American food has become ubiquitous in London, thanks in no small part to fast food outlets, but it seems we just can’t get enough. Soho is one particular hotspot for classic American grub, with fried chicken joints, BBQ restaurants and even two outposts of Dirty Bones.
Jackson + Rye has captured the essence of a classic East Coast restaurant without resorting to gimmicky stereotypes. The dark wood, leather banquettes and low lighting makes the place feel informal but still very slick. The menu moves from diner-style pancakes and eggs to BBQ, steaks and burgers with a smattering of southern food as well – it truly is an all-day kind of place. The bar is also exceptionally well stocked with a whole section devoted to rye, so you really should go for an Old Fashioned.
It’s all about the Kansas City BBQ at Red Dog Saloon. The Soho site, like its sister branches in Hoxton and Clapham (there are also more restaurants scattered across the country), is home to an award-winning smoker imported from the States, where various meats are given the low and slow treatment. As well as wings, pulled pork, ribs and brisket, Red Dog also has a strong burger selection, including the Devastator – an 18-ounce patty topped with pulled pork, six bacon rashers and six slices of cheese. Are you up for the challenge?
From the food, to the drinks, to the music, everything at Dirty Bones is designed to be cool and chilled out. Classic New York comfort food is given a twist; burgers come topped with pulled beef short rib and mac & cheese, fries are loaded with crispy lamb, miso and red chilli, and coffee gelato comes with a side of sugared donuts. The drinks are just as playful – the Dirty Mary comes rimmed with sour cream Pringles – and it’s all served to a soundtrack of old school hip-hop, funk and soul.
Run by Bea Vo (who also owns Boondocks, Famous Flames and Butterscotch Bakery), Stax Diner may be small but it certainly packs a punch with its food from the Deep South. Burgers and fried chicken makes up the backbone of the food menu with some Southern specialities, like fried green tomatoes, popcorn shrimp and a po’boy sandwich thrown in for good measure. It’s not the healthiest place, with milkshakes and ice cream floats also appearing on the drinks list, but it sure does taste good.
First opened in Spitalfields, Absurd Bird has spread to Soho and as you might guess from the name, it’s a fried chicken joint. The chicken comes every which way you could want – double fried wings, in sandwiches, in sliders, as tenders, even wrapped in a waffle cone and joined by a whole list of sides – in the upstairs dining room, whereas drinks, particularly moonshine, is the focus in the downstairs basement bar.
Five Guys is really making its mark on the UK fast food scene; there are already over fifteen branches in London alone with more on the way. It’s a familiar concept – burgers, fries and soft drinks – but everything is cooked from scratch, the fries are hand-cut, you can choose the topping combos and the soft drink machines have over a hundred different options to choose from. The Soho site may just be one of many in a chain but when you want a decent burger and quickly, it delivers just that.
The fourth addition to Dirty Bones family, the Soho branch serves up the same NYC-style comfort food, including chicken & waffles, short rib crumpets and steak & eggs for brunch, as the other DB restaurants. This one, however, draws on 1970s Brooklyn and Studio 54 for its design – velvet seating, exposed brick and neon – so whilst the food may be the same, it has a character all of its own.