How much do you live life on the edge? Do you occasionally run a red light? Or sometimes not wear a helmet on a Boris Bike (are we still calling them that)? Or perhaps you put five sugars in your tea instead of none – you wild cat. Well, this article’s for you. Because we’ve compiled a list of places for when you can’t find anything to book.
They reserve tables specifically for disorganised walk-ins just like you… however, there is the chance that you’ll be beaten to it by another walk-in. Don’t blame us when that happens, just go and buy a picnic and find yourself a nice park to sit in. Go on, live life on the edge…
This little hot spot is a firm favourite of ours. Full of the flavours, spices and colours of Sri Lanka, the chefs here have raided the recipe books of friends and family members back in Colombo (also known as Kolamba). And the result is divine.
When you can’t go on holiday, this is the next best thing. If you can’t go to an island, let the island come to you. There’s a mix of Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Dutch and Malay in some seriously tasty sharing platters and street food dishes.
And guess what? They love a walk-in! Some of their tables are kept unreserved for just this reason. So pull up a chair and dive into your favourite selection of curries, sambols and rotis.
Where: 21 Kingly Street, Carnaby, W1B 5QA
What's a person got to do to get a pint!? Well, it turns out, you can just walk into Notting Hill's Cock & Bottle and you'll be served.
2. Cock & Bottle
It’s super hard to find a walk-in pub these days. What’s a person got to do to get a pint!? Well, it turns out, you can just walk into Notting Hill’s Cock & Bottle and you’ll be served.
The local boozer is on a quiet street in West London, beautifully restored and ready and waiting for punters like you. Until 17 May, it’s walk-ins only!
They have a hearty wine list of both Old and New World producers, an excellent selection of local craft beers, and to top it off the head chef has nailed traditional pub food with seasonal ingredients. We’re talking ale battered haddock and chips, beef burgers, grilled chicken burger with guacamole and plenty of chips.
Come rain, come shine they’re open. Pop yourself on a bench and enjoy a well-deserved tipple. Download the City Club app before you get there, and you can order everything with ease from the table. Being lazy just got fashionable.
Where: 17 Needham Road, Notting Hill, W11 2RP
3. Mercato Metropolitano
Mercato Metropolitano is like a street food market in Italy – there’s lively chatter, lots of different vendors, pizzas, cocktails… except perhaps when it rains. Then you’re reminded that you’re freezing cold and in Elephant & Castle.
But hey, beggars can’t be choosers.
It’s one of London’s largest outdoor spaces and you can eat and drink until your heart’s content. Once a disused paper factory, the 45,000 sq ft space is normally home to 40 vendors, a micro-brewery and a number of community projects.
It’s a little smaller for now, but you can still travel the world in dishes with flavours from Italy, Japan, Colombia, Germany, Vietnam and Argentina (yes, Argentinian steak… lots of it). It’s all first come, first served, so get there early to avoid disappointment!
Where: 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR
Try their barbecue classics such as duck or, if you’re feeling brave, octopus with assorted pig organs...
Old reliable Chinatown. Of course they have space for walk-ins. It’s just something they’re always prepared for. They live for the walk-in. After all, their normal customers are usually rivers of tourists, and they’ve not been allowed into the country yet.
So you’ll have to do the walking in. And rumour has it that there are a few fine establishments that are reserving a few wonky outdoor plastic chairs and tables for walk-ins only.
This includes Dumplings’ Legend, which does what it says on the tin. It makes legendary dumplings, normally 8,000 of them a day. Choose from 47 variation of dim sum, from spicy pork to spicy crayfish. Then there’s Plum Valley that marries the traditional with the modern – think almond king prawns and whisker black cod rolls. Last, but by no means least is Lotus Garden serving up food in an old Chinese pagoda. Try their barbecue classics such as duck or, if you’re feeling brave, octopus with assorted pig organs…
Everything from Corbin & King is just fab. There’s fresh British ingredients, heaps of comfort food and everything is of a certain standard you come to expect from the upmarket chain, and Bellanger is no exception. They’re only accepting walk-ins onto the terrace, which is great news for us, and what’s more, if they’re full, they’re doing takeaways too.
Overlooking Islington Green, it has relaxed brasserie vibes and serves up French classics such as coq au Riesling, steak frites et salade, croques monsieurs, and plenty of fromage. And if you have room, finish the meal with crêpes dripping in lemon and sugar.
Where: 9 Islington Green, N1 2XH
Don’t hold back on the carbs at Theo’s. They serve incredible Neapolitan-style sourdough pizzas from a wood-fired oven. Think deep red wine, crispy crusts and oodles of cheese.
For both their Camberwell and Elephant & Castle branches, they talk about a light-
Where: 2 Grove Lane, Camberwell, SE5 8SY
But who doesn't love eating dinner on a pavement? You can speak to strangers, and make up for the past year of silence... and have a quick and harsh reminder of why you didn't miss sitting on pavements.
7. Granger & Co
Notting Hill’s beautiful and very chi chi Westbourne Grove is home to the finest shops and eateries. And one of the most popular with the locals is Granger & Co. This Australian restaurant is exactly like your Aussie friend – good looking, talented and full of ‘good vibes’ only. Which is why people queue round the block for it.
There’s extra seating on the pavement and, unlike its sister restaurant in Chelsea, you can’t book. It’s walk-ins only! Hooray! Line up for light seafood plates of crab linguine, shrimp burger, parmesan crumbed chicken schnitzel, coconut curry and grilled halloumi. It’s seriously delicious. The wait will be worth it. The bill, perhaps not.
Where: 175 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, W11 2SB
Looking over the leafy field of Green Park (and the very busy road just in front of it) is the super lovely, and super expensive Hide. They’ve managed to squeeze in a serious amount of seats within their artfully placed awnings and long grasses, and disguise the chewing gum-clad pavement as an actually really lovely outdoor terrace.
The chef here, famed Ollie Dabbous, cooks up the most delicate and detailed menu (along with a fabulous wine list). There’s barbecued Iberico pork cheek, confit of lightly smoked organic salmon, and charcoaled asparagus. And while you can reserve a table, they do keep some spaces for walk-ins from nearby private banks and hedge funds, oh and for stragglers like us too.
Where: 85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 7NB
9. 40 Maltby Street
The glorious Maltby Street Market is the gift that keeps on giving. Many a weekend has been spent here wandering up and down taking morsels from each train archway and market stall until you have to roll home.
Normally, most of the places only open up shop on the weekends, but 40 Maltby Street is open Wednesday to Saturday. This is the perfect spot for natural wine and sustainably sourced food. Located within Gergovie Wines’ warehouse, this is a no-bookings establishment (we love them!), sourcing bottles and by-the-glass selections from boutique European producers. Their ever-changing blackboard of light-bights can be found on their Insta, but it usually involves sumptuous British fare like crab quiche, hot smoked trout and roast mallard.
Where: 40 Maltby Street, (the clue’s in the name), SE1 3PA
10. Yalla Yalla
Let’s go! Let’s go! That’s literally what Yalla Yalla means in Arabic – so you might as well take the hint and head on down to their restaurant. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and the best bit? No pre-booking is required!
Inspired by the generosity and wonderful hospitality of Middle Eastern grandmothers, the Winsley Street restaurant is an explosion of aromatic authentic recipes.
Kick off a meal with a mezze, then get stuck into a grill. The meat is cooked over coals until tender – it’s simply divine. For dessert, finish with a plate of crisp sweet Lebanese baklava, filled with nuts and dripping in syrup. Yalla!
Where: 12 Winsley Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 8HQ