“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”
While it's unlikely author Samuel Johnson was referring to pop-up restaurants in London, the point still stands. It's fine to be lazy, but let's not kid ourselves - when we stay home in London, it's not for a lack of things to do. In fact, we'd argue when it comes to cuisine in the capital, our cup runneth over.
There's so much to do, in fact, that it can sometimes be overwhelming. And we'd argue there are few things more fun than dashing over to a temporary bar or restaurant pop-up. It's the temporary nature that makes them so enticing - truly food FOMO at its finest.
What exactly is a pop-up restaurant we hear the uninitiated cry? Loosely speaking, it's a temporary space that offers something a little different to the norm. London is chock-full of pop-ups that are just waiting to be discovered, some as simple as a preview for a hot new restaurant, others are so elaborate they border on theatre.
The challenge is that we are spoiled for choice, not to mention they can't all be good. 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-up restaurants in London. 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.
Know what you're looking for?
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.
Fix the Food Chain at The Sea, The Sea, Hackney
When: 30 October - End of November
Residency: Following the sad closure of Native, founders Ivan Tisdall-Downes and Imogen Davis are staying in the game with a new pop-up, collaborating with a number of guest chefs in an exploration of sustainability across cultures. With an initiative that focuses on zero waste cooking, Fix The Food Chain opens up conversations about more sustainable choices. The duo, alongside each chef, create a six course tasting menus, paired with a unique cocktail created in collaboration with St-Germain. These won't be your typical cooking styles, with each menu focusing on different techniques such as using bycatch (under-utilised fish or other protein sources) or historical and less-wasteful cooking methods.
Where: 337 Acton Mews, E8 4EA
Book now: Native
Poon's Wontoneria at Carousel, Fitzrovia
When: 21 June - October
Residency: Not content with killing the nationwide wonton delivery game, Poon's Wontoneria is back in bricks and mortar as well, taking up residency at Carousel in Fitzrovia. Amy Poon's signature wontons are joined by a host of new Chinese small plates inspired by dishes from the original Poon's of Covent Garden restaurant - think pig's ear terrine with garlic vinegar, and Chinese churros (called 'youtaio'). You can buy yourself some excellent Poon's pantry essentials before you go too (we can confirm, the soy sauce will change your life).
Where: 23 Charlotte Street, W1T 1RW
Book now: Wontoneria
Chez Rowley at Laylow, Notting Hill
When: Until 22 December
Residency: Chef Rowley Leigh introduces his new menu, leaning into Italian bistro classics as he takes up residency at Laylow. It's a simple menu, revolving around just a few staple ingredients, but he creates a sense of nostalgia with his traditional dishes that encourage family-style dining. Not to be missed is the signature poulet Antiboise, chicken roasted with anchovies, black olives and white wine. Come along from Wednesday to Sunday and enjoy these dishes, with other sharing options including steamed Dover sole or a bone-in sirloin with bearnaise sauce.
Where: 10 Golborn Road, W10 5PE
Book now: Laylow
Rajiv's Kitchen at The Crooked Well, Camberwell
When: Until end of November
Residency: One of Camberwell's beloved neighbourhood pubs, The Crooked Well, is extending its residency of Rajiv’s Kitchen into the autumn, which celebrates Nepal’s best cuisines. After a wildly successful stint at The Sun & 13 Cantons, Rajiv's Kitchen has built a solid cult following thanks to delicious Nepalese cooking. Following a roaring success throughout the summer, he's adapted his menu to tie in with Nepal's upcoming festivals - Dashain & Tihar. Why not pop into the pub and enjoy his new Autumn tasting menu, which includes small bites like jhol momos (dumplings) as well as goat curry and chicken skewers.
Where: 16 Grove Lane, SE5 8SY
Book now: The Crooked Well
Prada Caffe at Harrods, Belgravia
Residency: Suitably stylish, Prada’s first café in London is decked out in pistachio green with clashing checkerboard floors. Here you’ll find everything from coffee and cakes first thing in the morning through to lunch and dinner later in the day. A creative cocktail list sees things through to the evening, ensuring there’s something for every occasion.
Where: 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL
LIU Xiaomian at The Jackalope, Marylebone
Residency: This numbing noodle spot is one of London's best hidden gems, tucked away in a gorgeous pub in Marylebone. Soy, sesame, Sichuan pepper, chilli and vinegar combine to make an addictive Chongqing noodle sauce, and LIU Xiaomian's is clearly addictive as the pop-up has amassed a legion of fans whilst it has been stationed at The Jackalope. Get in there for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday for your noodle fix.
