There’s an ugly rumour going around (which we’ve probably helped spread) that there are no good restaurants in west London that are both affordable and cool.
And it really isn’t much of an exaggeration, because there aren’t too many places in the area that meet both those criteria. But if you’re headed that way anyway, you will eventually need to eat something. Here’s where to go in west London if you hate it.
There was a collective sigh of relief when Dishoom opened a location on High Street Kensington. West Londoners finally got the opportunity to see what makes these spots so popular, and the rest of us gained a handy, affordable place for dinner with our bougie friends or relatives who insist on staying out west for ‘the culture’ when they visit. Either way, expect long lines and consistently great Indian food.
Andina already have sites in Soho, and they also have a Shoreditch outpost, so this upscale but casual Peruvian picanteria on Westbourne Grove, shouldn’t be too unfamiliar when you find yourself adrift out west. It’s not a place where a lot of posing and posturing goes on. It’s clean and modern, but it’s also homely and bustling, and sharing plates like the yellowfin tuna tartare, and the huge doorstep of richly glazed short rib are made for diving into without standing on ceremony.
Kingsland Road is where east Londoners get their Vietnamese food fix. But if you happen to be west and don’t mind a long walk from Notting Hill station, you can also get your Vietnamese fix at MAM. You’re likely to get into a long, tiresome debate with your dining pals as to whether the pho is as good here as you what you find out east (it’s not, but it will do for now west London). We suggest also ordering the BBQ skewers and the very crispy chicken wings to keep you going as you talk it out.
Not only will you not feel like you’re in west London at Ceru, you also won’t feel like you’re in England anymore. This spot in South Kensington is a bright space, with plenty of Aztec upholstery, an open kitchen, and more mint yoghurt than that time you tried to cure your sunburn on the cheap. Their modern Levantine dishes are perfect for sharing, with plenty of humous, fresh salads, spiced meats and seafood. Just don’t go too heavy on the cucumber martinis, unless you want to explain to your colleagues why you tweeted ‘#HOLLIBOB2K18’ at 9pm on a Wednesday evening.
Esarn Kheaw is one of London’s original Thai restaurants and whether you’re from west or not, you should be thankful that’s it been serving up excellent dishes for over two decades now. It’s an old-school, homely, family-affair kind of place, but that doesn’t mean the food pulls any punches. The tom yum soup here is delicious, as are the homemade Thai sausages. West London locals have been coming here non-stop ever since Esarn Kheaw opened. Other Londoners should do the same.
The Prince is from the Pergola On The Roof team - a.k.a., the people on a not-so-secret mission to make west London cool. This is a renovated pub which is a literal front for a very large drinking hall that hides behind it. There are also four restaurants on site, which you can perch in or grab food to take to the drinking hall: Vietnamese from Mam, Thai from South London’s The Begging Bowl, trendy posh(ish) food from the west London’s Rabbit, and burgers from Patty & Bun. Coming here on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night without a booking is not a great idea, so be sure to plan in advance.
Santa Maria sits on the Chelsea and Fulham faultline, but we’re going to give Fulham credit for having one of the best pizza restaurants in London, because Chelsea has a far superior football team and doesn’t need this win. You’ve seen Neapolitan pizza similar to Santa Maria’s all over London by now, but these guys were actually some of the first to bring this style to the city, at their original location in Ealing. Come with a group, come for a date, come out of your way a little bit because the pizza is actually worth the trip.
You‘ve been mesmerised by Hope’s skeleton at the Natural History Museum for about 12 whole minutes now, but instead of thinking of practical ways to save the planet, you’re thinking about sushi. Luckily, nearby spot Dozo does half decent sushi and fun rolls at a reasonable price. The £7.90 lunch menu covers everything from ramen to sushi, which keeps it very busy in here, so if you want to get a seat, turn up early. You may not be saving the planet this time, but at least you’ll be saving a few pennies.
There’s no mistaking that you’re in west London when you eat at Da Mario. This spot sits at the end of a row of expensive white mansion houses, in a very cool Venetian-Gothic decorated building. The interior is less grandiose and a lot more chintzy than you might expect from the street - there’s even a bunch of Princess Diana memorabilia that the distant American relative you’ve probably been babysitting all day will love. The simple Italian menu has a big selection of pizzas and pastas, and while they may not be the best in west London, the whole experience of eating here is so homey and comforting that you’re bound to leave with a much fonder feeling about the neighbourhood as a whole.
Your visiting relative has subjected you to the hell that is Portobello Road for about four hours and now you need a reset. Hereford Road is your spot. This restaurant has a modern vibe, but the food is very traditional, and the excellent nose-to-tail cooking comes at prices far lower than you’d expect for the area. Order the set lunch for a great deal (£13.50 for two courses), or come by with a date or group for dinner.
Mother is a pizzeria originally from Copenhagen, and is now located in a railway arch in the Battersea Power Station. Apart from the fact it’s not in East London, it’s very East London, straight down to the brick walls and dark lighting. The pizza and other food is solid, and it’s a good place to come with a group.
Eating out with friends is mainly about making compromises, and when you need to find a compromise between trendy and cheap and posh and expensive, Locanda Ottoemezzo is your best West London option. This is a neighbourhood place with Italian movie memorabilia on the walls and actual Italians in the seats. This isn’t the finest of Italian restaurants, but it gets the job done, and there’s some theatre in the form of the risotto mixed tableside in a wheel of cheese.