Looking for the best seat in the house? Then look no further than London’s kitchen-side counter dining restaurants. Closer to the food? Check. Closer to the agile chef action? Check. Closer to the cocktails? Check, check and check (…one for every espresso martini consumed).

Thanks to stool-space only restaurants and intimate chef-to-table experiences, eating at the counter’s no longer something to turn your nose up at in favour of a table. From plush bar stools and 6-course kebab tasting menus, to cheese conveyor belts, sumptuous small plates and theatrical kitchen action, here are some of the most sought-after counter seats in town.


Looking for a chic spot in Soho? Firebird is a women-owned Mediterranean restaurant and wine bar that’s modern, intimate, and a feast for the senses. Tuck into a menu of open-fire dishes that throws out the rulebook, from signature snacks like Bloody Mary corn ribs, to starters like Halloumi with truffle and apricot (divine) and the signature main, scallops with mashed potato, truffle, peas and parsley oil. Finish with the can’t-miss pistachio tiramisu.

The extensive wine list is full of small, natural, and biodynamic producers, so make sure to ask the sommelier to pick one that perfectly matches your feast.

Where: 29 Poland St, London W1F 8QR
Website: www.firebirdlondon.co.uk

Bar des Prés

The second outpost of Parisian chef Cyril Lignac’s restaurant, Bar des Prés in Mayfair boasts both bar-side dining and booths, alongside a stellar sushi menu you won’t want to miss. Paired alongside a cocktail or bottle of wine to share, book your spot at the bar to see what it’s all about. 

Where: 16 Albemarle St, London W1S 4HW
Website: www.bardespres.com

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Enter the world of plant-based Middle-Eastern feasting at Bubala, where sitting at the main counter you can order the likes of Whipped carrot, chilli pickled raisins and coriander oil; Halloumi with black seed honey, and Charred oyster mushroom skewers with tamari, coriander seed and agave.

Plant-based counter-dining so good, you won’t miss the meat at all.

Plant-based counter-dining so good, you won’t miss the meat at all.

Where: 65 Commercial St, London E1 6BD
Website: www.bubala.co.uk

The Barbary

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The Barbary has gained quite the reputation in Seven Dials. With a buzzy vibe and adventurous dishes inspired by the Barbary Coast and Israeli influences, the counter dining experience (which seats just 24) is second to none.

Expect joyful, flavour-packed small plates and bright, bold flavours.

Where: 16 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP
Website: www.thebarbary.co.uk

Pick & Cheese

It wouldn’t be a counterside dining guide without including a countertop conveyor belt of cheese. And with bottomless cheese and charcuterie every Wednesday for 1hr and 15 mins, you’ll be wobbling out of here from a blur of brie.

With bottomless cheese and charcuterie, you’ll be wobbling out of here from a blur of brie.

Where: Seven Dials Market, Short’s Gardens, London WC2H 9AT
Website: www.thecheesebar.com/seven-dials


Barrafina is famously known for its counter dining because, well, that’s all that’s available! Each restaurant boasts an intimate number of stools and is known for its extraordinary tapas dishes, marble-topped bars, and chic red leather stools with views into open kitchens.

Work your way through ham croquetas, gambas rojas, and prawn and piquillo pepper tortillas, and wash it all down with a glass of manzanilla.

Where: Multiple Locations
Website: www.barrafina.co.uk


The best seat in the house at Bibi is counter-topped, kitchen-side, and right next to the action. Expect contemporary food with recognisable Indian flavours, like their signature juicy Sharmaji’s Lahori Chicken, and buttery-soft lamp chop barra.

Where: 42 N Audley St, London W1K 6ZP
Website: www.bibirestaurants.com

The Grill at The Dorchester

Who knew one of London’s most iconic hotels was also home to counter-dining with desserts? Grab a seat at The Dorchester’s Pudding Bar and enjoy a front-row seat to the chefs in action as you select your final course.

Choose between puddings like the coffee and cream soft serve with hazelnuts, Pedro Ximenez sherry and Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee.

Where: 53 Park Ln, London W1K 1QA
Website: www.dorchestercollection.com

Pasta e Pizza

Get yourself down to Eataly, grab a countertop seat, and tuck into splendid dishes alongside an unbeatable view of their chefs at work. While ‘pasta and pizza’ are just the tip of the Italian (and Eatalian) iceberg, there’s a reason these two culinary staples are the most beloved exports of the Italian peninsula. At Pasta e Pizza, the dough is leavened for 50 hours total to create a light and fluffy pizza base, and their traditional pasta is served perfectly al dente for a deliciously unforgettable experience.

