London is rich with a variety of dining experiences, so you can make lunch or dinner truly memorable. Whether you want to indulge a sweet tooth with a special afternoon tea, try dinner on a boat or at the top of a skyscraper, or get up close to the action with a seat at a chef's table, we've picked our favourite dining experiences in London.


For more London restaurant inspiration, check out our guides to the best Italian restaurants in London, best Indian restaurants in London or best cocktail bars in London. For a more casual affair, find out our favourite informal dining spots. Now find out the best food and drink festivals to visit.

Best dining experiences in London

Afternoon teas

A generous afternoon tea is always a memorable dining experience and London has plenty of iconic locations to offer, whether you want traditional classics or a modern spin. For a traditional experience, it's hard to beat Fortnum & Mason – dine in the Diamond Jubilee salon and enjoy tiered stands of impeccably fresh finger sandwiches, warm scones and delicate patisserie that changes with the seasons.

For a contemporary interpretation of afternoon tea, visit the Mirror Room at the Rosewood Hotel, renowned for its theatrical and refined portrayal of the city's best artworks in the form of an exquisite afternoon tea. The essentials are all still there – sandwiches, scones and patisserie, served in the grand Mirror Room – but there are plenty of contemporary twists throughout, with intricate patisserie inspired by art. Check out our full round-up of the best afternoon teas in London for lots more inspiration.

Hockney-inspired afternoon tea at the Rosewood London

Dining on a boat

Visit The Cheese Barge in Paddington for sharing cheeseboards, mega toasties and interesting small plates such as curried cheese curds or rarebit-stuffed courgette. On the opposite side of London in Canary Wharf, Hawksmoor Wood Wharf offers dramatic views of the City, with the restaurant situated on a floating pavilion that rises with the tide alongside a waterside bar with outside terrace.

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London Shell Co. is a family run seafood restaurant, also in Paddington, that operates both static meals on a canal boat or meals on board a river cruise so you can enjoy the sites as you dine – including leafy Little Venice, Regent’s Park mansions and their pristine back gardens, plus Camden’s edgy lock, to name a few. The two-and-a-half-hour journey will make you forget you're even in London, with the option of either a lunch or dinner cruise, both with a luxurious five-course tasting menu.

London Shell Co. gift vouchers available via IndyTute: from £280 for 6-course meal for 2

There is a blue barge boat on a London canal. On the edge of the boat are two wine glasses and a plate of oysters

Chef's tables

Watch chefs work, hear the stories behind their dishes and learn new techniques by enjoying a chef's table experience. The style of these experiences vary – it could be sitting at a buzzy counter seat watching the finishing touches being applied to every dish, large tables situated within the kitchen themselves, or intimate spaces where a chef can chat through the menu, course by course. Evelyn's Table is a tiny 12-seater counter experience hidden beneath a Soho pub where five chefs execute a varied global menu before your eyes, mixing British produce with French skills and Scandi and Japanese influences.

Chef Simon Rogan's restaurants (most notably, his three-Michelin-star flagship, L’Enclume) serve progressive British food. Get the chance to experience this in London at Aulis, an interactive experience for 12 diners where dishes are cooked for you and explained at every stage. For old school glamour, try The Grill at the Dorchester where four diners can watch snacks such as cod doughnuts being finished while lamb belly skewers sizzle on the barbecue. Read our full round-up of the best chef's table restaurants to find your favourite.

A beautiful curving counter for up to 12 diners

Exclusive dining events

With past events that include joining Raymond Blanc at Darby’s in London for a tasting menu cooked by his alumni who’d flown in from across the globe, this social platform offers a selection of truly unique experiences to gather food and drink lovers. The ‘If I had a…’ series has also seen ‘king of pies’ Calum Franklin take over London’s oldest running pie and mash shop, M.Manze, and Chetan Sharma create his own kebab shop. Check out upcoming events on the website, that also include direct booking at some of London’s top tables and ‘first look’ takeovers of new openings.

