syrian-style lentils, patatas bravas with allioli and other irresistible tapas dishes, we promise you’ll be blown away.

£30 - £49
North African
Tapas
Spanish
St John

St John

26 St John Street, Farringdon, London, EC1M 4AY

Originally a smokehouse, the white-walled dining room at St John is famously spare and sparse, making it an appropriately bare-boned backdrop for belly-busting feasting of the first order. The menu changes all the time, but you can always be sure of finding the legendary bone marrow and parsley salad on it, along with a couple of other signature dishes. This is Michelin-starred dining at its very humblest and we love it.

£30 - £49
British
One michelin star
SquareMeal Gold List
The Modern Pantry Clerkenwell

The Modern Pantry Clerkenwell

47-48 St John's Square, Farringdon, London, EC1V 4JJ

Given that she was born in Canada, raised in New Zealand and has parents with Belgian/Danish roots, it’s no surprise that fusion queen Anna Hansen takes her foodie inspiration from far and wide. Whether you choose to dine in the buzzy ground-floor café/traiteur or the serene upstairs dining room, you can be sure of tremendously flavoursome food from start to finish. If you’ve only got time for one meal here, make it brunch.

£30 - £49
International
Fusion
Morito Exmouth Market

Morito Exmouth Market

32 Exmouth Market, London, London, EC1R 4QE

Morito is tiny and fills up fast (bookings are only taken at lunchtime), but we guarantee you’ll love the food and atmosphere at this stylish little joint. Small plates oozing with rustic Spanish flavours are the order of the day here, so expect the likes of Padrón peppers, jamón Ibérico and patatas bravas among other tapas. The all-Iberian wine list features some splendid sherries and you ought not to leave without trying the gorgeous chocolate and olive oil mousse.

£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish
Caravan Exmouth Market

Caravan Exmouth Market

11-13 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QD

Located on a vibrant pedestrianised market street, Caravan boasts a bright and airy dining room that’s always packed, and an outside terrace (that’s also always packed). Most go for the signature well-travelled breakfast and freshly-roasted coffee from the caravan roastery, but you can pop in any time for its all day food and drinks offering. It’s fairly priced for the area and has plenty of veggie, vegan and gluten-free options.

£30 - £49
Fusion
The Quality Chop House

The Quality Chop House

92-94 Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 3EA

A thoroughly modern enterprise housed in a beautiful Grade II-listed building complete with shiny mahogany booths, The Quality Chop House is ideal for smart business lunches and leisurely dinners. The daily menu displays a touch of wanderlust so diners can expect the likes of Gloucester Old Spot pork chops with rémoulade, or Yorkshire grouse with trimmings. Prices are on the steep side, but the set lunch menu is good value.

£50 - £79
British
Wine Bars
SquareMeal Gold List
Bleeding Heart Restaurant

Bleeding Heart Restaurant

Bleeding Heart Yard, Farringdon, London, EC1N 8SJ

This long-established and perennially popular French restaurant offers a winning combination of superb food and historical surroundings. Once you’ve got over the rather macabre name (which references the murder of 17th century beauty, Lady Elizabeth Hatton), you’ll find the wood-panelled restaurant is as ideal a spot for a business lunch as it is for a romantic ‘diner a deux’.

£50 - £79
French
Under £30
Breddos Tacos Clerkenwell

Breddos Tacos Clerkenwell

82 Goswell Road, London, EC1V 7DB

Once a street food stall in Hackney, now a buzzy taqueria in the heart of Clerkenwell, Breddos is all about flavourful Mexican-American food crafted from the very best British ingredients. As well as a changing menu of tacos, you’ll also find a range of British craft beers and wines. Prices are wallet-friendly and it does a mean bottomless brunch on Sundays.

Under £30
North American
Mexican
Ask For Janice

Ask For Janice

50-52 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9EJ

Most know this achingly cool spot as a bar first and foremost, but its food offering is worth shouting about too. Specialising in seasonal British food with an emphasis on sharing, the kind of small plates you can expect at Ask For Janice include the likes of slow-cooked chorizo, chargrilled chicken and carrot fritters. Breakfast and brunch dishes are just as tempting, especially the buttermilk pancakes with poached caramel apples and stem ginger biscuit crumble.

British
Bars

If you’re looking for a slightly larger search radius, check out our round-up of the Best restaurants in the City of London