Separated by less than a mile, the London districts of Farringdon and Barbican are at the heart of the city’s business and commercial life – and brimming with great places to eat.
When it comes to where to eat in Barbican and Farringdon, there are no shortage of options, whatever your tastes. While Barbican is known for its law firms and financial institutions, Farringdon has a more cutting-edge reputation, thanks to the large number of creative design agencies located here. So whether it’s fine dining or hipster joints that are more to your liking, you’re guaranteed to find it here. We’ve picked out 10 of the best restaurants the two areas have to offer.
For ethnic food in Farringdon, Machan Kitchen – which also has an outpost in Croydon – has received rave reviews since bringing their authentic take on Sri Lanka cuisine to the capital. Translated to mean ‘brother’ or buddy’, Machan’s name certainly reflects the relaxed, beach-hut vibes of this small but vibrant eatery, where straw mats line the walls, bamboo furnishings and gargoyle-esque masks deliver a stark contrast with the urban jungle outside. An open kitchen presents the chance to see your authentic Sri Lankan dishes, spanning everything from jackfruit to fish cutlets, being prepared – but let’s face it, the real fun lies in eating them.
171 Farringdon Road
A consistently popular choice with Barbican’s suited and booted city gents and ladies (not to mention the occasional celebrity from the world of sport or entertainment), this stylish Italian restaurant serves up traditional fare with a modern twist. Open for all-day dining, it offers a formal dining experience – think crisp white napery, polished cutlery and sparkling glasses – in a relaxed atmosphere that tempts guests to indulge in extended work lunches and post-office dinners. Cooked to order, all dishes feature fresh ingredients and there’s a regularly changing ‘specials’ menu. A large bar area invites you to relax before and after meals, and for special occasions there’s also a private dining room for up to eight people.
CityPoint, 1 Ropemaker Street
Exmouth Market is one of London’s busiest and most cutting-edge foodie hotspots, lined with street stalls by day and augmented by an array of exceptional restaurants that stay open long into the evening. Among them is this oh-so-charming bistro-style eatery that specialises in traditional provincial French food. The space is simple, rustic and elegant and you can be certain that all the ingredients are carefully selected and sourced from the very best producers in France (including local farms), ensuring one of the most authentic French dining experiences anywhere in the capital – all delivered with a quirky and creative twist. There’s a sister restaurant in Primrose Hill, north London, too.
102-104 Farringdon Road
Quality Chop House
A historic venue and one that’s famous for its hearty food, The Quality Chop House is a regular on lists of London’s best restaurants. And for sheer character and charm, many would even place it as number one. Open since 1869, it boasts an eye-catching Grade-II listed Victorian décor that includes black and white chequerboard flooring and dark wooden furniture. It’s spread over two dining rooms and there are intimate tables as well as booths for larger groups. As for the food, as the name suggests the signature dishes here are the pork and lamb chops, both using meat sourced from renowned British producers. But there’s plenty else to get your mouth salivating too, not least the spectacular confit potatoes, thinly layered into wedges and fried in beef dripping. The wine list is excellent too – and if you have time, there’s a wine shop next door.
88-94 Farringdon Road
It may be a gastropub rather than a restaurant, but The Eagle deserves its place on this list thanks to the widespread popularity of its melt-in-the-mouth steak sandwich. Perched on a corner of Farringdon Road, the pub attracts a steady stream of office types seeking a quick after-work fix of perfectly cooked rump steak served on a large crusty Portuguese carcaças bun and seasoned with chilli, oregano, garlic and red wine. It’s quite simply one of the best marinated sandwiches you’ll find anywhere in the capital. But if you’re not in a meaty mood, there’s plenty more temptations on the menu of Mediterranean-style food. Behind the bar, cask ales and popular lagers on draft stand ready to refresh you.
159 Farringdon Road
A performing arts centre may not be an obvious location for a funky, modern Italian restaurant, but Osteria bucks the trend in emphatic style. Located on the second floor of the acclaimed Barbican Centre, this excellent eatery has an achingly cool vibe thanks to chequered fabric seats, low lighting and a sax-heavy jazz soundtrack. Dishes are elegantly presented and simply cooked, with standout options including a saddle of rabbit draped with endives, a soft-poached egg perched atop al dente asparagus and aromatic pearl barley. Competing with the food for centre stage are spectacular views over the Barbican Lakeside and fountains. So grab a window seat and buckle up for a meal to remember.
Barbican Centre, Silk Street
This French bistro-cum-deli is a haven of tranquillity amid the bustling trade of nearby Spitalfields Market. The more casual sibling of its Michelin star-owning counterpart around the corner, the rustic interior is dotted with wooden furniture, and after night falls dimmed lights and twinkling candles lend a touch of romance. But while the venue’s décor has a distinctly pastoral and stripped-back look and feel, there’s no lack of sophistication when it comes to the food. Specialising in the cuisine of Gascony in southwest France, pig and duck features heavily on the menu, including a superb charcuterie board with saucisson, pâté, rillettes and slivers of cured tongue. Needless to say for a top-class French restaurant, the wine doesn’t disappoint either.
63 Charterhouse Street
Renowned for its ‘nose to tail’ approach to food which encourages (virtually) no part of an animal to go uneaten, this pioneering restaurant has been attracting adventurous gastronomes for more than twenty years. Part of a mini-empire across the capital which includes a bakery and wine dealership, the Farringdon venue is the mothership and has a coveted Michelin-star to its name. Walking into its minimally decorated confines to discover bare white walls, battered floorboards and tables lined up canteen-style, you feel a world away from fine dining. But once your first dish arrives, the brilliance is revealed. The restaurant is most famous for its revival of offal, and you should certainly try something offal-ey from the menu. Other notable dishes include black cuttlefish and onions served in a supremely deep-flavoured ink-based sauce, and ox tongue with horseradish.
26 St John Street
Hix Oyster & Chop House
A mainstay on the London restaurant scene for two decades now, this buzzing eatery is known for its atmosphere as much as its acclaimed food. White wall tiles and a large neon sign that reads ‘fucking beautiful’ is your first indication that pomp and ceremony are not on the agenda, while the informal dress code also adds to the laid-back ambience. The fare here is contemporary British, with most ingredients sourced from British shores, including Isle of Mull scallops, asparagus and oysters from across these isles. For mains, crusty-topped beef-and-ale pie is a perpetual favourite and don’t be too quick to turn down dessert, either – the sweet treacle tart is one of the best you’ll find anywhere.
36-37, Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street
Barbican Brasserie by Searcys
A classic British brasserie in the heart of the Barbican Centre, one of London’s most renowned cultural venues, this restaurant is the perfect antidote to the distinctive brutalist concrete outside. Set within a elegant, plush room with a parquet-floored cocktail bar and scenic views of the lakeside and fountains, the eatery offers a refined menu of British classics and European dishes with a modern twist, complemented with a carefully curated selection of wines and bubbles including Searcys’ own signature Cuvée Brut and Rosé. For cocktails, the bar’s Newbie Negroni has gained a loyal fanbase, too.
Barbican Centre, Silk Street