Calum Franklin and Ivan Tisdall-Downes behind a counter at M Manze pie and mash shop

Dine with a view

London has plenty of restaurants where showstopping views threaten to steal the show, except for the equally impressive food. Enjoy a relaxed, modern vibe at Italian restaurant Tavolino, with a buzzy outdoor terrace that offers stunning views of iconic Tower Bridge. If you prefer a greener outlook, Pear Tree Café offers picturesque view across Battersea Park boating lake and is open all day serving an extensive brunch menu, loaded burgers at lunchtime and an outdoor BBQ and sourdough pizzas during summer. There are plenty more options across London in our full round-up of the best restaurants with a view in London.

London skyscrapers seen through the windows of Duck and Waffle

Dinner and jazz

Dial up the romance with an evening of dinner, jazz and cocktails. Mu in Dalston is a trendy hotspot ideal for date night – book a sought-after spot in the restaurant (serving innovative Japanese dishes at reasonable prices) where a handful of tables with atmospheric lamp lighting provide front-row seats to the weekly jazz sets, courtesy of Cuban group, Conjunto Cubano.

Live music is also on offer at the Kensington outpost of Dishoom, where a house band plays on Thursdays and Fridays. Make the most of the unique Bombay-inspired cocktail menu, sit back and enjoy.

A low lit restaurant with instruments including a piano and drum set up by the tables. Photo Credit Dan Preston

Omakase menus

Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means 'I'll leave it up to you', also describing some of the best Japanese set menus in London. At Juno, situated in a curtained-off corner of Los Mochis in Notting Hill, there are just six seats and two sittings a night for one of London's most intimate dining experiences. Chefs will serve and explain 15 light courses of which our highlights included king crab with ponzu butter and uni (sea urchin).

North Londoners should visit airy and bright Iné by Taku, offering both omakase (14 fish-focussed dishes, plus a dessert) and à la carte. At the eight-seat counter, sushi master chef Meng’s omakase features premium ingredients, including a delicate mussel broth, buttery otoro (tuna belly) with caviar, Carlingford oyster with wasabi cream and ikura (roe), smoked salmon tofu purée, and sashimi, tempura and maki.

The plush interior at Juno, a small corner at the Los Mochis restaurant, with caramel-coloured leather bar seats, brown shutters and warm lighting

Showstopping experiences

A few special touches can often make a dining experience that bit more memorable. At The Game Bird (overseen by Lisa Goodwin-Allen) at The Stafford Hotel, bespoke trolleys are used to serve smoked fish to guests, carve Sunday’s grass-fed British beef tableside, or to showcase the afternoon tea cake selection (£70pp). Dishes are also finished table-side at Maison François in St James's where beef tartare is made with Lowline beef and Maison’s own spice mixture then tailored to diners’ palates – among the optional extras are capers, Tabasco or anchovy breadcrumbs.

For seriously impressive surroundings, the Big Mamma Group's Jacuzzi offers arresting features galore: indoor trees, trailing foliage, Roman statues, chandeliers, marble floors and Murano glass. The revamped Harrods Dining Hall offers a range of cuisines all in a grand Grade II listed venue with open-plan kitchens surrounding a small central stage where musicians play pop, jazz, soul and R&B nightly.

Maison Francois steak tartare

Hop on the train

With the Eurostar waiting to whisk you away, broaden your horizons to dining experiences just a stone's throw from London – you could be there and back in a day. Hop on the train from St Pancras to Paris and walk 10 minutes to elegant neighbourhood bistro, Les Enfants Perdus. Sink into squishy white cushions in the bistro’s conservatory room and enjoy a three-course brunch. Platters of classic goat’s cheese salad, perhaps, or olive and cheese muffins, eggs cocotte, tiny parcels of cheese, herb-filled pasta and thinly sliced duck breast. Mini viennoiseries, generous baskets of fresh bread and condiments, fruit juice and the house hot chocolate fill any gaps left. Just what you need to set you up for a day of exploring.

Florist on La Rue de la Grange aux Belles in Paris

More restaurant inspiration

Best brunches and breakfasts in London
Best pizza places in London
Best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in London
Best pasta restaurants in London
Best London wine bars
Best romantic restaurants in London
London's best outdoor restaurants and terraces
Best rooftop bars in London


Lucy RoxburghEcommerce and Reviews Editor

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