Where: 135 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3YD
Website: www.eataly.co.uk/restaurants


From the Japanese term, “kaunta seki”, Temaki in Brixton is counter-dining only, letting guests watch the chef prepare their meal Kappo-style (directly in front of them at the counter).

Freshly rolled temaki, made from vinegared red Uruchiamai rice, are handed directly to you from across the counter. Best eaten immediately.

Freshly rolled temaki are handed directly to you from across the counter.

Where: 12 Market Row, London SW9 8LB
Website: www.temaki.co.uk

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This highly sought-after restaurant may be booked up two months in advance but one step inside and you can see why. Headed by chef Daisuke Hayashi, the restaurant serves up traditional Japanese kaiseki, a multi-course dinner that shows off the skills and techniques of Hayashi. Every ounce of this restaurant is inspired by Japan, through to the interiors that were even made in Kyoto and shipped specially to London. It’s a true delight and worth visiting if you get the chance.

where: 12 New Quebec Street, W1H 7RW
Website: www.roketsu.co.uk


Pull up a pew at Temper and dig into their sumptuous offerings of melt-in-your-mouth sweet and sour pork ribs, cheeseburger tacos, or brisket with Tajín on house-made paratha.

Meat over open flames is the vibe at Temper, and a seat at the bar is the best way to soak up the action happening at the theatrical central firepit.

Where: Multiple Locations
Website: www.temperrestaurant.com

Kebab Queen

Ask an in-the-know Londoner to recommend counter-dining in Covent Garden and they’ll likely reply Kebab Queen. With a countertop that’s heated in places so the chef can cook your food, literally, right in front of you, the counter is right at the heart of the action.

It’s an intimate 10-seat dining experience, with a 6-course tasting menu only, but it’s something really quite special that must be tried. 

An intimate 10-seat dining experience with a 6-course tasting menu.

Where: 4 Mercer Walk, London WC2H 9FA
Website: www.eatlebab.com/kebab-queen

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Kama By Vineet

For upmarket counter-dining, Kama by Vineet is a must-try. Located inside Harrods Dining Hall, this restaurant from the world’s first Michelin-star Indian chef serves up jaw-droppingly good food.

Unsurprisingly, these are some of the plushest, comfiest counter seats in London. It is Harrods, after all – only the best for your bum cheeks.

Where: Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL
Website: www.kamarestaurant.co.uk

J Sheekey

If you’re looking to get your seafood fix, head to J Sheekey’s for mouth-watering oysters and their legendary fish pie. Treat yourself to a selection of dishes and sip a martini or three while perched on plush counter stools.

Where: 28-32 St Martin’s Ct, London WC2N 4AL
Website: www.j-sheekey.co.uk

Kricket Soho

One place that knows how to put some epic food on the counter is Soho’s Kricket. Counter-diners can expect to perch on awesome pink stools as you tuck into small plates from Kerala-fried chicken and samphire pakoras to grilled butternut squash and mussels.

The extensive menu keeps the chefs busy kitchen-side, and you’re perfectly positioned to watch them work their culinary magic.

Where: 12 Denman St, London W1D 7HJ
Website: www.kricket.co.uk/soho

Home House

Home House, London’s iconic private members club, is spread across three exquisite Georgian townhouses, offers a number of stunning bars ideal for counter-dining.  The Restaurant, The Bison Bar, and The House Bar provide stunning surroundings to savour the variety of menus which take guests on a culinary journey, from great British classics to exotic and innovative sharing dishes. 

WHERE: 20 Portman Square, London W1H 6LW
WEBSITE: homehouse.co.uk

Arcade Tottenham Court Road

Arcade’s first food hall, situated in the iconic Centre Point building, houses 7 open kitchens that travel the world from Middle Eastern shawarma to US-style smash burgers, meaning you can pick and choose which cuisine you like to sample.

Furthermore, its standalone cocktail bar, Centre Point Bar, serves drinks using fresh market ingredients which mirror the flavours of the kitchens. 

WHERE: 103-105 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1DB
WEBSITE: arcadefoodhall.com

Pizarro Bermondsey

Pizarro Bermondsey is José Pizarro’s second London restaurant, located just one block away from José’s original tapas bar on Bermondsey Street.

The restaurant serves a menu of small tapas style and more substantial dishes that can be served as starters and mains or as tapas for sharing. The food is influenced by José’s passion for the best quality seasonal Spanish produce cooked in an open kitchen, including classics like Iberica ham, gambas al ajillo, and bluefin tuna.

WHERE: 194 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3TQ
WEBSITE: josepizarro.com

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