Berber & Q

Best Middle Eastern Restaurants in London

Food & Drink /


It's labneh, halloumi and mezze galore at these hotspots

This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more

Hot for harissa? Obsessed with hummus? You’re in luck. Middle Eastern food is having a moment, with numerous restaurants across London drawing on different elements of the diverse cuisine. Read on for our top picks, from shawarma bars to Israeli food stalls and vegetarian neighbourhood restaurants.

Best Middle Eastern Restaurants in London

Photo 1 of
Berber & Q

Berber & Q

The brainchild of ex-Ottolenghi chef Josh Katz, Berber & Q was born in an old taxi repair shop tucked under a railway arch in Haggerston back in 2015. This grew into Berber & Q Grill House, which specialises in smoked and grilled dishes. When coming up with the menu, Josh drew upon his early years exploring the falafel shops and shawarma houses of north London – plus time spent travelling in the Middle East. Vegetables are just as important as meat here: harissa-spiced slow-roasted lamb and coffee-rubbed pork belly are standout dishes, but the cauliflower shawarma is also a must. A second branch followed the original, this one a Shawarma Bar in Exmouth Market, with a focus on slow-cooking on a rotating spit over hot coals. Sharing dishes take centre stage on this shorter menu, with a whole rotisserie chicken, aubergine bayaldi and kofte kebab all up for grabs alongside some excellent mezze plates. berberandq.com

Chameleon

Chameleon

Despite being located off a busy road in central London, there’s a tropical feel to Chameleon. The restaurant wraps around the base of One Marylebone, the former church designed by Sir John Soane, which is normally used as an events space. Guests can dine in God’s Garden, an al fresco lounge soundtracked by live music from the resident DJ, or set up camp in a wisteria-clad private greenhouse. From this botanical oasis, Israeli chef Elior Balbul and his team serve up a colourful menu of Tel Aviv-style sharing plates. Dishes are packed with flavour – with vegetables taking centre stage. The humble cabbage is braised and smoked before being spiced up with salsa verde and pecorino; while cauliflower is chargrilled and served with black lentil salad, saffron and cucumber gazpacho. A surprising highlight is the Fattoush salad, a fresh mix of datterini tomatoes, aubergine, feta and pita chips. It’s not all veggie though: there’s also succulent slow-cooked lamb with charred sweet potato, pan-fried squid with chickpeas, and sea bass with white asparagus, spinach and greens. chameleon.london

Read our full review here

Bala Baya

Bala Baya

Vibrant Israeli cuisine sits at the heart of Bala Baya, a buzzy eatery found beneath the Union Street railway arches in Southwark. It’s the first solo project from chef Eran Tibi, with a menu focused on family-style small plate dining. Everything is packed with flavour, with ingredients like harissa, tahini, sumac and oregano featuring heavily. There’s blackened aubergine with pomegranate, lamb dumplings with shawarma spice, sea bream ceviche and a fried cauliflower steak which gives ribeye a run for its money – alongside lashings of hummus and pita to mop it up. For dessert, the hazelnut and dark chocolate babka is a must. On the drinks side, the ‘Gazoz’ infusions are the star of the show. These old school Israeli sodas come in a range of fruity, herbal flavours and can be mixed with prosecco, vodka, gin or arak. The restaurant’s surroundings are equally lively, with minimalist décor combined with pops of colour, plus a mezzanine well suited to groups. balabaya.co.uk

Bubala

Bubala

This Spitalfields gem’s generous array of plant-centric dishes will persuade any meat lover to leave their carnivorous inclinations at the door. Located just a three-minute walk from Old Spitalfields Market, the neighbourhood restaurant has an intimate and exotic feel; think peach washed walls, a sprinkling of plants, and an emerald green-tiled bar where you can also sit, eat and soak up the buzzy atmosphere. Founded by Marc Summers (formerly manager at Berber & Q) and head chef Helen Graham – both with a background in Middle Eastern food – the restaurant’s warm and inviting ambience is only surpassed by its outstanding food and drink offering. From delightfully thick and chewy Laffa bread to tender halloumi in a sweet black seed honey, the ‘Bubala Knows Best’ set dinner menu is a culinary work of art. Expect the likes of creamy labneh (a thick yoghurt-like dish) with confit garlic and za’atar, indulgent fried aubergine with zhoug and date syrup, and a refreshing plate of vesuvio tomatoes and watermelon showered with curry leaf, basil, coconut and tamarind. bubala.co.uk

Read our full review here

Bababoom

BabaBoom

Kebabs often get a bad rap, but eateries like BabaBoom are changing perceptions. The low-key restaurant – which has branches in Battersea and Islington – promises to make the best kebabs you’ve ever tasted, which means cooking top-quality ingredients over charcoal and being creative with flavour combinations. That’s not all there is though: if you’re after something lighter there are colourful salads packed with za’atar croutons, sweet potato hummus, couscous and your choice of chicken shish, falafel, beef brisket or crispy halloumi. The whipped feta fries are also a must, as are the frozen margaritas. Peckish after a night out? BabaBoom is open late, making it the perfect post-night out dining spot. bababoom.london

Image from Instagram @bababoomlondon

Shuk, Borough Market

SHUK

Gorge on Israeli food at food stall SHUK in Borough Market, which serves up stuffed pitas and salads under head chef George Haslan, previously of Gordon Ramsay’s Maze Grill and Boundary London. Tel Aviv-style hot pitas are filled with the likes of lamb sofrito and pickled red cabbage; beef brisket and kimchee; or fish tagine and amba tahini – all topped with chilli yoghurt, mint and coriander. Alternatively opt for cold pitas, featuring everything from smoked salmon to aubergine to confit potato, or keep it healthy with a colourful salad, packed with bold ingredients including fennel, kohlrabi, beetroot, Pecorino and horseradish mascarpone. shuklondon.com

Image from Instagram @shuklondon

The Palomar, Soho

The Palomar

There was a huge buzz surrounding The Palomar when it opened in Soho back in 2014 – and eight years on, tables are still booked up weeks in advance. For more spontaneous diners, though, there’s a 16-seat kitchen bar where you can watch the chefs in action. The Palomar’s vibrant menu draws on the cultures of southern Spain, north Africa and the Levant, with dishes designed to be shared. Begin with some pita and dips from the ‘rip and dip’ section – there’s zucchini tahini, green olive labneh and harissa zhug. The menu is then split up into fish, meat and vegetables, all boasting interesting flavour combinations: bream comes with Israeli kimchi, for instance, while prawns are served with a slow-cooked leek salad and preserved lemon yoghurt. On the vegetables front, the aubergine is a winner, grilled with tahini and topped with cucumber yoghurt and cherry tomatoes. Founders Layo and Zoë Paskin have since opened a number of sister venues, including The Barbary in Seven Dials – also well-worth a visit. thepalomar.co.uk

READ MORE

Where To Eat Indian Food in London / Soho’s Hottest Restaurants