Cool and trendy restaurants in London

Our essential list of the coolest hotspots in the capital to help you find one of London's trendiest restaurants

Updated on 31 July 2019

London is a hub of cool, cutting-edge restaurants. Our curated pick of the best trendy and cool restaurants in London is full to the brim with foodie hotspots where you're likely to spot a celebrity or two, as well as the who's who of the restaurant world. If you want to eat out at the kinds of places that are serving the latest culinary trends or you're looking to find that dish that you've seen all over your Instagram feed, you're likely to spot it in this list. We’ve selected the coolest and most fashionable restaurants in London: venues in which you can feed your ego and your belly, as well as swoon in all the gourmet gossip. Have a scroll and see which restaurant you want to book for an evening worth gloating about.

If you want to know which restaurants in the capital are hot right now, then SquareMeal’s curated list of the best cool restaurants in London is essential reading. Hang out with the capital's hip crowds and dine in style at these fabulously fashionable restaurants. Every one of the restaurants featured in SquareMeal’s list of London’s best trendy and cool restaurants has been tried and tested by our expert team of independent food critics, as well as regular customers, so have a read of what we think of each place and book a table online with SquareMeal today.

Hakkasan Hanway Place

Hakkasan Hanway Place

8 Hanway Place, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 1HD

You’ve probably seen someone on your Instagram posting a #CoupleGoals picture from Hakkasan and it’s easy to see why – this is the perfect spot for a hot date. Sleek interiors and impossibly good looking staff all add to Hakkasan’s exclusive vibe, while the outward bravado is backed up by a menu of Cantonese classics, including the signature Peking duck which is served with 30g of caviar. A hefty bill is inevitable, but it’s worth it.

£50 - £79
Chinese
One michelin star
£50 - £79
Shackfuyu

Shackfuyu

14a Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TJ

Shackfuyu originally started life as a pop up from Bone Daddies, but has proved itself to be enough of a success to bag a permanent space. Service is brisk, but there’s plenty to love on the menu here, including the likes of prawn toast under the guise of okonomiyaki (a Japanese take on pizza). Their sole dessert on the menu – a soft kinako cake with matcha ice cream – is strong enough to hold its own.

Under £30
Japanese
Gunpowder Spitalfields

Gunpowder Spitalfields

11 White's Row, London, E1 7NF

Occupying a tiny site right behind Spitalfields Market, Gunpowder is a small but mighty restaurant, turning out stellar Indian-inspired small plates. It’s a frenetic, buzzy space and the dishes pack a real punch – expect the likes of a spicy venison and vermicelli ‘doughnut’, and a Keralan beef pepper fry. If you prefer the safety of booking ahead (The Spitalfields location is walk-ins only), make a reservation at Gunpowder’s glossy, larger sibling site in Tower Bridge.

£30 - £49
Indian
Lino

Lino

90 Bartholomew Close , London, EC1A 7EB

While a former carpet and linoleum warehouse doesn’t sound like the most appealing of restaurant options, Lino has managed to make this space a truly tantalising proposition, filling its space with industrial-style lighting and dusty pink chairs. The menu features a succession of thoroughly modern dishes, including the likes of sauerkraut and cheddar croquettes with truffle mayonnaise and Middle White pork chop with courgette. Come dessert, the croissant bread and butter pudding is not to be missed.

Modern European
Xu

Xu

30 Rupert Street, Covent Garden, London, W1D 6DL

From the same team as cult favourite Bao comes this Taiwanese follow up which takes its inspiration from 1920s Shanghai. The interiors here are gorgeous and it’s worth checking out the mah-jong games room too if you fancy a flutter. Food wise, the menu is experimental and won’t be to everyone’s taste, but some of our favourite dishes include the super tender char sui iberico pork, and the sweetbreads which are served with fermented greens.

£50 - £79
Taiwanese
Smokestak

Smokestak

35 Sclater Street, London, E1 6LB

Taking industrial-chic to a new level, this dark and dingy Shoreditch restaurant is a no-frills affair. The food however, is very much on the indulgent side with the menu consisting of barbecue sharing plates (be prepared for your clothes to stink of smoke). Must-orders include the crispy fried pig’s tails and the brisket bun with pickled red chilli, while the sticky toffee pudding topped with smoky burnt butter ice cream provides an appropriately decadent finish.

£30 - £49
North American
Gloria

Gloria

54-56 Great Eastern Street, London, London, EC2A 3QR

Zany, silly and tonnes of fun, Gloria burst on to London’s restaurant scene in early 2019 and has already achieved a cult following. The antithesis to any doom and gloom surrounding today’s turbulent restaurant industry, Gloria revels in campy excess and it does so brilliantly. Head here to indulge in pasta served in a wheel of pecorino cheese and a lemon pie that’s topped with so much meringue, it’s the size of most diners’ heads.

