The most iconic places to eat in London are without doubt the places to go for a top British food experience, especially if you’re visiting our capital for the first time.
Sure, to us Brits, these places might be a bit cliche, but they’re iconic for a reason and most of us wish we could visit them more often than we do.
Before we start listing all of these places for you to delve into, what are we talking about when we say ‘iconic’ exactly?
Because we’re cool like this, we checked the dictionary for the word ‘iconic.’
As it turns out, it means “relating to or of the nature of an icon.” Who would’ve thought!
When it comes to the most iconic places to eat in London, we’re treating it to mean all of these things too…
The first lot of London eateries you’ll find below are those that can’t be described as anything other than legendary, or quintessentially British if you will.
Considering their age, you might expect these restaurants to be on the verge of falling down. Instead, they’re just full of British history, tradition and great nosh.
All the places mentioned below are crazy unique, but there’s some we’re officially calling just that (ok, there’s nothing really official about it, but we love them, for their, well, uniqueness!)
These are the typical tourist attractions that probably come to mind and get you shaking uncontrollably with excitement when you think of London. No? Just us then!
Now, we’ve all got icons (or people we have borderline-unhealthy obsessions with). You’d probably expect me to have icons including Gordon Ramsay and Tom Kerridge, and you’d be right…
For that reason, you’ll also find below a load of London-Town establishments with links to famous folk, whether that’s famous chefs heading up the kitchen or celebs often found in the dining room.
We’re also treating iconic to mean acclaimed, or in this case, restaurants in London with Michelin stars.
If you’re looking for the best of the best British fine-dining, these are the places to go.
Anyway, enough of all that. Let’s get cracking…
Iconic places to eat in London – The Legendary Ones
Get ready for some classic Britain. Pure tradition. Quintessential class. You get our drift…
The Ritz Restaurant
We could’ve included The Ritz anywhere in this article, with it being iconic in so many ways. Historic and traditional, great for tourists and celeb-spotting, plus it’s Michelin starred! A right old British stalwart and just a must for Afternoon Tea.
150 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London, W1J 9BR
Officially London’s oldest restaurant, Rules has been around since 1798, so if you want an experience of British food history without plodding through a museum, Rules restaurant is truly iconic and the place to go.
Rules Restaurant & Private Dining Rooms
34-35 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7LB, UK
One of London’s 5 star hotels, Claridge’s is full of glamour and history going back to 1812. You might need to save up or just have deep pockets for a trip to Claridge’s, but needs must if you want to feel like royalty…!!
Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4HR
Another of the capital’s most famous 5 star hotels with food fit for the Queen. The only top-rated hotel on the River Thames, The Savoy was once enjoyed by the blue-eyed wonder, Frank Sinatra.
If you’re planning on hitting the theatre and want a classy West End meal to match, you can’t go wrong with The Ivy. You’ll find epic versions of the British classics but also more modern, internationally influenced grub.
The Savoy Hotel
Strand, London, WC2R 0EZ
The Unique (and touristy) Ones
You’ll want to experience eating in at least one of these, especially if you won’t be returning to London anytime soon…
Want to see the best views of the best city in the world while scoffing your face? Then head up 30 plus storeys to eat in one of The Shard’s diverse but equally iconic restaurants.
32 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG
Probably our strangest shaped building, hence it’s name, but there’s nothing strange about the grub at The Gherkin. Another high-level eatery in more ways than one, you’ll be eating great food 39 floors up in the Helix restaurant.
Helix, The Gherkin
30 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8EP
The Darwin Brasserie and Fenchurch Restaurant in the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ building are yet more iconic places to eat in London for reasons of height as well as top notch food. A great building to visit for views of The Shard.
The Walkie Talkie Building
20 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 8AQ
The OXO Tower
Not had enough views of London yet? Then head to The OXO Tower for some more panoramic activity and typically modern British grub. We apologise in advance. The fact you have a restaurant, bar and brasserie to choose from really isn’t fair now, is it?!
The OXO Tower
Barge House St, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH
It’s not all about restaurant food in London y’know. Borough Market, near London Bridge and The Shard, is without doubt the place to go for street food in the capital. You’ll find plenty of restaurants in the surrounding area too.
8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL
Since the 1950s, Chinatown in the West End has become an iconic part of London’s food scene. Naturally, we recommend heading there during the Chinese New Year if you can, but any day of the week in Chinatown will feel like a celebration.
10 Wardour St, London W1D 6BZ
As well as your shopping basket, why not fill your gob with luxury at some of London’s most famous shopping locations…
The ‘celeb’ iconic places to eat in London
These places are not necessarily iconic because of tradition or landmark location. Instead, they get their iconic status from individual icons, i.e. famous folk. But more importantly, the food too…
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
Yep, he swears a f*cking lot. Or at least, he used to. But let’s not forget what he’s really good at, which is giving the ultimate British fine-dining experience.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
68 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4HP
Tom Kerridge’s Bar and Grill
To experience Tom Kerridge’s food in the past, you’d have to have headed for Marlow in Buckinghamshire. While it’d always be worth the trip, if you’re closer to London, now you can just head to Kerridge’s Bar and Grill in Westminster instead.
Kerridge’s Bar and Grill
10 Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5AE
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Not only are you getting a mind-blowing scientific experience having Dinner by our Heston Blumenthal, but you’ll also be wowed with a British food history lesson through a menu that explores the origins of some of our classic dishes.
Dinner by our Heston Blumenthal
66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA
More Iconic British Chefs’ Restaurants…
Before moving onto the places reported as having celeb-filled dining rooms, here’s a load more iconic London restaurants with well known chefs at the helm…
Claire Smyth – Core
Marcus Wareing – Marcus
Angela Hartnett – Murano
Michel Roux Jr – Le Gavroche
Jason Atherton – Pollen Street Social
Rick Stein – Rick Stein
Hélène Darroze – The Connaught
Claude Bosi – Bibendum
Marco Pierre White – London Steakhouse Co. City
Richard Corrigan – Corrigan’s Mayfair
…and now it’s time to really keep your eyes peeled, if you’re one for star-spotting that is.
Whether it’s Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lawrence, David Beckham, Prince Will or Will Smith, these are supposedly the best London restaurants for rubbing shoulders with the stars…
Iconic places to eat in London – The Michelin starred ones
The River Cafe
In case you hadn’t guessed from the name, you’ll be getting great views of the Thames as well as some of London’s most iconic food at The River Cafe. You might need to save up for this one, but it’ll be worth it for this incredible Italian eatery dating to 1987. As you’ll hopefully have figured out by now, it’s not all Fish & Chips and Roast Dinners in Blighty!
The River Cafe
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 9HA
A real sought-after restaurant in Mayfair, Sketch initially grabs attention with its unique decor. Then the grub takes over. Is it an art gallery? Is it a brasserie? A restaurant? A tea room? A cocktail lounge? Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep!
9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2XG
Dating to 1926, Veeraswamy is as iconic as they come, being England’s oldest Indian restaurant. We love a curry in Blighty and Veeraswamy serves the best of traditional Indian dishes but with modern flair. What’s not to love?!
Victory House, 99-101 Regent Street, Mayfair, London, W1B 4RS
…and there you have it. How’s that for some of the most iconic places to eat in London!
Want more awesome places to eat in the UK? Then check out these British food maps!