11 Places To Grab A Drink Where You Can Also Get Good Food
When 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.
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 hefty Margot Henderson sandwiches and, 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.
Wun's Tea Room & Bar
If you’re looking for a speakeasy-ish vibe in central London, head to Wun’s Tea Room in Soho. The sibling spot to Bun House is an altogether more seductive affair—the lights are dim, the fried chicken with kung pao sauce is perfect picky food, and the choice of cocktails is excellent.
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Hidden in the chic moody basement beneath French restaurant Maison François, Frank’s is the kind of place where you come for the Beaujolais but 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 start-of-the-week fun, Frank’s also has a Monday night wine club.
photo credit: Sam A Harris
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 small plates menu changes but expect bread to tear, sauces to mop, and fingers at the bar to say ‘one more’.
Bottle + Rye
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 teeny, 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.
photo credit: Greg Funnell
Bar Daskal, in Borough Yards, is from the folks behind Barrafina and has similar Big Spanish Holiday Energy. The wine and cocktail bar’s whitewashed walls, warm lighting, and bold artworks combined with artfully placed knick-knacks and colour-coordinated books, give off a luxe Mediterranean B&B feel, in the best possible way. Slink into the banquette seating for date night fuelled by negronis, or perch around high tables for a perfectly poured after-work Estrella. Just know that snacks like gildas and chorizo are essential.
If you’re looking for somewhere dimly lit and open post-midnight 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.
photo credit: Jake Missing
Evernight is an izakaya in spirit, but this polished spot in Nine Elms is as focused on its food as it is its mega-cool Japanese 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.
photo credit: John Carey
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.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
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 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 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.
If you’re looking to make a statement of the most Daily Mail sidebar variety, book a spot at the counter (or chance it at the bar) at Chiltern Firehouse. All manner of stories good and bad have started with a drink at this glitzy Marylebone hot spot but, a little surprisingly, the food is pretty good too. There are oysters and crudo and little 10-inch pizzas to snack on, and the caesar salad is a go-to. If you’re worried about running out of things to talk about, this is the perfect place—there are conversation topics everywhere you look.