London’s Oldest Restaurants

…and what they look like now

London's oldest restaurants

Many restaurants lay claim to being the oldest in the world. One thing’s for sure; it isn’t in London. Thanks in part to the Great Fire of 1666, many of this city’s eating establishments were wiped out, but London’s oldest restaurants still date back hundreds of years, including one which is even older than the USA (well, technically it’s a tavern, but the criteria for this list is that it must be a predominantly food-serving establishment…I’ll get to London’s oldest pubs another time).

Simpsons Tavern

Established: 1757

Founded by Thomas Simpson having been gifted the site by his father. Ladies were first admitted in 1916!

Cuisine: Traditional British
Dish to try: Beef & Real Ale Pie
Address: Ball Court, 38½ Cornhill, London, EC3V 9DR
Neighbourhood: Tucked away in an alley just behind the Bank Of England, this area is full of financial companies and dates back to Roman times.
Stay: Vintry & Mercer

London's oldest restaurants - Simpsons Tavern
London's oldest restaurants - Rules

Rules

Established: 1798

Original features of the restaurant have been carefully preserved. It has appeared in both James Bond’s Spectre and Downton Abbey.

Cuisine: Traditional British
Dish to try: Roast Breast of Pheasant
Address: 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7LB
Neighbourhood: Covent Garden is an elegant pedestrianised piazza dating to 1654.
Stay: The Resident

Simpsons in the Strand

Established: 1828

Starting off as a smoking club, this restaurant became a famous venue for chess, as reflected in the decor.

Cuisine: Traditional British
Dish to try: Sunday roast
Address: 100 Strand, London, WC2R 0EW
Neighbourhood: Between Covent Garden and the river, the Strand is one of London’s swankiest streets.
Stay: One Aldwych

Wiltons

Established: 1840 (although moved to Jermyn Street in 1984)

The original Wilton was a fishmonger in 1742. His business passed on to his son. It stayed in the family until 1886.

Cuisine: Fish
Dish to try: Oysters
Address: 55 Jermyn Street St James’s, London, SW1Y 6LX
Neighbourhood: A quiet area with busy, glamorous Piccadilly just one street over.
Stay: Haymarket Hotel

Kettner’s

Established: 1867

One of London’s first French restaurants, this gorgeous place has retained many original features.

Cuisine: American/European
Dish to try: Ahi tuna carpaccio
Address: 29 Romilly St, London W1D 5HP
Neighbourhood: Perfectly positioned between the bars and buzz of Soho (the centre of London’s LGBT+ community), and Chinatown.
Stay: The Soho Hotel

London's oldest restaurants - Sweetings

Sweetings

Established: 1889

Only open for lunch Mon-Fri. John Sweetings began as an oyster merchant in 1830 before founding this seafood institution.

Cuisine: Seafood
Dish to try: Sweetings Fish Pie
Address: 39 Queen Victoria St, London EC4N 4SF
Neighbourhood: Near famous St Paul’s cathedral, and the skyscrapers of The City.
Stay: Apex Temple Court

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