We love restaurants here at LOTI and we’re very big on supporting women (on International Women’s Day, and every other day), so given that the hospitality industry is still dominated by men, we’ve rounded up our fave female-led restaurants in town to shine a light on some of the amazing women in the biz.
Selin Kiazim, Oklava
You’ve probably caught her cooking on the telly – she competed and won on Great British Menu back in 2017 – but where you get to see what Selin Kiazim is really all about is her modern Turkish restaurant Oklava. The menu includes treats like courgette, feta and mint fritters; beef short rib pide; crispy pomegranate glazed lamb breast; and house-baked bread with epic medjool date butter.
74 Luke St, London EC2A 4PY
Alex Hely-Hutchinson, Stoney Street by 26 Grains
Alex Hely-Hutchinson, founder of 26 Grains in Neal’s Yard, went south of the river to expand her empire, opening Stoney Street by 26 Grains on the eponymous street by Borough Market in 2019. Tom Cenci leads the kitchen, with porridges and grains Alex made her name with on the daytime menu alongside pastries, tarts, galettes and lunch dishes, before a proper dinner service comes on in the evenings.
2-3 Stoney Street, Borough, SE1 9AA
Sally Abé, The Pem
After leading the kitchen at the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms, Sally Abé movd to the Conrad London St James to oversee the food and drink offerings at the hotel. As well as The Blue Boar pub, she also runs The Pem, named after the pet name for suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. She’s taken that inspo right through the team with women in the senior roles – Laetizia Keating (ex-Harwood Arms) as Head Chef and Emma Underwood (ex-Darby’s) as General Manager – and it’s where she showcases her style of cooking classic combos with a refined new spin to a tee.
22-28 Broadway, London SW1H 0BH
Asma Khan, Darjeeling Express
Self-taught cook Asma Khan (who was the first UK chef to star in Netflix’s Chef’s Table) took Darjeeling Express from a supper club to a tiny spot in Kingly Court to the Covent Garden restaurant it is today. It takes inspiration from Asma’s royal Indian ancestry and growing up in the Bengali streets of Calcutta – the biryanis are particularly special – and she runs the restaurant with an all-female team in the kitchen.
2a Garrick St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9BH
Ruth Hansom, Princess of Shoreditch
Gastropub The Princess of Shoreditch, headed by up Great British Menu chef Ruth Hansom currently boasts 3 AA Rosettes (the only pub in London with this honour) and was also awarded Newcomer of the Year at the Top 50 Gastropubs Awards at the start of 2022. The pub is split in two, with the downstairs bar serving an a la carte menu of elevated pub grub (burgers and nachos it ain’t), and a more formal dining room up top with modern British five- or eight-course tasting menus on offer.
76–78 Paul Street, London, EC2A 4NE
Dipna Anand, Dipna’s Restaurant & Bar
Dipna Anand, who owns Brilliant Restaurant in Southall, also runs Dipna’s Restaurant & Bar in the South Wing of Somerset House. It’s a showcase for the Punjabi and South Indian food that Dipna and her family have been cooking for generations, with dishes like samosa chaat blast, dynamite wings, Dehli makhani chicken, South Indian prawn curry, meat and veggie thalis, and gulab jamun on the menu.
Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Grace Regan, SpiceBox
After a successful run on the street food circuit with KERB, Grace Regan opened the first permanent SpiceBox location in Walthamstow in January 2019 and she’s since added a second site in Leytonstone. The menu is modern Indian with plenty of nods to the iconic British curry house, featuring classic dishes reimagined with a plant-based spin, like jackfruit jalfrezi, shroom keema, and the award-winning red lentil tarka dhal.
58 Hoe St, London E17 4PG
686 Leytonstone High Road, London, E11 3AA
Adejoké Bakare, Chisuru
Adejoké Bakare was a talented home cook who became a head chef when she won the amateur category of 2019’s Brixton Kitchen competition and landed a spot on Market Row. Since then, she’s turned that space into critically-acclaimed West African restaurant Chishuru. Born in the first year of the pandemic, Chishuru is a true success story having built and maintained not only a well-deserved customer base but also critical acclaim – all in the challenging face of on-and-off lockdowns.
9 Market Row, Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8LB
Margot Henderson & Melanie Arnold, Rochelle Canteen
Rochelle Canteen, run by Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold, has long been one of London’s favourite spots. Housed in a former school bike shed on Arnold Circus in Shoreditch, accessible only through an unmarked door that, when buzzed in, leads you through a pretty garden and to a small dining room, it’s always been a hidden spot for Londoners to enjoy. Aside from being an excellent setting to enjoy a leisurely meal, the cooking is really quite good too, with simplicity and seasonality being the order of the day,
16 Playground Gardens, London E2 7FA
Mandy Yin, Sambal Shiok
Starting out with a food stall in 2013 – which grew into a pop-up and now a celebrated bricks and mortar fixture on Holloway Street – laksa restaurant Sambal Shiok is headed up by self-taught chef Mandy Yin. Taking inspiration from the food she would eat as a child, the restaurant serves up a variety of Malaysian dishes, with a focus on her deservedly cult Malaysian Nyonya curry laksa.
171 Holloway Road, London, N7 8LX
Jane Alty, The Begging Bowl
Originally from New Zealand, Jane Alty discovered her love of Thai cuisine while travelling in Asia and followed that love to working at Michelin-starred Nahm under renowned chef David Thompson, both in London and Bangkok. Feeling that London sorely lacked the real flavours of Thailand, Jane co-founded Thai restaurant The Begging Bowl in Peckham, which has a menu of dishes from every province of Thailand made with authentic, specialist ingredients.
168 Bellenden Road, London SE15 4BW
Erchen Chang, BAO
Brains behind the BAO restaurants, along with co-founders Wai Ting and Shing Tat Chung, Erchen Chang is often credited with popularising the steamed buns in London. As a kid in Taiwan, Erchen would grab dinner at local night markets, forming her interest in street food that led her to start BAO as a stall. Since then, BAO has exploded across London with restaurants in Fitzrovia, Borough Market, Soho, Shoreditch and King’s Cross as well as a spin-off delivery brand Rice Error.
Monica Galetti, Mere
Another woman you’ll have caught on your screens (she’s been a judge on Masterchef: The Professionals since 2008) Monica Galetti is chef proprietor of Mere in Fitzrovia. Fine dining and Fitzrovia go hand-in-hand and Mere is no outlier, with dishes as delicious as they are elegantly assembled and flavours influenced by France (she spent many years working under Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche) and her native Samoa.
74 Charlotte St, London W1T 4QH
Ellen Parr, Lucky & Joy
Ellen Parr wanted to set up a Chinese-inspired restaurant with that perfect mix of good food and a casual, fun environment, just like the ones she’d visited in NYC. She and her co-founder Pete Kelly went travelling around China and came home with a whole raft of recipes and the inspiration behind Lucky & Joy. Their spot in Clapham has a retro, kitsch aesthetic, with checkbox menus, neon chopsticks and colourful artwork, perfectly capturing that fun vibe.
95 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, London E5 0NP