Over the past couple of decades London’s restaurant scene has become a match for any city in the world. Whether it’s street food, casual sit-ins, or Michelin-starred fine dining, the capital has experienced a true foodie renaissance – and none more so than when it comes to ethnic cuisine. London now teems with eateries offering authentic international fare, often with an innovative twist, from across the globe. And in keeping with the nation’s famed love of food from the sub-continent, Indian restaurants have been at the vanguard of this culinary rebirth.
London’s Indian eateries have come a long way since the time-honoured stereotype of the traditional curry house. From the suburbs to Soho to the city’s central district, top class Indian dining can be found everywhere. If you fancy getting stuck into some of London’s best Indian food, we’ve picked out 20 of the best Indian restaurants spanning a range of different price points and regional styles.
Inspired by the elite clubs of India and decorated in a Raj-era sports club style, this Mayfair restaurant couldn’t be further from your local curry house. The restaurant is all dark oak wood panelling, plush leather seats and vintage steamer trunks, while the food more than earns its Michelin star. An innovative cocktail infuses classic recipes with Indian flavours, with indulgent tipples like the Hendricks Fin, Jasmine and Clary Sage Cordial. There is an a la carte menu, but its’ worth indulging in the tasting menu, which offers exciting, innovative dishes like game bird samosas, truffle pilau and a saffron pistachio kulfi falooda for pudding.
42 Albemarle Street, Mayfair (Tube: Green Park)
The India Club
Located on the second floor of the unfussy Hotel Strand Continental, The India Club is unlike any other restaurant in London. Built in 1946, it was the former haunt of civil servants and diplomats from the nearby High Commission of India. Today, its clientele is a little more diverse, but the décor and menu are largely unchanged. Hearty portions of egg curry, traditional aubergine brinjal and lamb bhunas are some of the menu highlights, as well as famously cheap and delicious vegetable samosas for just a few quid. This is living history in the heart of Holborn.
143 Strand (Tube: Temple)
Celebrating the coastal cuisine of South-West India, this glossy Marylebone restaurant caused quite a stir when it opened in 2014. Its sister restaurant is arguably the most famous seafood restaurant in Mumbai. The décor here is paired back – but the food certainly isn’t. Boasting a Michelin star, the menu features plenty of seafood, tamarind and coconut, paired expertly with the unexpected; soft-shelled crab is served with smoked tomato chutney, Adhra lamb curry in coastal spices. The a la carte menu isn’t cheap, but the lunch and early dinner menu is priced very reasonably. Or, if you’re up for a night of long conversation, go for the six-course Koliwada Menu.
15-17 Blandford Street, Marylebone (Tube: Bond Street)
For a tiny restaurant with a tiny menu, Gunpowder packs a powerful punch. Located in a side street in Spitalfields, it is unfailingly busy and always humming with activity. It holds a Michelin Bib Gourmand and a menu inspired by dishes from all over India. While dishes are ‘homestyle’, they’re also full of personality. Take the golf-ball sized venison and vermicelli doughnut which looks like a small hedgehog or the rasam kebomb, a shot of hot soup spiced with chilli, mustard and tamarind. The menu is
exciting but not about novelty, and it’s happily affordable too.
11 White’s Row, Spitalfields (Tube: Liverpool Street)
Mayfair’s Benares is big, bold and expensive. One of the first Indian restaurants in London to receive a Michelin star, Benares combines modern Indian cuisine with the best of British ingredients. With passion fruit chutney martinis and Manhattans made
with Amrut India whiskies, you could visit Benares for the cocktails alone. That would be foolish though, because then you’d miss out on lobster biryanis, blue cheese paneer tikas and bakes scallops served with coconut curry and paratha. Save space for pudding and try the rasmalai mille feuille with mango and mascarpone.
