“When a man [ahem, or woman] is tired of London, he is tired of life.” It was the celebrated author Samuel Johnson who said this, and to be honest, we reckon he was on to something. Sure, we have all spent weekends on the couch in our pyjamas WhatsApping our mates about how bored we are and that we’ve got nothing to do, but let’s be real, we’re lying and just being lazy.
That’s because in fact, there is always something new to do or try out in London. One of the most exciting (and sometimes baffling) things about our fair city is the continuous supply of pop up restaurants, bars and events that grace her streets. What exactly is a pop up we hear the uninitiated cry? Well, it’s best described as a new space that offers something a little different to the norm, and is only around for a limited time. London is chock-full of pop ups that are just waiting to be discovered, whether it be something as simple as a preview of a hot new restaurant, or something as bizarre as a drinking den themed around being in prison (yes Alcotraz, we’re looking at you).
The only difficult thing with London pop ups is that there’s an awful lot of them, and it can be tough to work out which ones are actually legit and which were conceived on the back of a Wetherspoons napkin. There’s no need to worry though, as here at SquareMeal, we’ve made it our mission to pound the pavements of the capital looking for the latest and greatest pop ups in town. We regularly update this page with all of the latest London pop up launches, so you know which ones are actually worth your time. So, all that's left for you to do is get out there and enjoy them.
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Pop up London restaurants
Some of London’s most successful restaurants started out life as pop ups. Want to know what the next big thing on the capital’s dining scene will be before it sets up shop permanently? Stay ahead of the curve by visiting one of these pop up restaurants.
Omer Shadmi and Daniel Zur at Carousel, Marylebone
When: 18-29 February
Residency: Life-long friends Omer Shadmi and Daniel Zur are the latest chefs to bring a pop up concept to the ever-changing kitchen at Carousel. Their menu is made up of tempting Middle Eastern fare, with dishes including the likes of sea bass in tomato and green chilli marduma, and cured mackerel salad with horseradish aioli, shallots and sumak.
Where: 71 Blandford Street, W1B 8AB
When: For four months from 10 March
Pop up: The latest concept to take over at pop up site 10 Heddon Street, Fallow is the brainchild of two former Dinner by Heston chefs. The menu champions ‘root to stem’ and ‘nose to tail’ dining, which translates into dishes such as corn ribs with chicken scratchings or hen keema with pullet egg, kohlrabi and Salmon, horseradish, bone marrow and parsley.
Where: 10 Heddon Street, W1B 4BX
Plant-Based Pit Stop, King's Cross
When: Open daily from 7am, for the next three months
Pop up: Based in one of the large grey cylinderical buildings just outside King’s Cross station, Plant-based Pit Stop houses four separate vegan food and drink vendors. Describing itself as a hub for plant-curious Londoners, food on offer varies from salad bowls to vegan cupcakes as well as plant-based crepes from Pipoca. If you’re just popping in for a drink, expect plant-based smoothies from organic café Mother Works.
Where: King's Cross Square, N1C 4DE
PUFF Bakery at PASSO, Shoreditch
When: Sundays 9, 16 and 23 February and 1 March from 10am
Residency: From next week onwards, PUFF Bakery will be bringing its range of pastries and desserts to PASSO for four Sundays in a row. Expect the rotating weekly menu to include everything from fresh flatbreads, to mille-feuilles and salted caramel cookies. We can’t think of a much better way to start your Sunday than with a fresh pastry, so get yourself down there before they're all gone.
Where: PASSO, 80 City Road, EC1Y 2AS
The Nitery by Gizzi Erskine at St Martins Lane Kitchen, Covent Garden
When: 13 February to 30 April
Residency: Food writer and chef Gizzi Erskine is the woman behind this sophisticated pop up at St Martins Lane Kitchen, which serves playful updates on classic British, French and American dishes. The Nitery serves both weekend brunch and Sunday roasts, while during the week you can expect to find dishes such as devilled eggs with roast chicken crackling or Flagoelet dauphinoise with goat cutlets.
