London is a world class cuisine capital where you can find everything from British pub grub to Persian, a traditional roast lunch to Lebanese mezze, and everything in between.
There’s no better place to sample fine food than Kensington. It’s all happening in Kensington, it’s all there for you in “the Royal Borough.” It’s the swishest residential neighbourhoods in London (along with Mayfair), but it’s also one of the most cosmopolitan. Over 50% of Kensington residents were born abroad. So, if you venture into this corner of West London, you can expect not only a generous portion of Michelin stars but also British Curry Award winners, funky gastropubs, European style cafes and so much more. Here are the best restaurants in Kensington, picked by London Walks’ Kensington expert David Tucker. You can also listen to David’s podcast discussing his favourite Kensington restaurants.
It’s named after Frederico Fellini’s 1963 cinematic masterpiece Otto e mezzo, meaning 8 ½. Stepping into Locanda Ottomezzo is a little like stepping into your own Italian movie. Vintage movie posters, cosy seating, and a true taste of Italy. Sister restaurant to the Ottoemezzo Café, Locanda Ottomezzo is one of the most authentic Italian restaurants in London. It’s a hidden gem, tucked away in the heart of Kensington. And, it’s one of David’s favourites.
For sophistication, fine dining and one of the best wine lists in London, try Launceston Place. It’s a Michelin starred gem situated in an elegant 19th century townhouse, close to Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace. The late Princess Diana was at Launceston Place so often that they named a dish after her, the Soufflé Diana. Indulge in the tasting menu at lunch or dinner, with optional wine pairing for the ultimate in European cuisine. It was listed in the Top 100 Best Restaurants in the UK at the Estrella Dam National Restaurant Awards, 2023.
The refined, exquisite Chakra at Holland is bursting with authentic Indian flavours, beautiful decor and an al-fresco terrace. Promising ‘food for the soul’ which is uplifting and positively affects your wellbeing, Chakra’s won multiple awards and rave reviews from its customers. Look out for its own spice made with tequila, chilli and lemonade, naan bread cooked to perfection, and according to David, a butter chicken and Goan prawn curry that you absolutely must try.
If you’re a fan of Indian food, also try Dishoom for Bombay comfort food in Kensington.
If you fancy Mediterranean flavours, this delightful restaurant delivers them in abundance. Como Garden takes the Spanish concept of tapas and gives it an Italian twist. They have delicious regional Italian dishes from all over the country. Italian nibbles, handmade pasta, grilled/ fried/ marinated meat and seafood deliciousness. Oh and make sure you save room for the sublime desserts. Beautifully situated, just off the the High Street, at the top end of the magnificent Kensington Court conservation area, it’s a must-visit spot.
Authentic Japanese food beckons at Akira, situated on the first floor of Japan House, the cultural home of Japan in London. Based on Akira’s trinity of cooking principles; food, tableware and presentation, this Michelin starred restaurant is the place to experience a Japanese style afternoon tea with seasonal wagashi and sparkling sake. Watching the talented chefs cooking over robata flames (charcoal) is pure theatre.
Yashin Ocean House on Old Brompton Road is another amazing local Japanese restaurant.
What’s a ‘where to eat in Kensington’ guide without a proper British pub, and the Scarsdale in South Kensington is a blinder. Located in Edwardes Square in all its late Georgian splendour, you can gaze upon the Scarsdale’s blinding good looks (it may well be the handsomest pub in London) or you can step inside for comfort food and ale on tap.
As London restaurants go, the Ivy in West Street, central London, is one of the most famous. But the Ivy Kensington Brasserie, sitting neatly in Kensington High Street, has a charm all its own. Indulge in the set lunch menu at £22.95 for three courses. If you’re going a la carte, you’ll find everything from shepherds pie and fish and chips to Steak Tartare and Truffle Chicken Milanese. Then there’s the dream dessert of Madagascan Vanilla Cloud with warm chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream and hot yuzu caramel sauce. Pure decadence on a plate.
A much loved Kensington neighbourhood restaurant for over 40 years and the place where London Walks capos David and Mary celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. Maggie Jones’s is characterful, quirky and as cosy as a favourite jumper. Vintage plates, wicker baskets hanging from the beams, old dressers adorned with jugs, walk into Maggie’s and you’ll be transported to a rustic English country kitchen. It’s traditional English fare on the menu too, from pork belly with creamy mashed potatoes and apple sauce to roasted guinea fowl and Maggie’s fish pie. Maggie Jones’ apple crumble. Yum! As Maggie’s is dog friendly, your pooch can enjoy the experience too.
