Plan your London Christmas shopping around a lovely lunch at one of these restaurants near Oxford Street. Most department stores have a wealth of offerings and there are chains aplenty in the Oxford Street area, but if you want a little peace and quiet and a proper sit down you’ll need to walk one street away.
We have found the best places to eat and drink around Marble Arch, Bond Street and Oxford Circus as easy pitstops for your shopping trips, whether that be lunch, afternoon tea or a post-shopping glass of wine.
A buzzy regional Spanish restaurant tucked behind Regent Street, from Nieves Barragán Mohacho and José Etura, a pair that have been the driving force behind Barrafina’s success for the past decade.
With a friendly service style and nods to Andalucían tapas bars (colourful tiles, high tables), Sabor has the authentic feel of bars found all over Spain. Wait in the lively brick-walled bar area and whet your appetite with cured presa Iberica and crisp, golden prawn croquetas as good as any we’ve ever tasted in their homeland.
Charismatic José will then seat you at a counter overlooking the open kitchen, where conversation with the Spanish chefs is encouraged while they cook camarones fritos (tiny shrimp, deep-fried, and served with a crispy, paprika-dusted fried egg), chubby mussels ‘a la Bilbaina’ in a light sauce of tomatoes, sherry, sherry vinegar and herbs, and sobrasada in a rusty rubble on top of lightly crushed new potatoes, bobbing in a garlic cream.
Desserts tick every box – chocolatey bombas, sharp and creamy rhubarb and mascarpone tartlets, and an inspired goat’s cheese ice cream with a liquorice sauce rounded off a perfect meal. The all-Spanish wine list begins with txakoli, the lightly effervescent Basque wine that’s poured from a dramatic height. There’s vermouth on tap, too!
To dine at the heart of the action at Sabor, you can’t book, and you can’t sit in parties bigger than four, but it’s worth any first-come-first-serve frustrations.
You’re out to dinner with a friend. You’ve just sat down, opened the wine list, and your so-called friend announces that they’ve jumped on the latest fad diet band-wagon and aren’t drinking. Traitors. This is inevitably means that you either have to join them on their virtuous endeavor, or you’re forced to make the choice between a pathetic handful of uninspiring wines by the glass. Reader, I find this deeply traumatic.
Clipstone is on a corner of Clipstone Street in Fitzrovia and is the sister to nearby (and Michelin-starred) Portland, a modern-European dining room set up by restaurateurs Will Lander and Daniel Morgenthau with chef Merlin Labron-Johnson.
Just off Oxford Street, this tapas restaurant sits between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road underground stations. Part of the Salt Yard Group, Ember Yard serves Italian- and Spanish-inspired tapas and small plates using a bespoke, Basque-style grill and sustainable charcoal and wood from Kent, which gives a distinctive taste to dishes such as chargrilled Iberico presa with whipped jamon butter, and grilled octopus with broad beans, preserved lemon, pea and mint purée. Head chef Brett Barnes says: “The char and the smoke working in unison are a magical combination that appeals to our most basic instincts.”
Take a pause from Oxford Street shopping to visit the other-worldy surroundings of Sketch. An unimposing door in Mayfair opens into the reading rooms – take a right at the end of the stone corridor and you will find yourself in the David Shrigley Gallery. Squashy pink velvet sofas, cheeky cartoons on the wall, quirky waiters and a show-stopping cake stand – what could be better?
The fresh and elegant Pommery Brut Silver champagne with creamy notes started the afternoon tea as it meant to go on. We loved the show–stopping cake stand packed with little cakes, pastries, sweets and mini sandwiches of all varieties.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian restaurant near Oxford Street, this is the place. Self-service vegetarian, and often vegan, food served in smart surroundings. The dishes are drawn from all over the globe and as well as wines and cocktails there are speciality teas.
The décor is Mumbai 70s heaven in the newest Dishoom near Oxford Circus and as usual details are spot on. Don’t leave without a thorough inspection of the photographs on the walls. If you arrive before midday at the weekend you can have brunch – try the bacon and egg naan roll or bun maska, toasted bun and butter with spiced chai.
From midday onwards the full menu is your oyster, from chilli cheese toast and chicken ruby to spicy lamb chops and the prawn and pomelo salad.
Top notch BBQ and cocktails make this a busy place. There’s usually a queue but persevere for the signature ribs with slaw or pulled pork buns. Try a cider sour to drink.