Where: 45 St. Martin’s Lane London, WC2N 4HX
Wing Shack, Clerkenwell
When: w/c 3 February
Pop up: Following the success of its debut site in Loughton, fashionable chicken restaurant Wing Shack is opening a brand new pop up in Clerkenwell. With the restaurant garnering famous fans including Big Narstie, this is the place to get your chicken wings. Serving up much-lauded wings every day of the week from noon, the pop up won’t be around forever, so don’t miss out.
Where: 59-61 Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4SD
Alter at Counter Culture, Clapham
When: 7 January to 28 March
Residency: The latest residency to set up shop at Counter Culture (the little sister to Robin Gill’s The Dairy) is Alter, an all-vegan offering inspired by international street food favourites. Dishes will change throughout the residency, but on the opening menu you can expect to find the likes of crispy roti with sweetcorn chaat, and spicy mapo tofu.
Where: 16 The Pavement, SW4 0HY
When: Until July
Pop Up: Following a string of successful short-and-sweet pop ups around London and a glowing review from ES Magazine critic Jimi Famurewa, Filipino outfit Sarap is sticking around for a while longer, with a six month gig in Brixton Village. Expect to try the signature slow-roasted pork belly stuffed with spices, as well as other Filipino-style snacks.
Where: Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PS
Pop up London bars
We often wake up the morning after a night out cursing the bar that served up such irresistible cocktails. The good news about London pop up bars? They won’t be around for long! Get sipping while you still can and worry about the consequences later.
The Clumsies at Madison, St Paul's
When: 24-28 February, 4pm-late
Pop Up: Greek bar The Clumsies, which was ranked as the 6th best bar in the world at 2019's World’s 50 Best Bar Awards, is returning to London for another pop-up after its success at 100 Wardour Street last year. Expect original Greek spins on some classic cocktails from co-founder Vasilis Kyritsis, including a take on an Old Fashioned made from salted caramel and bourbon.
Where: One New Change Rooftop Terrace, EC4M 9AF
Bar El Rincón at Varnishers Yard, King's Cross
When: Opens 4 March for one year
Pop Up: Bar El Rincón is the latest offering from restaurant group Camino. Popping up in Varnishers Yard at King's Cross, this new wine and tapas bar has a focus on sustainability, so its small but carefully chosen selection of wines are all available on tap to reduce waste. Expect Spanish wines and of course Sangria, alongside a few cocktail options too. This is all accompanied by a variety of wonderful tapas prepared by Camino’s executive chef Nacho del Campo.
Where: The Regent Quarter, Varnishers Yard, N1 9FD
Pop up London events
There’s always something to do in the capital, so the next time your mate texts you telling you how bored they are, suggest one of these awesome London pop up events. You’ll get serious cool points, plus you get to try out something or somewhere new – always worth a go in our opinion.
House of Holi at Cinnamon Kitchen City, Liverpool Street
When: 2-15 March 2020
Pop Up: Returning for its sixth residency, paint powder-throwing pop up House of Holi will be back at Cinnamon Kitchen in the City this March to mark the Indian festival of colour. While it’s there, you will be able to chuck handfuls of paint powder everywhere, as well as enjoying food from a pop-up chaat counter on site. So whether you need to destress, want a fun evening with your friends, or simply just want to be covered head-to-toe in paint, get yourself to House of Holi before it’s gone for another year.
Where: Cinnamon Kitchen, 9 Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YL
The Rooftop Cinema at The Berkeley, Mayfair
When: Wednesday-Saturdays until the end of February
Pop Up: The Berkeley’s Rooftop Cinema is back for its winter season, complete with cosy accents including hot chocolate and truffle mac ‘n’ cheese. Every Wednesday-Saturday from 7:30pm, the makeshift cinema will air the likes of classic romcom You’ve Got Mail and show stopping musical extravaganza The Greatest Showman – we’ll see you there.
Where: The Berkeley, Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL
For more dining inspiration, visit our Best Lists page, which features curated lists of restaurants categorised by cuisine, occasion, price and more.