Where To Have Your Birthday Dinner In London

The best restaurants for your birthday meal, assuming that Hollywood Bowl is no longer an option.
Rémy Martin

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

One of the questions we get asked most is: “Where should I have my birthday dinner?”. You’re probably looking for something fun and informal, where you can get a table for a group between four to 10 people. Well, guess what? These restaurants do exist in London. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed pop-in-whenever type affair, something with a celebratory soundtrack, or a no-budget, slap your plastic on the table type thing, we have some suggestions. 

If you’re after something even more special, check out our guide to London's best private dining rooms. And if you just want to dance the night away, we’ve got a guide for that too.

£20–£30 A HEAD

For intimate groups, big BYOB gangs, and those unbothered about swanky shebangs.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



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If ‘friendly house party’ is the vibe you’re going for this year, Mexican Seoul in Hackney is the place for you. Bounty bars are balanced on top of excellent white rum and pineapple cocktails, tables are pushed together for last-minute groups, and friendly staff all but dance towards you, dropping off rounds of lychee soju coolers, complimenting your outfit, then moving on to make another person’s night. Dishes are a successful mashup of Mexican and Korean street food, like beef bulgogi tacos, elote ribs, and gochujang wings, and suit a crowd. 

Yes, we’re hoping for an iPad and maybe a new pair of trainers for our birthday, but what we’d really like is a bargain. And Bancone in Borough Yards delivers. It’s all about fresh pasta and confit egg yolks in a space that looks like a very expensive garden centre from the outside, and is sleek and moody inside. Bring three of your favourite people and enjoy the signature silk handkerchiefs glistening in walnut butter, the must-order duck ragù, and glasses of wine starting from £6.50. 

Tumnan Thai is a homely neighbourhood staple that’s been hosting wholesome, low-key celebrations and serving hearty Thai classics, like kaeng massaman and crispy tempura, in Clapham for over 20 years. The tables are the kind of close that’ll have you apologising awkwardly while shuffling too close to someone’s face to get out, but the cosy setup creates a nice buzz come dinnertime. Just don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want to spill spicy red curry on.

For a birthday that starts with a round of bruschetta and ends with a hefty slice of banoffee and a candle, Al Forno is your friendly neighbourhood Italian spot in Wimbledon. 'Keeping it down' isn’t something that happens here. Birthdays are celebrated loudly, with strangers putting down their slice of pizza to join in the clapping and flour-covered chefs singing along from the kitchen. The pastas are consistent and satisfying, but the move is to get a large pizza and refuse to share it with anyone.

Big round tables covered with hands pawing for another pancake, and luminous chilli beef staining the pristine white tablecloth is a go-to birthday scene for many people. But in Docklands, Yi-Ban sets itself apart from other Cantonese restaurants by including the spectacle of planes taking off and landing in the background. All while you try to ensure a safe journey for the juicy pork dumpling travelling from the table to your mouth.

If a vegetarian-heavy menu matters almost as much as a no-corkage BYOB policy, then Yada’s is your spot. The buzzing Kurdish restaurant on Peckham’s Rye Lane is all screw tops and warm hajari bread. The menu suits many hungry stomachs, as its glowing falafels, sweet and spicy dips, and generous platters of shawarma are all meant for sharing. Just make sure you book ahead—this is a big group favourite for a reason.

This vegan Ethiopian spot in Dalston is a smart move for multiple reasons. Firstly, there’s no messing about as the sampler platter is the only thing on the menu. There are only two decisions to make: injera, or rice and injera; and big or bigger. Secondly, Ethiopian food is one of (if not, the) best choice for shared meals. Piles of moreish spiced yesimir wot on injera are made for many hands and familiar faces. Lastly, it’s BYOB.

This Pakistani restaurant in Tooting is a non-stop party in a fake palace. Starters of dynamite chicken are served in silver goblets with a side of billowing dry ice. And, if it’s your birthday, a conga line of sparklers will weave its way to your table as a birthday song blasts over the speakers. Some of the food reads a bit gimmicky, like pizza samosas, but this isn’t where you come for a life-changing lamb biryani. This is where you come for unabashed birthday mania surrounded by all gold everything.

A big slap-up Turkish meal is our idea of a brilliant birthday celebration and Gökyüzü is always going to be at the top of the list. The legendary restaurant is one of many options on Green Lanes but there’s something about its comforting familiarity that we always come back to. Virtually every day and night of the week there’s some kind of kebab-heavy celebration going on. It would be rude not to join the party.

£40–£60 A HEAD

For when you want the food and the feel to be a little bit special.

