Not going on holiday any time soon? Book yourself a seat at one of these restaurants & you won't care that your passport is gathering dust. Cos we all know the best bit about going on holiday is the food & booze, anyway.
This much-loved restaurant is basically an institution. It's been bringing its convivial Castilian charm to Mayfair for 25 years now - that's longer than BarChick's been drinking sangria. Inside it's cosy & relaxed with the friendliest staff, you'll feel like you're tucked away in a local taberna in Madrid. There's also outside seating for when the sun's out & you wanna bask as if you're in the Basque region - get pouring the vino blanco, we say. Over-order on the tapas - we bet you eat it all. Jamón Iberico = a must.
5-6 Down St, Mayfair, London W1J 7AQ
Vin, fromage, croissants... French food alone has our heart beating faster, let alone the sun-drenched vineyards, sleepy little villages & sparkling blue sea. A trip to Le Poule au Pot will make you feel like you've stopped in at a gorgeously rustic bistro in some half-forgotten town. Enjoy French home-style cooking alongside some banging wines in a space that just pulsates with romance. We'll have the cassoulet with a side of canoodling, thanks.
231 Ebury St, Belgravia, London SW1W 8UT
If we were gonna hit up Italy, we'd probably make it the birthplace of the Bellini - Harry's Bar in Venice. Since we're not heading that way any time soon then Harry's Bar in St Christopher's Place will more than suffice. Inside it's all elegant dark-wood panneling, white tablecloths & tan leather banquettes. Push the gondala out & go for the Black Truffle menu - pizza, burrata, risotto, the works. If you're looking to impress on a date then this place is bellissimo.
30, 34 James St, Marylebone, London W1U 1ER
Inspired by Lisbon and Porto tapas bars, Bar Douro has the fresh Portuguese aesthetic down - think classic blue & white tiles and counter-top dining that transports us to holiday mode. Result. You'll find snacks and small plates (we’re eyeing up the classic Bacalhau à Brás salt cod hash – drool), as well as bigger sharing dishes that change monthly. Booze-wise, you can't go wrong with the Portuguese vinos, imported from independent wine-makers. Go for the house selection, the ‘cellar list’ of fine wines or check out the daily chalkboard specials. Saúde!
Arch, 35B, 85B Southwark Bridge Rd, London SE1 0NQ, UK London Bridge
Craving the laid-back vibes of California? If Napa Valley & Sonoma County are on your bucket list, then this bright & breezy restaurant should go some way towards scratching that itch. Join us in sashaying over to Soho where you'll find SO|LA. So for Soho, La for Los Angeles, geddit? It's not just the promise of Tartare of Tuna Belly that's getting us excited. The wine list focuses on California wine-country - all kinds of awesome.
64 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 4QQ
If drinking Mezcal Margaritas in an Oaxaca-inspired hacienda-style room is your vibe, join us at Santo Remedio, amigos. This bright n cheerful ‘Cocina Mexicana’ restaurant is serving all the good stuff downstairs (their tostadas = the bomb) & there's a kickass mezcal & tequila bar upstairs. It’s packed with stripy rainbow cushions, vibrant Mexican knick-knacks, and some of the best pork belly tacos we ever stuffed into our faces without pausing for breath. It’s owned and run by Edson & Natalie, both complete legends who want to bring Londoners the flavours of Mexico they love and grew up with.
152 Tooley St, London SE1 2TU
Paradise my name, paradise by nature... if you weren't one of the many people posting pics of yourself hanging out a blue train whizzing through tea plantations last year, then never fear. You can get a taste of Sri Lanka right here in Soho. Fragrant fish curries, papaya salads and a brand new summery cocktail list (hi there Ginger Arrack Sour) are what's drawing us to this contemporary casual restaurant. Oh, and don't leave without trying the egg hoppers - kinda like thin, curved pancakes with a fried egg tucked inside. Hop to it.
61 Rupert St, Soho, London W1D 7PW
You might not get to see the Great Wall, but you will be able to feast like an Emporer on authentic Cantonese cuisine. BaoziInn has gathered many fans thanks to the epic selection of dim sum & Hunan and Sichuan dishes. Just say 'Dan Dan Noodles' to anyone in the know & watch their eyes glaze over in lust. Our fave site is probably London Bridge. It's bright & spacious, with a more intimate cocktail bar upstairs for if you want a Kumquat Daiquiri before your BBQ char siu pork. Uh, yes please.
34-36 Southwark St, London SE1 1TU
Steak & sushi minus the mega flight time? Bring it. If this sounds like a culinary combination you need in your life they hot-foot it to Hot Stone. These guys absolutely nail authentic Japanese cuisine in a cool, contemporary setting where the focus is on the wicked food. What's more, on Mondays you can grab your chopsticks & dig into their new Omakase experience. The unique menu changes every week & consists of 14 courses, each pairing the freshest seafood, fish and Japanese Wagyu beef. As for drinks, these will include a choice of Japanese whiskeys, sakes and wines. Wagyu waiting for?
9 Chapel Market, The Angel, London N1 9EZ
Less Brick-Lane curry house & more bling Mayfair hotspot that a Maharaja might frequent, Benares is our go-to when we want fine Indian food in luxe surroundings. Need more reason to book? You can now get involved in their Bottomless lunches, dinners & brunches. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Benares will serve a Thali feasting platter packed with all your faves - curries, dal tadka, spiced seabass, warm chapati bread... & you can get second, third or fourth helpings of all dishes. Hell yeah. Swing by for a weekend brunch & you can also add bottomless bubbles to your feast. We'll be pop(padom)ing along.
12a Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London W1J 6BS