Having a BBQ is one of the staple experiences of the great British summer, be it in someone’s back garden, in the park or at a rooftop party. There’s something truly primal about barbecuing, isn’t there? Throwing whatever you want on the grill, whether that's big slaps of meat, delicious vegetables, sweet fruit, or doughy bread, and letting that fantastic charcoal flavour coat it.
Then you have our poor dads who have a tendency to burn everything to a crisp, which sadly ruins the food, but at least provides a good laugh. Below are the places that we have found to out-do our dad’s barbecuing skills to the length of being crowned the best BBQ restaurants in London.
Now before you all get up in our grill, we realise that BBQ restaurants aren’t just limited to the summer. It might be reminiscent of the summer, but it sure works a treat in the colder months, too, warming us up with its smoky smells and blackened edges.
From glazed short-ribs marinated with delicious sauces and Japanese Wagyu cooked on hot stones to DIY grill hot-spots, here are the London restaurants that specialise in BBQ, both in the traditional and unconventional interpretation of it. It's time to get hot and bothered!
Why: If you’re craving the actual activity of grilling, this is the place to go, as you will be expected to cook your own food DIY-style on the mini grill (a parrilla, hence the name) at your table. If you’re not a fan of paying to cook your own food, Parrillan isn’t one for you, but if you like the fun interaction of it, it’s perfect. A good selection of grillable items, from meat, seafood and veg, are available to cook. Fat prawns and scallops, say, are of high-quality (so don’t mess up dinner by burning them!), and slices of duck breast and dry-aged beef are also inviting. The Regent’s Canal views from the outdoor terrace and the hip Coal Drops Yard location are further draws.
Where: Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, N1C 4AB
Why: Nailing two huge food trends in one fell swoop, ex-Ottolenghi chef Josh Katz’s Haggerston railway arch hangout Berber & Q brings together smoky barbecue and culinary influences from North Africa and the Middle East. With its barrage of explosive flavours, this eatery boasts options from grilled pork meatballs and sweet tea-brined baby chicken, to smoked hot wings and marinated baby aubergine.
Where: Arch 338, Acton Mews, E8 4EA
Why: Hot Stone isn’t your standard BBQ joint in the sense that there’s a layer of smoke and a whiff of charcoal in the dining room, but in the more unconventional, DIY way, in that you are expected to cook your choice of protein on a Japanese hot stone. Sizzling, super-heated slabs of granite are brought to the table alongside your choice of Japanese Wagyu, Scottish sirloin or rib-eye, or a mix of seafood including scallops, king prawn, tuna and salmon. Intimate and fun, it’s well worth experiencing.
Where: 9 Chapel Market, London, London, N1 9EZ
Why: This New Orleans-inspired crab shack with sites in Canary Wharf, Chelsea, and Covent Garden is as popular as ever, cramming hordes of bibbed customers into its borderline-twee interpretation of a good-time-soul-food eatery. Celebrating its namesake city in all its sinful glory, diners can indulge in a selection of daily specials, including the likes of shrimp Tuesdays, where unlimited deep-fried shrimp is available to order, steak and lobster Fridays, and limitless Wednesdays, where options range from endless chicken wings to fajitas depending on the location.
Where: Canary Wharf: Upper Level 1, Crossrail Place, E14 5AR; Chelsea: 332-334 King’s Road, SW3 5UR; Covent Garden: 12 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA
Why: Evolving from a successful street-food venture to a fully-fledged restaurant, Hotbox boasts a menu of delectably seasoned smoked meats. Opt for a starter of buffalo wings or crab sliders to start, before tucking into hearty mains such as the St Louis pork ribs or the piggy burger, made with beef, pulled pork collar, pickled onion and cheese. Wash down your meal with a refreshing cocktail, such as the Lavender and Mint Julep with bourbon, or the Basil Brush with gin.
Where: 46 Commercial Street, E1 6LT
Why: With its relocation from a Soho shoebox to an airy Spitalfields dining room, this barbecue Mecca gained a strong following in W1 for its smoky cuts of high-quality meat. Searing its meat on a huge, gleaming grill displayed at the end of the room, Pitt Cue offers options from the grill and from the smoker. Dine on an order of smoked beef neck with shiitake mushroom, and if you still have room, opt for a grilled monkfish with fennel and blood orange.
Where: 1 The Avenue, Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YP
Why: Part of a wee gang of three covering N1 and EC2 (The Pig & Butcher and The Princess of Shoreditch being the other two) Smokehouse is a gastropub through and through. On the food menu, you’ll find hearty smoky dishes to match its name, such as lamb bacon, smoked bone marrow and toast as a starter, and smoked lamb shoulder with lentil and aubergine as a main.
