Sometimes – certainly more often than any of your friends would know – you like to indulge your quirky side.
Such occasions must be celebrated in a place that’s as strange as we all know you really are.
Luckily there’s a fair smattering of cool and unusual restaurants in London where you can fully indulge your oddness. Here are some of the best of them:
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). READ MORE.
Address: Drury Lane, WC2B 5SU
Brigadiers | Bank
An Indian restaurant in the City, from the team behind Trishna and Gymkhana. Which wouldn’t be all that unusual, save for the self-pour beer taps; whisky vending machine; pool tables and the personal croupiers that come with hiring a dining room there. READ MORE.
Address: 1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR
Sushi Tetsu | Clerkenwell
A tiny, seven-seater sushi restaurant run by husband-and-wife team Toru and Harumi Takahashi, who’ll serve you an omakase selection of mouthwatering dishes that feels more like a dinner party than a tasting menu. READ MORE.
Address: 12 Jerusalem Passage, Finsbury, EC1V 4JP
The Strangers’ Dining Room | Westminster
In all fairness, this is only unusual for the 99.99992% of Londoners who aren’t MPs. But on the off-chance you belong in that category, you might be intrigued to learn you can still go for lunch or dinner inside the Houses of Parliament, courtesy of the Strangers’ Dining Room. READ MORE.
Address: House of Commons, St Margarets Street, SW1A 0AA
La Bodega Negra | Soho
Step 1: head to Old Compton Street. Step 2: find the illuminated entrance to a seedy-looking sex shop; an entrance so raw, authentic and unforgiving as to give you no reassurance whatsoever that it’s not exactly what it appears to be. Step 3. READ MORE.
Address: 9 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JE
Pick & Cheese | Covent Garden
Pick & Cheese is London’s (and the world’s) first cheese conveyor belt restaurant. If that’s not unusual, then pretty much nothing is. READ MORE.
Address: Seven Dials Market, Short’s Gardens, WC2H 9AT
Hill & Szrok | Hackney
By day, a butcher’s specialising in rare-breed, low-intervention, directly sourced meat. By night, a butcher’s specialising in rare-breed, low-intervention, directly sourced meat, cooked to perfection and served with lashings of wine. READ MORE.
Address: 60 Broadway Market, London Fields, E8 4QJ
Mãos | Shoreditch
Critically acclaimed chef Nuno Mendes takes the chef’s table thing a notch further. Not only will you eat in an intimate dining room hidden away in Shoreditch, you’ll also be free to peruse the wine cellars and hang out with Nuno in the kitchen while he works. READ MORE.
Address: 41 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ
Mari Vanna | Mayfair
A dining room trussed up like an eccentric babushka’s pied-à-terre, with chintzy wallpaper, stacks of old books and Matryoshka dolls. Oh, and delicious Russian fare. Because grandmas know how to cook. READ MORE.
Address: Wellington Court, 116 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7PJ
Circolo Popolare | Fitzrovia
A cavernous, bombastic Italian restaurant filled with 20,000 bottles of liquor; an overgrown jungle on the ceiling; metre-long pizzas; giant puddings; and cocktails served in boob-shaped mugs. READ MORE.
Address: 40 Rathbone Place, W1T 1HX
Hello Darling | Waterloo
A theatrical townhouse with themed private rooms; hand-painted wallpaper; eclectic furnishings and dishes from a Masterchef winner. And after you’ve exhausted the ground floor, you can head up to find a bartender shaking cocktails in a cupboard, and a secret dumb waiter full of Champagne. READ MORE.
Address: 131 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UR
Kebab Queen | Covent Garden
A fine dining chef’s table experience hidden behind a fake kebab store front, hidden inside a real kebab restaurant. And if that wasn’t unusual enough for you, every dish is served directly onto a heated dining counter that’s essentially one long, giant plate. READ MORE.
Address: Downstairs at Maison Bab, Mercer’s Walk, WC2H 9QE
Sketch | Mayfair
A stalwart in the little black book of unusual London restaurants, Sketch combines outlandish interiors with David Shrigley artwork; Victoria Sponge trolleys; cocktails in a découpage woodland and Michelin starred dining… with egg toilets. READ MORE.
Address: 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG
London Shell Co | Paddington
A restaurant on a canal boat that serves fresh seafood, English Champagne and cocktails as the waterways of London glide past your window. READ MORE.
Address: The Prince Regent, moored alongside Sheldon Square, W2 6EP
Mare Street Market – Dining Room | Hackney
A dining room crammed with glittering chandeliers, mirrors, and the occasional giraffe neck, with food from The Shed‘s Dominik Moldenhauer. Aaand 10,000sq foot of bars, pop ups, florists, record stores and podcast studios surrounding it. READ MORE.
Address: 89-115 Mare Street, E8 4RT
Pharmacy 2 | Vauxhall
Prescribe yourself a visit to the Mark Hix restaurant inside Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, with pill-shaped bar stools, works of art on the walls, and works of art on the plate, too. READ MORE.
Address: Newport Street Gallery, Newport Street, Vauxhall, SE11 6AJ
Circus | Covent Garden
Love this place. That’s an order. A nice pan-Asian menu, each course punctuated by a series of acrobats swinging on hoops from the ceiling, and fire-eating dancers carefully flipping over the wine glasses on your table. The same table you’re likely to be dancing on by the end of the night, you crazy fool. READ MORE.
Address: Endell Street, WC2H 9BA
Barge East | Stratford
Just your typical, run-of-the-mill, restaurant and bar on a 114-year-old Dutch cargo barge, sailed by the founders themselves from Holland to Stratford. Not only is it moored on a particularly scenic spot, there’s a private games room for hire in the captain’s cabin, and the food (internationally inspired small plates) is genuinely some of the best going in London. READ MORE.
Address: Sweetwater Mooring, River Lee, White Post Lane, E9 5EN
Oslo Court | St. John’s Wood
In many ways, the original Sketch. Heavy salmon pink drapery and elaborate napkins give way to French dishes swimming in brandy, cream, and butter; served by the head waiter who’s been at Oslo Court for three decades – when the rest of the clientele were a sprightly 60. READ MORE.
Address: Prince Albert Road, St John’s Wood, London NW8 7EN
Archipelago | Fitzrovia
Unarguably unusual. Archipelago is a moodily-lit, exotic and mysterious restaurant adorned in Buddhas, palms and peacock feathers, serving crocodile, wildebeest, garlic crickets and scorpion.
Address: 53 Cleveland Street, W1T 4JJ
Dinner by Heston | Knightsbridge
A Michelin-starred restaurant from the notoriously experimental chef Heston Blumenthal, serving a time-travelling menu including a 600 year old starter; something called ‘meat fruit’; and a pudding made with the assistance of a historically accurate pineapple roasting pulley. READ MORE.
Address: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
Mao Chow | Hackney
A tiny, hole-in-the-wall vegan Chinese joint serving intensely flavourful dan dan noodles alongside – quite literally – any booze of your choosing. (It’s BYOB.) READ MORE.
Address: 159a Mare Street, Hackney, East London, E8 3RH
Rochelle Canteen | Shoreditch
A little gastronomic oasis away from the chaos of Shoreditch, by virtue of being hidden behind a garden gate in a wall and largely operating out of an old school bike shed. READ MORE.
Address: School House, Arnold Circus, Shoreditch, E2 7ES
Last Updated: 24th March 2020
Unusual restaurants in London not your thing? Go more mainstream, with our London Restaurant Bible