Under £30
Italian
Red Rooster at The Curtain

Red Rooster at The Curtain

45 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3PT

Pull back the curtain at this Harlem-inspired joint and you’ll find a colourful dining room, a buzzy, inclusive atmosphere and effortlessly cool staff. The brainchild of chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster serves up soul food classics such as fried chicken and waffles, shrimp ‘n’ grits and cornbread slathered with tomato jam. It’s a great weekend brunch spot too, where you can enjoy your US feasting alongside a live choir belting out gospel tunes.

£30 - £49
North American
Padella

Padella

6 Southwark Street, London, London, SE1 1TQ

Arguably one of London’s most famous no-bookings restaurants, securing a table at Padella is notoriously difficult. It’s worth the queue though, as once you’re inside you can delight in the restaurant's perfect, simple menu of six pasta dishes with some antipasti to boot. After munching on burrata and sourdough bread, you can move on to the pastas, with the cacio e pepe being the dish that we find ourselves coming back to over and over again.

£30 - £49
Italian
MNKY HSE

MNKY HSE

10 Dover Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 4LQ

Despite its jarring, vowel-phobic name, we promise that it’s worth following through on a visit to MNKYHSE. This Mayfair celeb-magnet is one of those rare venues that manages to balance style with substance, so while all of the usual crowd-baiting tricks are here (think Insta-friendly interiors and fun presentation), the restaurant’s kitchen backs this up with some very tasty food. Top shouts include the lamb shoulder taco, and meltingly-soft strips of Japanese wagyu beef.

£50 - £79
South American
Bars
Temper Soho

Temper Soho

25 Broadwick Street, Soho, London, W1F 0DF

Chef Neil Rankin took London by storm when he opened this lively barbecue restaurant back in 2016. He’s since gone on to open two more Tempers (one in the City and one in Covent Garden), but the Soho original still has our heart. Head here to feast on grilled meats served on flatbread that soaks up the juices, as well as tacos with unconventional fillings. Thirsty? An Irn Bru based cocktail will sort you out.  

£30 - £49
Steak
South American
Barbecue
International
Hoppers Soho

Hoppers Soho

49 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SG

The original Hoppers (there’s a second in St Christopher’s Place) may no longer be the newest kid in town, but it’s still popular as ever. The intimate space is a revelation of flavour, with the best dish being the eponymous hopper: a bowl-shaped pancake made from rice which boasts a gooey egg at its centre. There’s plenty more to tempt you though, including the now-famous mutton rolls, while Hoppers’ low prices make it a must-try.

£30 - £49
Indian
Hicce

Hicce

102 Stable Street, King's Cross, London, N1C 4DQ

Former Murano head chef and Great British Menu finalist Pip Lacey is the woman behind this casual restaurant in the mightily popular Coal Drops Yard development. Hicce focuses on wood-fired cooking, serving up plates which have been grilled, steamed and smoked. Some of our favourites come from the ‘hot sticks’ section (skewered meat or fish), such as the chicken thigh with spicy shiso and crispy chicken skin or the yellow fin tuna with miso mustard.

International
Circolo Popolare

Circolo Popolare

40-41 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1PB

The second London site from the Big Mamma hospitality group (following smash-hit Gloria in Shoreditch) is a massive Italian trattoria in Fitzrovia that boasts an outdoor terrace. The noteworthy interiors include bundles of twinkly lights and walls lined with 20,000 real spirit bottles. The food menu is as over-the-top as you’d expect from these guys, featuring metre-long pizzas and a 1L ice cream sundae which is topped with chocolate brownie, chunks of cookie and churros.

£30 - £49
Pizza
Italian
Kricket Soho

Kricket Soho

12 Denman Street, London, W1D 7HH

Having graduated from a shipping container in Pop Brixton to a restaurant, Indian small plates joint Kricket now boasts three locations across London. The Soho site serves up signature dishes such as the fiery Keralan-fried chicken which is dusted with pepper. It’s a great spot for veggies too though, with meat-free dishes including crispy okra fries and crunchy Bhel puris which explode in the mouth, bursting forth with a swirl of tamarind stickiness.

£30 - £49
Indian
Chick

Chick 'n' Sours Islington

62 Upper Street, London, N1 0NY

A restaurant that doesn’t take itself seriously immediately gains cool points, and Chick ‘n’ Sours has playfulness running through its veins – from the graffiti-splashed interiors to the gloriously messy menu of fried chicken sandwiches and dirty fries. The Islington location is our favourite, mainly because it’s the largest one in the group’s portfolio. If you’re with the squad, opt for the round table by the open kitchen, which comes complete with a palm-print Lazy Susan for easy fried chicken sharing. 