Often using meat from their own farm in Cornwall, cooked over sustainable oak and lumpwood charcoal, chefs keep things simple. The ‘farm to fork’ philosophy extends to Tom’s beloved Mangalitsa pigs, loin chops of which end up on the daily changing blackboard menu, alongside the likes of smoked shoulder of lamb or aged rare-breed Dexter beef fillet.
This isn’t single place but a collection of venues with diverse food offerings from Oka sushi, sashimi and robata grill to Peruvian Señor Ceviche and Hakata tonkotsu ramen at Shoryu.
The Good Egg at Kingly Court
After the success of their first site in Stoke Newington, The Good Egg crowd-funded to their second site in Soho’s Kingly Court. This café-cum-restaurant, inspired by the Jewish café-culture of Montreal, serves all-day brunch Monday to Sunday. Take a seat on one of the dark-teal wooden chairs and watch chefs at work behind the metal counter. Walls are covered in jars of pickles and bottles of wine and blackboards list names of the meat, fish and veg producers that feature on the menu.
The menu offers a selection of sweet and savoury choices. Choose between a kanafeh croissant filled with pistachio and rose, cardamom buns and rugelach (a light, flaky pastry) for a sweet baked treat. The rich, buttery brioche-like babka is a must, with a thick chocolate spread running through the layers of dough and a crisp crust. If you’re there in December, grab a slice of the Christmas babka, flavoured with marzipan, currants and spiced butter and get a piece to take home, too.
Looking for restaurants near Marble Arch, on the Western end of Oxford Street? On face value Marble Arch looks like a bit of a wasteland unless you want a quick sandwich from Pret, but if you walk around the block behind the tube station you’ll find Seymour Place, a whole street of lovely places to eat including these two recommendations:
Seymour’s Parlour at Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone
Leave busy Oxford Street behind and pay Uncle Seymour a visit for a wintery cocktail. Inside this Georgian townhouse lies a secret drinking den that exuberates the eccentric charm of the Zetter Townhouse’s ficticous owner, wicked Uncle Seymour. Seymour’s Parlour is more front room of curiosities than hotel bar: trinkets clutter a cabinet that spans one side of the room, portraits adorn the wine-red walls and crystal decanters filled with bright orange liquid dress up antique wooden tables.
The room has a hushed atmosphere with intimate lighting that creates secluded corners to settle in to. Dapper Italian waiters take your order, and shake cocktails at a little bar tucked into one corner.
The seasonal cocktail list changes regularly, so the winter menu is made up of little coupettes full of punchy, warming mixes and remedies from the cold. Try the healing Scarlet’s Antidote, made with earthy homemade beetroot cordial, smooth Ocho tequila and the subtle spice of caraway from Kümmel liqueur. Dainty gimlet-like cocktail, The Rake, takes inspiration from ladies of the night in the series of paintings ‘A Rake’s Progress’, with fragrant orris (iris flower root) ‘powdered notes’ and a little drop of juniper oil that forms a delicate black beauty spot on the surface of the clear cocktail.
Tucked away on Marylebone’s pretty (and seriously foodie) Seymour Place, Lurra is a contemporary, sophisticated Basque-inspired restaurant. It’s sister to Donostia, just across the road, and the building has a shiny new extension. There’s more to this trendy joint than its good looks though: ingredients are key. With a meat import business (think 14-year-old Galician Blond, 67-day hung beef) supplying the likes of Kitty Fisher’s and Chiltern Firehouse, and a cellar downstairs housing top Spanish wines (including an incredible Louro from Valdeorras), owners Nemanja and Melody know their stuff.
Clean and bright Bernardi’s has a hip hotel bar vibe – groups settle into soft leather booths or leather-cushioned chairs around marble tables while the open kitchen hums in the background. The stylish furnishings and brass light instalments designed by the restaurant’s owner, Gabriel Bernardi, make this a trendy place to be seen; nevertheless, staff are discreet and maintain a friendly, un-hassled atmosphere.
Vinoteca offers a wall of wine to choose from and excellent menus. Wine is optional but it will be all around you, so you might as well… the menu recommends a glass for each dish. Fixed price lunch, 2 courses for £15 and 3 for £18.
