BEST FOR INSTA-WORTHY PASTA
Much-loved Soho pasta joint Lina Stores now has a second site in King’s Cross, with another on the way in Marylebone. Within a Victorian transit shed behind Granary Square, this one is bedecked in the deli’s signature green and white stripes, and stocked with the very best Italian pantry essentials to eat in or take away. Diners can enjoy the theatre of the open kitchen while they wait for dishes such as black truffle tagliolini and pappardelle with beef shin ragu and horseradish gremolata. A pared-back selection of secondi includes ‘overnight’ beef cheeks.
BEST FOR A QUICK LUNCH
Morty & Bob’s
East London’s grilled cheese sandwich pros now serve their wares at Coal Drops Yard. Well placed for lazy weekend brunches, the team here does great coffee, drinks at the bar and a grilled cheese experience that’s “like a warm hug”. These are not your average toasties – served on crunchy artisan sourdough with a blend of cheeses and a top-secret signature sauce, they are just the thing to cure a hangover.
BEST FOR VIEWS & VIBES
Peter Sanchez-Iglesias won Michelin stars for both of his Bristol sites, Casamia and Paco Tapas. Now he also heads up Decimo. On the tenth floor of the Standard hotel, Decimo comes with floor-to-ceiling windows offering dramatic views across the London skyline. Accessed via a red elevator on Euston Road, the rattan-filled space includes an open kitchen, intimate standalone bar clad in Jatoba wood, and two attractive private dining rooms. When it comes to food, Sanchez-Iglesias merges the Spanish cuisine of his family with his love of Mexico. Expect tons of flavour via para picar gambas over ice; aguachile crab and jalapeño; cauliflower tacos; caviar-topped tortillas; a table-side prepared Caesar salad; and meat and seafood cooked over open fire. Make sure to have a pre-dinner drink at downstairs bar Double Standard.
BEST FOR TAPAS
Harts Group brought a taste of Spain to King’s Cross when it opened the biggest Barrafina yet in Coal Drops Yard in 2019. The restaurant offers an authentic tapas menu with 34 covers at the bar, a 20-seat private dining room and a weatherproof outside terrace seating 60. Occupying that terrace is Parrillan, a cook-your-own-food concept where each tabletop comes with its own charcoal grills, so guests can grill their own Iberian meats, seafood and vegetables.
BEST FOR A LUXE DINNER
Chef Assaf Granit and British designer Tom Dixon joined forces to create this ‘food and design playground’. Diners can expect inventive cuisine with ingredients and family style sharing plates largely influenced by Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Jerusalem traditions: imagine butter-drenched kabbalah bread, beef tataki dotted with figs, and a crunchy fennel salad. Naturally, this is an impeccably designed restaurant – and the tableware is available to buy. We like it even more in the summer, when we can dine on the terrace overlooking Regent’s Canal.
BEST FOR BRITISH CLASSICS
Hicce (pronounced ee-chay) is Pip Lacey’s first solo culinary venture since leaving her role as head chef of Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred Murano. The 80-cover restaurant can be found within clothes shop Wolf & Badger and offers all-day dining from midday. From homemade rye bread with seasonal cheese, cured meats and pickles to fish, meat and hot sticks cooked over special holm oak charcoal, Pip uses traditional techniques to create dishes inspired by her travels and driven by her commitment to the very best produce.
BEST FOR SOMETHING QUICK & DELICIOUS
Hidden gem Roti King serves up authentic Malaysian dishes. Tucked in a basement around the corner from Euston station, the restaurant is small and simple, and features an open kitchen where guests can watch roti (Malaysian flatbread) being made on the spot. Given its name and reputation, the roti is a must order – we love the chicken murtabak with minced chicken and egg filling, which comes with dahl.
BEST FOR SKIPPING THE QUEUES
Another award-winning eatery from the Sethi family (Trishna, Gymkhana) Hoppers is one of the very best Sri Lankan restaurants in London. Aptly named after one of Sri Lanka’s popular dishes – egg-topped pancakes – Hoppers’ Soho original often still has long queues, but this bigger site offers more chance of getting in. The menu features exclusive dishes such as blue swimmer crab kari, black pepper curry leaf prawns and mussel hodi, as well as those signature hoppers. Outdoors, there’s a mix of high and low seating – all covered, heated and surrounded by foliage, like a 1960s tiki bar.
BEST FOR A DATE
Booking Office 1869
Booking Office 1869 at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel opened at the end of 2021. The restaurant and bar from Harry Handelsman – the hotelier behind Chiltern Firehouse and The Stratford – were designed by French architect Hugo Toro to transport diners into a Victorian winter garden. The slick interiors feature oak wood throughout, tiered chandeliers and indoor plants. Diners can choose from an all-day à la carte menu including dishes like fried chicken with yogurt and lime; steak tartare with salsa verde and beef dripping toast; fried fish sandwiches with spicy tartar sauce; and baked gnocchi with a bitter leaf salad. Bar manager Jack Porter (formerly of The Ned) has created a Victorian-inspired cocktail menu including a house martini featuring Hepple Gin, vermouth and black olives; and a ‘clear margarita’ with Ilegal Joven tequila, Tapatio hot sauce and salt.
