This is a guest post by Becky Padmore.
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
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
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.
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 cozy restaurant that caters to the health conscious, from vegans to celiacs to Gwyneth Paltrow wannabes, and it’s 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
This 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!
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 yodeling, 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.
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.
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.
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 flow 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 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 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 have a meal. 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, where you’ll be able to find out more tips, tricks, and advice on travel and interesting places around the world.