Where: 43 Weymouth Mews, W1G 7EQ
Book now: The Jackalope
Cally Munchy Lounge at The Africa Centre, Southwark
When: Until February 2024
Residency: Having run as a series of pop-ups across London, Cally Munchy Lounge has settled at Southwark's The Africa Centre where it'll stay into the new year. Drawing from his British-Nigerian roots, chef Ebenezer Sogunro creates traditional dishes from around the world, filling them with vibrant African spices with an aim to celebrate a variety of African cuisine. Take a tour around the world, and don't miss out on these Afro-fusion creations including the suya wagyu rice bowl, served with jollof rice and peas with kelewele (spicy fried plantain).
Where: 66 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 0BL
Book now: The Africa Centre
When: Ongoing (Fri - Sun)
Residency: SlowBurn is a vegetables-focused casual popup restaurant in Walthamstow. Founder and Head Chef Chavdar Todorov combines a variety of cuisines and concepts with inspiration drawn from travel, books and personal experience. With the aim to use carefully sourced ingredients and simple flavour pairings, the menu features the likes of black bean gyoza tacos, spiced delica pumpkin and apple tart tatin.
Where: 114b Blackhorse Lane, E17 6AA
Residency: Fernando Trocca - the Argentinian chef behind excellent Soho restaurant Sucre - is trialling another concept in London. His restaurant Mostrador has already been a hit in South America, and now it arrives in a beautiful, airy space on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch. The vibes changes from morning to evening - a large pastry team knocks out excellent pastries in the morning, whilst lunch is an inexpensive choice of bright, colourful salads and proteins (beef short rib, pork belly or grilled sardines, for example). In the evening, Mostrador turns into a restaurant, with a compact a la carte of dishes such as Dorset Lemon Sole with clams and cepes, grilled veal sweetbreads with chimichurri, apple and celeriac, and dulce de leche flan.
Where: 61-67 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HU
Tigre Tacos at Gunmakers, Clerkenwell
Residency: What’s better than tacos? Tacos in a pub. The Gunmakers is hosting Tigre Tacos right now and this isn’t one to miss. Choose from small sharers like lime cured prawns with chilli sauce or cheese and onion quesadillas, a range of tacos and big sharers like a grilled whole octopus with charred Serrano chillies. Tigre also offers tequila with yuzu, juniper or Valencian orange tonic, the perfect accompaniment to top-notch tacos.
Where: 13 Eyre Street Hill, EC1R 5ET
Book now: The Gunmakers
MIKO inside Leman Locke, Whitechapel
Residency: Bringing the delight of Japanese cuisine to Whitechapel, MIKO serves a variety of traditional dishes alongside fresh and delicious flavours and fusion cocktails - taking your favourite drinks and adding traditional Japanese ingredients. Highlights include pineapple chili squid, lolly-pop shrimp skewers, with a butter chili and citrus glaze, and the MIKO spritz, combining aperol with yuzu juice and sparkling sake.
Where: 15 Leman Street, E1 8EN
Book now: MIKO
Filthy Buns at Three Compasses, Dalston
Residency: Filthy Buns has brought seriously decadent burgers to The Three Compasses in Dalston. These towering stacks of bun sauce and more include crazy creations like the Lockdown Millionaire: a beef patty, Biscoff peanut butter, bacon, beer BBQ glaze, smokey gravy mayo, pink shallots and crispy onions. Keeping with the times, Filthy Buns also offers a wide range of great vegan burgers, including the Smokin’ Vegun with a plant-based patty, crispy “bacun”, bourbon BBQ sauce, cheeze, white miso mayo, rocket and crispy onions. Why not go all in and finish off with a handmade ice cream sandwich? Once again, vegans will not miss out with the east side vegan ice cream sandwich, smokey salty caramel cashew vice cream and corn miso cookie.
Where: 99 Dalston Lane, E8 1NH
Book now: The Three Compasses
Tiella at the Compton Arms, Islington
Residency: The Compton Arms has a history of top-notch kitchen residencies, and their latest is no exception. Replacing Belly for the forseeable future is Tiella - a casual Italian concept from former Sager & Wilde, Trullo and Brawn chef Dara Klein. Dishes include the likes of Scamorza and chilli crostini, steamed asparagus, buffalo mozzarella and saffron sauce, braised hoggett shoulder and polenta, and bay leaf panna cotta and blueberries with Fernet Branca.
Where: 4 Compton Ave, N1 2XD
Book now: The Compton Arms
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.
Bars of Britain at The Soho Hotel, Soho
When: 31 October - 3 November
Residency: Celebrate the very best of British bars, from Cornwall all the way up to Scotland, with a variety of exclusive pop-ups at The Soho Hotel. Join award winning bars Bramble, Henrock, CiCi's Bar and Lab22, who all come from Wales, Scotland and beyond down to the hotel for one night only, as they share specialty cocktails, each with their own individual twists. With innovative garnishes, foraged ingredients and collaborations with local breweries, it's a true celebration of the best of Britain.
Where: 4 Richmond Mews, WID 3DH
Book now: The Soho Hotel
For more dining inspo, don't miss our guide to the coolest places to eat in London.