Now we like a cocktail as much as the best of them, and these restaurant bars sure know how to shake them. Being foodies, we love to eat but we know how important drinks can be, making or breaking a menu. We’ve hotfooted it around town to find some of the best bars; whether they bring a great view to the table, some brilliant wine bins, that all important atmosphere or even the friendliest staff, we’ve identified places that are worth the return trip. Whether a weekend brunch, a post-work glass of wine or a full on Friday night session, you’ll find somewhere to suit you, your budget and those tail feathers of yours.
Sky high 24/7 dining in the city will whirl you straight into Don Draper territory. If your radar hasn’t picked him up yet, not to worry. With enormous windows spanning the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, Duck and Waffle does a stirling job of duck, waffles and plenty more besides. Whether you’re here on an evening date or for breakfast with the pals, you’ll feel a million dollars perched above the city.
Chef Diego Jacquet wanted to show London the best of Argentina, so brought his exclusive catering to England. Thank goodness he did. With flavours from all over the country, Zoilo, Jacquet’s second opening, is a culinary journey through various regions that isn’t just ‘meat on a stick’. There’s some tempting seafood and empanadas alongside the more traditional asado, all of which makes it difficult to choose. The restaurant’s unassuming, and the portions hearty with the right bit of Latino love to keep you coming back for more. Definitely not budging from our list.
Soho veteran, Dean Street Townhouse, has its history firm in the archives. In previous incarnations, it was a favourite of Fred Astaire and Lucien Freud. These days you’ll find the creative types soaking up the afternoon sun on the terrace long after it’s set and kicking back with brunch in the arty dining room. The long marble bar is great for drinks and breakfast pastries (irresistible, sorry) while the booths towards the back and the round tables in the old library lend a little more atmosphere. The food leans towards English classics, from the slightly unappetisingly named mince and potatoes to a Roast Banham chicken with sage and onion stuffing. As an extra bonus, the rooms upstairs are lovely if you feel you just can’t make it home tonight.
Not to be confused with the brilliant Japanese ramen bar, Koya, Coya is Latin American through and through. Riding the Peruvian wave, you’ll find three open kitchens, over 40 tequilas on offer and unique pisco infusions designed to complement your culinary choice. Prices circle the going rate for ceviche in the city these days (although you do get to sit at the bar and watch the dishes being prepared in front of you) but the exclusive Chef’s Table can be booked out for something a little more special if you fancy adding glamour to your grill.
The clue's in the title so no gold starts for guessing what's on offer here - but five gold stars for how it's delivered. Shotgun Barbecue is a welcome addition to the London Meat Eatery scene and offers the very best in BBQ cuisine but in a setting stunning enough to renew your vows. London is no stranger to this type of food but haven't you ever wanted to know what it might be like to swap the make-shift furniture and 'trendy' craft beer (so common with this cuisine in London) with banquette leather seats and, signature and classic cocktails? Shotgun is where it's at. Take a date, take your mate, take your boss or your mum - this place will please everyone.
You must have seen Beach Blanket Babylon. The unmissable edifice on Bethnal Green Road, the self-proclaimed ‘lifestyle, a club for the discerning without requiring a membership’. Opulence is the word here since you probably won’t remember the actual name of the place. Think dark, dreamy and dripping with gold and glamour. It’s self-consciously over the top but that’s all part of the fun. Despite its East London postcode, you’ll find kids from all over the city here to revel in naughty brunches, clattering a la cartes and a champagne bar that turns into a dancehall at the drop of a hat. So dress up, get down and rub some decadent shoulders.
This bistro in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is the London contingent of the popular original New York joint. Inspired by winemaking, the interior is sleek and sophisticated with a classic zinc topped bar and leather banquettes and vaulted ceilings, lending a kind of richness to the atmosphere. The food is exquisitely French with hearty rich sausages and cuts of meat, alongside fresh fruits de mers to have yourself or share with friends. Predictably there’s a great wine list, under the watchful eye of sommelier David Vareille.
Boundary’s a little bit of a behemoth - with three restaurants and bars, 12 guest bedrooms, five suites, a little shop and bakery, it’s difficult to miss this East London offering from Terence Conran. Once a Victorian warehouse, care has been taken to maintain the original features whilst drawing inspiration from international designers (most notably in the bedrooms). The jewel in the crown is the all year round rooftop restaurant, draped in luscious vines, with its own Mediterranean menu. Food is executed to the highest standard and the service is an absolute treat.
