“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.
The Colbert x Tanqueray Gin Bar Pop Up
When: Until 26 September
Residency: Run, don’t walk to Sloane Square this summer, where you will find that much-loved restaurant Colbert has teamed up with Tanqueray to create an outdoor gin bar. Refreshing cocktails to try include Flor de Sevilla Spritz made with Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla and Blackberry Bramble made with Tanqueray Blackcurrant Royale, while a selection of summery dishes are on hands to complement your sips - think a classic prawn cocktail or a chopped chicken, avocado and bacon salad.
Where: 50-52 Sloane Square, SW1W 8AX
Rogues London at Hackney Coffee Company
When: Until further notice
Residency: Occupying an alfresco space at Hackney Coffee Company, Rogues London has centred its menu around the outdoor BBQ, with several dishes cooked over fire. Sip on a great selection of wines while tucking into the likes of XL diver scallop with seaweed butter and balsamic reduction or Highland wagyu skirt with XO vinaigrette and BBQ onions.
Where: 503 Hackney Road, E2 9ED
Tigre Tacos at The Gunmakers
When: Until further notice
Residency: Originally a food truck pop up at Nine Lives Alley in London Bridge, Tigre Tacos has now taken up residency at The Gunmakers in Clerkenwell. Chef Ramon oversees a menu of Mexi-Cali cuisine which is inspired by the street-food taquerias and trucks of 70’s Southern California. Top orders include the lobster tail taco and the Baja ‘no fish’ taco for vegan diners.
Where: 13 Eyre Street Hill, EC1R 5E
When: Until 27 August
Pop up: This pop up concept, centring around hyper-seasonal produce, comes from chef Drew Snaith. The menu here changes almost every day and is underpinned by the best produce available at the time, but dishes you might find on the menu include wild nettle and roast garlic babka with cheese and onion fondue or lamb tongue nuggets with marjoram mayonnaise.
Where: 31 Peckham Road, SE5 8UH
Tendril at The Sun & 13 Cantons
When: Until October
Residency: This mostly vegan residency at The Sun & 13 Cantons is the brainchild of chef Rishim Sachdeva (The Dairy, Chiltern Firehouse, The Fat Duck). The menu champions seasonal ingredients and you can expect to find plates such as chipotle grilled oyster mushroom with smoked leek and peanut sauce or ratatouille with basil puree, ras el hanout and herb crumb.
Where: 21 Great Pulteney Street, W1F 9NG
Sam’s Riverside Summer Pop Ups at Phoenix Farm
When: 3, 4, 10 and 11 August
Residency: Taking advantage of the (hopefully sunny) summer season, Sam’s Riverside is set to host four pop up alfresco dinners at Phoenix Farm in White City. The ticketed event will see tables set up among the urban farm’s vegetable patches and decorated with candles and freshly cut flowers. Guests will enjoy a five-course feast which showcases the best in seasonal produce - think courgettes, peas, beans, elderflower and horseradish, and berries.
Where: Phoenix Farm, Bloemfontein Road, W12 7DB
Annual chef series at Kricket
When: 7, 14, 21 and 28 September
Residency: Kricket’s annual chef series is back, with a stellar line-up of cooks set to join co-founder Will Bowlby in the kitchen. Taking place across four dates in September, this year’s series will feature appearances from the likes of James Cochran, Michel Roux Jr and Selin Kiazim, who will all create a three-course sharing menu for guests to enjoy. £55pp, purchase your ticket from Kricket's website.
Where: 2 Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, W12 7FR
Nomad Bros at The Gipsy Queen
When: Until November
Residency: Turkish street food concept Nomad Bros has launched a six month residency in the kitchens of The Gipsy Queen, one of few remaining independently run pubs in London. On the menu, you can expect to find the tempting likes of halloumi popcorn, an Istanbul-style hot dog, shish kebabs and hefty shawarma wraps.
Where: 166 Malden Road, NW5 4BS
Joo Won at Bun House
When: From 5 August until 4 October
Residency: Chef Joo Won is taking over the top floor of Bun House in Chinatown, serving his signature menu of South Korean and European inspired sharing dishes. Our recommendation? The signature JFC (Joo’s Fried Chicken) - succulent chicken thighs deep-fried in a secret batter, accompanied with a gochujang, ginger, honey and apple sauce and topped with creamy cashews and coriander.
Where: 26-27 Lisle Street, WC2H 7BA
Napoli Gang at Fiorucci
When: 2-31 August
Residency: Despite the fashion set’s reputation for not eating much, food and high fashion collaborations are becoming ever more popular. The latest to get in on the action is Napoli Gang from the Big Mama Group (the brains behind Gloria, Ave Mario etc.) who have teamed up with fashion house Fiorucci. On the menu, you can expect fresh burrata with parma ham, freshly baked focaccia and the Instagram-famous XXL lemon pie.
