The Most Fun Dinner Spots In London

A night out at one of these restaurants will never be boring.
The candle-lit interior of 107 Wine Shop & Bar packed with people at a long table

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Those seeking a polite meal, click away now. This guide is reserved for anyone who’s wondering, “Where’s the place to be?” and might have a penchant for mid-dinner photoshoots and post-dinner bar hopping. Chairs aren’t just for sitting in some of these restaurants and, while food is important, a good time takes priority. 

These spots aren’t animatronic wildlife, rabbit rillette-and-a-top-hat kind of fun. No, they range from old-school classics that gave your grandad a complimentary shot back in the day to hot and geotag-heavy new spots that are all glugging bottles and acrylic nails. They’re the “it” dinner places in London.

And if you happen to be looking for some fun bars, we have a guide to those too.


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsCatching Up With MatesDrinking Good Beer
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This industrial, dimly lit barbecue restaurant inside Hackney Church Brew Co. in Hackney is part beer hall, part shrine to things cooked over fire. Big, boisterous groups pile into the pew-like sharing benches and treat every night like Friday. Blistered pork bites are thrown back like popcorn, napkins become a precious commodity, and attention is torn between a disaster date story and the lacy crust of the must-order smashburger smeared with sharp vinegar slaw. Expect big flavours, big end-of-the-week energy, and even bigger chicken wings.

If you’re looking for a champagne and martini-fuelled time machine that gives you a taste of the 1980s heyday, then nowhere is doing it quite like Arlington. The European St. James’s restaurant has the feel of somewhere Mick Jagger would fall out of after a few bottles of bubbly and a cursory fish cake. Probably because Mick Jagger has fallen out of here several times when it was still Le Caprice. The monochrome dining room, lined with David Bailey portraits of famous faces, is relaxing, piano-filled, and potentially debauch all at once.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Nothing says fun quite like an impromptu karaoke session in a disco-themed bathroom. Grasso is an Italian-American, Soho restaurant that specialises in good-times energy and big plates of tasty food. Laid-back, smiley servers interrupt your mozzarella stick cheese pull moment with fishbowl-sized spritzes and laminated, wipe-clean menus. Expect backslapping, ordering wine before you’ve even sat down with no fear of side-eye, and salads that are 90% dressing and 10% lettuce. You'll leave happy and full, with leftover penne alla vodka and plans of returning.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch



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Open since 1967 and responsible for thousands, if not millions, of paracetamol the following day, this yodelling, beer boot-pouring, bratwurst-grilling Austrian cavern in Notting Hill knows how to have a good time. 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. In fact, don’t be surprised if someone is crowd surfing by the time the karaoke mic comes out. Some people in the Hobbiton-like room come here as a pair, but that isn’t the way to do it. Come with friends, make more, and pray that sausage selection lines your stomach by the time tomorrow comes.

Yi-Ban is undoubtedly the best airport meal London has to offer, in that it’s directly opposite (rather than inside) one of those godforsaken Pret havens. The old-school Cantonese spot is all glowing crispy chilli beef and Airbus A318s. It’s essentially a glass and white table-clothed viewing platform to the runways of City Airport across the way. Few things beat a big Cantonese spread: crispy duck pancakes, doughy turnip cake with XO sauce, humming Singapore noodles, all made to a pleasing standard in a room of big families and friends.

Mangal 1’s main dining room is perma-heaving, often with birthday groups and life-long friends cracking open big bottles of Tyskie, ripping into warm flatbread, and devouring wonderful grilled meats. This is Dalston’s OG ocakbaşı—it first opened in ‘90s and it feels like it’s been this way since day one. A meal in this legendary BYOB Turkish institution is never less than a good time thanks to its high-octane atmosphere and staunch commitment to juicy kofte. One bottle of off licence plonk can so easily turn into three, and whether you’re coming en masse or for a quick catch-up, Mangal 1 never fails to deliver.

Lahore Kebab House is the thinking man’s Tayyabs. And that’s not to do another legendary Pakistani institution dirty. It’s just that you’re less likely to encounter queues or groups of chug-happy rugby lads here. The Whitechapel BYOB spot is a canteen-like space that isn’t so much ideal for hungry packs of people as it was built for it, and it always feels like there’s room to squeeze another chair in. The lamb chops aren’t the juiciest nor is the tandoor chicken the most tender, but Lahore is all about celebrating anniversaries or waving goodbye to a colleague. And, besides, very little isn’t solved with a dunk of karahi sauce.