BEST FOR BREAKFAST
Granger & Co
Bill Granger is often credited with bringing the Aussie brunch concept to London. With outposts in Chelsea, Clerkenwell, King’s Cross and Notting Hill, Granger & Co’s relaxed fare makes it the perfect place to pop in as a family or group of friends. As well as toasted sandwiches, cooked breakfasts and a selection of nutritious bakes – the muffins and toasted coconut bread are excellent – there’s a delicious range of salads, poke bowls, curries, pasta dishes and burgers. Classics include Bill’s coconut curry with brown rice, choi sum and holy basil; pecorino fritters with quinoa and raw courgette; and toasted Dusty Knuckle sourdough with avocado and lime.
BEST FOR FUN ASIAN DISHES
The Taiwanese steamed bun experts at Bao are the best in the business. The trio behind the restaurant group perfected their steamed buns in an east London market stall almost a decade ago. Its King’s Cross site, which launched last year, is their biggest venture to date. On the menu, you’ll find the kitchen’s spin on western-style dishes such as chicken XO kiev and ham hock congee pie. This particular Bao site is distinctive for two reasons: it’s the only one to offer breakfast, and it features the first Bao Bakery Goods counter, where signature Salted Egg Custard Sad baos can be eaten in or taken away.
BEST FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Vermuteria Cafe & Bar
A characterful spot at the centre of Coal Drops Yard, Vermuteria is a distillation of owners Anthony Demetre (Wild Honey, Arbutus and Les Deux Salons) and Michael Sodeau’s favourite bars and cafés along cycling’s Grand Tour routes of Italy, France and Spain. The food and drink are inspired by these regions – think salads, charcuterie, pastries and tapas-style plates alongside larger dishes such as hot crab croquettes with aioli and slow-braised beef and ‘nduja ragu. They make the ideal accompaniment to one of the bar’s titular vermouths, which are all served in 50ml measures over ice.
BEST FOR A NIGHT WITH FRIENDS
Happy Face Pizza
Happy Face is styled as a retro-chic Neapolitan pizzeria. One of the most pocket-friendly eateries in King’s Cross – pizzas start at £5 – it’s a great spot to bring kids or drop by for a quick dinner before a gig at one of the area’s many venues or a film at the Everyman cinema next door. Known for its light dough – made using a 72-hour ferment to create a lighter, fluffier crust – Happy Face keeps its menu concise: options include tomato, mushrooms, mozzarella, taleggio and artichoke; mozzarella, rocket, prosciutto crudo and parmesan; and vegan pepperoni. Thanks to involvement from the team behind Spiritland, you can expect to hear great music across an impressive sound system – making it a good choice for parties and lively dinners.
BEST FOR INDIAN STREET FOOD
Dishoom has become a London institution, with venues popping up all over the capital – and each one always packed. You can’t book any of them in advance for fewer than six people, but if you arrive early enough, you’ll be able to bag yourself a table. With highlights on the street food-style menu including chilli cheese toast, gunpowder potatoes and minced lamb kebabs, you’ll be happy enough to wait until a spot becomes available. Housed in a Victorian warehouse, the King’s Cross site takes inspiration from the railway cafés of old Bombay, with retro artwork and vintage 19th-century furniture adding a sense of nostalgia. Set over three floors, there’s a mezzanine and loft overlooking the open kitchen and a 1930s speakeasy-style cocktail bar in the basement, which is well worth a visit.
BEST FOR A NIGHT OUT
Café by day and bar by night, Spiritland aims to put the love and passion back into music. This is a place to experience music of all genres and eras – from 50s jazz to deep electronica, country rock and classic pop – on one of the world’s best sound systems. The café-style menu offers all-day dishes, bar snacks and late-night eating, while the bar contains an ever-evolving selection of beers, wines, cocktails and spirits. Spiritland also sells music on vinyl and CD as well as a world-class selection of headphones, audio players, amplifiers and accessories.
BEST FOR FAMILIES
Caravan was the very first restaurant to open at King’s Cross and it’s been popular since day one. It’s got a stripped-back, industrial-style dining room that works really well for low-key group dinners. Pizza is the name of the game when it comes to feeding children at Caravan – the team’s mozzarella, tomato and basil offering is one that keeps kids happy time and again, while adults can tuck into dishes such as pan-roasted cod with romesco, buttered new potatoes, herb salad and almonds; and jalapeño cornbread with chipotle butter, coriander and lime. If the weather’s fine, the terrace overlooking Granary Square is a lovely spot – and the fountains will keep kids amused.
BEST FOR A GLASS OF WINE
A wine bar from the team behind Quo Vadis and Barrafina, The Drop is a 55-seat bar that focuses on all things vino. A point of difference from Spanish-inspired Barrafina and Mexican Casa Pastor over the street, The Drop focuses on modern British plates – think exemplary terrines, cep pie, cheeseboards, rarebit and charcuterie – that go well with a bottle of wine. Oyster fans should make a beeline for the outdoor area, where an oyster cart is a regular fixture.