Welcome to Soho. A cultural hub, the beating, buzzing heart of London, and a neighbourhood that is arguably home to many of the city’s tiny, lovably cramped restaurants. Yes, when it comes to finding somewhere for you and six mates to eat when you’re surrounded by narrow converted townhouses and approximately two million other friendship groups who had the good idea to meet in central, Soho is tricky. Well, please picture us trotting down Dean Street on a giant white horse - or something - and coming promptly to your rescue with this guide. From an affordable handmade pasta spot that’s perfect for primitovo and al dente cacio e pepe to a huge old school French spot that’s perfect for everyone, these are the Soho restaurants that can seat you and all your friends.
Eight mates, eight steaks, and a good time will be had at Blacklock. Especially once you throw in a couple of their £5 cocktails and a shared round of some of their top bread pudding to finish the night off. A boozy basement spot housed in an ex Soho brothel, this place is permanently popular, cool, and surprisingly affordable with great group deals and a rump fillet for 12 quid. If you’re rolling with a vegetarian, know that this place also does a couple of grilled vegetable mains, but really, if we’re being totally honest, you’re here for the meat, beef-dripping chips, and the garlic marrow spread.
Okay, so it’s 10pm and you’re all shuffling around Soho, tipsy from those pints at The Coach and Horses, and wondering whether it’s socially acceptable to just offer everyone a tinny and a single Marlboro Light as their dinner so you can finally sit down. Stop. Breathe. And now make your way to Old Compton Brasserie, which, aptly, is on Old Compton Street. A huge modern, glossy brasserie, this place is open from lunch until late every day of the week and although none of the food here will change your life, it’s a great shout for some big booth dining and an even bigger menu that has something for everyone. Think vegan curries, a classic sirloin with steak frites, and salads for that mate who claims to be eating Keto again. Oh, also there are £10 cocktails throughout the night.
Korean Dinner Party serves a deep-fried hot dog and bacon mochi. Need we say more? Okay, well just in case you’re not already sold, we will. A rowdy restaurant on top of Kingly Court that has a menu designed by the duo behind Tata Eatery and some entirely essential melt-in-your-mouth beef short rib tacos. This place is by no means quiet but that makes it perfect for a boozy evening that centres around a £29 per person set-menu, plenty of banana milk rum punch, and importantly, plenty of fun.
Although this sentence may scare anyone who has seen any horror film ever, to get peak group potential out of Bancone, you’re going to need to go down to the basement. But unlike in those aforementioned horror films, the basement here doesn’t contain any dolls, ouija boards, or Norman Bates, just huge slick grey leather booths and Bancone’s signature moody lighting. Get some antipasti for the table, get the rich £9 silk handkerchiefs with walnut better for your stomach, and get gloriously merry with a couple bottles of house red. Sorted.
When you think of group dining in Soho, you think Brasserie Zedel. For starters, this place is huge, massive, and a bunch of other words that vaguely translate to ‘yes, you can fit your whole friendship circle, their array of bored partners, and that random bloke called Mark who you haven’t been able to shake since meeting in a smoking area two hours ago, at a table here’. Thanks to their £16 three-course prix-fixe menu you can have an entirely affordable experience in a seriously grand space, and although there are a couple duds on the menu, you can’t go wrong with the steak haché et frites. It’s also worth getting involved in the île flottante, that’s undeniably sweet and cheap. Just like us.
Famed for being one of London’s favourite Indian restaurants and saving a million wannabe romantics with a last-minute date option when they definitely meant to book somewhere two weeks ago, Dishoom is a no-brainer for big group dinners. Outside of big booths, banquette seating, and some lamb chops that taste just as good as they look, their Kingly Street spot has the find of feel that means you can properly kick back and enjoy yourself. You’ll probably have to wait for a table, but trust us, the queue moves quick.
Sharing is caring. Sharing is also the best way to experience Inko Nito. A loud, proud, and arguably very cool Japanese and Korean-inspired restaurant on Broadwick Street, you’re going to want to commandeer one of their long eight-person tables and load up on whisky-glazed pork belly, panko fried chicken with chilli mayo, and marinated bone marrow from the shiny robata grill at the centre of the restaurant. That being said, know that you definitely won’t want to share the charred coconut soft serve. We repeat, do not share the soft serve.
Al dente handmade pasta, a vermouth menu, and a sexy basement that feels distinctly Soho. What more could you want from an Italian restaurant in central? If you’re thinking, ‘actually I’d quite like a giant 48-hour fermented dough pizza please’, then you’re in luck because this trattoria on Brewer Street has got those too. Open for over a decade and owned by three brothers, this place is a proper charmer and has got something for everyone with gluten free pasta options, £10 pizza, and a cocktail bar that’s perfect for having a couple of negronis before deciding whether this person is worthy of sharing Nonna Mantovani’s tiramisu. Just don’t skip the beef ragu, it’s excellent.
Your heart says ‘beer’ but your stomach says ‘prawn toast’. What to do? We suggest hitting up The Duck and Rice, where there’s a plush looking ‘pub’ downstairs with massive vats of Pilsner Urquell lying around for the freshest pours, and small plates of dim sum on the menu. Upstairs, there’s a sleek dining room serving dishes that are great for group hangs, like roast duck, noodle dishes, and of course, prawn toast.