Ten Unusual Places to Eat Out in London

By Nomadic Matt | Published August 13th, 2010

London is one of the world’s top tourist destinations and when visiting it’s likely you’ll want to try a few places to eat out. Like many major cities, it can be hard to find a truly original restaurant. If you’re tired of the eateries and fancy trying something a little different, here are ten restaurants that capture London’s unique, creative and often eccentric flair:

Dans Le Noir
Dans Le Noir London
A restaurant where you eat your entire dinner in the dark might sound like a bad joke, but Dans Le Noir is enjoying success with this pretty strange idea. Book a table here and you’ll be served dinner in a room without even the smallest scrap of light (this apparently allows guests to experience the ‘true’ taste of food). If you’re anything like me and worried about spilling food or stabbing yourself with a fork. Fear not, there are 11 specially trained ‘guides’ hired to help you out with any potential pitfalls.

St. John’s Offal Restaurant
St. John's Offal Restaurant london
A mecca for carnivores and a London institution, St. John’s Offal Restaurant is one of the few places you can enjoy pig’s trotters, tripe, or grilled ox heart. The menu changes frequently but whenever you visit you can be sure no cut is ever wasted as the resident chef specializes in ‘nose to tail eating.’ Handily located next to the famous Smithfield’s meat market this restaurant isn’t for everyone but might be worth a try if you’re strong of mind and stomach.

Vitaorganic
Vitaorganic london england
Raw and slow cooked food is becoming really popular in London, probably due to it being the latest celebrity food fad but also because of its obvious health benefits. Vitaorganics is a small but cosy restaurant that caters for the health conscious; from vegans, to celiacs to Gwyneth Paltrow wannabes and is quickly becoming the place to hang out. The concept is simple, you get a choice of 20 vegan and raw food dishes and they keep costs low by selling it in a pay-by-the scoop self service buffet.

Garlic and Shots
Garlic and Shots london england
An unusual themed bar and eatery located in Soho looks like a biker bar. As you’ve probably guessed, everything (including the ice cream) comes with lashings of garlic. In fact, the owners say they would be disappointed if you didn’t leave here feeling like you’ve been marinated in the stuff. The bar also does a pretty nice line in vodka shots and has 101 to choose from. Make sure you try a pint of garlic beer!

Tiroler Hut
Tiroler Hut
The Tiroler Hut is a really popular endearingly kitsch Austrian restaurant. The restaurant is decked out in the style of a chalet, the waitresses are dressed in traditional Heidi style costumes and you eat your dinner accompanied by yodelling, accordion playing, and cowbell ringing. The food is a hearty fare consisting of Bratwurst, wienerschitzel and sauerkraut but it’s the super friendly atmosphere makes this place really stand out.

RootMaster
rootMaster
The RootMaster restaurant (permanently stationed just off Brick Lane) claims to be London‘s first vegan ‘Bustaurant.’ The kitchen takes up the ground-floor and the seating upstairs has some pretty great views and is surprisingly romantic. The food is reasonably priced and the novelty of eating on a bus seems to be proving a big hit in this alternative part of town.

Inamo
Inamo
Definitely one for the geeks, at this Pan-Asian restaurant all your food is ordered via an interactive ordering system literally from the surface of your table. The menu is projected down using state of the art equipment and sensors allow you to navigate as if using a touch-screen. You can also choose a different tablecloth, have a game of battleships in between courses and even order yourself a taxi home.

Medieval Banquet
Medieval Banquet
If you’re after a loud and fun night out, give the Medieval Banquet (located near the Tower of London) a try. No table manners are required and along with your four course banquet, unlimited wine and beer flows freely all night. The themed night doesn’t skimp on entertainment either and during the evening you’ll be treated to sword fighting knights, jugglers, and the odd strongman or two.

Abracadabra
Abracadabra restaurant london
Abracadbra is a fantasy style restaurant owned by an eccentric millionaire. Here you can book a curtained private booth complete with your own TV screen or dine at a large revolving table in the center of the restaurant. The waitresses are dressed in skimpy nurses outfits, the ladies toilets are Alice in Wonderland style giant toadstools and the decor includes more than a few phallic objects.

The Wapping Project
The Wapping Project
The Wapping Project is a restaurant and art gallery housed in a disused power station. The beautiful old industrial building still has many of its original features and the dining area is an informal canteen-style arrangement of tables located in the Engine Room and Turbine House. The result is a trendy restaurant in one of the most unusual and atmospheric venues in town.

These are just a handful of unusual and fun places to eat out in London. They provide an entertaining way to eat. If you’re holidaying here or just stopping by, be sure to take some time out to discover some new ones for yourselves.