After 9pm, this romantic Palestinian spot in Notting Hill has a complete personality transplant. Forget the melted wax candles and barely-there backing track. No, please move the candles off the table because it’s very likely that half the room will be up on their chairs, dancing and singing along to I Will Survive like they’re auditioning for The X Factor. Confetti is blasted in the air, glasses of Palestinian wine are passed around, and sumac-heavy musakhan wraps are wolfed down.

The all-day, all-night, and all-seasons British restaurant in Clerkenwell is one of London’s finest, whether you’re coming for a cheddar and chutney sandwich and half a Guinness at lunch, or for a full bone marrow, Welsh rarebit, and pheasant pie extravaganza in the evening. Less of a restaurant and more of a gluttonous landmark, every meal at St. John is fun. Not just because you’re kneeling at the altar of nose-to-tail cooking, but because this is a restaurant that doesn’t know how to do it any other way.

The dishes at this Hackney spot are a successful mashup of Mexican and Korean street food: cheerful combinations that suit the vibe, a.k.a. the friendliest house party in the world, or at least Hackney. Bounty bars are balanced on top of excellent white rum and pineapple cocktails. Tables are pushed together for last-minute groups, lured by the laughter drifting outside and the promise of wings smothered in gochujang sauce. And friendly staff all but dance towards you, dropping off rounds of picantes, complimenting your outfit, then moving on to make another person’s night.

This Pakistani restaurant in Tooting is a non-stop party in a fake palace. Yes, you could question the taste level—there are multiple chandeliers and a neon-lit rock display in the bathroom. Or you could embrace the velvet throne-chairs and the silver goblet your dynamite chicken comes served in. This isn’t where you come for a life-changing lamb biryani. This is where you come for unabashed good-times mania, conga lines of sparklers, all gold everything, and to re-watch videos of dry ice billowing out of the dynamite chicken and wonder incredulously, “did that really happen?”.

Bambi is a wine bar that laughs in the face of every London meme account. The London Fields spot ticks every mockable box: a funky bottle list, the counter-cum-DJ-booth, small sharing plates of roasted vegetables—and makes it thoroughly enjoyable. This place understands its crowd and knows that roasted chicken with fries and aioli always go down a storm. Especially with a drinks and cocktail list that’s just as good for wannabe sommeliers as it is for non-drinkers. Come Friday and Saturday, tables are cleared after service and DJs spin centrist house music until 1am, with the sake and pickle juice martinis going down with ease.

Head to any of Enish's spacious locations across London, from Brixton to Finchley, if you've got a birthday party on the cards, for any age. A dressed-up gathering never feels out of place next to a couple on a casual midweek date. In the evenings, loud afrobeats play over the airwaves while plates of Nigerian staples fill tables. Regardless of which branch you’re in and what side of London you’re on, Enish serves good versions of dishes like jollof rice, suya, and grilled goat and chicken. Ask the staff for their best swallow pairing—be it pounded yam, eba, amala, or a mix.

Everyone knows that a little bit (but not a lot) of interactive cooking equals fun at a restaurant. Pochawa Grill also knows that bright pink neons and pumping K-pop ramps that up to the next level. This tight-knit Korean BBQ spot in Chinatown isn’t built for wallflowers. It’s inspired by pojangmachas in South Korea—stalls where you can eat, drink, and slur words with friends until the early hours. Sadly, Pochawa Grill closes by 11pm, but it still manages to have an early hours energy thanks to groups big and small, and plenty of soju. Meat sizzles on tabletop grills and everything, from rib-eye to the LA galbi, is well-prepared and presented.

One sniff of your smoke-fragranced clothes is enough to send your senses right back into the mix of Tsiakkos & Charcoal. The lively Greek spot in Notting Hill isn’t just a good neighbourhood restaurant, it’s a great night out. Sizzling souvlaki, ice cold beers, and outdoor voices are the name of the game here. But, whatever you do, don’t go a la carte. The excellent £35 a head meze option will get you everything on the menu, from garlic-heavy, vampire-proof tzatziki to gooey slow-roasted pork shoulder.

Pub? Pub? Yes, pub. Everyone’s most popular fallback for a good time is tried and tested, but only the most seasoned pint-enjoyers know to combine it with London’s best cheeseburger. A strong contender for north London’s most sceney restaurant-cum-boozer, this Finsbury Park go-to is what happens when mullets and small plates join forces over a great pint of Guinness. Any given night is a big night at The Plimsoll. The black stuff is just as likely to flow on a Monday as it is a Friday, and if a gloriously madcap creation like pigeon bhuna is on the menu, you know what to do.

