There's something timeless about Soho; a slightly chaotic and enchanting melting pot of culture, food, colour and history. The maze of bars and restaurants are a second home to first daters, bar hoppers, city slickers and creatives alike. A hub of diversity where there really is something for everyone. The Soho restaurant scene has it all and then some; the opulent, the traditional, the quirky, the exotic, and much more besides. You truly are spoilt for choice. Overwhelmed? Don't be. Here's our list of the Top 10 Soho-eats that will help you choose the perfect venue for the occasion.
The newly-located, Michelen-starred Barrafina is a welcome addition to London's Dean Street. It brings with it some seriously high-end regional Spanish tapas and a wine list reminiscent of sunny holidays. Sit around at the L-shaped marble bar and watch the chefs work in the open plan kitchen. A quick heads up - be prepared to queue. There are no bookings taken and it's busy every day of the week. For the organised amongst us, the no-booking in advance blow is softened by wine to sip and snacks to sample while you wait for a table; your only challenge is to save room for the main event.
You could easily pass this restaurant by and miss it - this much-loved Soho spot takes 'understated' to a whole new level. The walls are cream and adorned by just two blackboards with the daily-changing menu chalked on them, and the furnishings are a tried-and-tested simple metal and wood combo. The menu can be described as Modern European and is seasonal, innovative and perfectly-formed. If you're in the mood for a celebration, make sure that you ask to see their 'little black book', full of their rarest wines.
Courgette tart tatin, cherry tomato, burrata & rocket
Translating literally to "The Mouth of the Wolf", Bocca Di Lupo is a hugely popular and animated restaurant, representing food from the twenty different regions of Italy. It takes on the challenge of being both homely yet elegant and totally wins. Not an easy feat to achieve in the restaurant world, yet it does it with ease. Forget starters and mains - you can have either small/large plates of each dish, giving you the option of tapas-style sharing or a generous helping for one. Think raw and cured meats, pastas, risottos, grills, stews - Bocca Di Lupo brings you all of Italy on many plates.
Head Chef Bonny Porter really got the ball rolling with the opening of her debut two-level gourmet meatball restaurant and wine bar, located in Soho's Greek Street. She has brought an upmarket angle to the humble meatball, incorporating ingredients such as Wagyu beef and confit salmon. And for the vegetarians? Never fear; you haven't been forgotten. Beetroot and feta delights await. Pair your meatballs with a choice of sauces and sides. Upstairs you have casual and down to earth décor, reminiscent of the chef's Australian roots, whilst downstairs boasts a date-worthy basement bar and restaurant, all serving the same delicious food and drinks menus throughout.
The award-winning Salt Yard group have continued to impress again with their 4th restaurant, Ember Yard, delivering Spanish and Italian small plates to W1. All dishes are cooked over charcoal and wood on a Basque-style grill, using flavours and techniques honed whilst on their travels in the Basque-country and Tuscany. Head down a floor to the cosy and chilled cocktail bar and sample a smoked negroni. Notice even the wedge of orange is put on the grill. It's all in the detail.
Following the success story of its sister restaurant, The Smoking Goat, Kiln is a triumph of rustic and authentic cuisine where Northern Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. Picture this; low lighting, cosy seating, the scent of fragrant spices and your food being cooked over flaming hot charcoal in a chestnut log-fed kiln. It's something special. The menu is made up of main grill options and speciality noodle dishes that change daily. The portions are generous to say the least while the service is informed yet relaxed. We recommend the Burmese wild ginger and short rib curry - tender, melt-in-the-mouth beef that bursts with fragrant flavours and spices
Brought to you by the people behind Barrica, Copita encompasses everything that is loved about traditional Spanish tapas; vibrancy, colour, flavour, and value. And this extends to the atmosphere and interior too, where you can expect to fully embrace the Spanish culture by eating at wooden stools at the bar. Copita is a sherry-lovers dream - serving 15 different sherries. With Copita meaning 'small glass' it's not surprising that you're encouraged to sample a different one with each dish. If you're looking for a more formal sit-down then Copita may not be for you. But if you're happy with a bustling and busy vibe with top-notch tapas and casual service then this could be just the place.
Bold and fresh flavours inspired by the Middle East, Asia and the Mediterranean. Nopi's chef-owner is Yatam Ottolenghi, who made his mark a few years back with his pioneering Ottolenghi cafés. This new, all-day iteration, although sharing the Ottolenghi "look", is more grown-up and formal - think white and spacious décor and brass fittings. Although there is the option of starters and mains, we highly recommend getting a bunch of friends together and ordering the amazing sharing plates. Paired with a bottle (or two) of dry white wine this is a great way to wile away a few hours.
This joint venture comes from the founders of both the Ivy and the Soho House Group; and it's epic. An impressive, four-story Georgian townhouse and stylish 'home-from-home', it brings you the best of classic British food. Offering low lighting and soft décor, it's both classy and relaxing and it gives the timeless impression that it's been around for years. The Afternoon Tea experience is a must, offering all the greats; cakes, scones, sandwiches and plenty of clotted cream and jam, all for £21.
The Hawksmoor Group are renowned for housing London's best steakhouses - and they've done it again, but this time with a twist, delivering "A steakhouse serving the best fish in London." This huge 235 cover venue is lucky enough to be situated in a breathtaking Art Deco room overlooking London's Regent Street, complete with floor to ceiling stain-glass windows. Hawksmoor Air Street is also home to its own cocktail bar; a venue in its own right serving world-class cocktails in beautiful vintage glasses. The 'Toddy Timetable' shows recommendations for different cocktails best at different times for the day - perfect for the adventurous out there.