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Kolamba
Milo Brown

The best restaurants in Soho

West End eats don't come better than these

By Time Out London Food & Drink
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Soho – the gloriously grubby beating heart of London – has a killer range of restaurants to satisfy any culinary craving, at any price. Trad British joints? You got it. Authentic tapas and rustic French fare? Plenty. Sumptuous Asian buns and superlative sushi? Piles of the stuff, and so on. Below, we’ve compiled our favourite restaurants (for a proper sit down meal) and pitstop places (for those on the go) back open again.  

Soho is buzzing again after a few surreal months of relative silence. The area’s pedestrianisation sees many of our favourite dining spots moving out into the streets. But despite busy sunny days, many of these restaurants are struggling, lacking the usual footfall on weekdays while most of Soho’s offices are still shut. You can show your support by heading along. Check with restaurants directly to see if they’re taking bookings or still accepting walk-ins and then order yourself a slap-up meal. 

Check out five of the best eats in the area in our video below:



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The best restaurants in Soho

GreekStWEB_RG001Lres.jpg
GreekStWEB_RG001Lres.jpg
© Rob Greig

10 Greek Street

Restaurants Contemporary European Soho

A small, unshowy restaurant that’s made a name for itself with a short but perfectly formed menu and an easy-going conviviality. Dishes are seasonal and it’s good value for money. Adept, friendly staff are a further plus. Since reopening at the start of September, the restaurant is also focusing on ‘Roman style’ pizza. It’s also added outdoor seating as part of the area’s pedestrianisation, and tables can be booked in advance. 

BAO
BAO
Rob Greig Time Out

Bao

Restaurants Taiwanese Soho

Though based on Taiwanese street food dishes, the kitchen pushes far beyond those boundaries. The restaurant’s name derives from gua bao: fluffy white steamed buns, in this case filled with braised pork, sprinkled with peanut powder. Other sorts of bao (bun) are more slider-like. Yet buns are only half the story. Xiao chi (small eats) are given equal prominence, and the drinks list (well-matched beers, chilled foam tea, glorious peanut milk, and ten-year-aged oolong teas) is distinguished. 

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Barrafina Dean Street

Restaurants Spanish Soho

The no-bookings star of London’s tapas scene is... now taking bookings! But only on its counter stools, once among the most clamoured-for seats in town, a popular place to watch while the chefs dole out dazzlers such as oozing tortillas and milk-fed lamb’s sweetbreads to go with picks from a knockout list of Spanish wines and sherries. Don’t worry, the world isn’t completely back-to-front: seats outside can’t be pre-booked, open for walk-ins only. 

Berenjak

Restaurants Middle Eastern Soho

This boho-chic Persian joint, from the group behind Bao and Hoppers, may be small but it still packs a punch. Take a seat with views over the open kitchen and plump for one of the innovative grills. Our favourite was the poussin: its charred, blackened edges offset its chilli, red pepper, sumac and garlic marinade. Berenjak is vibrant and atmospheric, with eager-to-please staff, and a bill that won’t kill.

Venue says Berenjak is back - we've got a new grab-and-go hatch, new cocktails, & a new late-night Bottomless Kabab Menu (+ we're still delivering)!

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Blanchette

Restaurants French Soho

Here’s a delightful distraction in the heart of Soho – a French fantasy complete with stripped furniture, objects d’art and a menu that’s as Gallic as ‘La Marseillaise’. Whether you fancy the oozing camembert or a mighty helping of braised lamb shoulder with anchovies and soubise sauce (made from onions), the cooking is all about fine ingredients and bourgeois sensibilities. And the outdoor seating of du jour only adds to the effect.

Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer

Bob Bob Ricard

Restaurants British Soho

Lavish, ostentatious, excessive – in other words a whole lotta fun, Bob Bob Ricard is an outlandish one-off for those who want to impress business colleagues or hot dates. Louche Roaring Twenties decor sets the scene for an indulgent menu of international comfort food with a Russian slant – vareniki (potato dumplings), fish pie, chicken kiev etc. Just press the champagne buzzer if you’re running low on bubbly.

