No, you’re not having a heart attack. And nor is that pain entirely down to the family-sized plank of Cadbury’s you just dispatched alone. No friend, this is some old fashioned heartache. One minute you’re okay. One minute you’re not. Some days you just fancy a drink. Other days you want to hibernate in a giant chicken and mushroom pie. It’s an unpredictable time that leads to some unpredictable cravings. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered. Here are 14 comforting, comfortable, busy, and boozy spots for when your heart’s hurting.
Nothing in the world has ever not been solved by a plate of dumplings and your phone perfectly angled on a jar of chilli oil whilst you rewatch The Thick Of It, happily, alone. This isn’t always true of course, but a plate of pork and chive dumplings at My Old Place will definitely make you feel better. There’s plenty to choose from in this unassuming Spitalfields Sichuan spot if dumplings aren’t your thing. And there’ll be plenty to take home as well. Not sharing is caring.
So, how’s listening to The Smiths whilst crying into a bathtub of your own hot tears working out for you? It sounds like you’ve completed stage one of the break-up. Now it’s time for stage two. No, not socialising or embracing your anger. That comes later. Now is what we like to define as ‘the doughnut stage’. Bread Ahead in Borough Market do the kind of doughnuts that are filled with everything from salted caramel and honeycomb, to pistachio cream. They’ll give you more feelings than Morrissey, but good ones this time. We promise.
You’re going to move to a cabin in the woods like that guy from Bon Iver. You’ll write a collection of generation defining essays called ‘The Art Of Misery’. You’ll breed a rare species of goat and make almond milk for fun. Maybe. Depending on how you feel tomorrow. But, before you go, make a trip to Bloomsbury’s Master Wei to remind yourself that running away from London would mean running away from their beef biang biang noodles too. Whether you come here for a cheer-up and catch-up with friends, or solo to remind yourself that the cold liangpi noodles might be colder than your ex’s heart but taste amazing - Master Wei is pretty much guaranteed to make you feel better.
For some reason the bus lady’s voice is making you well up. Last week you cried when someone’s ice cream didn’t set on Masterchef. Someone just thanked you for holding the door open and set you off. You are, for all intents and purposes, a complete mess. You need comfort. You need nutrition. You need Nandine. Few restaurants in London make us feel as at home as Nandine does. Thanks to its mixture of delicious Kurdish mezze, sweet (and emotion plugging) baklava, and homely hospitality, this Camberwell cafe is a go-to.
The only things that fill you with any kind of hope these days are Cheryl Strayed quotes, the narrative arc of Silver Linings Playbook, and the fact that penguins exist. It’s okay. We understand. What you need now is some maternal affection, or better yet the troop of female chefs at La Mia Mamma. This Chelsea spot is all about excellent regional Italian food, big portions, and feeling totally at home. Be warned, if you don’t finish your food, the mammas will come and pile more food onto it out of fear you’re on death’s door - so only come here if you’re hungry.
The last time you were at the ICA you were together and pretending to be intellectual to each other. Now you’re back, only you’re sitting with an incredible beef shin pie, some new potatoes, your best friend, and a bottle of red. Does your heart hurt? Or are you just really excellently full? Who cares. Get some raspberry jelly and ice cream to finish and show your ticker who’s boss.
Eating a load of delicious pastries alone and/or with a friend sounds like classic lovesick behaviour, and that’s because it is. But it should also be all-round classic behaviour, because Pophams is that good. This day and night Hackney bakery is a haven for those who like to suffocate their sadness with a mixture of sugar and salt. The cheese and ham croissant should come with a health warning. The bacon swirl is good to share but better alone. And the airy warehouse space feels like a human goldfish bowl, in the best way possible.
Two total monsters just had the audacity to hold hands in front of you. In love, are you? That’s nice. Get back to us in four months when you have to change your Netflix password. When you’re in the mood for hiding, or eating a crumble as good as your mum’s, or both, head for old school Kensington restaurant Maggie Jones’s. They have cosy church pews you can curl up in, all kinds of nick-nacks on the walls and ceiling to keep you distracted, and some of the best rich, British comfort food in London.
You’re through the hermit stage but you’re not quite ready to, like, talk. You want life. But not life that interacts with you. What you want, no seriously let us tell you, is an enormous bowl of pho, and a corner seat in Sông Quê. This Vietnamese spot on Kingsland Road is our #1 restaurant for watching the world whilst simultaneously stuffing our face with prawn toast and noodles. It’s busy without being overbearing. And it’s ideal either alone or with a friend.
You’re walking around Islington and you’ve just seen someone smile and giggle at something on their phone. It’s left you sickened. Physically sickened. People are truly the worst. So escape the people and get a glass of wine or two at Provisions. It’s a casual wine bar down the Holloway Road that’s the perfect stop in for when you just need a drink. The staff are friendly, the cheese is delicious, and the wine options are extensive and affordable.
We have three words for you. Taylor. Fucking. Swift. Let her be your Yoda of heart healing reinvention, and then let Circolo Popolare do the rest. This loud and proud trattoria in Fitzrovia is basically a very sexy place to be - even if you’re busy making your way through a giant ceramic head full of sundae. Potentially designed by someone going through a divorce, the walls here are covered in old bottles of booze, the cocktails are strong, and in the evening you can eat carbonara out of a wheel of cheese. Come to Circolo Popolare with people who make you laugh and aren’t afraid to go dancing after consuming a whole lot of truffle pasta, and an absolute show-off of a lemon meringue pie.
When all else fails, there’s jäger. Just off of Oxford Street, Meatliquor W1 is an American diner style, burger-wielding, shout of a restaurant that will pretty much put your heartbreak on mute. There’s a loud rock soundtrack. There are some pretty epic burgers on offer. And yes, there are ‘poke for jäger’ buttons on every table. Go ahead and push it every time the memory of your ex’s smile pops up, stay until 3am, and then go home and throw out all of their shit. Except that coffee machine they got you for your birthday. You’ll need it in the morning.