Where To Go When You’re Not Ready To Accept That Summer Is Over12 spots for when you’re not mentally prepared to start layering.
Whether you need another holiday after what felt like the longest transit in the history of multi-leg flights, or you’re just not ready to start scouring ASOS for a black puffer jacket, these are the restaurants that, rain or shine, will bring that summer energy to your life. At least until you’re ready to accept it's autumn.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Who cares that daylight hours are getting shorter when this takeaway gelato spot in Soho is open until 12am everyday? Especially when it has a double pistachio flavour that’s so moreish we wouldn’t be surprised if it was laced with something stronger than pistachio cream. Every cone and cup here is topped with an additional baby cone filled with melted chocolate—you know, in case double pistachio and white chocolate gelato isn’t indulgent enough. Pop in for a post-dinner dessert and just know that once you get a taste of their exciting flavours, you’ll be finding excuses to come back for more.
The things this Greek-inspired restaurant (from the Pachamama group) does with vegetables is impressive. There's a tomato salad with a refreshing citrusy dressing that made us seriously consider slurping it from the bowl, and creamy tzatziki that’ll coerce you into ordering one, then two, more pitta baskets. Plus the front window that opens up on to Portobello Road, the bright artwork on the walls, and the basket of pineapples at the bar all make you feel like you’re far away from Notting Hill. There’s a real holiday feel to the place and the cosy bar downstairs is just the cherry on top—and the reason it's an ideal spot to bring anyone from a first date to your parents for a whole wild sea bass to distract them from the fact their holiday to Santorini got cancelled.
For an injection of all the summertime barbecues you wish you had, order some excellent BBQ from Smokestak. This Shoreditch spot has a brisket bun which is almost definitely some of the best meat between bread you can get in London. The tower of meat comes with a handful of pickled chillies and it’s a storming combo. Not only is the tender, meaty brisket incredible but the sharing plates like thick-cut pork ribs and crispy ox cheek are pretty great too.
La Chingada Mexican Food is permanently closed
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
London isn’t a place that’s known for its tacos. Maybe that’s because they feel like a sunny-weather type of food, and London is not known for sunny weather. But still La Chingada manages to transform a grey patch of Surrey Quays into glorious technicolour. Fluoro-red chilli sauce being poured on to the crispiest of chicken wings. Green salsa verde getting on everything: crispy chicharrones, gooey tostadas, your hungry jacket sleeve. This is a spot that combines all the best parts of summer and serves it in a bright little chicken shop-style space.
This Balham seafood-led spot has the largest lobster tails we’ve ever come across and they’re the kind of buttery, meaty, delicious thing that makes you grateful for being exactly where you are. No seriously, imagine being at this Bedford Hill restaurant with disposable gloves, eating a lobster tail, and eyeing up the bang bang prawns on your platter. You’ll never want to leave the table, let alone London. Come here for a meal that says nothing—not even the dire weather app forecast—can stop me from living my best life.
Hot tip for avoiding absolutely anything: denial. And what better way to deny autumn than eating ice cream. It’s the ultimate Uno reverse card. This little Japanese dessert spot in Chinatown is our favourite place to get soft serve with brown sugar tapioca when we’re feeling sad and need a sugary pick-me-up. It specialises in taiyako—a fish-shaped cake filled with things like peanut butter and Nutella—which they’re even prone to filling with rose lychee soft serve. It’s all very Instagram-worthy, with menu items like rainbow unicorn and little mermaid fish ice creams. We love their vanilla soft serve with Oreo dust and brown sugar tapioca, but the rose lychee is a close second.
Decimo is the closest you’ll get to being on holiday without getting on a plane, although a blow-out meal here has the potential to cost you the same as an EasyJet flight. This Mexican and Spanish-inspired party restaurant on the 10th floor of The Standard hotel in King’s Cross is extra in all the right ways. Extra in the amount of foliage and firepits dotted around, extra in a tortilla-covered-in-50g-of-caviar kind of way, and extra in a jug-of-pig-fat-with-your-suckling-pig-shoulder kind of way. This place is wild. And expensive. And the perfect place to go when you’re refusing to give up on summer, and you’re getting your bank account in on it too.
This three-floor Italian restaurant from the people behind Circolo Popolare and Gloria is deceivingly calm-looking from the outside. But once you enter the small door on Henrietta Street, you’ll step into what feels like a movie set. Red booths, neon lights, and mirrors all over the walls—this spot feels like an escape. You should definitely order the mafaldine al tartufo, as well as the ‘non-pizzas’ (basically a very pillowy, bready pizza). And because all that isn’t enough, you should 100% finish with a slice of their 60cm stracciatella ice cream cake. You’re on holiday, remember?
photo credit: 14 Hills
The excellent lighting and abundance of greenery in this 14th-floor restaurant in the City means that whatever’s going on outside can be ignored for a few hours. Is it raining? The chicken kiev and 500 pillows will drown that out. Is it grey outside? The yellow lighting and OTT foliage will give everyone’s face a warm glow. Is it sunny outside? Their outdoor terrace doubles up as a perfect tanning location (closer to the sun than the patch of grass down your street) and a great place to get brunch on the weekends. Basically this spot can fix your summer blues. And yes, it will probably be at least £40 per head, but isn’t happiness priceless?
Our favourite thing to spend a large sum of money on when we’re feeling low is the temaki from this Notting Hill sushi spot. When the weather is nice, sitting on this terrace can make you feel like you’re on holiday. And when the weather is rubbish, the excellent raw fish will make you very happy, despite the fact it’s cloudy outside and probably will be for the foreseeable future.
We’ve sat on the rooftop of this five-storey Japanese-Nordic shopping and dining centre in the pouring rain and it somehow still felt like a summer night. Have they replaced all their light bulbs with SAD lamps? Is it all an optical illusion? Are we just very unobservant? We don’t know all the answers, but what we do know is that this Belgravia spot managed to confuse our minds into thinking it was a nice day out. And for that we are eternally grateful. So head to The Pantechnicon’s rooftop for Nordic snacks, interesting cocktails, and an outdoor terrace that will help you forget that winter is coming.
Despite the fact that this huge rattan-chaired terrace overlooks one of London’s quintessential landmarks—Tower Bridge—there’s something very dolce vita about it. There are big views of the river. There are booths you can sink into for hours. And there’s a whole lot of ricotta on the menu. Because everyone knows that the best way to cure the autumn blues is by eating cacio e pepe on one of London’s best terraces and pretending it’s still mid-June. Even if you're wearing a trench coat and thick scarf.