Ave Mario


Hattie Lloyd 03/03/24

Fun Restaurants in London

Sometimes you want an elegant, low-key supper à deux in a quiet, romantic restaurant.

But other times you want to wake up the next morning with patchy memories of singing karaoke in the basement of a noodle bar; a receipt for smoked python carpaccio in your pocket; and a mysterious playing card in your wallet that can only have come from a poker game you ended up playing after pulling your own pints at an Indian clubhouse.

This is very much a list for those times.

Speedboat Bar | Soho

speedboat bar fun restaurant

From the portraits of Thai royalty on the walls right down to the florid carpet, Speedboat Bar is an almost perfect replica of the late-night eateries dotted around Bangkok’s Chinatown. And you can find it here in London’s Chinatown, where you’ll feast on fiery dishes rustled up in a Chinese bullet oven, sink Snake Blood Negronis and Ya Dong Bomb shots, and shoot pool until 1am.

Details: 30 Rupert Street, London W1D 6DL Book here

Grasso | Soho

grasso fun restaurant

Grasso is a couple of power-shouldered suits away from being a bona fide trattoria from 1980s Manhattan. The theme is ‘big’: big servings, big music, big nights out. Is the food life-changing? Well, no. But this is where you bring your entire brood of friends for a joyous, parmesan-showered knees-up, where you don’t need to keep pausing to savour the subtleties of the locally-sourced carrots.

Details: 81 Dean Street, London, W1D 3SW | Book here

The Little Blue Door | Fulham

Little Blue Door fun restaurants in London

A night at The Little Blue Door is like going to your best friends’ house party. Except with resident DJs, piano-bolstered singalongs, frozen cocktail stations, party games, emoji menus, retro gaming aaand three-course dinner parties. And healthier houseplants.

Details: 871-873 Fulham Road, SW6 5HP | Book here

Del 74 | Dalston

Del 74 fun restaurants in London

A tequila-drenched neighbourhood taco joint with tick-box menus; daily happy hours; live DJs and two founders behind the bar, who will probably be louder than your entire group.

Details: 129 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB | Book here

Brigadiers | Bank


The third Indian restaurant from the team behind Michelin-starred Trishna and Gymkhana, Brigadiers comes armed with 4-pint growlers of beer and cocktails on tap; whisky vending machines; pour-your-own beers; whole roast suckling pig; wine-paired seven-dish Sunday feasts; pool tables; card tables; and even a personal croupier who’ll join you in your private dining room for post-dinner poker.

Details: 1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR | Book here

Bob Bob Ricard City | Bank

bob bob ricard city

This place is really fun if you’ve just won the lottery. If that’s you, then you should absolutely go to town on the Press for Champagne buttons (summoning Jeroboams and Methusalehs from the Champagne cabin); order the caviar tasting menu; and hire out the Royal Yacht-inspired private dining room for you and all your friends. For everyone else, you can have all the fun of pushing the buttons and feeling outrageously decadent, safe in the knowledge that you can pay £12.50 for one glass and then immediately move onto tap water.

Details: 122 Leadenhall Street, The City, EC3V 4QT | Book here

Circolo Popolare | Fitzrovia

Circolo Popolare, fun restaurants in London

Welcome to Circolo Popolare, the restaurant freakshow which has done the impossible by being fun, well-designed, buzzy, permanently overflowing with guests, and – while not winning any awards in the food department – nevertheless offering an extremely enjoyable menu of extravagant dishes like 6″ thick lemon meringue pie and carbonara for two served inside a giant wheel of cheese.

Details: 40 Rathbone Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1HX | Book here

Jazz Cafe Camden | Camden

Jazz Cafe Camden, fun restaurants in London

Once a Barclay’s Bank, nowadays you’ll find a spacious yet intimate live music venue, fitted with a mezzanine restaurant overlooking the stage and dancefloor – and the place is hopping every night.

Details5 Parkway, Camden, NW1 7PG | Book here

La Bodega Negra | Soho

La Bodega Negra

Ungry Young Man/Flickr

Just getting inside this place involves finding a Soho sex shop and asking the man inside for a little help. Then, once you’re in, you’ll find an aromatic, candlelit cavern serving tequila-based cocktails and a gorgeous Mexican menu.