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Bocca di Lupo
Bocca di Lupo
Michael Franke / Time Out

Bocca di Lupo

Restaurants Italian Soho

The buzz is as important as the food at Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo’s enduringly popular restaurant. Dine at the bar and you’re in for a fun time – especially if you sit by the window, where you can watch the occasional celeb swan into the dining room. The menu is a (slightly confusing) jumble of small and large plates celebrating the best of artisan regional Italian cooking – all supported by an enticing selection of cocktails and an impressive all-Italian wine list.

Burger & Lobster Soho

Restaurants American Soho

You know where you are with the Burger & Lobster chain – and this flashily decorated Soho branch is no exception. Obviously, everything hinges on the titular combo of hand-minced burgers (made from Nebraskan beef) and lobsters (shipped over from Nova Scotia), although B&L have tweaked their offer of late, adding a veggie black bean burger and a brioche roll with chilled lobster and Japanese mayo to the menu. There are also some lush desserts if you still have room.

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Ceviche Soho

Restaurants Peruvian Soho

The Peruvian party hasn’t stopped on Frith Street since Ceviche showed up: Martin Morales’s restaurant-bar (and his joie de vivre) seems to have struck a chord with Londoners. Pisco cocktails alone are worth a visit, but the food is just as impressive. Obviously the star of the show is ceviche. Order with corn cakes, fresh and vibrant salads packed with avocado and lightly spiced chicken dishes and you’ll be feeling higher than a gap-year student on a Peruvian journey of self-discovery.

Chin Chin Dessert Club

Restaurants Ice-cream parlours Soho

From those devilishly clever mavericks at Camden’s experimental Chin Chin Labs, this Soho venue is famous for its out-there ice creams but bills itself as a Dessert Club – so expect plenty of saccharine surprises along the way. Perch at the bleacher-style bench in the centre of the lurid marble and gold room and indulge in wacky Willy Wonka treats galore. Anyone up for the compressed strawberry ice cream topped with chocolate fudge sauce?

 

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Chotto Matte

Restaurants Peruvian Soho

Good times beckon at Chotto Matte – a vast Frith Street rendezvous that takes Japanese-Peruvian fusion (aka Nikkei cuisine) and really cranks up the volume. On the ground floor is an enormous bar (a seething mass of suits and glamour pusses, drinking cocktails against a vivid manga-style mural), while the upstairs restaurant serves up new-style sushi, tostaditas, robata-grilled bits and tempura.  

Copita_HelenCathcart_small.jpg
Copita_HelenCathcart_small.jpg
© Helen Cathcart

Copita

Restaurants Spanish Soho

Like its sister restaurant Barrica, this is a place where you get proper tapas-sized dishes and can really get stuck into the menu. Copita sidesteps the usual clichés in favour of less familiar ideas such as smoked anchovies with pork crackling – no wonder it’s popular with the post-work crowd and can get fairly cacophonous. Thankfully, service is always fast and friendly, making this a valuable find in the heart of Soho. And it’s now taking bookings.

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Corazón

Restaurants Mexican Oxford Street

Generous tacos served with lashings of old-school hospitality is the deal at Corazón – an unassuming, cosy and sincere taqueria custom-built for Soho’s hungry hordes. Head to the bar and counter for cocktails and nibbles; sit in the main space for a full-on nosh – perhaps chicken tostadas followed by tacos filled with slow cooked pork shoulder. Gentle prices, genial service.

Dean Street Townhouse.jpg
Dean Street Townhouse.jpg
© Rob Greig

Dean Street Townhouse

Restaurants British Soho

All things to all people at all hours – whatever the Soho occasion, chances are that the Dean Street Townhouse will fit the bill. Come here for a leisurely breakfast, elevenses with the morning papers, a brisk business lunch (mince and potatoes, venison hotpot), afternoon tea, a pre-theatre quickie or a romantic dinner for two – and if that dinner gets uncontrollably romantic, there are rooms upstairs. In short, it’s a perfect fit for the neighbourhood.

