Top 10: Middle Eastern Restaurants in LondonBy Lucy Mansfield
Looking for the most amazing Middle Eastern restaurants in London? The search ends here; escape London’s banality and step into a Levantine world with these 10 magnificent Middle Eastern restaurants. You can taste everything from tender, grilled kebabs to fresh, seasonal vegetarian dishes and artisan wines. If you want to eat the real deal in Israel – try exploring the programmes on offer by Masa Israel, discover their internships, courses and experiences here. Let’s chat kebabs:
The Lowdown: One of our favourite Middle Eastern restaurants in London; a Palestinian vegetarian café serving organic, plant-based food. Owner Hana Haj Ahmad makes the dishes from recipes that have been handed down through generations. Come and bask in the artistic atmosphere, with the waiters friendly and on hand to help with any menu dilemmas. And it’s not just the food that sticks to tradition, the decor features Palestinian photographic portraits and other works of art.
Eat and Drink: Indulge in soft and fluffy chickpeas and freshly baked manakish flatbread roasted with cheese and thyme. If you’re in the mood for something on the lighter side, try the cauliflower and lentil soup accompanied by fava beans – tasty and moreish. Best washed down with their sweet honey white wine. If you’re the adventurous type, try the jalab, a date-syrup and rosewater drink with pine nuts.
Gimme More: Tatreez comes alive at weekends with bands, singers and events. Get down for their famed gypsy nights, it’s a hit with the local crowd.
Where: 188 Stoke Newington High Street N16 7JD
The Lowdown: A hidden gem on Islington Green’s busy high street, Afghan Kitchen is a taste of Afghanistan’s rich culture and heritage – and definitely one of our favourite Middle Eastern restaurants in London. The simple interior is more than made up for by the eclectic, vibrant food. Its compact dining room gives it a cozy feel, and the concise menu boasts all kinds of Middle Eastern fare, which is all superb and unbelievably cheap.
Eat and Drink: Warm homemade bread, comforting stews, sweet pumpkin and mouthwatering baklava, which entice you back time and time again.
Gimme More: Make sure you book in advance, this place fills up quickly.
Where: 35 Islington Green N1 8DU
Lowdown: Stumble in to Tas Firin after dark and you will be well looked after. This intimate, relaxed restaurant serves traditional Eastern Turkish dishes cooked in a wood-fired stone oven. Eastern Turkish cuisine combines the flavours of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa. The food reflects this exciting fusion with natural ingredients, all sourced locally.
Eat and drink: Unleash yourself on their epic shawarma and lamb chops and wash them down with a chilled Turkish beer (Efes). Don’t let this be an end to your foodie journey, continue this pilgrimage with a baby prawn salad. Be sure to enter with a gargantuan appetite as you’ll need all the room you can find.
Gimme more: Tas Firin will deliver to your door through Deliveroo. Check out their menu online here.
Where: 160 Bethnal Green Rd E2 6DG
The Lowdown: Shimmy east to Devonshire Square and sneak in to Kenza. The name, meaning treasure in Arabic, is a true reflection of the quality. A Lebanese treasure trove, let yourself be charmed by Arabian hospitality. Relax into the satin cushions, and snuggle up to your date beside the fountains garnished with rose petals. On your way out, sip a bespoke cocktail from the Lounge Bar.
Eat and Drink: Kenza’s menu is a medley of Levantine cuisine; a rich selection of authentic homemade plates including classic tagines, assorted mezze (a selection of hot and cold starters) and heritage Middle Eastern wines are served.
Gimme More: An express lunch menu is on offer (under 20 minutes if required) where you can order hearty, flavorsome salads for under £10. What a steal.
Where: 10 Devonshire Square EC2M 4YP
The Lowdown: In 2009, British born Rosie French and Ellie Grace started a blog and supper club dedicated to Middle Eastern delights. Within a year, they won an Observer Food Monthly award and their culinary adventure took off. They opened French & Grace in Brixton Village in October 2011 and published their first cookbook called Kitchen & Co. One of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in London, they combine Middle Eastern flavours and rustic British style to create a unique blend of soul-warming food.
