It may be the simplest, oldest way of cooking but there’s a reason why we always return to food cooked over an open flame – it tastes damn good.
If you’ve burnt one too many sausages this summer or have fallen out of love with your Weber, we’ve rounded up the best restaurants in London serving up sizzling BBQ fare. From the smokey Islington institution to the Thai BBQ you’ve got to try and the restaurant that does the best flamed-grilled but vegan-friendly offerings, there’s something for everyone in our edit.
If you like your restaurants with a side of theatre head to Soho’s secret smokey basement hideaway, Temper. At the centre of the restaurant is a six metre-long fire pit where the chefs cook up the juiciest cuts of meat you’ll find in the city, from paratha beef served with tortillas, green sauce, gochujang butter and fennel-mint salad to one of the best steak sandwiches we’ve ever tasted.
There are booths dotted around the rest of the restaurant if you prefer something a little more intimate, but we highly recommend booking a table at the bar, and late – we’ve been there until closing and the chefs have passed any extra dishes of anything they have left over on to the counter without even saying a word.
Check out their sister restaurant in Covent Garden for one of the best brunches in London – £39.50 for a BBQ brunch menu and free flowing cocktails.
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The Blues Kitchen
BBQ behemoths and live tunes are the USP for this now iconic London joint. With outposts in Shoreditch, Camden, Brixton and Manchester, the restaurant-cum-late-night-bar-cum-live-music-venue serves up delights such as brisket and burnt ends – a whopper plate, smoked for 14 hours piled alongside dill pickles, coleslaw and fries.
They also do fun weekend brunches, £10 rib nights, heady cocktails and live music shows every Friday and Saturday night.
The Blues Kitchen
Locations in Camden, Shoreditch, Brixton and Manchester
Bringing hungry Londoners the taste, style and soul of Kansas City barbecue since 2002, Bodean’s is the benchmark when it comes to grilling in the UK.
With a host of restaurants now all over the capital, book in for their signature slab of ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, or a combo of them all. Leave belly-full and with BBQ sauce-laden fingers.
You’ll have to wait until September 2020 to get your chops around their, well, chops, but it will be well worth it. South Place Hotel’s Chop House is where to go post-summer if you’re still craving that BBQ flavour to tuck into thanks to their famous chops or steaks fresh off the grill.
Seeking inspiration from the classic 18th century chop house style restaurant, they’ve refined their signature style of grilling to fit contemporary tastes and sensibilities. All the grilled classics come served with roasted cherry vine tomatoes, field mushrooms and watercress. Top tip: add on a side of truffle mashed tatty or their devilish triple cooked chips.
South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, London EC2M 2AF
You kind of know what you’re in for when a restaurant calls itself Porky’s. The restaurant, famed for its “Southern Hospitality”, was inspired by travels through the USA, sampling the mammoth BBQs, burgers, wings, craft beer and cocktails.
Book in for the best wings outside of Memphis and the smokiest pulled pork you’ll find in the capital.
When chef Tom Kerridge says a place boasts one of his “best ever dishes”, you listen up. The British chef might have gone all healthy of late but you know he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to meat sweat-inducing delights.
Enter, The Joint, Brixton’s seriously good BBQ restaurant, that serves up heroes from the BJ Burger packed with a double beef patty, pork belly, American cheese, their ‘secret’ sauce and pickles in a potato bun, melt in the mouth 16 hour slow cooked pulled pork and moreish deep fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls.
The Joint, 87 Brixton Village Market, Atlantic Road, Brixton London SW9 8PS
The Joint Tooting, Unit 1, Tooting Broadway Market, Tooting Sw17 0RJ
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Bringing some refinement to the BBQ category is Islington gem, Smokehouse.
Since 2013 they’ve been serving up a menu dedicated to the best and most original smoked and grilled food in London – think everything from beetroot, smoked ricotta and candied pine nuts to start, followed by ex-dairy Jersey Cote de boeuf, miso greens and bone marrow sauce.
They even get some smoking action in on the desserts with a unique rosemary rapeseed oil cake served with smoked oat milk ice cream.
Oh, and they have one of the best beer lists in London – 20 on tap, 60 in the bottle.
Plus the interiors are charming (no neon signs or mock saloon doors in this smokey joint) with a sweet little terrace looking over the leafy streets of Islington. Their Sunday roasts are among the best you’ll find in the city too, but booking is essential.
If you thought BBQ restaurants were all about great hunks of meat, think again. Berber & Q’s signature whole roasted cauliflower dish has almost become as famous as the restaurant itself and has without a doubt inspired many restaurants to introduce something similar on their menus.
The idea behind the restaurant (there is plenty of meaty dishes on offer too) is that all food tastes better when cooked over a live, open flame and we concur, it does. Their menus take inspiration from pretty much anywhere – many of the plates will send you into holiday mode – but there’s a decidedly Middle Eastern and North African vibe to a lot of the dishes.
It’s all housed in a beautiful old Haggerston railway arch and has become one of our go-tos for a relaxed evening of good grub that delivers every time.
Berber & Q, 338 Acton Mews, Haggerston, E8 4EA
If you’re looking for the ultimate feasting menu, Smokestak is the one. The restaurant specialises in whopping great beef briskets for the whole table to devour, native breed pulled pork by the shed load and 30-day dry aged beef whole ribs (bone included) to have your very own Henry VIII-style feast.
There’s also plenty of lighter bites, we say light, they still sit better with an elasticated waist, from crispy ox cheek with anchovy mayo to pigtails with soy molasses.
Not so much one for vegans, but a great choice if you’re into your head to tail eating from responsibly sourced producers and less need for waste.
Smokestak, 35 Sclater Street, London E1 6LB
From America to Asia now (it’s not all about the Deep South) and more specifically the Thai-inspired Smoking Goat.
Influenced by the late night canteens of Bangkok, expect smoked brisket and bone marrow massaman curry or a whole grilled John Dory with red nahm Jim.
Smoking Goat, 64 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ
If a trip to Spain is out of the question thanks to the two-week quarantine, this is London’s next best thing. Parrillan, nestled in a sun-filled terrace of King’s Cross’s Coal Drops Yard, serves up Spanish para picar and a choice of fine meat, seafood and vegetables cooked DIY style by guests on their own bespoke parrilla mini-grills.
The menu also offers a wealth of great Spanish wines, sherries and Cavas by the glass and bottle, goblet-style Spanish G&Ts and refreshing sangria blanca.
With Regent’s Canal walks just moments away and the temptation of the district’s boutiques and bar nearby, make sure it’s on your summer must-visit list.
Parrillan, Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, London N1C 4AB
There’s no messing about on the meat front when it comes to Texas Joe’s, so much so, that you can pre-order great hunks of meat to satisfy even the hungriest of customers.
Order by the 100g on cuts such as brisket, pork shoulder or ribs or go large with Joe’s sharing boxes such as the Feast Box. For £100 you’ll get one kilo of sliced brisket, half a rack of ribs, two beef short ribs, slaw, bread, pickles, bread and mac and cheese. Oomph!
Texas Joe’s, 8-9 Snowsfields, Bermondsey, SE1 3SU