12a Berkeley Square, Mayfair (Tube: Green Park)
Founded in 2015 in a 20-seater shipping container in Pop Brixton, Kricket has since expanded to a collection of modern Indian restaurants across London. The latest additions, Kricket Soho and Kricket White City, boast a tandoor oven too, pumping out pillowy kulchas (mini-naans) at an impressive rate. Described as ‘Indian-inspired cooking’, Kricket is a sharing affair. Small plates are affordably priced and best-selling dishes include the samphire pakoras and Keralan fried chicken, but you can’t go far wrong with the refreshingly short menu.
12 Denman Street, Soho (Tube Piccadilly Circus)
First opened in 1995, Tamarind heralded a new trend for upmarket Indian cuisine in London. A master in fine dining and first-rate cooking, the restaurant received its first Michelin star in 2001. Takes on classic dishes are innovative and respectful, though
the rabbit seekh kebab stuffed with dried tomato and raisins took the internet by storm when it was added to the menu. While dinner here is at the upper end of the price scale, the set lunch menu is surprisingly affordable – which is a rarity in these upscale parts.
20 Queen Street, Mayfair (Tube: Green Park)
Inspired by the Indian mess halls of the Raj, Brigadier brings the best of Indian BBQ to Bank. It features similar sporting references to Gymkhana, with the addition of flat-screen TVs for important sports events and a designated pool room. The restaurant also boasts whisky dispensing machines and a taproom with cocktails, as well as craft beers, on tap. Linger here with some acari chicken skins or masala duck roast samosas and an Old Fashioned before heading through to the main event. Popular menu items include the much-talked-about butter chicken wings and a beef fat and bone marrow biryani.
1-5 Bloomberg Arcade (Tube: Mansion House)
This upmarket Indian offering is the first London restaurant from the luxury Indian hotel group, The Leela. Named after the intricate and vibrant 16th century shawl of Kashmir, the dining room at Jamavar is pure opulence, as is the food. Spicy small plates are diverse, inspired by the different parts of India – from the royal kitchens of the north to the southern shores. Some of its most popular dishes include the Stone Bass Tikka and the Old Delhi Butter Chicken. It’s a pricey affair but worth every penny.
8 Mount Street, Mayfair (Tube: Bond Street)
Veeraswamy is an iconic institution. It is London’s oldest Indian restaurant, opened in 1926 by a retired British Indian Army Officer, the grandson of an English general and an Indian princess. With its sumptuous Raj-inspired décor and traditional recipes, Veeraswamy is a restaurant that customers return to again and again. The regional menu offers dishes from all corners of India, from Kashmiri Rogan Josh to Keralans style spicy quail.
Victory House, 99-101 Regent Street (Tube Piccadilly Circus)
The sister restaurant to Tamarind of Mayfair, Zaika occupies a former bank building at the edge of Kensington Gardens. The menu is strictly north Indian, inspired by the tastes and traditions of Adwadh. Expect classics like Gosht Dum biryani and creamy yellow dahls. Opened in 1999, the popular restaurant has changed hands numerous times but is now back in its former glory. Dishes are expertly executed, with plenty to choose from.
1 Kensington High Street, Kensington (Tube: South Kensington)
It’s worth the hike out to the far fringes of zone 4 for The Regency Club’s chicken wings alone. Established in 1991, the restaurant first opened as a members’ club with just a few items on the menu. Over the years, the menu – along with its staff – has expanded significantly and it is now among the best Indian restaurants in London. Dishes lean towards curry house staples, like karahi lamb masala and butter chicken but with a Kenyan influence, reflecting its founder’s roots.
18-21 Queensbury Station Parade, Queensbury (Tube: Kingsbury)
Until Woodlands came along in 1981, the London Indian dining scene had been dominated by Punjabi and north Indian cuisine. Instead of butter chicken and parathas, Woodlands served up fluffy dosas and uthappam – thick rice and white lentil pancakes. It was also London’s first Indian vegetarian restaurant. Today, there are three locations to choose from in Marylebone, Piccadilly and Hampstead. Popular dishes include crispy vadas (lentil doughnuts) and hot snacks such as bhutura (hot fried bread) served with chana masala. Small plates start at £5 and hearty curries from £8.
