Bored of your same old haunts? Looking for something a bit different to your usual watering hole? Ditch the crowds, steer clear from tourist hotspots, and get to know London’s underbelly. Tucked away down winding side streets, or even hidden in plain sight, there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be stumbled across. We’ve put together this list of top London restaurants, so that you can enjoy some of our favourite secret culinary delights.
1. The Little Yellow Door: This place is the ultimate house party where everyone is invited. Upon arrival you’re given a key to let yourself in, plus your own mug to drink out of (and if you become a regular, you might be lucky enough to get a mug with your face on). Decked out like your mate’s, mate’s house that you ended up at on a wild night out, right down to the loos where you’ll find nail varnish, reading matter, a hair dryer.
Quirky and intimate, this is the very definition of a hidden gem… and has put its rivals to shame: ‘Sorry all London pop-up bars, you can now go home as we don’t think you’d be able to top The Little Yellow Door’ (www.thelondonsinner.com)
Location: 68 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3HT (NT: Notting Hill Gate)
2. Fat Boy’s Diner: This one’s a real doozy because you can reach it by boat, and it’s set in the docklands near London’s only lighthouse. Atmospheric neon signs and jukeboxes transport you back to 1940’s America. Quality of meat is top priority here, and their juicy burgers are the real deal. Oh, and the milkshakes totally bring all the boys to the yard- it’s not on the menu, but if you ask nicely for an ‘Angel’s Tears’, you’re in for a treat.
In the words of the King of Rock, you ‘can’t help falling in love’ with Fat Boy’s. Well worth the trip.
Location: 64 Orchard Place, E14 0JW (NT: East India / Canning Town)
3. Dalston Eastern Curve Garden: Tucked away in the heart of Dalston, hidden by a huge mural, is a secret urban garden. Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is a non-profit community project, and there are a whole host of activities on offer; from gardening programmes to film screenings and acoustic nights. The ultimate al-fresco destination, you can bring your own picnic but they also hold wood-fired pizza evenings and serve locally brewed beers and ciders. It’s getting a little chillier now, but blankets and hot water bottles are provided to keep everybody cosy, as well as hot chocolate and mulled and spiced drinks from the bar.
If the daily grind of London life is getting you down, then we couldn’t recommend this little oasis enough as a momentary escape from reality.
Location: 13 Dalston Lane, E8 3DF (NT: Dalston Junction)
4. Basement Sate: Writing about ‘hidden gems’ that are actually pretty easy to find after a quick Google search, is all very well and good… but Basement Sate is genuinely sneaky in that there isn’t even a discreet sign to mark its location. In fact, if you don’t know exactly where to look you’re likely to never find it (but of course we’ll let you in on the secret, dear Wriggler).
‘Sate’ translates as ‘satisfy (a desire or an appetite) to the full’. And Basement Sate is especially popular amongst sugar fanatics, because whilst there is a wonderfully bizarre cocktail list (we recommend The Happy Unicorn: a dizzyingly rich, chocolate concoction), it’s really all about the pudding here. Customers order rounds of, not drinks, but decadent desserts at the bar… making it the perfect place to finish off your night but dodge that hangover the next day.
Location: Look for the red door on Broadwick Street, W1F 8HN (NT: Tottenham Court Road)
5. The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town: If you’ve been working your way through this list, then your ever-expanding knowledge of London’s hidden gems has made you one of the popular kids. You have become one of the elite few who knows exactly which unmarked doors can provide access to London’s best kept secrets. But let’s step it up a gear with the final hidden gem in this series, and this one’s sure to cement your newfound popularity…
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town resides behind the door of a retro Smeg fridge in The Breakfast Club. Once you’ve furtively asked to see the mayor, you’ll be granted entry to this dimly-lit speakeasy. With great music, and an intriguing selection of cocktails, this is the perfect dirty little secret.
Location: The Breakfast Club, Artillery Lane, E1 7LS (NT: Liverpool Street)