Dan Doherty’s restaurant in the clouds has been a 24/7 operation since it opened. Sitting 40 floors high, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the city lights. The late night menu features what one might describe as more robust dishes, no one wants salad at that time of night. Choose from slow cooked lamb ‘sloppy Joe’, spicy ox cheek doughnut or the eponymous duck and waffle (crispy leg confit, fried duck egg, mustard maple syrup). Wash it all down with one of the champagne cocktails, including the equally ‘robust’ champagne negroni. And with a sunrise like this you might find you miss the Night Tube altogether.
With MEATLiquor open until 2am on Fridays and Saturday you can finally enjoy a decent late night burger and fries in this city. If you’re really hungry try the ‘Triple Chili Challenge’. It consists of a green chili cheeseburger, a chili dog and a side of chili cheese fries. Eat the lot in under 10 minutes and it’s free. For drinks, there’s shakes, floats, and beers, as well as wine and cocktails. The ‘Game Over’ combines vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, pisang ambon, absinthe, fresh lemon juice and is topped with tropical red bull. They’re limited to two per person, be careful on those escalators on the way home!
You’ve got to love a venue that asks you to ‘lose an evening in the finest way possible’, and that’s precisely what’s on offer at Balans. Think light bites such as ham hock croquettes or charred squid & chorizo, alongside more filling dishes like steak and eggs, kedgeree and the ever present burger. Of particular note is ‘eggs in hell’, 2 eggs poached in a tomato chilli sauce, Balans’ potatoes and parmesan. The cocktails are great too. However, if you want to really push the boat out then order the ‘Absinthe Fountain Ritual’. The fountain offers a traditional bohemian experience, using the finest La Fée Parisienne absinthe. If you do, best not to make any plans for the next day.
Bar Italia is something of a late night Soho institution. Since 1949, it has been serving Italian coffee, drinks and snacks to actors, musicians, sports stars and celebrities who have flocked here over the decades. As well as coffee and drinks, there’s panini, cakes, and thin crust pizza to enjoy. It’s open until 5am. In 1995 the family took on the restaurant next door, offering a larger menu and more formal dining. The kitchen closes at midnight, after which the push back all the tables and the dancing starts, running through until 4am.
If kebabs are your late night food of choice, then head to one of the branches of Maroush scattered around central and west London. Here you’ll fine mezze, shawarma, kebabs, and meats cooked over a charcoal grill. There’s plenty of vegetable and salad options too, including batata harra which is cubes of potatoes sautéed with garlic, coriander, sweet pepper and chilli, topped with fried vegetables. Ranoush Juice stays open until 2am, there’s a tight little wine list, and bottles of Beirut beer. For a high energy spot,the Vere treet branch has live entertainment and dancing.
Cocktail Bar, Diner, Restaurant, American, British, $$$
The original VQ opened in Chelsea in 1995 and has been serving customers all night for over 20 years. October 2013 saw a sister branch open in the St Giles Hotel in Bloomsbury. Both venues have a broad, extensive menu covering all the classics such as burgers, steaks and pasta. You can also get a cooked breakfast any time you like, including bubble ’n’ squeak, poached eggs, crispy bacon and hollandaise, as well as the standard full English. Puds include apple crumble and custard, Eton mess, and warm chocolate brownie with ice cream. They give a discount to NHS staff, just show your card.
This cafe near Liverpool Street station nails its 24/7 credentials to the mast with ’this is London, there is no time to be tired’ as a mission statement. It’s been welcoming market porters, cabbies, coppers and other denizens of the demi-monde since 1959. The menu is classic British caff but done well, whether its the pie-of-the-day, a proper full English breakfast, or fish, chips and mushy peas. They also have a 24 hours drinks licence to help slake your late night thirst.
This smart, sophisticated cocktail and dim sum bar ishidden behind a jade green door in Chinatown. Opium is open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Dim sum can be ordered individually, or go all in with a platter. Fillings include king prawn, cantonese barbecue pork, mushroom & truffle or spicy duck.
A little slice of Baja California, in the heart of Soho. The late night menu is stripped down to tasty, filling dishes made for sharing. Tortilla chips topped with a range of salsas, cheesy quesadillas stuffed with chicken, chorizo or mushroom and spinach, and nachos.
Part of the Soho House family, this cafe, bar and grill in Holborn stays open until 2am everyday (food service stops at 1am) except Sunday. The menu is broad, from small plates and cold cuts to salads, pastas and fish and meats from the grill. Look out for the octopus with chickpeas, or the lamb belly ribs. Or dine a deux with the 32oz porterhouse for two with salad and fries.