Have you ever gone to the hottest restaurant in London and been forced to wait in an endless queue? Or always feel like you’re one step behind on the latest restaurant trends? Well, you’re in luck as Visit London, the city’s tourism agency, has pulled together a checklist with the top 10 tips on how to secure a table at London’s most popular and newly launched restaurants for you and your friends.
To further help you crack into London’s hottest restaurants, they’ve even tapped up Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge to help. He says: “London is one of the best places in the world to eat and I’m happy to support the Mayor’s ‘London Eats’ campaign. My insider tip for getting a good table is to go on the charm offensive, and secondly to visit often, showing loyalty will be rewarded and the staff will get to know and remember you.”
London’s restaurant scene is everchanging, diverse and quite simply delicious. Whilst there’s almost a new trendy restaurant opening every day, there’s also a crowd of TikTok enthusiasts to follow – but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on all the fun! Plus, you won’t have to compete for the best tables with international tourists this autumn, making it a uniquely good time to plan a trip into the city and tick off the restaurants that look set to tickle your taste buds.
Throughout the summer and beyond, the London Eats season will bring together the capital’s famous chefs and foodies to promote the most exciting food experiences central London has to offer – so keep your eyes peeled!
Here are Visit London’s top 10 tips on how to secure your spot at London’s hottest restaurants:
Look at the clock!
Turning up at a buzzing restaurant in central London on a Saturday night at 8pm with three friends is a recipe for a disappointed look and firm ‘no’ from the host. But 5pm walk-up to Dishoom? Yes. Why not head to the Smoking Goat a little past the dinner time rush and bag a seat at the bar? Job done, without the rejection!
Attempt a weekday evening get together
The end of the week and weekend are prime times for meeting up with friends and having a nice winddown dinner. The issue here is that everyone has the same idea! So if you’re looking to be the first to dine at soon-to-be opened restaurants Pan Pacific London and MiMi Mei Fair then your best bet at grabbing a table might be a Monday or Tuesday night.
Embrace the solo dinner
Sometimes we all need a little ‘me-time’ and that doesn’t always have to be a spa day at home. In the wise words of Parks and Rec – treat yourself. And a plus is that finding space for one at a restaurant is always a breeze. Some restaurants that won’t make you feel alone whilst enjoying your solo meal include Kurumaya as you can watch your delicious sushi being made right in front of you or Persepolis, which has a one-person mezze plate for just a fiver.
Some restaurant chains are worth all the hype
Nowadays, most people are drawn to pop-up, limited time only or exclusive restaurants – but some restaurant groups might surprise you. The best part about having multiple restaurants is that you have more than one opportunity to grab a table. If you can’t get into a flagship Soho branch, why not try an area with a slightly lower evening footfall like Southwark or Liverpool Street? Restaurant groups such as Big Mamma are known for their authentic Italian food, with eclectic and distinct décor in every restaurant. Try its newest restaurant in London, Ave Mario – which seems to be the talk of the town.
Explore lunchtime offers
You would be surprised at how many restaurants are offering delicious set menus at an affordable price during lunchtime. Not only will you be able to try out that restaurant you’ve been dying to go to, but you’ll be able to enjoy your food without the hustle and bustle of the evening dining rush. Find the best lunch in London at Mexican-inspired KOL or French and Mediterranean-influenced Six Portland Road. Why not combine it with a trip to the office and go out for lunch with colleagues you haven’t seen for a while?
Dine out in a large group
Having a large group can up your chances of finding a table at your must go restaurant. Even no-reservation restaurants offer bookings for large parties, so check out their booking policy, grab your best mates and skip the long queue. However, be mindful of the number some restaurants require for a group table – to be on the safe side book a table for 12. If you’ve been dying to try out the newest restaurants to hit London town – such as BAO Noodle Shop in Shoreditch or soon to open Trattoria Brutto in Farringdon – then this might be your best bet!
Get there first
Sometimes you must make sacrifices for a delicious meal, and in this case, being the first in line as the restaurant opens will work in your favour. Whilst eating dinner at 5.30pm isn’t entirely the norm, you can still have a superb dining experience and still have time for a theatre show or bar afterwards. Evelyn’s Table in Soho, which combines British produce with Japanese techniques and classic French methods, opens at 6pm and only hosts 10 guests at a time – so getting there before they open will ensure you’ll find a seat.
Consistency is key
We all have that one restaurant that we just can’t get enough of and if you’re lucky to find your restaurant soulmate, then you’ll want to go all the time. If it’s just your luck that this restaurant seems to always have a massive line, then it’s in your best interest to introduce yourself to the hostess. Becoming a regular is the easiest way to ensure that you’ll always nab a spot and receive some special care from the waiters. Not sure where to find your restaurant soulmate? Well, if you’re always in the mood for pasta then we recommend Padella or if you love a heart-warming curry all-yearlong, we would recommend Gunpowder.
Have a meal at the bar
When you show up to a restaurant without a reservation, your best chance might be to request a spot at the bar. Not all restaurants serve the main dinner menu at the bar, but that doesn’t mean the bar menu isn’t just as good. Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar have some short-rib nuggets that will knock your socks off and The Surprise in Chelsea has mushroom croquettes that are to die for.
Reserve your spot
Seems obvious, right? But if you’re able to plan your dinner plans early, then you can make sure you’re not showing up ‘sans réservation’ to one of London’s hottest spots. Sadly, some restaurants don’t allow for dinner bookings but in this new normal, more and more restaurants are requiring a reservation. Try out Palomar or Flat Iron – as both coveted restaurants have newly opened their booking service.
This list has been curated as part of the London Eats season, an initiative celebrating London’s global and diverse food offer. It is part of Let’s Do London, a campaign launched by The Mayor of London, Visit London and the capital’s tourism and hospitality industry’s which looks to welcome back visitors to the wonderful city of London in a safe manner.