If you’re heading to London, check out some of these other helpful links to plan your trip:
? Free Things to Do in London
? Things to See and Do in London
? How to Travel as a Vegetarian
? How I spent 10 days in London for $700 USD

Becky Padmore is a UK Travel Writer and she helps run the travel website, GlobalGrasshopper. You’ll be able to out more tips, tricks and advice on travel and interesting places around the world.

comments 15 Comments

Garlic and Shots reminds me of a place we went in Old Town Riga… I can’t remember the Latvian name, but it was commonly referred to as the “Garlic Pub”. Great food, and garlic in everything. We had a garlic ice cream torte. :)

Your post makes me want to go back to London and try a lot of these places! Wish we had more unusual eateries in Seattle…

London Chow

Was staring at Rootmaster when I was lunching at Al Volo, an pasta place just beside it off Brick Lane. Have quite forgotten about it until I came across this post. Thanks for the reminder.

The sister restaurant of St John’s at Spitalfields Market isn’t too bad as well for it’s good honest food (ie no frills). If you happen to be there do try out its madelines.

What a cool list, I only know London a little and usually don’t eat out there but may give one of these a try next time I’m there

John’s Offal Restaurant and Garlic and Shots were my favorite ones they look so weird that it makes me want to go for a visit :)

Oh man, makes me pine for London… well not so much the offal one.

I’d love to give Dans Le Noir a try. There’s a restaurant in Toronto and Montreal, Canada called O.Noir which has the same concept. What’s special about their locations are that they hire the visually impaired and train them so that they serve like any other.

Jun Zhu

Wow a bustaurant – what a cool idea! Have to try it next time I’m in London! Not sure about the ‘nose to tail eating’ though! Anyway this is a really cool list and really stands out from most London tourist guide articles.

edresearcher

I’ve been to Europe many times, but I went to London only once. I found it uninteresting and ridiculously overpriced. I guess a lot of US tourists only feel comfortable in English-speaking countries, so maybe that’s the draw, but there are so many more interesting places in the world. Try New Zealand or Australia if you must speak English.

daniella

To Edresearcher. if you really found London uninteresting then you obviously didn’t know where to go or look. Expensive yes, but either you have no idea what interesting is or you just stayed in one spot. I can’t believe anyone could find this vibrant, amazing city uninteresting

Sofia

haha I would LOVE to visit that Garlic & Shots place and have a garlic ice cream! I love garlic and I love ice cream, how could the combination NOT work? ;P

Interesting comments edresearcher. Having lived in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and London and travelled to New Zealand. Your comments come off sounding quite uneducated, for the fact that there’s so much more to London if you scratch the surface.

Hell.. you don’t even need to scratch the surface, and with that, New Zealand and Australia are so completely different to what UK/England/London provides. Considering the depth of history here that surpasses the US to no end no to mention a completely different cultural diversity to what you can get anywhere in the US, I do find it hard to understand why you thought it uninteresting.

P.S. I’ve travelled to far flung corners of the world where noone speaks English, so it’s not a matter for me.

I have been in london for around 18 months now and I must admit I have never heard of or been to any of these places. None of them really tickle my fancy, I however once eat a packed lunch on the Ghostbus, which is the coolest Routmaster you will ever see…

ianjg83

Hmm, very interesting. As a Londoner (albeit one who’s about to take leave of the city – and perhaps his senses – to go backpacking in South East Asia hence why I’m reading this blog in the first place) I’m surprised that I’ve never heard of some of these places! In particular, Bustaurant even though I’ve been to Brick Lane three times in the past few months.

For backpackers on a tight budget coming to this city I’ve lived in for nearly 5 years, I’d recommend:
-> JD Wetherspoons – these chain pubs are all over London, in fact I’m typing this from the Crystal Palace one. The food is very good value, especially the steak on a Tuesday when you can get steak, chips and salad plus a pint for about £6, and you can get a pint of real ale for about £1.50 (less in the suburbs).
-> All-you-can-eat Chinese places – there are quite a few of these, different chains across London and you can have a good feed on decent Chinese for about £5 (drinks not included).
-> Subway – Yeah I know it’s American but branches are again all over London, there’s one in most areas and it’s really good value for lunches. If I remember rightly the Notting Hill Gate one is particularly good.

If you like beer, check out CAMRA (http://www.camra.org.uk/) to find out about pubs that serve real ale around London and local beer festivals. The Ealing Beer Festival (highly recommended) is in June and the Great British Beer Festival (huge) is in Earl’s Court in August.

Becca

I went to Garlic & Shots on a date once, but just for post-dinner drinks, where we sampled various lethal vodka shots alongside the single option of bottled beer. It’s really tiny, dark and noisy – basically it’s superb. Worth a visit for sure!

A fantastic list, I am going to try a few of these. I like the idea of the first one and think it will freak my girlfriend out a bit, I will take my camera and a flash!

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