King’s Cross feels like one of London’s busiest areas. Getting a desk at the British Library is akin to getting into Berghain. Hordes of people wait, willingly, inside a train station to get a picture with a non-existent fake platform. Hordes of people wait, impatiently, to get on a train home. Plus the students. They’re everywhere. And then, after all of that lot, you’ve got the ones who are there to eat and drink. Thankfully there are a decent amount of places within ten minutes of the station for those people to choose from. The best of them are in this guide.
Decimo is the kind of loud and proud, evening-only restaurant that you go to for a big, cool birthday, or to lean against the DJ booth in a velvet tux hoping to get discovered by the person that signed Grimes. On the tenth floor of The Standard, this flashy restaurant with skyline views isn’t just for people watching and rubbing shoulders with London media types, you’ll also find some pretty great cocktails and Mexican-inspired food here too. Expect big prices, but for the pork tacos and buzzing atmosphere, it’s totally worth it.
When you first walk into this pastel-coloured spot in Coal Drops Yard, it might be hard to accept that it’s a real restaurant rather than some form of pasta fantasy dreamed up by Italy’s answer to Martha Stewart, or someone high on Parma Violets. Between the mint green walls, cute retro deli feel, and excellent handmade pasta, it’s hard to resist this place’s charms. If you happen to work in the area, you’re in luck - at their deli counter you can buy everything from rich bombolino, made-to-order sandwiches, to £6 pots of pasta classics to go.
The only place beginning with a D with longer and more consistent lines than Dishoom is a theme park that serves giant turkey legs to families looking to hug an adult in a mouse costume. None of that goes on at Dishoom King’s Cross, but you will have to wait a while for your chicken ruby or bacon and egg naan. The good news is that the food’s worth the wait.
There’s something a little slick and soulless about the latest Barrafina location. The bricky metallicness of the whole place feels very Heathrow Terminal 5 but, thankfully, most of the food stands up even in this odd atmosphere. The move here is not to have a blow out meal, but a few plates - the tortilla for sure - and a glass or two of wine. It’ll probably still add up a bit, because this place isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s the best way to approach Barrafina’s gleaming counter.
For all the cold hard cash packed into Granary Square and Coal Drops Yard, it’s actually Caledonian Road where you want to head to for a meal around here. Kaki is a Chinese restaurant where the menu options go into triple figures. Don’t let that put you off though, because this is a restaurant you want to come back to a couple of times. The food moves around different regions of China, meaning you can try everything from a hot pot or meatballs, to mapo tofu. There’s also one huge round table, lazy Susan and all, that’s ideal for a big group.
Londoners are in a pretty fortunate position when it comes to Thai food. Quantity and quality wise. Supawan, at the bottom end of Cally Road, offers some of the best in the city. It’s a pretty understated restaurant, with a simple and comfortable set up that suits small groups as well as large. That’s where the understatement ends though, as the food is quite the opposite. This is slap in the face stuff. Not literally, but flavours from things like the crispy rice salad and stuffed chicken wings hit you hard and happily.
Although the German Gymnasium is bang opposite King’s Cross station, and often completely chocka, this enormous building is still a reliable and convenient choice for a quick bit of currywurst or schnitzel. Crowds often congregate downstairs, probably next to something rose or gold, so we recommend heading to the galleried section upstairs for a bit of air.
Happy Face is a very big, very-child friendly all-day pizza spot in the basement of one of those slightly nondescript buildings that have popped up behind Kings Cross. Unless you’re the type who takes offence at simple things done well, there is very little to offend you here. The wood-fired pizzas are as light and doughy as they should be, and the tomato sauce on the £6.50 margherita is as sweet and rich as you’ll find anywhere in London. All of which makes this place well worth a visit before or after a film at the Everyman upstairs, or if you’re at Granary Square or Coal Drops Yard looking for an inexpensive meal.
If you’re looking for an enormous space with exposed brickwork, baked eggs, and high enough ceilings for a loud debrief of the night before, look no further than Caravan. There are a few of these non-stop cafe-restaurants in London, but the King’s Cross one is our favourite day-time one. In summer, it’s an excellent spot to sit outside on Granary Square, but, if the weather’s not so hot, there’s plenty of room inside too.
The Lighterman is one of those places that’s a bit occasion specific. Not in a fancy way. More like in a ‘you’re only going to use it in a very certain way’ way. That way involves its huge terrace and canal-side location. Meaning this is a couple of pints and some jamon type of place. It gets pack out in the evening, so use it as a pit stop to keep you going before having a full meal elsewhere.
If you’re looking for something a bit more lowkey, that also involves meat and wine, then try Pepito. This little Spanish restaurant is ideal as a casual date spot, or for a little get together with friends. Basically anyone you’re comfortable taking the last slice of jamon from. It’s a pretty solid option for when you want a bite and a drink. Or even a flight of sherry.
Beer and Burger is a casual burger spot down the side of the Granary Square Waitrose, and if you’re willing to rub shoulders with (thankfully fast moving) hordes of local workers on a weekday night, it’s as good a place as any to grab a quick drink and a bite. They have 20 beers on tap, so whether you’re here with a crowd of friends for several rounds and some food, or popping in for a solo cheeseburger and some deep fried jalapenos on your way home, you almost certainly won’t regret it.
Sometimes the seat in Pret next to the plug point just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you need a bolthole - for work or conversation - that offers a little bit more comfort. That’s exactly what Spiritland offers King’s Cross. This trying-to-be-cool-but-actually-quite-nice cafe and bar is ideal to pitch up in for an hour or two. The food is fine - don’t expect anything to blow you away - but the music and relaxed atmosphere make this an excellent place to know about in the area.
Bodega Rita’s is a wardrobe-sized space doing a lot more than storing that jacket you’ve been meaning to sell for five years. This sandwich shop (cum deli cum night time wine bar thing) serves nice subs in the day and little things by night. We’re not really ones to eat in a wardrobe, so we recommend popping by in the morning for a breakfast of miso scrambled eggs, or a mortadella and provolone sub.
There are many ways to physically exert yourself for ten minutes. Make of that what you will, but our favourite way is to walk for 10 minutes, from King’s Cross to Roti King behind Euston. This Malaysian restaurant is one of London’s finest cheap eats. The regular roti canai costs just a fiver, while the meat and fish options are £1.50 on top of that. Be prepared to queue as it’s no reservations. But it’s definitely worth the wait.
This Australian cafe has a couple of other locations in London, and they all serve healthy-ish salads, sandwiches, and all sorts. It’s a pretty safe option for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Especially if you or whoever you’re with is more vegetable leaning. It can get seriously busy at brunch time on the weekend, so be prepared to queue.
George’s Bar is where you should be heading if you’re in and around St Pancras and want a cocktail, a burger, or - if you’re anything like us - both. Wander in late afternoon and you’ll probably have the place to yourself. Stick around for an hour though and it starts to fill up. They might even start pumping out Balearic beats that sound a little incongruous with the Victorian setting. And you might start wondering why we’ve sent you here. Well, it’s not for the music, Nor is it for the crowd. You’re here for some of the best cocktails in town, and for the £15 burger - a massive affair, which is at least half sloppy joe, and is actually pretty damn good.