Under £30
International
Bao Soho

Bao Soho

53 Lexington Street, Soho, London, W1F 9AS

Known for the queues that form outside its door nightly, a visit to Bao is practically a rite of passage for Londoners. The signature fluffy bao buns here are filled with the likes of confit pork belly, fried chicken or lamb shoulder. Although the baos are the main attraction, the sides put on a good show too, with the likes of sweet potato chips with plum pickle ketchup and Taiwanese fried chicken hard to resist.

Under £30
Taiwanese
Chinese
Kiln

Kiln

58 Brewer Street, London, W1F 9TL

The clue is in the name at this buzzy Soho joint. Kiln is a tiny Thai spot which is full of fire – fiery dishes that is. Designed for lovers of seriously spicy food, Kiln serves up creations such as glass noodles topped with Tamworth pork belly and brown crab meat. Want more heat? Pad out your meal with the tongue tingling likes of an aged lamb and cumin skewer, or perhaps a fried monkfish curry.   

£30 - £49
Thai
Berenjak

Berenjak

27 Romilly Street, London, London, W1D 5AL

Any restaurant that the JKS Group touches (Gymkhana, Hoppers, etc.) turns to gold, so it’s no surprise then that Berenjak already has a clutch of in-the-know fans. Serving affordable small plates and majoring in kebabs, Berenjak has a few showstoppers on the menu that beg to be devoured – just take the kabab torki, which reinvents kebab and chips as a mixed meat shawarma resting on fries that have been drizzled with homemade chilli and garlic sauce.

Middle Eastern
Isabel

Isabel

26 Albemarle Street , London, W1S 4HY

Isabel is home to a dining room which could have been ripped straight from Architectural Digest, so it’s no surprise that the restaurant is loved by London’s fashion crowd. Glossy interiors to soak in include shiny monochrome tables and a striking brass disc studded ceiling, while the menu is a selection of high-protein and low-carb dishes. High prices come as standard in this postcode, but when it comes to cool-factor, Isabel is priceless.

£30 - £49
International
Duck & Waffle

Duck & Waffle

110 Bishopsgate, London, London, EC2N 4AY

It may sit just two floors above flashy Sushisamba, but the vibe at Duck & Waffle is far more relaxed (although it still boasts the same enviable views). Open 24/7, Duck & Waffle deals in upmarket comfort food, which means you can enjoy the likes of bacon-wrapped dates, a warm savoury doughnut filled with ox cheek, and of course, the eponymous dish, which sees waffles topped with confit duck leg and a glossy-yolked fried egg.

£50 - £79
International
Fare Bar + Canteen

Fare Bar + Canteen

11 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HL

Found on Old Street, this two-floor space features oh-so-charming rustic interiors including foliage hanging from the walls and a candle-lit dining room. The menu is more sophisticated than the laidback feel of Fare suggests – it changes often, but dishes we loved on our visit included an indulgent duck pappardelle with black truffle and parmesan, and the range of sourdough pizzas. To round off your meal, you can enjoy a selection of classic ice cream flavours from Hackney Gelato.

Modern European
Bombay Bustle

Bombay Bustle

29 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PA

Mayfair’s streets overflow with fine-dining Indian restaurants, so Bombay Bustle’s slightly more casual take on things is a welcome addition to W1. The restaurant is inspired by dabbawalas (an Indian lunch delivery service) and majors in street food and chaat – expect to snack on the likes of a scrambled egg and truffle naan, before moving on to a Keralan fish curry or a lamb biryani. Sunday brunch meanwhile is all about samosas, dosas and Mimosas.

£30 - £49
Indian
Blacklock Soho

Blacklock Soho

The Basement, 24 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D 7LG

It was once nigh on impossible to nab a table here (with Sunday lunches particularly popular), but Blacklock has since expanded to three locations. Blacklock’s speciality is its ‘all in’ option, which sees guests served a pile-up of charcoal-grilled pork, beef and lamb chops, resting on doughy flatbread which absorbs the meat juices. It’s worth checking out the drinks selection too though – there aren’t many places in London where you’ll find cocktails for a fiver.

£30 - £49
British
Sushisamba City

Sushisamba City

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate (38-39th floor), London, London, EC2N 4AY

London’s first Sushisamba (there’s now a sibling site in Covent Garden) is best known for its stunning vistas, 38 floors above the City’s bustling streets. The blended menu of Peruvian, Brazilian and Japanese dishes is just as enticing though, boasting the likes of wagyu gyoza, and kobe ribeye from a robata grill. The restaurant is also home to one of London’s best desserts – a rich chocolate and banana cake served with vanilla rum ice cream. 

£50 - £79
South American
Japanese

If you like your cool experiences with a side of celebrity, cast your eye over our pick of the best London restaurants for star-spotting