Where To Eat Lunch In Soho
From freshly made salt beef, to a French institution, to dumplings, shawarma, and more—here’s where to have lunch in Soho.
Remember when ‘Soho lunch’ was a euphemism for two bottles of red, extra truffle on that, and a 3pm black cab back to the office? No. Neither do we. The daily grind may be a reality for most of us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find lunch in Soho that’s equal parts tasty, good value, and fun. Whether you’re looking for something to grab and eat furiously over Twitter, or somewhere that’s going to leave you and a mate satisfied within an hour, these are our favourite places to go for lunch in Soho.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Wowshee Egyptian Falafel Bar
Labelled on Google Maps as the ‘Best Falafel In London’ and with a queue that suggests it might just be right, this Egyptian falafel stall in Berwick Street Market doesn’t shy away from setting expectations high. And you’ll understand why after taking a bite into the gloriously huge pitta. Overfilled with three flattened falafels, fried aubergine, cubes of fried halloumi, pickles, tahini, and chilli sauce—this is a lunch for someone who’s Hungry with a capital H. It’s crispy, wholesome, and so generously stuffed that you won’t need your usual mid-afternoon snack. If you’re around Berwick Street at lunchtime: Get. This. Pitta.
A restaurant where snails are flambéed in pastis is our kind restaurant, especially when there’s a crystal chandelier involved as well. L’Escargot is Soho’s oldest French institution and it’s the closest quick and easy gets in this part of town, while still being 100% Soho. It’s a classic place with lots of velvet drapes and lots of butter. It makes for a classy but still casual lunch, especially when there are prix fixe options available. The pastis is optional. But, at the same time, it isn’t, if you know what we mean.
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Tongue & Brisket
Your sandwich contains a single slice of ham, something that was presumably lettuce once upon a time, and has been ‘lovingly handmade’ by someone you can only presume to be a sociopath with an aversion to butter. Put that sad supermarket sandwich down. At Tongue & Brisket you get a proper wedge of food between your bread. Yes, they’ve got your sarnie classics (see roast turkey, smoked salmon), but others you definitely won't find at M&S (see ox tongue, chicken schnitzel, chopped liver). What you really need to know about is their salt beef sandwiches. We’re talking soft rye bread, a pickled cucumber, a doorstop of salt beef, and enough mustard to make your eyes water. This is the place if you want a sandwich that’ll keep you full through to dinner.
The Soho outpost of this casual Vietnamese cafe is just as reliable as its Shoreditch sibling. Their bánh mìs are always tasty—the classic, roast pork or roast duck are our go-tos—but the meat and rice dishes here are similarly good. It’s a meal that suits quick lunches as well as prolonged ones, solo ones, or social ones.
London’s passion for reinventing foodstuffs is matched only by its passionate hatred for reinventing foodstuffs. Try serving fish and chips in any way other than the norm and you risk being cancelled, but Le Bab, a modern kebab restaurant, is doing different kebabs that are well worth trying. This is one of Soho’s best casual and cost-effective daytime options.
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
The Golden Union Fish Bar
Golden Union is a quintessential London chippy. Homemade mushy peas? Check. Battered sausage? Yes. Cod the size of a horse’s head? Absolutely. Golden Union is a very solid spot to spend an hour. The chairs are comfy, the tables most definitely aren’t made from the remnants of a child’s slide, and there’s even some of those ultra cool neon signs to appease your inner Tracey Emin fan. For under £20 you can have some tasty fish and chips, or the battered king prawns if you’re feeling adventurous/treasonous, plus a cup of tea. Lovely.
You and your colleagues are leaving the office for a proper catch-up, lunch, and a chance at seeing some natural light. Yalla Yalla Soho is a great spot for when you feel like ordering a few more mezze plates than are realistically needed, and maybe getting hummus on your chin. Their menu of Beirut street food has something to please everyone. There are lots of vegetarian options, chilli cherry caipirinhas for that person who got promoted, and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice for that warrior who normally spends their lunch hour at Gym Box.
At first, Ugly Dumpling might not sound like your thing. A cheeseburger dumpling, who are you? What are you trying to do to the purity of dim sum? But then you try them and find it’s quite hard to hate the place. Their dumpling remixes—from salmon and summer salsa, to mushroom and truffle—are great for when the sight of another caesar salad might just send you over the edge. We might think it was all a little gimmicky if it wasn’t all so good-natured and fun. This is a great spot for a takeaway or a Friday lunch that ends in marshmallow and Nutella dumplings, with those colleagues you actually want to share a bottle of weekend gateway prosecco with.
The Kati Roll Company
The Kati Roll Company is a small spot on Poland Street that you might miss if you’re rushing away from the Oxford Street hordes, but it’s worth tracking back for. Their wraps are some of the best we’ve had. Whether you’re eating in or taking away, or opt for one of their many vegetarian rolls or something a bit more meaty like beef tikka or shami kabab, they’re not going to set you back much money and will keep you going until the end of the day.
Pastaio isn’t a restaurant to spend a couple of hours in. But it is a canteen-style place you swing by, have a couple of pastas and a salad, and go on your merry way. The food is both tasty and well priced. And it is what you want most of the time, because who doesn’t like pasta? A solid spot to have in your Soho back pocket.
You might think a tapas spot like Copita is best at night when you can let loose with a bottle of wine, a few glasses of beer, or some sherry. But we say: stop being so unimaginative. There’s no reason why you can’t do all that stuff for lunch too. This place has a massive range of decent tapas, it’s all quite reasonably priced, and, regardless of whether you’re stopping in for a couple of plates or you plan to stay all day, its tiled interior and big wooden high-top tables will make you feel like you’re a million miles away from the madness of Soho.
There are a lot of legendary restaurants in Soho but there’s only one legendary vegetarian restaurant here, and that’s Mildred’s. This place managed to make delicious food—everything from veggie pies to tofu jerk—stick in the ‘80s, when people seemingly existed on a diet of red meat and straight booze. It’s not the only branch these days but we’ve got a soft spot for the original.