Various venues across London
The self-styled Bombay café made a splash when it opened its doors in Covent Garden, and has become so popular that it now boasts multiple sites across London and the rest of the UK. Inspired by old Irani cafes that reached their peak in the 1960s, Dishoom offers all day dining for all budgets. The no-reservations policy for under four means queuing every time, but it’s worth the wait. The restaurant is just as popular for its much-loved bacon naan roll as it is for its creamy house black daal. The cocktails are worth testing too, best served with a chilli cheese on toast.
Various venues across London
Cinnamon Club occupies a converted Grade II-listed library, round the corner from Westminster Abbey. Inside, the space is light and airy, with towering ceilings and walls lined with books. Dishes are contemporary and imaginative takes on the traditional – think crisp courgette flowers with tamarind glazed vegetables, chargrilled venison with rajasthai pickling sauce and masala mashed potatoes. The tasting menu is popular, as well as the set menus for lunch and early dinner which are affordably priced.
The Old Westminster Library, Great Smith Street, Westminster
A stylish space in swanky Belgravia, Amaya opened in 2004 to immediate acclaim and has since acquired a Michelin star. The menu offers pan-Indian style tapas and showcases the little-known repertoire of India’s grilled foods. Dishes are prepared in a theatrical open kitchen, so hungry onlookers can watch chefs prepare their dinner on the clay tandoor, charcoal grill and griddle, live. The menu changes seasonally but highlights that regularly make an appearance include the duck tikka with spicy plum glaze, lamb osso bucco slow-cooked tandoor style and a Punjabi channa chaat in a tart. Service is superb too.
Halkin Arcade, Belgravia
A short stumble down scruffy Chapel Street Market is a lively canteen – or dhaba – offering some of the best home-style Punjabi dishes in London. Owned by brothers Aman and Preet Grewal, the family business prides itself on a cheerful, no-frills approach. The succinct menu changes regularly, but menu stalwarts include first class Punjabi grills, freshly-made rotis and exemplary samosas. Inside, walls are painted royal blue and covered in Indian newspapers. An unstuffy and upbeat joint, that encourages loud conversation and enthusiastic eating.
21 Chapel Market, The Angel (Tube: Angel)
For a small suburb, Muswell Hill is not lacking in restaurants to shout about. Add to that ever-expanding list Indian Rasoi, which serves up refined Indian cooking at a highly accessible price. The menu reflects India’s rich and diverse cuisine, with recipes from Kerala, Goa and Kashmir. Chefs have experience in leading Delhi hotels – and you can tell. The papadums are crisp, the puri is packed with flavour and the paratha is fabulously flaky. Menu is a la carte and with 82 items on the menu to choose from, visitors won’t be stuck for choice.
7 Fortis Green, Muswell Hill (Tube: East Finchley)
Owing to its large Indian community, Wembley has an impressive range of Indian restaurants to offer visitors, but Mumbai Junction stands out as one of the most exciting. The menu offers traditional Mumbai cuisine, with Punjabi and Guajarati twists. Beloved by sports fans, the sprawling premises also boasts a sports lounge with Sky Sports and Sentana Sports – perfect for important matches. With capacity for 260+ you’ll never be stuck for a seat either.
231 Watford Road, Harrow (Tube: Wembley Park)
Social Dhaba House
Another accolade for North West London, Social Dhaba offers authentic and affordable dishes from all over India. Inspired by the country’s roadside restaurants, food here is hearty and homely. There are a range of menus to choose from as well as an impressive drinks list. Social Dhaba is particularly popular with vegans and vegetarians, with plant-based dishes a core feature of the menu rather than a tokenistic afterthought, and clearly marked too. Order the Social Dhaba Special Mogo – casava chips in a garlic and chilli paste.
294 Uxbridge Road, Hatch End (Overground: Hatch End)