Soho's diverse and colourful bars and pubs make the area a popular destination for nights out. Bar-hopping scenesters, often creating severe foot traffic in the evenings, might enjoy cocktail bars like Experimental Cocktail Club, whilst those looking for a quiet drink will enjoy Mark's Bar. It doesn't take too much surface-scratching to separate the diamonds from the rough, though. Time Out presents a guide to Soho bars to bend an elbow. Know a better bar in Soho? Then let us know in the comments box below or tweet your suggestions. And don't forget to check out our pick of the best Soho pubs and clubs.
When someone calls two people a ‘dream team’, my hype-detector lights up. But with Bar Termini, the DT moniker seems fitting. Bar Termini does two things: coffee and cocktails. Coffee is overseen by Marco Arrigo, head of quality for Illy, who has probably trained more baristas – and trained them rigorously – than anyone else in the UK. Cocktails are supervised by Tony Conigliaro, the alco-alchemist behind 69 Colebrooke Row and Zetter Town House, among others.Read more
An evergreen haunt of Soho barflies, the French House should have ‘La Marseillaise’ playing as you walk in. Beer (house lager) is sold in halves; eau de vie comes in strawberry, pear and plum varieties; the champers is Canard Duchêne and Pol Roger; and there’s Breton cider and Ricard behind the bar. The 30-strong (16 by the glass) wine list is dominated by vins français, Pouilly-Fuissé Monternot 2007, Brouilly 2009 and more affordable St Julien d’Aille de Provence included.Read more
The basement at Hix Soho is consistently busy in the evening. And we understand why: this is a first-rate bar in nearly every respect. The historical drinks are both interesting and good, especially those in the Cocktail Explorer’s Club list; rum drinkers should make a beeline for the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club: Mount Gay Barbados rum with orange curacao, Mark’s own falernum and lime juice. The selection of scotch would take several months to drink through.Read more
The newer, Mayfair branch of this seriously smart Fitzrovia Chinese restaurant and bar has stolen some of the limelight from its older sibling, which is now more than a decade old. But we still prefer this original outpost of what has now become an international chain. The long, thin strip of a bar behind the Chinese screens continues to look glamorous, and the cocktails are still superb. Premium spirits are used, the bar staff are well trained, and there is a definite homage to the East with drinks such as the Hakka (which contains regular saké) or the plum sour (with plum saké).Read more
This wonderful bar occupies the hallowed ground that began life as Dick’s Bar, when Brasserie Zédel was the Atlantic Bar & Grill and the great Dick Bradsell was the man behind the bar. Zédel has installed a great crew, both behind the bar and front of house. And they’ve kept the beautiful art deco decor and the widely spaced tables, which are a major factor in keeping noise levels down even when the place is full. We love the brevity and simplicity of the cocktail list: just 18 drinks and most of them tried and tested classics.Read more
As bar after bar opens using the rather tired ‘Brooklyn Prohibition’ template, Experimental Cocktail Club seems ever more original – it’s hard to find, sure, perhaps more so than any other ‘speakeasy’ in London, but inside remains opulent and elegantly aloof to trends. It’s arranged over three floors of an old Chinatown townhouse, flatteringly lit and expensively decorated.Read more
This, the urban myth has it, has long been one the best bars for cocktails in London. It might well be, but it’s hard to tell unless you have night vision like a owl – the lighting is turned down so low you’ll need to borrow a candle to read the drink list, let alone see your drink, and you may not even recognise your drinking companions across the table. And then there’s the difficulty of getting in.Read more
One of many slang terms for a US speakeasy, this Blind Pig is yet another addition to the list of ‘bars in London they supposedly don’t want you to know about but obviously do otherwise how will they make any money’. Far classier than most, it doesn’t lay the Prohibition theme on too thick, and it’s relatively easy to find. Simply head to Poland Street and look out for the blindfolded-boar door knocker next to chef Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House.Read more
Someone's gone to a lot of trouble to make this Chinatown cocktail bar and 'dim sum parlour' look shabby. The design is Eastern smoking den meets Western hipster hangout, with Chinese vases and burning incense mixed with deep funky beats and retro armchairs straight from granny’s sitting room. Be sure to visit the loo: there are motion-activated lights and the speakers will blast you with terrifyingly loud Mandarin announcements.Read more
Venue says: Come and try our brand new spring menu including aubergine meatballs, pumpkin fritters, farfarelle à la crème, Cuban salad and more!
There are reasons why Ethos might make you wary. It’s near Oxford Circus, it’s vegetarian, it’s a self-serve buffet and you pay for your food by weight. (That’s the weight of the food, not your weight.) This ‘comida por quilo’ system is a popular economy-restaurant style in Brazil, but it’s been relatively unexplored in the UK. Adding to the gimmicky potential, on any given day the main menu might include more than a dozen dishes from the diverse cuisines of Japan, Southeast Asia, Italy, Korea, India, Mexico and Lebanon – and anywhere else that does brilliant vegetarian dishes – plus a few of their own creations. You can choose as few or as many as you like, building your own bespoke meal, before having your plate weighed and then paying at the counter. The concept may seem incoherent at first. Standing by the platters and bowls at the buffet – hot on one side, room temperature on the other – wondering whether the Korean kimchi might go with some nasu dengaku (Japanese miso-roasted aubergine), or the restaurant’s Indian-inflected ‘scotch egg’. But sitting in the spacious, box-fresh surroundings – the decor is predominantly Nordic white and blue, with some bucolic trunks of silver birch reaching skywards – you taste the food and think: ‘Hang on, this is really good.’ Rather than worrying about whether Thai sweetcorn fritters are complemented by a lovage-laced tomato and bread panzanella salad, the world tour of dishes becomes a mini-adventure in flavour, colour and textu