Where: Fiorucci, 39 Brewer Street, W1F 9UD
Madhu’s at The Dilly, Mayfair
When: Six months from 29 June
Residency: Making itself at home in the Grade II listed Oak Room of The Dilly Hotel is fine-dining Indian restaurant Madhu’s. Expect a menu underpinned by Punjabi dishes with a few Kenyan twists, resulting in dishes such as ‘Machuzi Shank’: spring lamb shank slow cooked using a secret sauce and blend of dry roasted spices. There are signature cocktails too, served at the 40-seat bar, while home delivery is an option too if you don’t want to get changed out of your pyjamas.
Where: 21 Piccadilly, W1J 0BH
Tom Cenci at Tandoor Chop House, Covent Garden
When: Two months from 1 July
Residency: This summer, diners at Tandoor Chophouse will be able to tuck into a naan crafted by chef Tom Cenci, formerly of Loyal Tavern and Duck & Waffle. Cenci’s naan is stuffed with confit duck leg, topped with spring onion, chives and green chilli and finished off with peanut brittle, pink peppercorns and a miso caramel. Even better, £1 from every dish sold will be donated to Cenci’s charity of choice, Beder, which works to raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention.
Where: 8 Adelaide Street, WC2N 4HZ
Papa L’s Kitchen, St James’s
When: From 1 July
Pop up: Chef Lawrence Gomez (The Ivy, Sexy Fish, Scott’s) has brought his travelling kitchen to Jermyn Street, where he will be serving an African fusion menu. At Papa L’s Kitchen, you can expect to tuck into dishes such as grilled king tiger prawns and kanja (a vegetable from Gambia) cooked tempura style. Dishes are often finished off with top secret marinades and sauces, the ingredients for which are held close to Gomez’s chest, so expect plenty of heat and spice too.
Where: 16-17 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LT
The Dorchester Rooftop, Mayfair
When: Until the end of summer
Pop up: 90 years later and The Dorchester is still finding ways to reinvent itself. The famous hotel has launched a pop up rooftop restaurant (in normal times, the space is actually the balcony to one of the penthouse suites - oh how the other half live!). For the final few weeks of summer, the space will be taken over by LA’s famous Polo Lounge - expect candy-stripe decor, an ice cream stand and the signature McCarthy Salad, named after polo player Neil McCarthy who used to frequent The Beverly Hills Hotel in the 1960's.
Where: 53 Park Lane,W1K 1QA
Erev at Maria’s Market Cafe, Borough
When: Until September
Residency: The legendary Maria’s Market Cafe at Borough Market might be best known for its hearty full English, but throughout summer evenings, you will be able to find something a little different here. Erev is the supperclub from Borough Market Kitchen resident Shuk, serving up Middle Eastern dishes designed for sharing - think smoky aubergine with tomato, labne, mint and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Where: The Market Porter, 9 Stoney Street, SE1 9AA
Anders’ Terrace, Stratford
When: Until the end of summer
Pop up: Ahead of the opening of Haugen, D&D London’s first Stratford restaurant, the group is hosting a summer long alfresco pop up called Anders’ Terrace. Here, guests can expect to experience the flavours of the Alps in East London, via dishes such as rostbratwurst with sauerkraut and crispy onions or Zigeurner schnitzel with spiced paprika sauce and fries.
Where: 9 Endeavour Square, E20 1JN
Dior at Alto Selfridges, Marylebone
When: Until 30 September
Residency: High-fashion brand Dior has given Selfridges’ rooftop restaurant Alto a chic makeover for the summer, complete with parasols, deckchairs and cushions from the fashion houses’s new seaside-themed Maison collection. As for the food, expect classic Italian comfort dishes, while cocktails include the likes of the Lady Dior and J’Adior Selfridges.
Where: 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB
Royale at East London Liquor Co, Bow Wharf
When: Friday-Sunday until further notice
Residency: The team from Michelin-starred Leroy are behind this new rotisserie pop up at East London Liquor Co. Expect a simple menu of rotisserie chicken accompanied by appropriate sides such as roasted potatoes or seasonal veg. You can pair your meal with a selection of wines, spirits or cocktails from the bar team at ELLCo, while Royale’s juicy chicken is also available for delivery if you’d rather enjoy it from the comfort of your sofa.
Where: Unit GF1, 221 Grove Road, E3 5SN
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.
Cocktails in the City, City
When: 20-21 August
Pop up: A riotous celebration of all things brilliant and boozy, Cocktails in the City is an annual event which brings together some of the capital’s best cocktail bars all under one roof (or in this year’s case, all in one square). Expect top-quality cocktails, street food and live music and feel good knowing that proceeds from ticket sales are going to The Drinks Trust, a charity supporting the recovery of the hospitality industry following the pandemic.
Where: Bedford Square Gardens, WC1B 3HW
The Rooftop at Hippodrome Casino, Soho
When: Until the end of summer
Residency: The Rooftop at Hippodrome Casino spreads itself across three floors and this year, has partnered up with Tanqueray gin to offer a menu of cocktails that is sure to seduce any gin lover. Take your pick from the fun likes of The Tanqueray Passion, a blend of Tanqueray No. Ten gin, tangy lime and fresh passion fruit.
Where: Leicester Square, WC2H 7JH
For more dining inspiration, visit our Best Lists page, which features curated lists of restaurants categorised by cuisine, occasion, price and more.