One of Kensington’s most important streets is Kensington Church Street, connecting Kensington to bohemian Notting Hill, and it’s here that you’ll find Ffiona’s. Their brunch is the stuff of legends, from a full English to French toast and fluffy buttermilk pancakes. For dinner, the house speciality is the chicken Kiev, a free-range chicken breast stuffed with garlic butter and served on a pink peppercorn sauce. True to their ethos of being “inclusive not exclusive”, they offer plenty of dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan options too.
Another Kensington Church Street diamond is the Churchill Arms Pub, known in London as much for its exterior festooned with flowers and hanging baskets – or Christmas trees and lights in December- as for its interior packed with WW2 memorabilia. It’s said that Winston Churchill’s grandparents frequented this pub, and Churchill’s legacy is very much on display at the Churchill Arms. As for the food, it’s Thai that’s on the menu here, from Pad Siew noodles to Kaeng Par curry.
When Babylon at The Roof Gardens in Kensington closed its doors in 2018, many mourned its loss, not least for the stunning London skyline views. But fear not, occupying the 10th floor of the Royal Gardens Hotel, Chinese restaurant Min Jiang has some of the best views in Kensington, looking out over Kensington Gardens and London beyond. They’re known for their divine wood-fired Beijing duck, prepared to an ancient Chinese recipe and presented in two servings, with both à la carte and dim sum menus.
Egyptian cuisine with French, Italian and Greek influences awaits at Alexandrie, blending traditional flavours from Egypt with more modern recipes too. For a real treat, go for the traditional six-course tasting menu for red lentil soup, oven-baked okra, slow-roasted shank of lamb and baklava or the modern alternative, featuring Mediterranean ratatouille, ethical foie parfait, sea bass and mango parfait.
This friendly pub is the perfect place to gather together with friends, and four-legged friends, to share good times and good food. A pub classic – the handmade Scotch Egg is the mark of home-cooked British pub food! On the lunch menu, the rosemary and garlic camembert baked in sourdough is perfect for sharing. Lots of eclectic global options too like Spiced Chickpea, Broccoli & Pomegranate Salad, Soft Shell Crab and Fillet of Cod with White Beans & Chorizo.
Kensington High Street is where you’ll find many of Kensington’s best eateries, like Italian, Il Portico, said to be London’s oldest family-run restaurant. Taste the fruits of over 6 decades and 4 generations of experience. Get stuck into Italian inspired antipasti, tapas, pasta like the handmade gnocchi with gorgonzola, nutmeg and walnuts, and risotto complete with wild mushrooms and the obligatory parmigiano.
Located in Thackeray Street, and styled on a traditional French café, this is the place to sit awhile at a pavement table with a croissant, coffee or a patisserie style treat. Dog friendly, the in house boulangerie makes the Montparnasse Café a winner for a lunchtime baguette or slice of homemade quiche. French street food at its best.
A Michelin starred eaterie in Kensington that achieves the relaxed neighbourhood vibe thanks to its tucked-away location and modern English fare with a French twist, which is on show in abundance in the 3 course set menu for £39.50. Get ready for delights like caramelised parmesan gnocchi with white asparagus, scorched Cornish mackerel, and gooseberry and elderflower fool.
A short stroll from the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park, and close to Gloucester Road, Grato in Kensington Square is a dog-friendly restaurant serving fresh, seasonal Italian fare. The prices, pretty reasonable for Kensington, are rather refreshing too! Choose to dine al fresco overlooking the oldest garden square in Kensington, upstairs in the beautiful eating quarter or downstairs in the private dining room (an excellent space for parties).
Taking its name for the Anglo-Saxon name for Kensington, Cheneston’s is within the 5-star Milestone Hotel opposite Kensington Palace. The building itself is a tour de force – dating back to 1883 it’s the frontispiece of the most beautiful “Conservation Area” in London (it’s got a brilliant cameo role on David’s Kensington Walk). Sophistication and elegance are the bywords Cheneston’s. The decadent and award-winning Royal Afternoon Tea is an exceptional experience. The dining is all about fine, contemporaryt British cuisine. Don’t miss the smoked salmon platter from London’s oldest smokery in the east end.
If Kensington’s on your must-visit list, check out the Royal Kensington Walk, guided by David or Adam. Starting at 2pm on a Thursday and Saturday, they’re an ideal after brunch/lunch stroll or pre-dinner walk.
Maggie Jones’ apple crumble. Yum!