Discuss as:

The best London restaurants

Courtesy of River Café via Food & Wine

London's superb River Café provides an outdoor terrace during the summer.

For the 11 million visitors who are expected to attend the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, here's an insider’s guide to the best restaurants in the city.


Starting the day with a proper English breakfast at Bill’s Produce Store is one way to avoid superlong queues for food at the Olympic venues. Bill Collison’s original Sussex produce shop and café became such a hit that restaurant mogul Richard Caring (Le Caprice, The Ivy) took notice, and in 2010 the pair opened an outpost in London’s Covent Garden. The result: a charming two-floor restaurant and shop, with long, rustic wooden tables surrounded by rows of immaculately displayed provisions. While there’s all-day service, including tea and dinner, breakfast is undeniably the highlight, with British classics like bubble and squeak (a fried potato-and-cabbage cake) topped with fried eggs and ham.

Slideshow: See the best London restaurants 

For dinner or lunch during the summer, there are few more pleasant places to dine in London than at The River Café’s outdoor tables that are surrounded by quince, fruit and olive trees. This rustic Italian restaurant opened by ingredient-obsessed Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray has been the training ground for some of the world’s most renowned English chefs, including Jamie Oliver and April Bloomfield. It’s still phenomenal, with constantly changing menus of antipasti, house-made pastas, wood-roasted meats and fish, plus the signature four-ingredient, ultrachocolatey Nemesis cake.

Dessert obsessives who prefer ice cream are in luck. For a city whose summers never get absurdly hot, London has a surprising number of top-notch ice cream shops and gelaterias. One of the most intriguing is Camden’s Chin Chin Laboratorists. Husband-and-wife owners Ahrash Akbari-Kalhur and Nyisha Weber can usually be spotted behind the counter (clad in lab coats and protective goggles) creating creamy ice creams to order with blasts of liquid nitrogen, and adding ingenious toppings like honeycomb. Also on the menu: coffee brewed from cult favorite Monmouth Coffee beans. 

More from Food & Wine