All we want for our birthday this year is to eat a piece of chicken parm the size of our head and perform impromptu karaoke in a toilet stall. Which is why Grasso, an Italian-American spot in Soho, is perfect. The music is loud, there are groups where couples peel off and go full Lady and the Tramp over meatballs, while others get stuck into Aperol spritzes that are fishbowl-sized. If you don’t have a good time here, mainlining penne alla vodka and spilling ‘nduja on the laminated wipe-clean menus, we can’t help you. 

Use this Korean restaurant in Golders Green as it’s set up to be: a comfortable, carnivores’ hangout that won’t break the bank. The room can fit groups big and bigger, and is often filled with every generation. It’s one of those living room-like restaurants where manners are fluid and many hands rule. Eager chopsticks snap at banchan, backseat MasterChefs advise on the grill, and matriarchal types wield meat-cutting scissors like an extension of their own hands. 

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



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The Tiroler Hut knows how to have a good time. To the uninitiated, this Austrian cavern is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it place. The single door on Westbourne Grove is lit only by an enticingly sordid red neon sign and two cowbells below it. For the initiated, this is one of London’s most raucous nights out at a restaurant. Sure, the goulash is mediocre but who cares when Josef, the elderly owner in lederhosen, is playing the cowbells like he’s on the Pyramid Stage. Don’t be surprised if someone is crowd surfing by the time the karaoke mic comes out. 

Bébé Bob comes from the same restaurant group that brought London the ‘Press For Champagne’ button, and this shiny spot on Soho Square is similarly extroverted. The carpet, chairs, and walls are all glowing red and we wouldn’t be surprised to learn there was a caviar-fuelled conversation pit in another room. Chicken is the sole main and the Landes one (French, yellow, fancy) is pushed to the highest scale on the juice-o-meter while wearing an impressively crisp overshirt. If you like a sprinkle of OTT on your birthday, you’ll like this spot.

Given that you can order everything from Tsiakkos & Charcoal’s menu for £35—unsocially garlic-packed tzatziki, pork and chicken souvlaki, hefty bowls of moussaka, sweet slow-burnt pork shoulder—it’s easy to understand why the Greek spot is such a favourite among groups of friends. But it’s also the feeling that an evening at this Notting Hill restaurant gives you. The grill smokes even more than Marlboro Golds do out front, and a birthday sing-song is always piercing eardrums in the covered courtyard.

Mangal II is perfect for a birthday that you intend to start with a brilliant meal rather than end with it. The modern Turkish spot is right in the heart of Dalston and acts as a destination for anyone who appreciates the meaty delights of mutton kofte, a moreish bowl of mushroom manti, and a bottle of grüner veltliner with what looks like a young Anna Wintour on the label. Across the cosy room, Charli XCX doppelgängers take down gorgeous tahini and apple tarts with mahlep cream, and, if you're looking for somewhere to continue after, there are plenty of options nearby.

Eko Bar, situated in the heart of Homerton, is the epitome of a Nigerian lounge bar. Tinted windows, flash cars parked outside, and a vibe that doesn't pick up until the late hours of the night. But when it does pick up, you’re in for a swing. On Friday nights, the weekly live band plays Nigerian funk renditions of old hits and new afrobeats. Waiters bring out piping hot plates of chewy but tender asun goat meat and gizzard. While the typical beers and stouts are all available, the imported palm wine is a must-try. 

Here’s an excellent way to spend your birthday: eat at the best Vietnamese restaurant in London. The casual Deptford restaurant covers all bases with its menu—bún and phở, baby back ribs, and vegan specials—and all of them are better than anywhere else. It gets super popular on weekends so make sure you book ahead. It’s a spot that suits low-key celebrations where groups are fuelled by crisp beers, packed gỏi cuốn, and crunchy bánh xèo tôm thįt.

With a bit of forward planning, you can get six of your nearest and dearest tearing into The Tamil Prince’s irresistible Indian menu. This pub-cum-curry-house off Caledonian Road is the kind of place you settle into. It’s in the shell of a pub—comfy, cosy, but with a lot more paneer butter masala—and the menu has something for everyone. Don’t miss out on the channa bhatura. It’s the most delicious UFO you’ve ever encountered, complete with a moreish chickpea curry.

If being in the heart of Soho, knocking back mini martinis and popping chilli water-laden gildas to the soundtrack of LCD Soundsystem sounds like your kind of birthday meal, then we’ll probably get on. At Rita’s, the new American medley of chicken parmigiana and punchy low-intervention wines make for an extremely fun evening. It’s not a big restaurant, nor is it particularly elaborate, but no other restaurant is doing Americana like this in London.

