All Londoners are contractually obligated to describe Oxford Circus as a consumerist pit of despair. But where will you find us when it’s the 23rd of December or on the day the summer sales kick off? Marching down New Bond Street, carrying 18 bags with pointed elbows at the ready, that’s where. Because there’s no denying that when it comes to some heavy-duty retail therapy there’s nowhere with as many options as Oxford Circus. But once you’re finished surveying the racks or willfully ignoring those bleak notifications from your Monzo app, you’re probably going to need somewhere to refuel. That’s where this guide comes in. From a great bagel-packing brunch spot to kick off your catch-up shop to one of London’s flashiest dim sum restaurants, these are the places that are perfect for a top meal near Oxford Circus.
Sometimes in life, you just need a bagel. That being said, it’s worth noting that The Good Egg don’t just do any old bagel, they do some of the best in London. A Middle East-inspired spot in Kingly Court, the shawarmas and absolutely anything involving aubergine is also worth an order. And just in case you’ve started doing the mental arithmetics of how you’re going to hold those 12 shopping bags and eat labneh at the same time, don’t worry, they have seating. Take a load off, eat a proper sit-down lunch and then order some babka for the road. After all, you need to keep your strength up, don’t you?
After a tourist stopped directly in front of you to take a picture of a pigeon, and you encountered your fourth set of street dancers in under a mile, a vein you never knew you had is trying to break out of your temple. Before you physically implode, head to Pastaio. This place does great handmade pasta, and they’re open from 12pm until late. It can get a little busy around dinner time, but it’s a great spot to swing by mid-afternoon.
49 Dean Street, Soho, is one of London’s best known, much loved, and dependable institutions of happiness and hangovers. That’s because it’s home to The French House and has been for what historians refer to as ‘donkey’s years’. The floorboards and wooden bar of this boozer have seen things. Some good, some bad, and some that look like Hugh Grant recreating his mugshot look. Legendary downstairs bar aside, you’ll want to go for the food. Expect Anglo-French classics like rillettes, braised oxtail, and Paris Brest with chocolate sauce.
Bao is a legendary Taiwanese restaurant that makes people say profound things like ‘fuck me up, this is delicious’. And yes, when we say ‘people’, we are referring to ourselves. Basically a modern Soho landmark, this cool and casual restaurant’s Taiwanese classics should be at the top of your agenda. You absolutely need to order the pork confit bao, but honestly you could order the entire menu and not find a single dud. In case the stress of the wild, wild streets of W1 are getting to you, you should also know that they make a mean negroni.
Everyone loves a party. Except maybe that AirBnB owner you woke up at 4am because ‘the keys ran away’. But mostly, everyone loves a party, especially the kind of grown-up, octo-hummus charged party you’ll find going on at The Palomar. It’s the perfect sign-off to a day of shopping, featuring several glasses of orange wine, dipping a chunk of kubaneh bread in tahini, and smiling when you meet everyone’s favourite party guest, the falafel.
Much like if you went to see Paul McCartney and left before he sang Blackbird, you’d not only be missing out on the chance to ugly cry with hundreds of weeping strangers, but you’d also be missing out on the best part of the set. It would be exactly the same if you went to Sri Lankan spot Hoppers without getting involved in the headline act, their huge egg hopper - which is basically the lovechild of a paper-thin pancake and the world’s sexiest bowl. As well as having some stupidly tasty food on offer, their whole exposed brick and warm light glow thing, make it the perfect spot for a lowkey date or a proper catch-up with your favourite person and lime-heavy cocktails.
All dumplings are cute in our opinion, but seeing as we’re eternally hungry we’re probably biased. That being said this little corner-restaurant has a menu that might get those ‘ALERT, ALERT, CENTRAL LONDON GIMMICK’ alarm bells ringing - think cheeseburger and cauliflower cheese dumplings, but they’re actually all very tasty. For the classicists, they’ve also got prawn or pork belly dumplings, and the platters for £12 make it perfect for a casual mid-shop catch-up.
Sushi Atelier is a beautiful, fishy unicorn. Okay, that sounded better in our heads, but stay with us, because this laidback spot in Fitzrovia is that rare London restaurant that not only serves genuinely excellent sushi, but shockingly, it’s also relatively affordable given the quality of the fish. On the menu you’ll find everything from octopus carpaccio to snow crab sashimi to yellowtail truffle rolls, but our game plan here is to always go for one of the omakase selections or the sushi sets. Although we’re big fans of sitting up at the counter where the action is, the reservable tables out on the street might be best with all those bags.
Outside of running for the bus when we’re a savage sweaty hour behind schedule, shopping is our favourite form of cardio. Joe Wicks eat your bloody heart out, because these PE legends took the stairs in the Nike store. After getting all those good steps in, it’s time for a blow-out meal at Meraki. This Greek restaurant on Great Titchfield Street that’s a bit flash and a lot of fun. The atmosphere here is always 10/10 and importantly, so is the wine and the feta-packed courgette pasta.
Given the fact that we once left a party because there was a three-minute queue for the bathroom it should be known that the fact we’re willing to wait in line for the udon at Koya Bar should tell you a lot. This little corridor of a restaurant in Soho specialises in udon and whether you go for some hot udon in cold broth or for a tempura donburi that we’ll probably request on our deathbed, you’ll be set for a seriously excellent - and seriously affordable - meal.
Do you like listening to those bedtime stories for adults where Stephen Fry or Harry Styles whisper things like ‘shh, go to sleep, you are not a terrible person’? Yes? Then Kolamba will be right up your street. It’s an incredibly peaceful Sri Lankan restaurant on Kingly Street that serves punchy flavours with a side of relaxation and foliage. Although the sharing plates can be a little hit-or-miss, dishes like the parippu and crispy chilli cuttlefish are proper bangers. Basically, this is how we imagine spas to be if you got a dry fried beef chatti roast instead of a massage - a trade we’d happily make anyday.
Say the words ‘Liberty, Dahling!’ outloud. Let them marinate in your mouth, feel them deep down to your greedy little soul. Once you’re in that ‘fuck it, I am a socialite’ mindset and have thrown some serious cash around, get yourself to Yauatcha. This high-glam, high-end Chinese restaurant serves excellent dim sum and the kind of beautiful patisserie that will make even the most aggravated shopper bust a smile. Don’t skip the venison puffs.
They didn’t have the shoes in your size. That manager asked you not to touch the candles even though you wore your ‘fancy coat’. And you saw some entirely unrepeatable things in that candy shop that turned out to be a sex dungeon. Ah Soho, you strike again, you glorious freak. But when it’s all become a little too much to handle, opt for ice cream. Gelupo serves the best gelato in the city and there’s nothing quite like a scoop of cherry stracciatella to get your energy levels back up. FYI they’ve also got coffee and biscotti covered.