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Dehesa
Dehesa
Michael Franke / Time Out

Dehesa

Restaurants Spanish Soho

Escape Carnaby’s touristy throngs at this bubbly rendezvous from the Salt Yard Group. Everyone’s here for the hybrid Spanish/Italian tapas menu, which promises acorn-fed porcine treats galore, alongside artisan cheeses and creative morsels such as confit salt cod with chives and ’nduja. Iberian wines and sociable staff ensure an upbeat, uptown vibe. And Dehesa was doing outdoor dining before all these news streetside eateries.

 

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New_Ducksoup004_RG.jpg
Rog Greig

Ducksoup

Restaurants European Soho

One of those properly romantic Soho restaurant-wine bar hybrids, Ducksoup is pimped out with candles, a few small tables along the wall, and a bar that acts as a dining counter. The menu is seasonal, comprised of quality European dishes. And there’s a truly lovely atmosphere. 



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Ember Yard

Restaurants Spanish Soho

Out of the same stable as Salt Yard, Dehesa and Opera Tavern, Ember Yard builds on the strengths of its forebears, using Italian as well as Spanish tapas-style dishes and techniques as inspiration. What sets Ember Yard apart from its siblings is an even greater emphasis on the grill – if you’ve ever eaten in the Basque country (or even, er, Dalston), you’ll know what we mean. Get up close and smoky by sitting near the glowing coals. 

Engawa

Restaurants Japanese Soho

Whether you’re already hooked on the (not so cheap) thrills of super-premium Kobe beef – or simply want to try it for size – this bijou Japanese eatery should do the trick.  Inside, it looks the business (dig the ornate typographic chandelier), while the menu offers a range of elegant dishes best sampled via the full omakase menu. Lunchtime bento boxes also keep things serene ’n’ clean. 

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Hoppers

Restaurants Indian Soho

This Sri Lankan stunner may have a chilled aesthetic, with its vintage/modern interiors, no-bookings policy and focus on street-food dishes. However, it’s from the team behind Gymkhana, Bao and Bubbledogs, so bet your bottom rupee that a slick experience awaits. The queue set-up is dignified and the food is worth the wait: the eponymous savoury pancakes are crisp and chewy in all the right places, the karis are full of flavour, and starters such as goat roti are unmissable. But no dessert menu? Sacrilege!

Inko Nito

Restaurants Japanese Soho

With a flaming charcoal grill in its centre and a menu offering a mish mash of Asian creations, Inko Nito on Broadwick Street is the laid-back Japanese fusion restaurant you need in your life. Breadcrumb fried chicken comes with a yoghurt and peanut dip, and the maki rolls, like the one with korean fried cauliflower (dubbed ‘The KFC’), are innovative.

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Island Poke

Restaurants Hawaiian Soho

In case you’ve been out of touch, poké is the latest craze – an on-trend alternative to high-carb sandwiches and expense-account sushi in the shape of virtuously healthy Hawaiian-inspired raw fish salad bowls. The Island chain is one of the frontrunners, offering a build-your-own bowl in a tiny interior that marries a South Pacific beach-shack vibe with a heavy R&B soundtrack.

Jugemu
Jugemu
Andy Parsons

Jugemu

Restaurants Japanese Soho

Home of the best prawn tempura hand roll in the city, this Winnett Street sushi joint is so humble, you could walk past it and never realise it was there. When marking up the dishes you’d like on the paper menu, don’t hold back; as well as those hand rolls, there are street food snacks, sushi and sashimi.

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Kiln

Restaurants Thai Soho

This sequel to the Ben Chapman’s original Thai barbecue joint Smoking Goat is a slam dunk. Sit up at the stainless-steel counter and watch the chefs stoke and tame the fires to produce authentic-tasting northern Thai dishes, most baked in clay pots over Thai tao (charcoal barbecues). It’s pure theatre for food lovers, and the resulting dishes boast memorably intense flavours – from the dry spice rubs used on the fresher-than-fresh fish, to the lashings of ginger and spice in the beef neck curry.

