The Best Indian Food in London: 10 Places to Visit
Every Londoner has a favourite Indian restaurant. Many are the unassuming neighbourhood spots where you’re welcomed like family and the waiter always remembers your favourite dish. So, in a city like London, forever intertwined with Indian food, culture and history, it’s tough to pick the best Indian restaurants from thousands. That’s why we’ve chosen those restaurants that are likely to thrill any visitor to this vibrant and ever-evolving city – or curious local – in search of the flavours of the Indian subcontinent, from Indian fine dining, to the hipper new-Indian and Indian-inspired spots. Come hungry, is the best advice we can give you.
Mayfair is the epicentre of the city’s Michelin-starred Indian dining. At Benares, one of the best Indian restaurants in Central London, British ingredients like Scottish lobster and scallops, Welsh lamb, and English chicken and clams are taken on a short culinary tour of the subcontinent, before landing well-rested and content on your plate. The a la carte and tasting menus read beautifully well, you can almost taste the words – go on, take a look – and everything just abounds with flavour and warmth at Benares.
Chef Asma Khan’s all-female kitchen crew turn out a mean biryani amongst other delicious dishes at this supper club turned restaurant, another contender for the best Indian restaurant in Central London. Currently located in a huge listed building in Covent Garden – a former Carluccio’s – Chef’s Table star Khan will soon relocate the restaurant again to give greater exposure to her kitchen team, who currently cook in the basement, missing out on the thrilling instant feedback of an open kitchen. The food will be just as tasty, we’re sure.
Located in Peckham, South London, this popular neighbourhood restaurant focuses on simple South Indian cooking. There’s a lightness here, across a menu that takes in Indian street food and curries, and traditional thalis at lunchtime. At the helm is Claire Fisher, a self-taught British chef who has managed to create an authentic South Indian experience, south of the river. She fell in love with India on her travels and that love is palpable when you eat at Ganapati.
This modern Indian restaurant takes traditional family recipes and adds a young, fun twist to them – and not just the food, their signature cocktails are spicy little numbers that pair perfectly with your meal (an anise-infused old fashioned anyone?). Small plates include traditional favourites with British and international touches, while sharing plates may bring on the meat sweats. With three locations this mini-chain of restaurants is one of the best places to eat Indian food in London. [Various locations].
Such is the wealth of quality Indian food in London that a Michelin star is hardly a guarantee of or a necessity for an unforgettable meal. Gymkhana, however, is a name that triggers fervour amongst those in the know. Inspired by the elite clubs of India, where high society would meet to eat, drink, socialise, play sport and hatch money-making plans, the kitchen here elevates classic dishes like butter chicken and biryani to Michelin grade, with fabulous cocktails, all in a smart Mayfair location.
Indulge me here: my local award-winning Nepalese/Indian restaurant offers, I believe, the best food of its type in Southeast London. Though a booming takeaway – the saag aloo and chicken Chettinad are top tips – it’s worth eating in to meet the friendly family behind this small and much loved community-focused business. ‘It’s not as good as Himalayan Kitchen’ is my standard one-line review for most other Indian restaurants in London now.
With restaurants in various major Indian cities (the brand was launched there in the 1990s) it’s fitting that the menu at the London outpost of Jamavar covers the length and breadth of the country’s cuisine. It’s all very elegant, with lots of dark wood and brass, and pretty plating. The fish and seafood dishes sing beautifully here, with nods to Indian royal cuisine, and any of the restaurant’s regular punters will tell you it’s no surprise it recently regained its Michelin star. Jamavar has to be one of the top spots for Indian fine dining in London.
At ‘Indian-inspired’ Kricket, chef Will Bowlby combines British ingredients with the classic flavours of the subcontinent, so expect to see the likes of mackerel, sole and fried chicken on the menu, jazzed up with robust spicing and plated in a riot of colour. Cocktails are Indian-inspired and as flavoursome as the food, while beers and wines are crafty and small-batch-y. Kricket is buzzy, fun and above all, damn tasty. [Various locations].
This huge, 100% vegetarian South Indian restaurant chain has branches in over 20 countries around the world, including seven in the UK, all in London. That doesn’t mean this is generic chain restaurant food however, far from it. The plentiful thalis and enormous dosas are the stars, and it’s amazing how one can suddenly find room in one’s distended belly for another round when staff comes round to top up the former. With a low price point, Saravanaa Bhavan is a great spot for an inexpensive Indian lunch in London. [Various locations].
Michelin-starred Trishna in Marylebone is dedicated to Indian coastal cuisine, from the Southwest specifically, but again makes use of the best of local British produce. A case in point is the restaurant’s famous brown crab dish, transplanted from the original Trishna in Mumbai, a mixture of brown and white Dorset (on the English Southwest coast incidentally) crab meat cooked in butter and garlic. A streetside terrace and general casual ambiance add to the laid-back charm.