Restaurants near Bond Street
Avoid Bond Street itself and escape around the corner to James Street or the block to Wigmore Street for a breather at lunchtime. Wigmore Street is also a convenient, crowd-free route between Marble Arch and Oxford Circus.
Hoppers, Wigmore Street
Named after the lacy, bowl-shaped pancakes that are a staple of Sri Lanka, Hoppers has quickly established itself as one of London’s hippest hangouts. From the can-do-no-wrong team behind Michelin-starred Gymkhana, Hoppers references the food of southern India and Sri Lanka. There’s a succinct menu starring traditional hoppers: light fermented rice and lentil pancake bowls, with a softly steamed egg and a selection of confidently spiced karis.
Load up on the ‘short eats’, though. Mutton rolls are like crunchy cigars – with a golden crumb, shredded gamey meat and lightly spiced tomato chutney. Bone marrow is so seductively sauced that you would be forgiven for refusing to share. The best, perhaps, are buttered devilled shrimps: juicy and fiery. There a fab and refreshing cocktails also.
Zoilo is the second offering from Argentinian chef Diego Jacquet and restaurateur Alberto Abbate. The duo’s first restaurant, Casa Malevo, opened back in 2010 and Zoilo at the end of 2012, both with the aim of showcasing authentic Argentinian cuisine.
This Marylebone restaurant is split over two levels; the ground floor a light and airy Buenos Aires-style café, and the lower ground has an open kitchen and narrow dining room. A long bar runs the length of the kitchen, so diners can get close to the action.
The menu takes inspiration from regional Argentina, including Diego’s native Patagonia and the famous wine region of Mendoza. The menu is made up of tapas-like sharing plates. Choose from morcilla and criolla (black pudding and onion relish on toast); ox tongue, white beans and mustard, or classics such as empanadas (crisp, meat or veg-filled pastries), and the starter dish of provoleta, a semi-hard cheese similar to Italian provolone, melted and topped with almonds and honey.
Burgers in brioche buns (try the Smokey Robinson with smokey mayo and caramelised onions), chips with roast chicken mayo and chicken skin salt, and if you can manage it, a side order of ‘thunder thighs’ with smoked jalapeno butter sauce. No bookings so avoid the busiest times, lunch starts at 12 daily.
On calm Wigmore street, away from the frenzy of Oxford Street, is one branch of bright and cheerful Lebanese restaurant chain Comptoir Libanais. You can eat lightly from the mezze menu or fill up on tagines and flat breads, so it’s ideal if you’re with friends of varying appetite. Bottles of pomegranate molasses, jars of harissa and silver teapots line the walls should you be short of a gift (it would save you plunging back into the hoards).
Going through the swing doors to MEATliquor is like disappearing down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland; it’s another world inside. We especially love the fried pickles with blue cheese dip, green chilli cheeseburger and onion rings, with fries (not chips). And we are partial to a hard shake, too.
Restaurants near Tottenham Court Road
Tottenham Court Road area is still undergoing a huge transformation while Crossrail bores its way underground across the capital. It’s within spitting distance from Soho and Charlotte Street, both of which appear to have a café, restaurant or pub every other door so you’ll be spoilt for choice. These are some of our favourites – if you pick your timings carefully, you should be able to bag a table.
Duck through the curtains at Koya Bar and you’re transported straight to Tokyo. A wooden counter spans the narrow space: punters huddle over bowls of springy udon noodles on one side, while chefs add eggs to breakfast bowls, and slip noodles, prawn tempura, tofu and miso pork into hot broth on the other.
If a plate of jamon and a sherry is your top scoring lunch (or gin, they have 20 kinds), then stop by Copita. Tapas is modern: try smoked anchovies & pork crackling or sweet potato with bravas sauce. You can book at lunchtime, which is helpful.
Absolutely no use to you on a Saturday, but Tuesday-Friday and Sunday this is an oasis of beautifully cooked food sourced from Cornwall. Stop off the beaten track and savour a seasonal dish such as steak and kidney pie or pan-fried mackerel followed by pudding. 3 courses for £19.
If you have ventured out on a Sunday then book in for the roast, on a Monday you have to eat pie. Lunch starts at 12pm.
Wood-fired pizza and focaccia are the main-stay at this Milanese bakery chain, and if you’re in a hurry you really can grab a quick bite. Add some salad to offset the carbs and eat at the shared counters or opt for a table in the pizzeria next door. Breakfast is also an option – they open at 8am.