 

Kolamba
Kolamba
Milo Brown

Kolamba

Restaurants Sri Lankan Soho

By anyone’s standards, it’s pretty punchy for a South Asian restaurant to open next door to a Dishoom. Truthfully though, Kolamba is a very different beast. Smaller and more sophisticated. Sri Lankan signatures include fish cutlets – aka spiced mini fishcakes with deep-fried coats – fiery patties and monkfish curry. Best of all: the creamy and comforting cucumber curry. With serious atmosphere and style, it stands up to its neighbour for sure.

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©Celia Plender

Koya Bar

Restaurants Japanese Soho

Evoking the more traditional feel of a Japanese udon-ya, this casual eatery wouldn’t be out of place in Tokyo. A blond wood counter dominates the long narrow space (chefs on one side, diners on the other), but it still feels spacious and airy. And there’s now a diddy table out the front, too. Koya classics such as udon with mushrooms and walnut miso (kinoko) are available here, as is breakfast – try the ‘English breakfast’ udon in earthy broth topped with fried egg, bacon and shiitake mushrooms.

kricket soho
kricket soho
Photograph: Paul Winch-Furness

Kricket

Restaurants Indian Soho

A spin-off from the original shipping-container pop-up in Brixton (now closed), Kricket’s Soho site adds a stylish, sophisticated vibe to its short menu of brilliantly conceived Anglo-Indian small plates. Try the keralan fried chicken or the ‘coronation’ smoked mackerel. Spiced-up cocktails and masala chai also cut the mustard.

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Le Bab

Restaurants Lebanese Soho

It had to happen, didn’t it? We’ve had gourmet burgers, gourmet hot dogs and gourmet fried chicken. Now it's the kebab's turn. And the kebabs here are beautiful. They have an almost Scandinavian look, being served ‘open sandwich’-style, the contents painstakingly arranged over a thin, house-made flatbread. It almost seems a pity to roll them up. Fillings change with the seasons, with preserved, charred and fermented ingredients adding to the Nordic vibe.

Lina Stores

Shopping Bakeries Soho

Three quarters of a century after opening its deli, Soho’s Lina Stores has launched this restaurant proper. Go hard on the pasta: think al dente pici (hand-rolled, worm-like), gnudi (ricotta and semolina dumplings) and squid ink spaghetti. There’s a trattoria-esque downstairs area but the best seats are at the street-level counter.

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Misato

Restaurants Japanese Chinatown

You’ll often find customers queuing out the door of this cafeteria-style Japanese restaurant, where the portions are huge and the food is pretty ace. It’s a no-frills spot, with minimal decor and tables close together. The menu ranges from sushi and bento boxes to large rice dishes, katsu curry and noodle soups – plus it’s all ridiculously good value. Service is fast and friendly, too. 

NOPI

Restaurants Contemporary Global Soho

Nopi’s chef-owner is Yotam Ottolenghi, who struck culinary gold with his game-changing Ottolenghi cafés. This is a more formal, more grown-up take on proceedings that shares the same look and ethos – right down to the inventive fusion of Middle Eastern cuisine with bold forays into the Mediterranean and Asia. Nopi isn’t the greatest bargain in town, and two-hour table slots are strictly enforced – but the wide-ranging wine list has some excellent (if pricey) selections to wash down the decent food.

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Pastaio

Restaurants Italian Soho

Pastaio on Ganton Street is like the Italian version of a large ramen joint (only serving pasta). The music is loud, there’s an open kitchen billowing steam and row upon row of communal tables. It’s all about the pasta, with lashings of butter and parmesan. Go for the carbonara made with bucatini (thick spaghetti) or the weekly-changing special of stuffed pasta.

