german gymnasium king's cross restaurants

The best restaurants in King’s Cross

13 May 2024 | Updated on: 16 May 2024 |By Annie Lewis

North London’s hottest retail destination is undeniably a haven for foodies. Here’s where we recommend you book a table

Twenty years ago, King’s Cross was nothing more than a north London commuter hub. The underused industrial site was dotted with cheap caffs, sandwich joints and musty pubs situated in a prime position to lure the commuter crowd after a hard day at the office. Fast forward to 2024, however, and the perception of King’s Cross has shifted, the area having been thoroughly rejuvenated with new streets, shops, galleries, bars and restaurants, to become one of the capital’s trendiest leisure destinations. 

Hop off the tube and head to the canal to watch a blockbuster film courtesy of Everyman Cinema come the summer, or shop until you drop at Thomas Heatherwick-designed Coal Drops Yard whatever the weather. The cobbled streets and brick arches of the latter are home to both independent artisans and signature brands you’d also find on Oxford Street (just without the heaving crowds). It’s not all bricks and mortar though; King’s Cross is divided by Regent’s Canal that seems to have long forgotten its industrial roots and now features colourful narrowboats, ivy-clad walls and rich wildlife; whereas the Camley Street Natural Park boasts a two-acre nature reserve within walking distance of the canal towpath. 

While there’s clearly more than enough to do, how about finding a place to eat? Well, foodies are in luck. As some of the most popular retail brands set up in King’s Cross, so did a number of exceptional restaurants catering for every taste through a wide range of cuisines. From unique German-inspired dishes housed in England’s first purpose-built gymnasium, to Spanish tapas served in a sun-lit terrace, here are the best restaurants in King’s Cross. 

German Gymnasium

With a storied history dating back to 1865 (the following year saw the venue host London’s first indoor Olympic Games), the German Gymnasium takes its name from its original purpose: a functioning gymnasium funded and used by London’s German community. The Grade II-listed building is situated directly between King’s Cross’ two train stations and is the brainchild of the D&D London group behind the ever-popular Quaglino’s, Le Pont de la Tour and Coq d’Argent. Here, executive chef Alexander Thiel is at the helm, bringing with him a wealth of experience and unique dishes inspired by his childhood and homeland. 

Spread across three floors and emulating the evening glamour you’d find in Berlin, the ground floor is home to all-day dining destination Grand Café, serving German and Mittel-European fare. Upstairs, the flagship Restaurant takes diners on a journey around the lesser known aspects of German cuisine with a sophisticated seasonal menu; while the adjacent chic Meister Bar serves cocktails inspired by Berlin’s Roaring Twenties, such as the Kit Kat featuring raisin and cinnamon-infused whisky, sherry and apple liqueur.

On a mission to challenge preconceptions of German cuisine, menu highlights include Schweinshaxen (pork knuckle) terrine, Berliner Buletten (pan-fried veal dumplings), Gebratener Kabeljau (grilled cod) and the classic Wiener Schnitzel. To finish, the dessert menu will offer authentic classics such as quark and apricot strudel, or the choux-pastry Windbeutel, perfectly paired with one of the sommelier’s signature dessert wines. 

1 King’s Boulevard, N1C 4BU, visit germangymnasium.com

Decimo at The Standard

Hailing from Bristol, Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias oversees the menu at The Standard’s delectable Decimo, which puts a fresh interpretation on Spanish and Mexican cuisine, cooking over live fires with seasonal ingredients to create simple dishes designed to be shared. The hotel was the first European outpost from the stylish American hotel chain when it opened in 2019, and has delivered two eateries to King’s Cross’ culinary offering including Isla, specialising in Mediterranean small plates, and Decimo serving gambas rojas, Iberico pork, mezcal cocktails and tortilla in abundance. 

The latter is situated on the 10th floor of the hotel, accessed by the iconic red-pill lift, and its floor-to-ceiling windows offer dramatic views across the London skyline. You must try the pork belly tacos, limo-chilli lobster, flamed beetroot and artichoke with pardina lentils. Pair with the mezcal flight of four spicy serves, which have been hand-picked for Decimo, to enjoy an authentic Mexican experience. 

10th Floor, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG, visit standardhotels.com

Sushi on Jones

Since first opening its doors in New York’s West Village in 2016, Sushi on Jones has made a name for itself as an omakase bar offering authentic Japanese dining. Now taking its brand international, Sushi on Jones opened its UK outpost at King’s Cross’ Courtyard to deliver customers its popular omakase experience – a Japanese term translating as 'I'll leave it up to you'. The 12-piece tasting menu, which will have you in and out of the restaurant in 45 minutes, features the freshest uni, seared wagyu and hand-selected fish everyday to create one of the most reasonably-priced sushi menus in the capital. 

Curated by head chef Mattia Aranini and served at counter-seating, you can also indulge in a selection of nigiri and sashimi platters paired with Japanese sake, whiskey, beer and tea. We recommend the salmon and tuna crispy rice – two pieces with eel sauce, truffle and porcini spread – with a cup of Japanese Soba Cha tea. Delicious. 

11 Goods Way, N1C 4DP, visit sushionjones.com

Spagnoletti

The flagship Italian restaurant at the five-star Megaro Hotel in King's Cross has been reimagined this summer under the guise of celebrated chef Adam Simmonds. Spotlighting the food diversity of all the beautiful regions of Italy, Spagnoletti showcases modern cuisine via seasonal and fresh produce, and will retain the restaurant's original Italian soul while introducing a selection of sharing plates. Starters include suckling pig and black pudding croquettes and wild mushrooms and truffle arancini, while pasta favourites include rabbit lasagna and agnolotti filled with egg yolk, guanciale, pecorino and black pepper. Bellísimo!

 27 Euston Road, NW1 2SD, visit spagnoletti.co.uk

Coal Office

Fusing Middle Eastern fare with Mediterranean flavours, the Coal Office has become one of the hottest restaurants in London of late, largely thanks to being the brainchild of designer Tom Dixon and famed Israeli restaurateur Assaf Granit. Inside, the monochrome interior has been designed by Dixon to follow the curve of the canal and houses three floors, with an open kitchen, two dining areas, a bakery and a bar. Fancy dining al fresco? Step outside onto the heated terrace on Bagley Walk, while the rooftop terrace offers panoramic views over Coal Drops Yard.

The menu is largely inspired by Jerusalem-born Granit’s homeland, as well as the spices stretching along the Mediterranean from the Middle East to North Africa. Sharing platters include Yemeni brioche Kubalah and grilled pita served with labneh and tomato dips. Small plates (think aubergine tartare and sea bass carpaccio) and big plates (cod a la plancha and Cornish octopus) are separated by the in-between dishes: krov cna'ani featuring braised cabbage, labneh and fermented chilli, and orez lavan (artichoke risotto).

2 Bagley Walk, N1C 4PQ, visit coaloffice.com

Barrafina

barrafina king's cross restaurants
Image: Barrafina

The King’s Cross outpost of Barrafina is the largest of the four Catalonian-inspired restaurants in the capital. The popular chain by the Hart Brothers is renowned for its modern, Michelin star style which focuses on tortillas, seafood and meats. Sit at the bar to watch the Spanish chefs at work, take a seat in the golden dining room or outside at the Parillian terrace, which are all situated on the top floor of Coal Drops Yard. We recommend the prawn and piquillo tortilla, cured monkfish, and pork belly bun, as well as the chicken thigh and romesco for an authentic taste of Spain. 

27 Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4AB, visit barrafina.co.uk

Read more: Luxury ready-made picnic hamper deliveries in London