Most Famous Restaurants in London

Our top picks for the most famous restaurants in London including a brief history of each and information about what makes them so famous

London is a weighty place. In the age of Instagram  and Facebook shots of dishes it is easy to forget the role that dinners taken at London restaurants between important people have defined history for millions around the globe and that recipes constructed for those meals sill exist.

Food can be a method for time travel particularly in London.

Things are famous to different people for different reasons so for this article about London's most famous restaurants we have generally picked places to eat that have some historical significance so do not expect to see a restaurant on the list because Justin Beiber once ate a burger there.


First opening as a smoking room in 1928 before later becoming a cafe and then a restaurant Simpson's-in-the-Strand was at one time known as much as a destination for chess players as for its food attracting the best players of the day.

The restaurant was amongst the first in Britain to be awarded a Michelin star in 1974.

Simpson's continues to serve classic British style cuisine. The specialty being aged Scottish beefserved table-side, a tradition more than 150 years old. Other signature dishes include potted shrimps, roast saddle of lamb, and steak and kidney pie.

The Ivy

First opening in 1917 as an unlicensed Italian cafe, The Ivy has become an institution for actors and others in the entertainment industry in part thanks to it's location in Covent Garden close to many of the main theatres in London.

Definitely a restaurant for those wishing to impress and a great restaurant for celeb spotting.

Bar Italia

Located in the same building that John Logie Baird used to give his first public demonstration of the television in 1926, what it lacks in size it makes up for in popularity amongst actors and artists. The subject of the Pulp song of the same name form their album Different Class, Bar Italia has developed a cult following since it opened in 1949.

Savini at Criterion

Opened opened in 1873 the Criterion is one of the most iconic and historic restaurants in the world it is even mentioned in the first Sherlock Holmes stories and was the location for the restaurant scene in The Dark Knight.

Being located at Piccadilly Circus it could not be much more central.

It was popular with the women's rights movement probably because it's excellent reputation for afternoon teas and clean toilets. It was also the site of an important political speech by Winston Churchill when he called for the party politics to be put aside for the sake of the nation following what is now known as World War One.

The restaurant changed hands a number of times over the next hundred years and is currently home to Savini, an Italian restaurant brand from Milan which itself is more than 150 years on.

The cuisine served may have changed but the restaurant and its building remain gems.


Located in Covent Garden it was originally an oyster bar. Established in 1798 Rule's claims to be London's oldest restaurant making it almost as old as the USA. Charles Dickens was even an early patron.

In the two hundred years since many things have changed but Rule's is still known for the famous faces of its clientele and oysters.

Other signature dishes today include those from game, pies, and puddings.


Wiltons is one of London's oldest suppliers of oysters in London operating since 1742 at first as a market stall for fish, close to where the restaurant is now located. Wiltons acquired its first warrant to supply the British Royal Family in 1868 having become a licensed restaurant in 1840. It moved location several times over the next 144 years before settling on Jermyn Street in 1984.

The menu is classic British with oysters, caviar, wild fish and game all being signatures.

If you enjoyed this article take a look at our London guide and London blog for information about the history of London and for more restaurant recommendations. If there is a famous London restaurant we have missed from this article that you think we should include in this article we would love to hear from you.

Most Famous Restaurants in London Map

Last updated on 9/12/19, 2:23 AM

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The Ivy Market Grill (Covent Garden)
The Ivy Market Grill (Covent Garden)
1 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8PS

The Ivy Market Grill brings the familiar luxury of The Ivy on West Street to a relaxed yet sophisticated all-day...Read more

Henrietta Street Eating Restaurants Covent Garden

Food Hygiene Ratings for The Ivy Market Grill (Covent Garden)
Hygiene Rating: 5/5
Food Hygiene Ratings for The Ivy Market Grill (Covent Garden)
Inspected: on 4/5/16

Bar Italia (Soho)
Bar Italia (Soho)
22 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4RF

Lou and Caterina Polledri opened Bar Italia in 1949 and then their Son Nino took over the reins in the 1970s and he...Read more

Cafes & Coffee Shops Frith Street Soho Eating Restaurants

Food Hygiene Ratings for Bar Italia (Soho)
Hygiene Rating: 2/5
Food Hygiene Ratings for Bar Italia (Soho)
Inspected: on 3/8/18

Rules Restaurant
Rules Restaurant
5 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7LB

Traditional English food, specialising in classic game cookery, oysters, pies and puddings. Pictures, menus, wine...Read more

British Restaurants Maiden Lane Eating Restaurants Covent Garden

Food Hygiene Ratings for Rules Restaurant
Hygiene Rating: 5/5
Food Hygiene Ratings for Rules Restaurant
Inspected: on 12/12/17

55 Jermyn Street, St James's, London, SW1Y 6LX

English restaurant, serves seafood and game. History, menu, seasonal specialities and recipes. St James's.Read more

Jermyn Street British Restaurants St James's Eating Restaurants

Food Hygiene Ratings for Wiltons
Hygiene Rating: 5/5
Food Hygiene Ratings for Wiltons
Inspected: on 12/19/17

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