Lunch. It can either be a sad affair of eating a Meal Deal at your desk, earphones in your ears, scrolling Instagram while crumbs snow down on your keyboard. Or, it can be a swanky one, sitting down for a proper meal at a restaurant, having a conversation with the person opposite you, and the only Instagramming you'll do is uploading photographs of your gorgeous-looking plate onto your Story. Alternatively, it can be somewhere in-between – a fab deli with counter seating where you sit down for a quick pick-me-up.
If you’ve reached the end of your tether when it comes to trawling through aisles of cold sandwiches and half-full bags of crisps at Tesco, we have a suggestion. Well, we actually have a few – reclaim your lunch break by making your way to London’s restaurant hub – Soho – and trying out one of these restaurants, which all have great lunchtime offerings and deals.
From cheap and cheerful Asian restaurants, to more upscale eateries serving classic French food, there should be something for every budget and every taste below in our round up of the best lunch restaurants in Soho.
Why: If you’re okay with a little bit of queuing, lunch at Bao is a Soho rite of passage. The set lunch menu is available for £15 and includes a choice of bao (with options such as confit pork and lamb shoulder), a choice between Taiwanese fried chicken or Eryngii mushroom, and a bowl of rice. If you’re having a cheeky drink, don’t miss the Asian-inspired cocktails, including a Soy Old Fashioned and a Rhubarb Spritz.
Where: 53 Lexington Street, W1F 9AS
Why: This glam Soho destination has recently launched off-peak menu pricing, meaning if you visit Bob Bob Ricard for lunch between Monday and Wednesday, you can enjoy 20% off the regular à la carte. Discounted dishes to choose from include a chicken, mushroom and Champagne pie, lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, and salmon tartare with cucumber, fennel and horseradish. If you’re keen to avoid heading back to the office, opt for a dessert like the sour cherry soufflé.
Where: 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF
Why: Serving some of the best regional Italian food in the capital, Bocca di Lupo offers a daily-changing one-dish lunch for no more than £10. If you’d rather stick to the à la carte, you can make the most of comforting pastas, including spaghetti with sea urchin, butter and lemon, or pappardelle with wild boar ragu. A sucker for fish for your lunch? Opt for the sea bream or the grilled mackerel – it’s hard to go wrong with a menu like this.
Where: 12 Archer Street, W1D 7BB
Why: Lunch at this all-female kitchen is served between 12 and 3pm, and can be found nestled inside buzzy Kingly Court. Serving up a string of spicy, homely dishes, the menu at Darjeeling Express includes venison meatballs in a creamy tomato and chili sauce, beef strips cooked with green chillies, and slow-cooked goat curry with potatoes. We also love the Indian twist on carrot cake, which is realised via carrot halwa – it comes garnished with pistachios and drizzled with cream.
Where: 2nd Floor, 6-8 Kingly Street, W1B 5PW
Why: Between 12pm and 2.30pm, the original Hoppers (the second site is in Marylebone) is a great place for lunch with a difference. Serving South Indian fare, it offers an express lunch menu for just £19.50. For your money, you get mutton rolls, a lamb or veg kothu roti, one of the signature Hoppers and a choice of tea or sweet frothy kaapi (Indian filter coffee). Just remember to factor in some time for queuing, as this place remains wildly popular.
Where: 49 Frith Street, W1D 4SG
Why: Chef Judy Joo’s mash up of Korean and US street-food offers a set lunch menu, where diners can enjoy three dishes for £20 (alternatively, you can go for two dishes for £15). Options at Jinjuu include chipotle short-rib tacos, double-fried chicken wings with hot sauce, and a pork and kimchi hot pot. Top it off with something sweet, such as honey cheesecake, or the chili-spiced brownie served with miso ice cream. Lunchtime sips meanwhile, include house-made ice teas and virgin cocktails.
Where: 15 Kingly Street, W1B 5PS
Why: The menu at Indian small plates joint Kricket kicks off with a selection of kulcha bread, with toppings including brown crab butter, or date and pistachio. The main event sees the likes of Keralan-fried chicken with curry leaf mayonnaise and pickled mooli, and duck breast with blood orange and rhubarb chutney. We’d recommend the masala chai (which you can spike with rum) to wash it all down.
Where: 12 Denman Street, W1D 7HH
Why: Lunch at Yottam Ottolenghi’s spin-off from his eponymous delis is served between 12pm and 3pm and is a pretty healthy affair. Start with the likes of Nopi’s vegetable crudités with nori aioli, before moving on to dishes such as sea bass with calabrese peppers and spring greens, or a chickpea pancake with spiced peas, tomato, pickled chilli and yuzu. If you’re planning on skipping dinner, why not add an indulgent side of truffle polenta chips, topped with Parmesan?
Where: 21-22 Warwick Street, W1B 5NE
Why: It may have been founded all the way back in 1926, but the Soho sanctuary that is Quo Vadis is showing no signs of slowing down. On the all-day a-la-carte menu, you’ll find reasonably priced items that work well for lunch. Smoked eel sandwich anyone? It will cost you a mere £10.50, whereas £17.50 will give you ‘Today’s Pie’. This is British to the core and we love it.
