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20 of the most mouthwatering grilled meats in London

Get your chops off to this list of grilled and barbecued wonder-meats served all around London

By Richard Ehrlich
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Put down the tongs. Bin those cremated bangers. Leave your garden to the foxes. London’s best barbecue isn’t at home. Whether it's ribs, kebabs or quality steak, have it chargrilled and carefully cooked to perfection at London restaurants where the heat is cranked up high or left low and slow for results beyond your wildest meat dreams. We peer through a cloud of smoke to tenderly debone 20 of London's most moutwatering grilled meats.

1. Duck heart skewers and lemongrass ox heart skewers at BBQ Dreamz

Shopping Markets and fairs Hackney

£4 for three skewers, £6 as a meal

This Filipino-inspired food stall gladdens the heart, literally. The ox heart skewers, marinated before facing the flame, come with spicy cane vinegar. The duck version might be given a satay treatment. You want them, even if you don’t know it yet.

Try it with: Whatever sides are being served on the day. Or order a second round, as they’re snack-sized portions.

Find them at: Broadway Market School Yard and other street food markets. Check @Bbqdreamz for where they’ll be next.

2. Beef or pork ribs at HotBox

Restaurants Barbecue Spitalfields

Beef rib £24, pork rib £16

The music booms, the beer bottles clink and the tills are alive with the sound of east London’s cash. It’s dropped by the bucketload on some of the best slow-barbecued meat in London, expertly cooked and served on wooden planks. You can get a mixed platter, but the pork rib and beef rib are the plates that will really make you sing.

Try it with: Smoked mac and cheese (£6).

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Berber & Q grilled meat
© Jamie Lau

3. Mechoui lamb at Berber & Q

Restaurants Grills Haggerston

£9/£16

You don’t slice lamb mechoui, you pull it to bits. This is an archetypal falling-off-the-bone dish, Moroccan by birth and rubbed half to death with spices and herbs. At Berber & Q it’s cooked in a wood smoker, rather than more traditionally roasted. Then it’s pulled apart. And then you fall on the bits like a wolf attacking a sheep. And then you wolf them down.

Try it with: Cauliflower shawarma, tahini, pomegranate molasses (£4.50).

Barrafina grilled meat
© Paul Winch-Furness

4. Milk-fed lamb's kidneys at Barrafina

Restaurants Spanish Covent Garden

£8.50

Talk about exotic seasonings! These fat-on lamb’s kidneys are flash-roasted in a charcoal oven after being sprinkled with… salt and pepper. At a time when spice rubs, marinades and dipping sauces are endlessly trumpeted on trendy menus, the less-is-more approach comes as a breath of fresh air. Meat that just tastes like meat – who’d ever have thought we’d see such a revolutionary concept?

Try it with: Fennel, comice pear and radish salad (£6.80) and a glass of Palo Cortado Cayetano del Pino (£7.50).

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5. Jasmine tea-smoked pork ribs at Yauatcha City

Restaurants Chinese Broadgate

£13.90

An upmarket place, with down-and-dirty eating if you pick these puppies up with your fingers. You’ve probably seen a million ribs in the last year or two: they’re becoming the new steak – or is it the new burger? But you haven’t eaten many like these: prime examples of ultra-refined cooking and seasoning from the City branch of this pioneering top-drawer Chinese eatery.

Try it with: A rhubarb margarita (£12.50) from the cocktail menu.

Som Saa grilled meat
© Scott Chasserot

6. Gai yang with jaew dipping sauce at Som Saa

Things to do Event spaces Hackney

£6.50

Now. Eat. This. Especially the Now part. Chef Andy Oliver’s residency at Climpson’s Arch may end as early as September, and there may be a gap before we can once again savour his bold, authentic and incredibly delicious Thai food – probably the best in London. If there’s bò lá lôt, grilled minced beef wrapped in a betel leaf, don’t leave it unordered.

Try it with: Som tam, a green papaya salad (£8.50).

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Ariana II grilled meat
© Rob Greig

7. Family grill at Ariana II

Restaurants Afghan Kilburn

£59 (for four)

What are families for? Bickering, telling dumb jokes and eating the family grills at Ariana. Kebabs, lamb chops, white or brown rice, naan and a jug of dough. (D’oh! Not that dough. It’s a yoghurt drink.) And if you can’t rustle up any relatives, the food will be just as good – and the conversation much better – with friends.

Try it with: It’s got everything you need, but try a cardamom tea to finish.

Smoking Goat grilled meat
© Paul Winch-Furness

8. Slow roast duck leg at Smoking Goat

Restaurants Thai St Giles

£15

There’s no goat at this thrumming, dimly lit joint. But there’s lots of smoke. You’re in the spicy flavour-land of Thai-style barbecue – one of the country’s great culinary inventions. Whole duck leg’s been on the menu from the beginning. There are no bookings, though, so you’ll probably have to queue for a puff.

Try it with: A neckful of Beavertown Neck Oil session IPA (£3).

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Sesame grilled meat
© Jonathan Lovekin

9. Lamb or chicken kebabs at Sesame

Restaurants Cafés Covent Garden

£6.65

Atmosphere? Forget about it. Cutting edge? Bluntly, no. But if you’re hungry, and you’re near Leicester Square, and you’re a sucker for sexily seasoned meat in a fresh furrow of top-notch pitta, then say ‘Open, Sesame!’ The creation of an Ottolenghi co-founder, this new place is already taking the area by storm. Chicken with paprika and cardamom is a good part of the reason why.