Hidden behind an unsettlingly authentic sex shop entrance (make sure you get the right one to avoid any unwanted encounters), lies this Mexican hacienda. Tucked around the corner from its street foodie sister, the basement restaurant has a debauched and naughty feel appropriate to the way you came in. Make sure to reserve a table as a bloke with a clipboard will probably require this and then get your guac on! Enchiladas, nachos, ceviche and tacos are the name of the game here, all washed down with a nice shot of tequila. Music is lively and the place buzzes with a New York cool that inspired this Soho branch.
As suggested, rum is the name of the game with over 100 varieties on offer and some seriously tasty cocktails. When it comes to mopping up your mojitos, the kitchen combines the Caribbean classics of jerk and gumbo with newer takes on familiar favourites such asthe swordfish slider with tamarind sauce, and a soft shell crab burger. Washed down with chilled out tunes from Reggae Roast, The Rum Kitchen is one holiday where you don’t need your passport. Watch out though, post 10pm it turns members only so arrive early for your tropical taste.
Dabbous is dining with a difference. There’s no pussy-footing around here, just pure and unadulterated flavour. Using the freshest of ingredients and the lightest of touches, Oliver Dabbous’s menu is understatedly short, simple and seasonally sourced from the UK as lovingly as possible. Oskar Kinsberg’s Bar downstairs is a little haven of brickwork and benches for those fancying something a little bit more footloose and fancy free, but be warned, Dabbous is firmly on the map and a devil to get into, so dropping by unannounced is unadvisable and one should be prepared for a little (or large) wait.
Let’s welcome the new Spanish and Italian influenced restaurant to the west end- this is a real gem in the box of jewels that is Soho. From the creators of Salt yard group, this venture is going to be good with inspiration taken from Spanish and Italian approach to cooking over charcoals. With an impressive charcoal grill as the focal point in the open plan kitchen for on looking customers to see the process of food preparation and grill style cooking. By the time your food arrives you will be drooling from watching the chef at work. Don’t forget to head down to this joint before your meal to indulge in an ember inspired cocktail. Smokin’.
Jason Atherton’s newest opening is not one vertigo sufferers. Several floors up within Tower 42, this is a speakeasy city bar with a Michelin starred patron difference. Start in the bar and savour one of the pithily named cocktails (we like ‘Vermouth? You can’t handle Vermouth’ and ‘Robin Quince of Thieves’) and watch the sunset before taking your seat in the moodily seductive restaurant. Food is reassuringly British with a twist and lashings of seasonal ingredients, and you can choose between small and large portions if, like us, you’re just too torn to commit to a single dish. And why should you?
We’ve said it before but it still stands: London’s having a big affair with America at the moment. Burgers to bones, hard shakes to hash browns, there’s no shortage to slake your lust - and if you’re a West Londoner, you won’t have to travel far. The menu is refreshingly short and to the point meaning you have more time to take in your surroundings and work out exactly what cactus salsa reminds you of. See if you can keep a straight face while you order some of their signature cocktails and if you’re planning on making a return visit, their Friend With Benefits card is well worth getting for helpful little discounts.
Jason Atherton's Soho offering is one of his more accessible locations in London, we think. Tucked off Poland Street, behind a thick red curtain, the deeply seductive interior whisks you in for an experience you won't forget. Split across two floors, there's drinking and dining on the ground floor with a more informal late night lounge upstairs with bow-tied barmen serving up the divinest of drinks. Food wise, there's lighter offerings in the 'Bites and Jars' section of the menu (think duck fat chips and curry aioli or shrimp and grits) and then there's the heartier dishes for those needing more sustenance with ingredients sourced from Britain. We'll let you onto a secret though, you can book out the 'Employees Only' table in the basement and watch chef Paul Hood work his magic just for the eight of you. Don't say we told you though.
One of South West London's most recognised restaurant bars, The Botanist, gets a new City sibling. The Botanist Broadgate, promises to deliver all the brilliant offerings its older sister has become famous for - hearty no -thrills food, classic cocktails, impeccable service, and an unrivaled post-work spot. There is an added extra, however, housed below. The Soda Room is The Botanist Broadgate's hidden late-night party spot - with cocktails in the evening and live DJ sets until 2am at night. Bringing some life to the sometimes quiet City, The Botanist Broadgate brings you two floors of revelry that has your whole night covered.
It’s all about bbq and blues at this swinging American-style live music bar and restaurant. Think finger lickin’ ribs, lip smackin’ wings and live music that will have you feet tappin’ and your fingers clickin’ in no time. Brick clad and with a hint of gritty grime, we love feeling that little bit coyote ugly where we can have a swagger in our jeans and cowboy boots. It’s the place to visit to hear the up and coming jazz and blues bands of the hour so there’s no time like the present to get rockin’ and rolln’.