Where: 63-69 Canonbury Road, N1 2DG
Why: Another smoky favourite, Smoking Goat focuses on affordable Thai barbecue and seafood. On the seafood side, the short menu features ingredients such as grilled John Dory with green nahm, and steamed oysters with roasted chilli and fried shallots. For heavier meals, diners can enjoy the likes of five spice braised chicken with egg and shiitake mushrooms, or an order of spicy fried chicken with sriracha.
Where: 64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
Why: Barbecue-obsessed Neil Rankin (who co-founded Smokehouse, above) has dedicated his mini-chain Temper (there are locations in City, Soho, and Covent Garden) to the art and craft of cooking meat. The buzzing bonfire of a restaurant that is the Soho site was the first solo venture from him. The basement floor houses a taco bar for savoury options of beef fat or smoked goat, while larger dishes come in the form of smoked lamb shoulder, a red curry beef skewer, or a lamb birria, all served on flatbread.
Where: City: 2 Angel Court, 30 Throgmorton Street, EC2R 7HJ; Soho: 25 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DF; Covent Garden: 5 Mercer Walk, Mercers Yard, WC2H 9FA
Why: Discreetly housed in Shoreditch, this barbecue smokehouse from David Carter, former front of house manager for Roka and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, offers bites that hold true to its name. With a menu riddled with small plates and sharing dishes, diners can enjoy the likes of grilled meats and coal roasted vegetables at Smokestak. Expect barbecue classics such as a brisket bun with pickled red chilli and thick-cut pork ribs, offered alongside a number of unexpected nibbles, such as padron tempura with aioli or crispy ox cheek with anchovy mayo.
Where: 35 Sclater Street, E1 6LB
Why: If the name of this restaurant wasn’t a dead giveaway to what it serves, Texas Joe’s Slow Smoked Meats boasts a menu that covers all meat bases. From side orders of bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeños or brisket nachos, to mains that consist of short rib or pork belly, shoulder and ribs, this joint does a good job at paying tribute to its namesake state. When you’re done, wash your meal down with a bourbon cocktail, before tucking into a slice of pecan pie for dessert.
Where: 8-9 Snowsfields, SE1 3SU
Why: Indian barbeque restaurant Brigadiers doubles as a sports bar and boasts novel and laddish features such as a self-service whisky dispenser, TVs locked to Sky Sports and chunky meat on the grill. Since this has the backing of the JKS group, the food is of the outmost quality though – sizzlers, kebabs, steak, ribs and chops all come in a mouth-watering manner. Wash it all down with a wide selection of lagers, cocktails on draught and lots of wines by the glass.
Where: 1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR
Why: Not a straightforward BBQ joint as such, but Sakagura still serves Japanese Wagyu beef and lobster on a shichirin (a charcoal grill) alongside a range of yakitori (small Japanese grilled dishes). The flavour this method of cooking gives off is sensational, and you can pair it with a wide selection of sides that are refreshing and well-balanced. The handsome dining room is spread across two floors and has a distinct masculine feel.
Where: 8 Heddon Street, W1B 4BS
Why: This Southern American soul-inspired mini-chain sees a Blues Kitchen in all of London’s corners, in Camden, Brixton, and Shoreditch. Both food and music is blues-inspired with funky tunes spinning while you tuck into slow-cooked BBQ meats such as short ribs drenched in BBQ sauce or whole grilled lobster virtually swimming in garlic butter. The chargrilled shrimp jambalaya is another highlight.
Where: Camden: 111-113 Camden High Street, NW1 7JN; Brixton: 40 Acre Lane, SW2 5SP; Shoreditch: 134-146 Curtain Road, EC2A 3AR
Why: Smoking Thai BBQ joint, Kiln, is the brainchild of Smoking Goat-founder Ben Chapman and is equally as finger-lickingly good as its sibling – if not more so. Sharing dishes means it’s hands-on and immersive, just as a barbie should be. From turmeric sausages to cumin-spiked lamb skewers, you’ll be so busy getting stuck in, you won’t even mind the smudges of fat and marinade running down the sides of your mouth.
Where: 58 Brewer Street, W1F 9TL
Why: A Japanese take on the western BBQ is the robata grill, which is put to good use at Zuma. Although the restaurant is more known for its classic sushi, Japanese salads and black cod, cuts of fish and beef are given a spin on the robata and grilled to perfection. A fillet of beef, for instance, comes simply dressed with red chilli and soy, but is just fantastic.
Where: 5 Raphael Street, SW7 1DL
Are you a fan of big slabs of meat? We think our list of the best steak in London should be on your radar.