A perfect summer’s day is often best paired with a large group of friends, their friends, a few of their cousins, and some of their friends. The stress of organising such an event - especially at a place with good food and drink - does mean that we don’t do it often enough, and the low-level digital torture of the WhatsApp back-and-forth means choosing a location by consensus is not going to happen.
That’s where we come in. Here are some places you can turn up with a gang. They’re all prime real estate, and they have great options for food too.
Of all the new-age food markets and industrial environments, Pop Brixton is one of our favourites. Season 2 of The Wire aside, this is our favourite thing involving shipping containers. From the fried chicken, to the vegan burgers, to the community farm - this is one of those places where it’s very easy to have a good time, especially with a bunch of mates
Suggesting a living room-sized wine bar as a place to hang out with all of your friends may seem like an odd thing to do, but the UK’s street drinking culture isn’t second to none without reason. On balmy evenings P. Franco spills out onto the pavement of Lower Clapton Road, and if you wander past you’ll see a crowd gathered round, chatting, smoking, and drinking lots and lots of wine. If you’re looking for comfort and seating, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for great wine, great food, and a place to lean, it is.
If frosé, burgers, and dumplings sounds like your sort of party, then Pergola Paddington is where you and your pals want to be heading. This enormous open-air market is non-stop come summer, but grab yourself a spot and you’ll find it’s an extremely easy (and dangerous) place to pitch up in.
Rooftop bars don’t have the best rep. Usually they’re all ergonomic plastic furniture and 2015 Love Island contestants, but Frank’s in Peckham is different. It’s a cafe and bar on the roof of a car park and is pretty much the place to be in London on a glorious day. The bar serves a range of beers, wine, and cocktails, all at pretty reasonable rooftop prices. While the food changes each year, it’s likely to be an array of tasty grilled food. Basically, things you’re going to enjoy eating, not looking at. Because you’ll have the entire London skyline to look at instead.
The absolute wrong way to do The Prince is to rock up eight deep with no booking. So definitely book. When you do get there, booking in hand hopefully, you’ll find a massive drinking hall with four restaurants in residence along the sides of the space. This summer, they have Homeslice, Jefferies, Patty & Bun, and Edu, which should mean something to suit everyone’s tastes. With a covered roof, this is a solid choice to day drink and day eat even when the weather is being a bit ‘British’.
You may think of St. John as a place for a classic British meal, but we can also recommend it as a place for a classic British pint. The front bar area here is casual and has plenty of room for groups to roll in. While there’s technically a skylight roof, it feels like you’re outside, and the white walls give it a brightness that’s rare for London. Order a bone marrow and parsley to pass around.
Although we often bang on about what goes on inside of Brigadiers (pool table, whisky vending machine, espresso martini fuelled decision making) it also has a pretty big terrace out front as well. It’s a great space to start your evening post-work, as there’s an outside bar offering beer on tap, wine, and cocktails. Oh, and there are heaters in case London starts being all London. The full menu is available outside, but we reckon outside is best for a few drinks alongside some butter chicken wings and vindaloo samosas.
Nothing says summer like hanging out with all your friends in a car park, right? We’re not talking about a couple of cans leaning on a Corsa though, we’re talking about Peckham Levels. The food and drink floor of this old car hotel is perfect when you’ve got a serious amount of people with seriously different tastes.
The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is essentially a park with a bar, but there are tables and chairs scattered around, and the garden is full of cool structures to wander through. They also let you bring in your own food, so pick up some food from Mangal or Voodoo Rays) to fuel you for the day or night.
We’re always a bit down on the soulless corporate cesspit that is Canary Wharf, but it does have Giant Robot. It’s a great place to grab some street food, and also a useful spot to gather with a large number of your coworkers or co-corporate hostages for a pint or some cocktails. The elevated location means you get to experience some of the best sunsets in London on the odd occasion the sun decides to pop out.
Just when you think there are enough ‘cool’ places to eat and drink in Hackney, another one opens to add to your east London decision-making anxiety. Mare Street Market is a very large space that has a bar, a restaurant serving good enough pizza, a deli, record shop, and outdoor space. All of this adds up to make it a pretty decent destination when you’re rolling too deep and need to make a decision.
You looked at your weather app 50 times during the week to make sure that the weekend is going to behave for the big group hang you’ve been organising, but in true British weather fashion, your app is now informing you that a tornado is going to hit 20 mins before kick-off. Fear not - your crew can take refuge in Market Halls Fulham. The converted ticket hall is huge and beautiful, and there’s more than enough vendors for you to eat your way out of your disappointment.
Sports, live music, and indoor and outdoor food vendors who range from half decent to full on decent. And if there are a few of you with a bunch of conflicting interests on the food and alcohol front, this place is a good compromise and the food, is very good. Hit up Ekachai for Malaysian char kway teow noodles and dim sum, Savage Salads for, er, nice salads, and Bar Douro for fancy Portuguese small plates.
If your crew wants to get dressed like they are going out out, but doesn’t actually want to go out out, hit Ham Yard in Soho. It feels sunny most of the year, and come summer they have the outdoor terrace to help you build that tan before your trip to somewhere with better weather. Just don’t get too drunk to think that it’s a good idea to try and have a meal at the restaurant though - you’ll be better off elsewhere in Soho.