Try it with: Fresh mint lemonade (£1.60).

10. Smoked ribs with Asian barbecue sauce at Bó Drake

Restaurants Korean Soho

£6.50/£12

Are you ready for a decorously depraved evening of spice, smoke and alcohol? Then you’ve come to the right place. Bó Drake describes itself as an ‘East Asian barbecue’, and what they say is what you’ll get. Meats are lavishly flavoured, and the flame turns those flavours into wave after wave of sensory overload. Sink a cocktail to kick the ribs into action, and beer to accompany.

Try it with: House Kimchi (£3) and a Brooklyn Lager (£5.50).

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Roka grilled meat
© Michael Franke

11. Lamb cutlets with Korean spices at Roka

Restaurants Japanese Fitzrovia

£23.30

The real fun at Roka is at the counter, where you can watch the robata (barbecue) chefs at work. They make a thrilling spectacle, and great food. These spicy lamb cutlets are a case in point. Their Korean name is kankoku fu kohitsuji. Which is tricky to say after a couple of cocktails in the Shochu Lounge bar downstairs.

Try it with: Tenderstem broccoli, ginger and moromi miso (£4.90).

Morada Brindisa Asador grilled meat
© Rob Greig

12. Moorish Ibérico pork and jowl pinchos at Morada Brindisa Asador

Restaurants Spanish Chinatown

£7.95

In this case, Moorish equals moreish. Spanish grill cooking is great, and Morada Asador, the wood-fired specialist of the Brindisa group, proves it. This little number, a pork fillet and uber-fashionable jowl (cheek), is marinated in paprika, cumin, garlic and oregano among other things. It gets a meal started right. Grilled lamb cutlets or roast suckling pig ensure the excellence continues.

Try it with: A glass of Calpa Garnacha (£6.75).

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Turtle Bay grilled meat
© Scott Chasserot

13. Escovitch fish at Turtle Bay

Restaurants Ealing

£12.50

Craving a sun-kissed beach and a rum cocktail before lunch? Turtle Bay, an outpost of a successful chain, does a more-than-decent version of the fantasy in W5. It’s brought banging Caribbean food to the unlikely environs of leafy Ealing, and if you order this roast bream (with a fiery tomato sauce and all the fixin’s), you’ll be halfway to Montego Bay.

Try it with: Jamaican Pale Ale (£3.85).

14. Brisket at Miss P's

Restaurants Brixton

£10

Why is Miss P’s brisket so outrageously gorgeous? Because it’s USDA (quality-assured) beef: either choice or prime. Plus the well-balanced spice rub. Plus precision cooking. A recipe for ecstasy.

Try it with: Choose between coleslaw, coleslaw and coleslaw (£2). It’s that good.

Find them at: Pop Brixton

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Meze Mangal grilled meat
© Ben Rowe

15. Kaburga Tarak (grilled lamb ribs) at Meze Mangal

Restaurants Turkish Deptford

£9.50

If any cut ever illustrated the old saying ‘the closer to the bone, the sweeter the meat’, it’s lamb ribs. The saying is actually a crock, but who cares? Lamb ribs are neglected in lots of places but not in Turkey, and Meze Mangal is Turkish down to its fingertips. Which is the way you’ll want to eat these beauties, nibbling your way down to bare bone.

Try it with: A glass of ayran (£1), Turkey’s salty, refreshing yoghurt drink.

Forza Win grilled meat
© Scott Chasserot

16. Whatever comes off the grill at Forza Win

Restaurants Italian Peckham

Don’t expect luxury: we’re looking at a pair of communal tables in a converted industrial unit. Do expect, however, a craft beer vending machine, a well-stocked bar and a huge wood-fired grill that turns out giant juicy portions of perfectly charred fish and meat (maybe even octopus and leg of lamb). This Italian-inspired supper club plonks a random gang of strangers down at the table, and by the end of the evening they’re all friends.

Try it with: Whatever they give you (and a beer). It’s La Dolce bloody Meata!

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The Grilling Greek souvlaki meat
© Jael Marschner

18. Pork souvlaki at The Grilling Greek

Restaurants Street food King’s Cross

£5.50

The Grilling Greek felt London had a serious souvlaki-deficit, so they decked out a cheerfully patriotic van to serve it up: charcoal-grilled meat stuffed into homemade pitta with tomato, red onion and tzatziki. You can pack your pitta with chicken or halloumi. But the juicy pork pushes these colourful kebabs towards the realms of the ambrosial. Grilling Greek? More like Thrilling Greek.

Try it with: Triple-cooked chips with barrel-aged feta (£3).

Find them at: Kerb or other street food markets. Check @thegrillinggreek for where they’ll be next.

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19. Beef kalbi at Koba

Restaurants Korean Fitzrovia

£11.40

Kalbi, Korean grilled beef, is ubiquitous in its native land. Once you’ve eaten it at Koba, you’ll wish the same were true here. They grill at the table right before your eyes after marinating it in soy sauce among other things. Then you wrap it up in lettuce leaves with spring onion, garlic and chilli (for an extra charge). Finger food for true fans.

Try it with: Kimchi jjigae (kimchi with pork and vegetables in a hot spicy soup), £7.

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