Best-of Guides Greater London

The Best Counter Restaurants In London

7 Restaurants
There’s always something special about eating at a counter and, in London, they come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re after ringside seats to watch the chefs hard at it in an open-kitchen or are just grabbing a bite on your own and want some tips on cocktail making from a friendly bartender, a seat at a counter can make you feel both in the know and part of the action. Here are a few of our favourites. Some only offer counter seating; others have tables too.
Updated on 14 August 2023
Bar des Prés
16 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4HW London
££££ · Asian

With its chic style and attentive service, this restaurant is perfectly pitched for its Mayfair address. What it lacks in space it certainly makes up for in opulence; there’s a buzz in the air – and the impressive marble counter is naturally the place to sit. Fun, modern, Japanese-influenced dishes include sushi, California rolls, spicy salads and miso cod; chef Cyril Lignac is French, so his luxury comfort food also comes with a Gallic touch. Desserts are his speciality!

20 Sidworth Street, London Fields, E8 3SD London
££££ · Modern British

They take counter dining to another level at Behind, with dining taking place at a smart, polished horseshoe counter that accommodates 18 and provides a certain degree of luxury. The name refers to the ‘behind the scenes’ view you have of the kitchen team, as they work away with an impressive air of calm – and their cooking demonstrates originality, alongside well-judged flavours and contrasts. The chefs serve each dish from the tasting menu themselves, adding an enjoyable dose of personality to the pleasingly relaxed proceedings.

Bocca di Lupo
12 Archer Street, Soho, WID 7BB London
££ · Italian

Restaurants can come and go quickly in Soho, but Jacob Kenedy’s Bocca di Lupo is already something of a landmark. It’s been deservedly busy from day one, and those in the know sit at the marble counter. The extensive daily changing menu covers all the Italian classics, with the region of origin noted against each dish. Sharing is the most appealing option, the flavours don’t hold back, and over-ordering is easy to do. Afterwards, nip across the road to Gelupo for their famous gelato.

2 St James’s Market, St James’s, SW1Y 4RP London
££ · Modern British

If you like to feel like you’re part of the action, then this buzzing restaurant is just what you’re looking for. The open kitchen is certainly a key feature of the dining room, and a seat in front of the chefs will make you feel like you’re almost one of the team. It’s a restaurant full of energy, serving boldly flavoured dishes with a sustainable theme running throughout. There’s a good selection for vegetarians and ingredients are treated with a low-waste, ‘use everything’ approach. If you order anything with mushrooms, there’s a good chance they were grown in the basement!

1 Park Road, Haringey, N8 8TE London
££ · Seafood

You'll find the words 'Seafood' and 'Wine Bar' written above the door at this brightly painted former shop in Crouch End, so head to the appealing, French bistro-style counter faced with colourful tiles and classic Bentwood stools and order some oysters and a glass of English fizz. While they do offer a few meat dishes, the real appeal lies in the daily changing seafood menu: influences are global, and their fin-to-scale ethos means they use every part of the fish.

61 Rupert Street, Soho, W1D 7PW London
££ · Sri Lankan

This on-trend restaurant’s pared-back, industrial-meets-contemporary setting features an unpolished concrete counter as well as a window counter and individual booths, where Soho diners can enjoy Sri Lankan cuisine inspired by the modern bistros in Colombo. Vibrant, boldly flavoured sharing plates fuse family recipes with British, Portuguese, Malay, South Indian and Dutch influences, which make for a colourful, well-balanced and very enjoyable experience.

Unit 7, Queens Yard, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN London
£££ · British Contemporary

Brighton’s loss was London’s gain when Douglas McMaster re-located his zero-waste restaurant to Hackney Wick back in 2019. It’s all about a sustainable ethos here, which runs throughout the whole experience from the food to the furniture, and includes a long, stylish counter made from recycled plastic bottles. The largely plant-based menu opens with homemade ‘siloaf’ bread – made using their own house-milled flour – and is followed by the likes of merit mushrooms with wild garlic and miso. All this makes Silo a worthy recipient of a Michelin Green Star.