Barbecues are a hilarious British pastime. It normally involves a designated person (yes, normally a man) from the family to pretend that he is equipped with fire-making skills passed down from generations. But he’ll be useless – attempting to stack coals on top of a single piece of kindling and fanning it excessively with paper. In the end, the result will be a small fireball of ethanol that leaves all the chicken wings with the distinct taste of a chemistry lab.
For those wanting to avoid the ordeal, and who simply do not want to be standing in a freezing garden with an umbrella over their head when it inevitably rains – we’ve solved all your problems. London is home to the best BBQ joints in town. From Korean, to African, to classic British fare, you won’t be disappointed with these firey, smokey, and coal-enhanced menus.
1. Berber and Q
Live fire and smokey cocktails – Berber and Q should be the top of your list when it comes to a BBQ night out. Hidden underneath a Haggerston railway, this restaurant specialises in fire and smoke with the bold and beautiful flavours of the Middle East and North Africa. Don’t be fooled into thinking this place is just for meat eaters though. They favour vegetables just as much as meat and fish – and they cook it all over live fire because it make food taste better. That’s all we want: simple cooking, loud flavours.
Where: 338 Acton Mews, Haggerston, E8 4EA
2. Olle Korean Barbecue
Get ready for some fast-casual Korean bbq dining at Olle. This place serves up modern and traditional Korean cuisine using quality ingredients, put together by a loud, bustling and hard-working team. The name comes from the Jeju Olle Trail, which is a small path on Jeju Island, one of the biggest and most beautiful islands off the coast of South Korea. And the restaurant has managed to capture that beauty in their cooking – from ox tail to tiger prawns. You even have your own BBQ at the table so your food can be cooked to perfection right in front of your eyes.
Where: 88 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6NH
3. Hot Stone
For something a little unique, try Hot Stone, which brings to life ishiyaki, the ancient Japanese art of cooking on searing hot volcanic stones. This immersive experience will transport you straight to the islands of Japan. Specialising in wagyu, this restaurant is just one of eight restaurants in the whole of the UK to serve certified Kobe beef. They take their food seriously – in fact, they serve freshly grated Japanese wasabi (instead of that horseradish stuff you normally get).
Where: 9 Chapel Market, Angel, N1 9EZ
4. Big Easy
There are some things in life that go so well together: fish and chips, salt and pepper, cheese and crackers and… lobster and barbecue. This last pair has been rolled out across London by Big Easy, from Canary Wharf to Chelsea. If you like American, all-you-can-eat style BBQs, this is the one for you. Platters of juicy ribs are served up alongside platters of lobster and there’s always some sort of special deal going on, such as the Lobster and Prosecco Meal Deal. Yes, that’s right. It’s certainly a step up from your MacDonald’s lunch.
Where: various locations
Come to Smokestak for wood-smoked meats and charred pork belly rib – oh, and the brisket bun that basically got them famous. All the food is seriously meaty and smokey. To top it off, the interiors are ‘chic rusty shed’. A sort of mood board for bachelors with a lot of money. But it works. And it’s so Shoreditch. The cocktails are pretty darn good too – we’ll take a blackcurrant negroni please.
Where: 35 Sclater Street, E1 6LB
6. The Coal Rooms
For one of the best, fired-up roasts you’ll ever eat in your life, this is the place to come. Coal Rooms has an open kitchen that is fitted with a bespoke, coal-fired grill. They cook up a seasonal menu, serving dishes with a focus on quality and locality. For your Sunday lunch they have dry-aged beef Wellington, miso butter half chicken and grilled whole seabass.
Where: 11a Station Way, Peckham, SE15 4RX
7. From The Ashes BBQ
This is a cute story. Three chefs were left unemployed after coronavirus and started their own BBQ and smoked meats delivery service. They work with some of the finest farmers up and down the country to ethically source meat. Their comforting menus are full of smokey flavour, from low smoked pork shoulder to big, meaty beef ribs. They’ve got you covered. It’s just available to collect though, so find a nice day to relax on a grassy verge with this mouthwatering picnic.
Where: Unit 19, 10 Stour Road, Hackney Wick, E3 2PA
Temper is an ode to flame-grilled cooking and tacos. They cook on open fire pits in the middle of their restaurants so you can watch the chefs prepare, butcher and cook your food over fire. They also have extensive wine lists to choose from and some delicious cocktails too. It’s basically the best kind of BBQ you could wish for. And they have a great selection of steaks. The steaks are butchered in-house and come from rare-breed British cattle which is slow-reared and pasture-grazed.
Where: Covent Garden, Soho and City