Where: 26-29 Dean Street, W1D 3LL
Why: This often-heaving joint from serial restaurateur Jason Atherton offers a lunch prix-fixe with three courses for £28. You’ll find hearty options, such as mac ‘n’ cheese with shaved mushrooms at Social Eating House, or the 40-day aged, Cumbrian rump steak which comes served with mixed leaf salad, duck fat chips, béarnaise or peppercorn sauce. If you’ve got any room left, 70% chocolate delice served with milk and honey ice cream is sure to fill it.
Where: 58 Poland Street, W1F 7NR
Why: Chef Neil Rankin’s first Temper (followed by City and Covent Garden sequels) features a concise menu of tacos, flatbread wraps and tortillas. Perfect for a sharing lunch with colleagues, taco fillings include crab and pickled onion, pork skin, smoked goat, and even a cheeseburger variety. Meanwhile, flatbreads come topped with beef, goat and lamb, while indulgent sides are covered via beef-fat potatoes and grilled corn.
Where: 23 Broadwick Street, W1F 0QA
Why: The Soho site of seafood mini-chain Wright Brothers offers up the lucrative offer of £1 oysters between 3pm and 6pm on weekdays – so if you’re keen on an extravagant late lunch, this is epic. Elsewhere on the lunchà la carte, you can find build-your-own seafood platters of the restaurant’s daily-changing selection of oysters and shellfish, as well as small plates such as fish pie croquettes, stuffed squid and mackerel crudo with smoked cream.
Where: 13 Kingly Street, W1B 5PW
Why: A less expensive way to enjoy the menu at this luxury Chinese is to go for lunch. The Soho Lunch menu at Yauatcha (served from 2pm to 5pm) will cost you £28 per person and features the signature baked venison puffs, alongside other top-drawer dim sum, including a Champagne scallop and prawn dumpling, and a mushroom roll. Finish off with some of Yauatcha’s famed macarons, alongside jasmine green tea.
Where: 15-17 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DL
Why: The fixed-priced menu from L’Escargot’s a-la-carte listing is reasonable and perfect for a quick, no-fuss lunch. Two courses are as little as £18.50, whereas three courses are only a few bob more at £21.50. The list to choose from is short, but with options such as Jerusalem artichoke and truffle risotto, and confit of duck with Savoy cabbage and bacon, you will still struggle to decide. The multi-levelled townhouse that houses the restaurant makes for a stylish setting that will definitively pep up your lunch.
Where: 48 Greek Street, W1D 4EF
Why: The lunch special at Claw Carnaby involves getting any of the rolls or buns (ranging from £10 to £16) and choosing Cajun fries and a side salad for only £3 extra. Naturally, the most expensive item is the lobster and crayfish roll, but with tasty options such as a crab roll for £10 or a KFC crab burger for £12, you don’t have to have deep pockets to enjoy a decent lunch here. Elsewhere on the menu of this casual dining spot, you can enjoy sharing plates from the sea, land and plant worlds.
Where: 21 Kingly Street, W1B 5QA
Why: A short and concise lunch offering at Le Bab includes three items all priced at £10 or under. Enjoy ‘luxe’ kebabs churned out by hot-shot Le Gavroche alumni chefs that are hoovered up by a trendy Soho crowd. Pork shawarma is served with spiced celeriac, smoked date puree, crackling, pickled endive and nutmeg mayo (yeah, we told you it was luxe) and will cost you a mere £9.50. The lamb flatbread and the falafel kebab with almond hummus are the two other options.
Where: 2nd Floor, Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
Why: The second site from The Good Egg (the original one is in Stoke Newington) is perhaps mostly well-known for serving up a kick-ass Middle-Eastern-leaning brunch, but with the brunch menu being available all day, there are several dishes that venture well into lunch land, too. The wallet-friendly menu features everything from bagels and pitas, to baked goods and shakshuka.
Where: Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
Why: Tapas works a treat no matter what time of day you’re eating, and Copita – a breezy Spanish eatery just off Berwick Street – serves classic Spanish small-plates for a cheap buck. From charcuterie to croquettas of all types of flavours, to sweet potato bravas and roast cauliflowers, get ready to stuff your face with these indulgent dishes. Wooden stools, tiled walls and glowing candles contribute to that holiday feeling.
Where: 27 D'Arblay Street, W1F 8EN
Why: Grabbing a slice of pizza for lunch might seem very New York City-like, but us Londoners can do it too, especially with gems such as Soho’s Cecconi’s Pizza Bar, which is an off-shoot of Cecconi’s in Mayfair. There’s a handsomely-priced week-day lunch combo for £12, which will get you a choice of either cicchetti or salad, followed by either pasta or pizza, and an espresso to finish. Cecconi’s trusted well-executed Italian hero dishes are both present and correct, so you’ll have a fab time here. The outside seating also means some lunch-time people-watching is an option, too.
Where: 19-21 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JJ
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