12 Places To Grab A Drink Where You Can Also Get Good FoodWhen getting a drink is the priority, but you also want the option to eat something good, use this guide.
A drink and a bit of this and a bit of that is the ideal noncommittal setup that allows you to meet and be on your merry way if you quickly realise you have better things to do. That said, if you find yourself having a good time, these comfortable spots ensure you won’t have to bail when you realise you haven’t eaten since midday. From walk-in only wine bars to buzzing counters that blur restaurants and the bar, these places have your bases covered either way.
Evenings at Joyau go a little something like this: a sip of rosé, smear slow-cooked pork over bread, snort-laugh at your mate’s National Theatre-worthy re-enactment of their latest date, mouthful of potato pie, more wine. Repeat until you roll out of this Forest Gate arch significantly happier and fuller than when you arrived. With equally good wine and food, getting involved in both is a no-brainer at Joyau.
107 Wine Shop & Bar has perfected the atmosphere of an open-door dinner party with one of London's best wine lists. Drop into this cool Clapton wine bar, shop, and small plates restaurant for a glass and a lean if the handful of stools are taken. But make sure to stay for food. The chalkboard menu of snacks changes but it’s always European-ish—think sausage with lentils or cuttlefish with tomatoes—and everything’s always excellent.
London can never have too many great wine bars and Lulu's is a cosy hybrid that gets our heart beating. It's just outside Herne Hill station, on a little cul-de-sac which is Richard Curtis levels of quaintness, and Lulu’s, from the folks behind Llewelyn's, is no different. It’s ostensibly a shop and deli, but really a dinky candlelit bar serving warming modern European food like roasted quail and sweet onion tortilla. Lulu’s goes to show that stringent definitions are a thing best left in the past.
An old, dimly lit Bermondsey railway arch may sound like John Luther’s idea of a good time, but it should really be yours. 40 Maltby Street is easily (and seemingly effortlessly) one of London’s most consistently lovely wine bars and restaurants. Inside, its changing European small plates and laid-back atmosphere makes it a guaranteed good time, whether you’re lazily eating plums and green beans or a terrine alongside a low-intervention bottle of something or other.
Arcade Food Hall will work just as well for a cool Tom Yam mojito-fuelled date night as it will for an emergency round of Manna’s chicken fingers on a dreary Thursday afternoon. The food hall on Tottenham Court Road is home to everything from saucy little Nepalese momos to comforting wagyu keema pao. Come evening, coffee and IRL Slack chats are traded for happy hour picante margaritas and the resident DJ’s soundtrack. If you’re meeting at lunchtime you’ll probably be able to walk-in, otherwise it’s worth booking ahead.
Hidden in the chic moody basement beneath French restaurant Maison François, Frank’s is somewhere you should come to for the beaujolais and stay for the comté gougères. It’s a classic bar à vin in St. James’s that has an oyster happy hour, slick sommeliers, and enough French wine to make you feel like you’ve hopped the Channel. The vibe is moody but relaxed and if you happen to be in the market for some late-night fun, Frank’s also has a ‘Nightcap’ deal—£9 cocktails after 9pm, every day of the week.
Cadet is one of the best wine bars in London and its pâté en croûte is good-looking enough to hang in the Tate. But it’s the wonderfully cosy and effortlessly lovely atmosphere of this Newington Green spot that means minutes so quickly turn into hours. The walk-in only place is always bustling with people to the sound of clinking glasses but nothing about it feels exclusive. It’s exclusively welcoming. The European small plates menu changes but expect bread to tear, sauces to mop, and fingers at the bar to say “one more”.
In case you haven’t heard, intimacy is over. The practice of cherishing loved ones in private corners has been replaced with sending each other TikToks of an Italian greyhound in knitwear, and sweet nothings of “can you pick up more Imodium” via WhatsApp. But sometimes our silly, little, base human instincts for things like true emotional connection kick in. And that’s when you go to Bottle + Rye, a tiny Brixton wine bar with European small plates, where knees touch, hands are held beneath tables, and stories are shared over London’s most sensational anchovy toast.
If you’re looking for somewhere dimly lit and open post-1am on the weekend, Buster Mantis is a decent shout. The low-key bar and restaurant under the arches in Deptford is made for cocktails with a side of salt cod fritters. Jamaican influence runs throughout the menu, from tagliatelle with ackee to duck breast with a yam croquette.
Evernight is an izakaya in spirit, but this polished Japanese spot in Nine Elms is as focused on its food as it is its mega-cool vibe. This is a destination spot given its location, but once you’re exploring the drinks list—you can jump from wine to sake to shochu if you so wish—and munching on chicken karaage at a bar that feels like an immersive lightbox, you’ll understand that Evernight is somewhere you seek and settle into.
Will tonight last one hour or five? It’s hard to say. But Shoreditch’s Passione Vino is the type of place you take someone when you’re aiming for the latter. The downstairs shop and wine bar is an in-and-out space, but go through that hidden mirror door and you’ll find a soft-furnished parlour that is begging you to get comfortable. The wine list is entirely Italian and so too is the menu: there’s charcuterie, bread, and come-and-get-me bowls of pasta.
Despite its cavernous, Bond villain-ish interior, Planque is a restaurant that should be used for drinks and a couple of plates, just as much as it should be for a full sit-down thing. The Haggerston spot is, after all, a wine members’ club as well—so it’s safe to say that the list here is very serious, and the staff are totally approachable pros. You’ll definitely get a seat at the vast shared table if you’re dropping in and with a French-inspired menu that always has at least two or three sublime dishes, this is something of a flex if you’re asked whether you know somewhere for a glass of something and a bite to eat.