Details: 9 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JF | Book here

Voodoo Ray’s | Dalston

Voodoo Ray's

When the group’s getting peckish and the night’s in imminent danger of ending, hasten to Voodoo Ray’s for the elbow-jostling buzz and enormous slices of NYC-style pizza pies that you’ll never regret the morning after.

Details: 95 Kingsland High Street, E8 2PB | Book here

Ave Mario | Covent Garden

Ave Mario

The Big Mamma group are locked in a kind of evolutionary arms race with themselves: after the barnstorming success of maximalist restaurants Gloria and Circolo Popolare, how do you top the places that already have everything? Well, by adding more of everything, of course: so Covent Garden’s Ave Mario is duly kitted out with giant cocktails, dazzling monochrome striped walls, and a 60cm-tall stracciatella ice cream cake.

Details: 15 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QG | Book here

BAO Noodle Shop | Shoreditch

Bao Noodle Shop

Letting their eponymous steamed buns step aside for a moment, BAO’s latest venture is a Taiwanese noodle shop in Shoreditch. Which is fun. But even more fun is the basement ‘entertainment’ room (wallpapered with 8-bit renditions of their dishes) where you can enjoy shaved ice cocktails, Sweet Potato Sours… and karaoke.

Details: 1 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, E2 7DJ | Book here

Putney Pies | Putney

Putney Pies, fun restaurants in London

Merely a humble pie shop serving bangers and mash by day… and bangers by night in the basement, where the tables are pushed back and DJs and live musicians play to a roomful of revellers spilling out onto the riverside terrace beyond.

Details: 2 Putney High Street, Putney SW15 1SL | Book here (groups of 6+ only)

Tayyabs | Whitechapel


Est. 1972, Tayyabs is a revered London institution of insanely delicious (and well-priced) Punjabi-Pakistani food; dashes to the corner shop for BYOB reinforcements; and raucous dinner parties drawing crowds from across London and beyond. It’s noisy, rammed – and completely perfect.

Details: 83-89 Fieldgate Street, E1 1JU | Book here

Circus | Covent Garden

A restaurant where dancing on the tables is, if anything, encouraged – because that’s about the least dramatic thing you’ll see happening on them. Book yourself onto the long dining table in the centre of the restaurant and watch as acrobats, fire-breathers and contortionists turn the whole thing into a stage…

Details: 27-29 Endell Street, WC2H 9BA | Book here

El Pastor Soho | Soho

With suave interiors evocative of the faded grandeur of Mexico City’s architecture, El Pastor’s latest Soho branch is equally evocative of Mexico City’s vibrant nightlife. The owners spent a decade running the city’s cult nightclub El Colmillo before returning to London, where they’ve poured all their expertise (and mezcal) into this fine taqueria and basement bar with DJs and margaritas.

Details: 66-70 Brewer Street, W1F 9UP | Book here

Cafe Boheme | Soho

It’s underneath Soho House (and owned by the same people), it’s open until 3am, and there’s live music every night. In fact, it’s positively bohemian.

Details: 13 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JQ | Book here

Balans | Soho


An almost 24-hour, late-license, constantly buzzing dining room, that looks a little like a cross between an industrial Brooklyn diner and an opulent Georgian brothel (in the best way), and where you can also score Lobster Benedict, steak and eggs, club sandwiches, burgers and Full Englishes until 5am. With an absinthe fountain.

Details: 60 – 62 Old Compton Street, W1D 4UG | Book here

Sarastro | Covent Garden


An opera-themed, Mediterranean / Turkish restaurant on Drury Lane that offers actual operatic performances by both professional singers and staff alike. If you were to go, it would be for the theatre of it all (and to experience what it feels like to be in a restaurant that’s managed to fit twice as much stuff inside as should be physically possible).

Details: 126 Drury Lane, WC2B 5SU | Book here

The Blues Kitchen | Camden, Brixton, Shoreditch

Part restaurant, part bar, part club, The Blues Kitchen specialises in finger-licking American BBQ (Buffalo wings, Southern Fried Chicken, and pan-fried catfish with cornbread); stocks over 80 bourbons behind the bar; and offers live Motown, funk, and soul seven days a week.

Details: 111-113 Camden High Street, Camden, NW1 7JN


Looking for more inspiration? Check out these highly unusual restaurants in London