Our favourite memories from restaurants usually don’t involve 22 courses or a place called La Thingymabob By Whatstheirface. These kind of restaurants are good every now and then but they can be a little serious. They’re the kind of place where, for some reason, you think you need to look thoughtful all the time. And talk about Question Time, not Love Island. Usually our favourite meals are in restaurants where you can have some fun, be loud, and not have anyone wince because your laugh is, well, quite noticeable.
Not every restaurant is made for this though. That might be because of the set-up, the staff, or the sour-faced couple sat silently opposite. That shouldn’t happen in any of these spots, because these are some of our favourite restaurants to get a little bit rowdy in.
You’ve done it. You’ve truly changed. You are not the person you once were. You’re all grown up. You are going on a triple date. The best way to feel like you’re not totally past it is to book Som Saa. It’s a raucous Thai restaurant that has big drinks, big flavours, and big booths. Get a round of cocktails at the bar first, and before you can say “one nahm dtok pla thort, please” (deep fried seabass) you’ll be having the time of your life, rather than sitting there wondering how long it will be before you start looking forward to watching the Antiques Roadshow.
Things that are vital for a restaurant to have for you to be loud and proud in: easy food that everyone likes, a buzzy room, friendly staff, booze, friendly staff who encourage you to have lots of food and booze. That’s it. And Brat has all of these things. Book ahead because this place is busy, but it’s ideal for a fun lunch, or dinner with family, friends, or your better half.
Black Axe Mangal is that restaurant that you, me, and lots of other drunk people have discussed opening with someone you met an hour ago, sitting on a sofa, at around 4am. “It’ll have... like, loud music... yeah yeah... and mental food with glitter on it... yeah weird stuff... and paintings of Gene Simmons on the oven... yeah... do you want another drink?”. Only, B.A.M did it. And it’s brilliant. This place is like the best house party you’ve ever been to, only the food options are far better than cheese and onion crisps.
Your office has decided to ‘work remotely’. From the pub. Since 4pm. It’s now 5pm, and another bottle of prosecco has just been put down because you’re celebrating the end of the week, or something. The pretence of work has finally ended. Cheers. You’re going to need to migrate to somewhere with edible food and a celebratory atmosphere. And you’re going to need to go there very, very soon. Tayaabs is the place. This old-school Punjabi restaurant is a classic for a reason. People come here for good times, and to bring as much booze as they like. You may have to wait a little, but the lamb chops make it all worth it.
Going to Greyhound is a bit like going to one of those events that your friend put you on the list for. Everything’s very hectic, a bit daft, and not entirely right. But you can have a good time here with your friends if you don’t let the wrongness get to you. The food here - Thai - is a bit of a mixed bag. Some things are really good, like the satay, laab and pork knuckle. But other things aren’t so good, like the burger or pasta dishes. That said, order right and it’s a lively place to have a meal.
Sure most restaurants have bars. A sometimes semi-awkward space to sip a drink before going to your seat and finally feeling comfortable. What most restaurants don’t have are downstairs sake dens where you can wet your whistle before heading up to My Neighbours The Dumplings for a load of delicious dumplings, and other bits and bobs. Come for the dumplings. Stay for the sake. Then stay a bit longer for some more.
People often say they want to go somewhere ‘with character’. Max’s has certainly got character, mainly because the man himself is such a character. This restaurant has transformed sandwiches from a lunchtime snack into proper dinner. It simply puts everything, sides included, between the bread. Turn up here in a twosome, threesome or whateversome, and you’ll be greeted like an old friend by someone you’ve never met. Then you’ll probably have a shot. And be offered a some Haribo.
Temper City is a good-time restaurant if we’ve ever seen one. The food is a little bit funky with stuff like Korean haggis. Yes, we said Korean haggis. The kitchen/grill station/meat utopia is slap bang in the middle, so whether you’re sitting around the bar or on a big table nearby, it’s gonna be loud, smokey, and exactly the kind of place you can feel at home in.
“Ooh shall we meet after work for a nice romantic dinner”. “Of course darling, let’s take it easy tonight.” Two hours later you’re sitting at the bar in the Palomar, having the time of your lives. You’re ordering (and drinking) something called the Bumblebee like they’re going out of fashion, and eating a load of Israeli salads and dips. You’re talking with your mouth full, you’re laughing at everything, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.
There are some foods, for some reason, that don’t seem to be made for polite conversation or a discussion about the economy. Eating ribs, brisket buns, crispy baked potato, and then some sticky toffee pudding are those kind of foods. Smokestak is barbecue food to share, enjoy, and order more of, between a load of you. This is a restaurant where they do whatever they want to do, and you can do the same.
Whenever a restaurant has some sort of mention of alcohol in its name, you get the feeling they aren’t going to be too prissy about everyone having a good time. And when a restaurant is all about fried chicken and sour cocktails, you get the feeling you’re going to have a lot of fun. These feelings would be correct.
Your keys have been temporarily lost twice (in coat pocket), your phone once (in back pocket), and your dignity on numerous occasions (current whereabouts unknown). You need a meal. In fact all of you need a meal. Praise be that you’re in Soho, and Hung’s is round the corner. Here is a restaurant where nobody will bat an eyelid, despite the fact your group’s lost any sense of volume, etiquette, and self-control. A bit of no-nonsense duck and rice will do everyone a bit of good.
Nan, grandad, aunt, uncle, mum, dad, brother, sister in law, cousin, cousin’s boyfriend, and the dog. They’re all coming. And the dog will probably bring a mate as well. You need somewhere relaxed, tasty, and able to deal with your family’s penchant for drinking wine like water. Little Georgia is ideal. It’s laidback, has loads of great salads to share, and some great poussin and bread to pair it with. You’ll probably wish Georgian wine wasn’t quite so affordable once all the family are on it.