Princi, Oxford street restaurants
Princi, Oxford street restaurants
Rob Greig / Time Out

Princi

Restaurants Italian Soho

Introduced to London by Alan Yau and Rocco Princi in 2008, this smart outpost of a Milanese bakery chain remains a popular all-day option. It’s a good-looking room, and the food is varied enough to keep diners coming back for more: as well as cakes, pastries and breads, there’s a choice of filled focaccia, hot dishes, slices of pizza and lots of attractive salads. Prices are higher than average, but it’s all quality, seasonal stuff. The bakery is (somewhat chaotic) counter service, while the adjoining pizzeria offers table service and a marginally calmer atmosphere.

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quo_vadis-7215.jpg
quo_vadis-7215.jpg
Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Quo Vadis

Restaurants British Soho

With a big chunk of its original dining room hived off to accommodate Barrafina, this Soho veteran seems to have lost some of its vim and vigour – in fact, the petite space now feels a bit like a members’ club. It’s also pricey, although we still recommend it as a contender for business lunches or sociable catch-ups – especially if you’re partial to smoked eel sarnies and humble British dishes such as fish and chips. ‘Satisfying but safe’ sums it up.

Señor Ceviche

Restaurants Peruvian Soho

You know what they say: practice makes perfect. And Harry Edmeades, aka Señor Ceviche, has had plenty of practice. In 2012, after a stint at Lima’s renowned ceviche restaurant El Mercado, the 25-year-old British chef came back to London and started Don Ceviche, a pop-up with just five ceviches (raw fish cured in citrus juice). Then he spent another two years perfecting and expanding the menu before launching this ‘proper’ restaurant. 

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Shackfuyu, 14 Old Compton Street, London W1D 4TN, tel 020 7734 7492
Shackfuyu, 14 Old Compton Street, London W1D 4TN, tel 020 7734 7492
Ming Tang-Evans

Shackfuyu

Restaurants Japanese Soho

Like Bone Daddies and Flesh & Buns before it, Ross Shonhan’s Shackfuyu is another self-styled rock ’n’ roll take on modern Japanese cuisine. Originally billed as a long-term pop-up, it’s now gone permanent and that’s great news all round. There’s nothing on the menu we don’t fancy – from the tuna tacos with avocado to the wagyu beef laced with a ginger soy dressing.

Social Eating House

Restaurants British Soho

Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred Soho enclave is one of his more frenetic outposts – a sprawling dining room with exposed brick walls, traditional white-washed copper ceilings and a menu of reimagined modern cooking delivered by a profoundly skilled brigade. Sharing jars, steaks and sundaes sit alongside pitch-perfect dishes such as roasted Cornish hake with aubergine, capers and bone marrow butter. Savvy Soho drinkers use a separate entrance to access the Blind Pig cocktail bar upstairs.

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temper
temper
© Ming Tang Evans

Temper

Restaurants Barbecue Soho

Fun-loving music, good-time vibes and smokin’ hunks of meat sizzling over the fiery coals – that’s the instantly addictive deal at this windowless basement dive dreamed up by chef Neil Rankin (of Smokehouse fame). Impossibly juicy steak keeps it simple, while assorted tacos play fast and loose with their exotic fillings – take the smoked goat. Delirious puds, meanwhile, are guaranteed to finish you off.

Upstairs at the French House

Restaurants French Soho

Head to the top floor of this old-school boozer to the teeny dining room, which is decked out with black-and-white pictures of salty old geezers. The daily-changing menu – cooked up by Neil Borthwick (ex-head chef of Merchant’s Tavern) – is crammed with seasonal French and British fare. It all tastes brilliant – gutsy, stripped back and practically cutting-edge.

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Yauatcha
Yauatcha
Michelle Grant / Time Out

Yauatcha

Restaurants Chinese Soho

Michelin-starred Yauatcha comes on like some gussied-up Taipei teahouse offering all-day grazing, superior dim sum, petit gateaux and teas of exceptional quality and value. At the same time, the lighting and seating embody the atmosphere of a congenially vibrant ‘chatter shop’ – akin to traditional Hong Kong dim sum palaces during the early hours of the morning.

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