Most omakase experiences feel special but, like a super lavish wedding, can also feel like you’re treading on caviar-topped eggshells. Kurisu Omakase is different. The unique Brixton restaurant mixes Japanese cooking with Thai-Colombian heritage, and is made special by Chris Restrepo, his mum Suwannee, and her pet chihuahua. Restrepo will tell you the lineage of the Canadian tuna you’re eating, as well as stories about family holidays to Japan and juicy dinners sealed by NDA.

Vongole is slurped and Vogues are smoked on Ciao Bella’s legendary pavement terrace. This raucous old-school Italian spot on Lamb’s Conduit Street is a much-celebrated part of London restaurant lore that’s been responsible for innumerable bleary eyes the next day. Everyone has a soft spot for Ciao Bella. Not because the food is mind-blowing—even if troughs of spaghetti and slabs of tiramisu rarely do us wrong—but because the sing-a-long and wine-swigging vibe of this restaurant is completely infectious.

At Max’s, the atmosphere is set by the name on the front. The sometimes frenetic, always friendly, and totally infectious owner of this Stroud Green sandwich shop-cum-hangout is the one who sets pace. Friends wander up from Rowans bowling, groups tumble in after the pub, and families divide gargantuan creations. Start with a few deep-fried jalapeño mac and cheese balls and then weigh up what’s on. The lasagne sandwich, packed between two wedges of homemade focaccia? Or the legendary ham, egg ‘n’ chips?

Sporting Clube De Londres feels like a holiday restaurant that’s fallen off the Westway and decided to plug in its disco lights, fire up the grill for piri-piri chicken, and get going anyway. It’s simply impossible not to love this Portuguese party in Notting Hill. Families, friends, and fearless solo fellas after a cheap pint fill this social club on weekends to spectacular aplomb, while middle-aged crooners on stage maintain the sing-a-long atmosphere. A plate of chargrilled sardines and hand-cut chips is, it turns out, the perfect fuel for dancing after dinner.

Big Mamma restaurants need little introduction. Every person and their TikTok has got an opinion on whether the OTT Italian restaurants are worth it. And, the fact is, they aren’t when it comes to the food. But in Carlotta—their Marylebone-meets-Goodfellas fever dream—you’ve got somewhere that transcends a perfect bowl of pasta. Or, for that matter, taste. Pink silk drapes line the room and photos of leathery-looking wise guys hang from the wall. Slide into a red leather booth, order a negroni, and play with your spaghetti and meatballs as iPhone flashes dance from table to table. It’s not perfect, but boy is it pretty.

Namak Mandi is a riot any day of the week, but no meal is quite as fun, or as gluttonous, as a lamb feast in this Tooting restaurant’s private upstairs rooms. With some careful planning and a wad of cash, you and a group of friends (up to 20) can find yourselves sitting cross-legged eating a sumptuous, slow-cooked whole lamb with an extremely necessary fan going full pelt overhead. Even without the pre-booked extravaganza, this Pashtun restaurant is thrilling. Just know that without a reservation you’re not getting a table.

Black Axe Mangal (or the restaurant Formerly Known As) is a place that pushes all your senses. From Metallica blaring, to the fat and smoky scents coming from the tiny kitchen, to the wallop of the foie gras and prune doughnut, it’s a cramped and flavourful sensory overload. Conversations are shouted and lamb offal flatbread is stuffed into mouths. These days the Highbury and Islington spot offers a changing five-course set menu for around £60 and, if you fancy, a ‘borscht back’. That’s a vodka shot, a borscht shot, and a bit of frankfurter on a stick.

Arguably one of the best taquerias around, there’s no doubt that La Chingada is London’s most fun. Groups of friends don’t just swing by to eat at this brightly lit Surrey Quays spot, they crowd around tables taking down rounds of juicy al pastor tacos like shots, after doing the same with something more tequila-based. A lunch or dinner here is a boisterous affair. The frozen margs flow and you’re never too far away from one last order of tacos, or a gooey quesadilla for the road.

Start as you mean to go on at Rita’s—with a jalapeño popper gilda and a mini martini—and believe us, you’ll never look back. The moody, new American restaurant in Soho is all dancing candles and a Roy Ayers-ish soundtrack alongside fried chicken and Texas toast. The big booth is perma-booked and the place is full of buzzing voices, clinking glasses, and groups of penny loafers clip-clopping in from a gallery opening nearby.

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