Eat and Drink: An eclectic mix of grub is on offer. A Full English brekkie with a twist is a local favourite alongside gourmet coffee, local ales and independent wines. Sticky toffee pudding transports you to another dimension. Seriously.
Gimme More: Buy some chorizo jam on the way out for your dad. Always goes down a treat.
Where: Unit 19, First Avenue, Brixton Village Market SW9 8PR
The Lowdown: Chez Vous translates as ‘your house’, a warm and welcoming, family-run business that has been going for the past two years – and one of the most popular Middle Eastern restaurants in London. One of the owners, Hassan, comes from a family of restauranteurs and boy, does he know what he’s doing. This is Lebanese food at its finest with his stand out dish the grilled seabass, which is light and delicious.
Eat and Drink: For an excellent brunch or lunch deal choose any 3 mezzes and 1 main. The mains include sizzling meats (chicken and lamb), and seasonal vegetable dishes. One that is quite popular is the Shekh Mehsi – a cracking combination of grilled aubergines with mince lamb, peppers, garlic and tomatoes served with rice and garlic yogurt. The tabbouleh salad is just heavenly – perfect for that hot summer’s day.
Gimme more: It’s BYOB, which is perfect for that boozy lunch on a Friday afternoon with a work colleague when the boss is away.
Where: 102 Mitcham Road, Tooting Broadway SW17 9NG
The Lowdown: 12 years in the making, Honey and Co is a labour of love, and rightly, probably the most popular Middle Eastern restaurants in London. Israeli couple Sarit and Itamar have been slaving away over a stove since they were five; their love and commitment is really expressed in the restaurant’s homely atmosphere and inventive cuisine.
Eat and Drink: Try the summer menu, it’s great for groups to share. The sea bream and chickpea stew is unbelievable, and the roasted chicken in yogurt and harissa is a sterling choice. The vegetarian option of spiced aubergine with caramelized onion is a definite highlight. And, for weekend types, the big breakfast on their saturday menu will banish any hangover, with all their dishes generously portioned.
Gimme More: The signature soft cheesecake is to die for. You must order it.
Where: 25a Warren Street, W1T 5LZ
The Lowdown: Looking for one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in London for a taste of Morocco? Levant is a colourful escape from the chaos of Oxford Street, which draws you in with its outlandish furnishings, and its serious Middle Eastern menu.
Eat and Drink: Platters to share fit in with the sociable vibe – nothing better than falafel, aubergine and hummus. Try the melt-in-the-mouth moussaka which is a great vegetarian option. Try the exotic Arabian kiss cocktail to get things moving with a shoddy date.
Gimme More: Bring along your 90s belly top and impress your date with your well-rehearsed belly dancing moves with the dancers.
Where: 76 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 2SJ
The Lowdown: Simurgh is the first Iranian restaurant located in Soho. Considering the location, you’d expect high prices and shoddy portions, but it exceeds all expectations. It brings you extraordinary Persian recipes served on large platters, perfect for a raucous crowd. With tantalising live Persian sounds sassed up with belly dancers and an electrifying interior, it is a perfect way to start your evening.
Eat and Drink: The juicy saffron chicken kebab will not let you down or if you’re feeling particularly hungry with your companions go for the mixed grill.
Gimme More: Try the Persian tea after your meal and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Where: 17 Garrick St WC2E 9BL
The Lowdown: A fifth addition to the Ottolenghi empire, Nopi located in Soho is home to some of his trademarks dishes, served in a very different environment to his other branches. The white washed marble, golden fittings, and dynamic art along with a fast paced atmosphere makes Nopi a perfect place for a leisurely lunch or dinner with the gals. It may not be a dedicated Middle Eastern restaurant, but believe us – the food is top notch.
Eat and Drink: There is an eclectic pre-theatre menu with light, fresh meats and seasoned vegetables. The service is impeccable. The rare but affordable wines will suffice the taste buds.
Gimme More: Nopi’s basement is available to hire for groups up to 28; perfect for a birthday bash. It’s one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in London for a reason, people.
Where: 21-22 Warwick St W1B 5NE