If your vision of an ideal birthday involves your friends and family talking and hugging, laughing and spilling, pouring and spaghetti-twirling, cackling and cigarette-stealing… then you’ve probably already booked Ciao Bella. The old-school Italian in Bloomsbury is a celebratory classic and while the food is satisfying, Ciao Bella is about great times, not gastronomy.

£70–£100 A HEAD

For big blowouts where the food, the room, and the booze are all top priority.

This year, you’re going for an exclusive, strictly-tier-one-friends birthday celebration. The Dover, an old-school-feeling, Italian spot in Mayfair, is exactly the setting you need. Walk past the heavy curtains and sexy bar area, to the candle-filled dining room. Although this moody restaurant has a members’ club energy to it, the servers are friendly and any meal here will be a laid-back, enjoyable one that you’ll want to stretch out for as long as possible. Our birthday order would be a whole dover sole, the caesar salad to share, and a cheesecake for dessert.

You’ll find perfect trimmed trees, flowers, and maybe a celeb or two at Stanley’s. The Chelsea restaurant has sophisticated food that falls somewhere between British and Mediterranean, and is perfect for a grown-up birthday dinner with your deeply fabulous friends. Prices can stack up quickly, because, hello, you’re in Chelsea, but it’s all entirely worth it for a great fruity martini on a warm London evening. They do have some perfectly lovely seating inside but really you’re here for the satisfaction of eating some beef tartare out in the charming courtyard.

The only mortality-related thought you’ll have at Brigadiers, is “let me croke right here, on this pool table with a pint in hand and a mouth full of goat tikki bun kebab”. This Indian spot in the City is pretty big, so depending on numbers you can either go for a booth in the main restaurant area, or book one of their three private dining rooms. There’s no cake here, but just go ahead and shove a candle in the beef shin and bone marrow biryani. It’s far better than a certain caterpillar named Colin anyway.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Birthdays are about excess and at Rambutan that works just fine. Because the move at this buzzy Sri Lankan restaurant in Borough Market is to simply get everything. The dinky little gunda dosas, the smoky black pork curry, at least five rotis—the lot. While things get hot and heavy at the counter, the advantage of Rambutan’s long bench tables is that you can get everybody around them and absolutely everything on them, including a few banana negronis.

Soho birthdays can feel special or stressful but at Quo Vadis, it’s always the former. The British classic on Dean Street mixes white tablecloths with gloriously sloppy chicken pies, and a bottle of champagne is best enjoyed with QV’s tower of Wonka-ish chocolate-covered profiteroles. This is a restaurant that suits friends as well as family, from old eel sandwich enthusiasts to young gourmands trying their first île flottante. Quo Vadis knows how to show you a good time.

The Tuscan-inspired trattoria around the corner from Farringdon station is so relaxed in its own skin it imparts a natural feeling of scialla into all its diners. If you know how to do things correctly, a birthday celebration at Trattoria Brutto should start at lunchtime, end at closing, and should feature more £5 negronis than there are fingers on your hand. With mahogany tones, fans lazily spinning overhead, and gingham tablecloths topped with bowls of vodka penne, this room feels like it’s Tuscany through Frank Sinatra’s eyes. 

Hidden in plain sight on a corner just seconds away from the chaos of Oxford Street, Bibi is a small but significant Indian restaurant. Effortlessly good service, plush four-person booths, and an intimate feel make this a place you’d want to bring someone special. Its menu—a la carte at lunch and set at dinner—includes melt-in-your-mouth orkney scallop and tender grilled chicken in a cashew and yoghurt whey sauce. Plate-licking is actively encouraged. At least, we think it is. It’s one of the best Indian restaurants in London. Fancy, yes. Fantastic food, without a doubt. 

Sessions is the kind of place you daydream about when you’re thinking about the perfect restaurant for your birthday dinner. It’s almost entirely lit by candles, the ceiling feels 100-feet-high, and the artfully dilapidated room looks like it should be the setting for a raucous party scene in a Paolo Sorrentino film. The food is rustic, tasty, and European, and the wine list is similarly brilliant. Come for something intimate, or bring your nearest and dearest and settle into one of the booths upstairs.

St. John’s original restaurant in Clerkenwell is where you go for a birthday dinner with any number of people who refuse, at any point during the meal, to stop consuming. The seminal British restaurant is all about red wine stains on white tablecloths, and moreish slabs of Welsh rarebit. You can fit a decent number of people in the bar area, although it is walk-in only. Otherwise book a table in the main room or pitch up in their private dining room if you’re looking to seriously settle in for the evening.

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