Wondering which London restaurants really live up to the hype? The Time Out team have worked their way around every restaurant in the city to find the best dishes on offer, from sizzling street eats to fancy Michelin-starred fare.
Keep reading to see Time Out’s top 20 countdown, and visit TimeOut.com to see the full list of 100 dishes…
1. Tomato & Smoked Eel at Xu
How much? £5.25
What Time Out says: All the food at Xu – a smart Taiwanese joint from the peeps behind cult hit Bao – is ace, although this little dazzler is the tops. You’ll journey through salt and sweet, soot and tang… even the faintest hint of coriander-stalk soap. Enjoy the ride.
2. Reuben Sandwich at Monty’s Deli
How much? £9.50
What Time Out says: Is this the best reuben in London? In a word, yes. The rye bread is soft and caraway-flecked, the finely cut fresh ’kraut is mild and crunchy. But really, it’s down to the salt beef. They choose the fattiest cuts of brisket, dry-cure it for days in a secret spice mix, soak it overnight, then simmer it for hours.
3. Lazy Goat Tsukemen at Nanban
How much? £13.50
What Time Out says: This deep, rich goat-curry broth reveals chunks of spiced, braised meat, while accompaniments include a plate of fat, wiggly dipping noodles and some eye-wateringly fiery bamboo shoots (pickled with scotch bonnet chillies).
4. Confit Pork Bao at Bao
How much? £5
What Time Out says: This milk bun is so soft and pillowy it’s like eating a cloud (we imagine), while inside there’s impossibly tender slow-cooked pork, plus a sweet, sticky sauce and crunchy deep-fried shallots.
5. Cauliflower Shawarma at Berber & Q
How much? £5.50/£8/£12 (quarter/half/whole)
What Time Out says: For this stellar dish, the Haggerston barbeque hangout parboil an entire head of cauliflower, then slather it in an incredible 20-ingredient Levantine butter, before sticking it on the griddle for flame-grilling (basting with more butter the whole time, obvs). It’s then topped off with molasses, parsley, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and rose petals.
6. Naga Chilli Beef Puffs at Madame D
How much? £3.50
What Time Out says: The brilliant team at Madame D (from the people behind Gunpowder) have made the exotic trip to Nagaland, the furthest north-eastern corner of India, to bring back its dry, fiery Tibeto-Burmese beef ‘chilli’. Their neat trick is to put it inside buttery pastry, with a lining of sweet caramelised onion. A bit like a samosa (only round, and using puff pastry).
7. Young Coconut Salad at Malibu Kitchen
How much? £12
What Time Out says: This is a vegan salad with bells on. The coconut is fresh, chewy and served in long, lavish curls amid a tumble of green papaya, palm hearts, technicolour veg and zingy herbs with a fragrant Asian-style dressing. Your mouth AND body will thank you for it.
8. Coconut Cream Pie at Jacob the Angel
How much? £3.95
What Time Out says: The jewel of the menu at this teeny Neal’s Yard coffee shop (from the people behind The Barbary and The Palomar), it’s a mini pastry case with a thick creamy coconut-studded custard filling (the texture is reminiscent of tinned rice pud). To top it off? An elegant swirl of not-too-sweet Italian meringue.
9. Salted Palm-Sugar Ice Cream with Turmeric-Grilled Banana at Som Saa
How much? £5
What Time Out says: A playful Thai twist on salted caramel. Two scoops of creamy, silky, salty-and-sweet-meets-burnt-toffee deliciousness, they add chargrilled, caramelised, only-just-ripe banana halves (first marinated in coconut cream, pandan leaves and fresh turmeric); plus a final sprinkle of sesame seeds.
10. Roots & Apple at Cub
How much? £11
What Time Out says: The folks from eco hotspot Cub take whey from Neal’s Yard Dairy (where it’s a by-product of cheese-making destined for the drain), reduce and season it until it’s stupidly moreish, then serve it with whatever chubby root is in surplus that month. Sustainable and delicious.
11. Mackerel Dry Red Curry at Kiln
How much? £7.30
What Time Out says: This fragrant, fiery curry, made ‘dry’, uses the freshest fish, three kinds of rare chilli and a punchy curry paste, bashed by hand every day in a pestle and mortar. The clean, bright flavours are phenomenal: you’ll want to lean across the counter and kiss the chef.
12. Feta & Honey Cheesecake at Honey & Co
How much? £7.50
What Time Out says: You know those dishes that are absolutely delicious but enormously fiddly to make? Well, this is one of them. The signature dessert at Honey & Co is a creamy, vanilla and honey-tinged, whipped feta filling upon a crisp base of kadaif pastry, topped with herbs, nuts and seasonal fruit.
13. Bone Marrow Varuval at Hoppers
How much? £6.50
What Time Out says: You haven’t lived until you’ve had bone marrrow at this funky Sri Lankan street food specialist. Here, the calf bones (cut lengthways, like tiny canoes) come smothered in a terrific dry curry sauce, making every mouthful a heavenly mix of fat and spice.
14. Cuttlefish Empanada at Barrafina
How much? £8.50
What Time Out says: The loudest holler goes to the Galician-style empanada, whose rich flaky pastry gives way to intensely savoury, tender-as-anything, ink-soaked cuttlefish – it’s a must-order.
15. Octopus Mashawsha at The Barbary
How much? £17.50
What Time Out says: Braised in its own juices along with black peppercorns, bay leaves and oranges, until it’s soft enough to eat with a spoon, it’s then slung on the grill for one last fiery finale.
16. Don Ceviche at Ceviche
How much? £9
What Time Out ays: Order a pisco sour (obvs) and the Don Ceviche. Its ozone-fresh sea bass and sharp, zingy ‘tiger’s milk’ sauce (dotted with limo chilli, sweet potato and red onions) are a tongue-tingling introduction to Peru’s culinary classic – and its healthy credentials make another pisco sour seem less sinful.
17. Hand Rolls at Jugemu
How much? From £4.50
What Time Out says: Hand rolls, aka temaki, at Jugemu are awesome. Chef Yuya Kikuchi makes them to order for punters sitting at the counter. He uses beautiful fillings matched with still-warm sushi rice, and hands each little package over the instant it’s ready, so that the seaweed wrapper stays brittle. Eat immediately.
18. Blood Chocolate Bun at Bun House
How much? £2.50
What Time Out says: Yes, there’s blood in the filling of this steamed dessert bun, but it doesn’t taste like any kind of horror movie. Actually, the ‘coagulant’ is a natural thickener that makes the chocolate sauce gorgeously gloopy, while the iron gives it an oh-so-subtle depth.
19. Tempura Broccoli Black Rice Roll at Uchi
How much? £9
What Time Out says: Comprising a mixture of crunchy fried peppers, shredded carrots cooked with sesame seeds, meaty shiitake mushrooms, lightly battered broccoli and a lick of mayo, all wrapped in super-healthy violet-hued black rice and a strip of salty nori, it’s a brilliantly orchestrated jumble of textures and flavours.
20. Beef Massaman with Scorched Rice at Sparrow
How much? £15
What Time Out says: Sparrow’s rich, nutty beef massaman – made with brisket and served with scorched rice – is as good as anything eaten while schlepping through the Thai countryside.