So, the current trend right now in London is for restaurants to omit reservations in favour of a walk-in system. Although this is great for the spontaneous diners amongst you, it also means running the risk of having to queue for many an hour just to grab a seat during the prime time rush.
There are some places worth queuing for, and here are our favourites.
The original bao restaurant spot, famed for queues seven days a week which warrant the super cute Bao bus stop sign for folks to line up from, is possibly responsible for kicking off the “walk ins” only trend. When Bao first opened it was THE opening; everyone was highly excited for this creative, Taiwanese cuisine to kick off after being the shooting star of Netil market. For the first few months, you could expect a queue starting to form a good two hours before opening for either their lunch or dinner service. And although it’s easier to get a table now…head there on a weekend or in high season and you’ll find that even two years on, queues are still a very likely possibility. Why? Because the dishes are something special and can’t be found anywhere else in London.
Padella, Borough Market
Here to turn even the most dubious into utter pasta addicts, Padella is another spot you can expect to queue for a table. The menu is short, with about twelve items all in all, and each dish is a carefully thought out and skillfully executed delicious creation. Not only are the bowls of pasta seemingly endless, they’re creative and as beautiful to look at as they are to devour- and you will devour because the taste is sublime.
The Barbary, Covent Garden
It’s been called the best restaurant in London by critics and bloggers alike, and the cocktail menu has garnered equal critical acclaim, but getting a table is no mean feat. Although a limited amount of tables for up to 4 people are available Monday to Friday at 12pm & 5pm only, these are snapped up quickly and for all other time slots it’s solely a walk in establishment. Named for the Barbary coast (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya), you can expect exquisitely plated dishes heavily influenced by North African technique and flavours. One of the more expensive spots on our list, The Barbary is an effortlessly cool spot to either grab a cocktail or sample some incredibly delicious dishes. Try your luck outside of peak hours to easily get a seat.
Berber & Q, Haggerston
Meat. All types of meat, grilled beautifully, seasoned to perfection, and with plenty of Middle Eastern influences and spices. Although you can book for large parties of 6+, smaller groups and solo diners will have to wing it and hope for the best. Fortunately, it’s not super central and that gives you a better chance of dining without having to wait too long on any given night. Despite the emphasis on their meat (which if you do eat, eat away, it’s so tender), Berber & Q also have some great veggie dishes- most notably the veggie platter which includes one stunner of a baba ganoush.
Back in #London to celebrate #MangalMondays ✖ @LondonFoodMonth here @berberandq ✖ @salon_brixton 🙌🔥🍖🍃🎉 with *THIS* incredible FEAST by @chefjoshkatz ✖ @nicholasbalfe 💪 Look out for our upcoming #CookForSyria pop-up @thestorekitchen later this month too (final few tickets for Sunday brunch on 25th June via www.cookforsyria.com) 😊 #LondonLovesFood @CookForSyria @London
Dishoom, Various locations
With 5 locations in London already, Dishoom has really blossomed over the last year, thanks to a mixture of brilliant cooking, beautiful and comfortable restaurant aesthetics and it’s also a truly ethical restaurant brand. You can book reservations for breakfast/lunches, but spaces go quickly and more often than not you might have to risk it on a weekend morning and hope the queue goes down quickly. Dishoom is incredibly cheap for the quality of food on offer, and with a vast and incredibly flavoursome menu you’re going to want to go again and again to try everything on it.