One of the most iconic and instantly recognisable areas of London, Soho might not be your first port of call for a weekend stroll, but push aside the tourists and behind them you’ll discover an ever-evolving district that’s a hive of independent retailers and eateries you’ll want to add to your London little black book. Put aside a weekend and book yourself a mooch; we’ve rounded up some of our favourite spots below…
Where to Eat & Drink
At the Brewer Street site vacated with the departure of Thai restaurant Wild Rice, fuel up with a Ramo Ramen lunch before hitting the shops. The Pandesal Garlic Bread is irresistible, a crunchy, almost caramelised stack baked by their sister brand Panadera Bakery and positively dripping with garlic butter. To be fair it’s worth dropping in for that alone. For a healthier take, the Octopus Kinilaw is a zingy bowl of braised citrus-cured octopus with ginger, tomatoes, peppers, coriander, samphire, coconut milk and chilli. Then tuck in to one of their exceptional ramens; we rate the Oxtail Kare Kare, a rich peanut butter broth with pulled oxtail, Tokyo noodles, nitamago egg, men, peashoots and spring onion, based on a classic Filipino recipe.
Once you’ve exhausted the shops of Berwick Street, this is a great spot to settle in for the evening and tuck in to some great wine and tapas. Cleverly designed to be both convivial enough for enjoying with friends and yet cosy enough for a date night, some of our favourite eats included the Burrata with Blood Orange, Radicchio and Pine Nuts, Duck Breast with Duck Liver Croquetas, Baby Leek and Gratin Potatoes and the Smoked Beetroot Tartare with Avocado Dressing and Whipped Moluengo, washed down with a beautiful white Rioja.
Cutter & Squidge
The doyennes of Soho cakes; we defy you to walk past the window without popping in to try something. We’d recommend either a slice of one of their perfectly frosted layer cakes (watch out for the seasonal specialities; currently including a Caramel Chocolate Easter Egg Cake) or one of their signature Biskies, like a little cakey cookie sandwich filled with flavoured creams.
A Soho icon, the original Lina Stores on Brewer Street has been open since 1944 bringing some of the finest Italian ingredients to London. Head to the pasta bar on Greek Street however to enjoy a menu of freshly made dishes like the stunning Pumpkin and Ricotta Agnoletti with Hazelnuts, Butter and Sage.
The Blue Posts
Soho is brilliant for proper London pubs. Come summer you won’t be able to move for pavement space as the offices of W1 flood on to the streets for a post-work bev. The Blue Posts has the advantage of a decent corner of Broadwick and Berwick Streets, a prime spot for evening people watching.
For a slightly more upmarket cocktail, SOMA comes from the team behind Kricket, serving cocktails with twists inspired by classic Indian dishes.
Where to Shop
There are several great vintage shops in Soho, but Reign has a great reputation for both decent designer pieces and high street names. As always with vintage it’s the luck of the draw what you find when, but we spotted some very tempting aviator jackets, excellent retro sportswear (noted for future fancy dress…) and accessories that have stood the test of time to be back in fashion again.
Sister Ray & Reckless Records
The vinyl revival of recent years shows no sign of abating and these are two must-visits for any music lover. Pumping out the tunes, both are worth taking the time to browse as you’re sure to unearth some gems. Music is a massive part of Soho’s history, from the Carnaby Street of the swinging 60s to BOWIE, and there’s surely nothing more satisfying that discovering a favourite record on an original vinyl to add to your collection.
The now iconic salon was the pioneer of dip-dyes and kaleidoscopic hair when founded by Alex Brownsell in X, and now the Soho space is also home to its product range. The debut makeup collection is worth a play, while their hair products (including home colourants in a truly delicious palette of rainbow hues) are of a quality to rival any big brand name.
A soho piercing studio with a difference, Sacred Gold brings the luxury fine jewellery experience with ear jewellery curation alongside its menu of piercing services. Elegantly displayed cabinets house delicate pieces studded with semi-precious stones. As someone with 17 piercings, this might just become a favourite new haunt.
Taking up the corner unit of Broadwick and Marshall Streets facing Carnaby, END. has become something of a destination store for menswear. Stocking a wealth of stylish sport and streetwear brands as well as luxury labels, emerging designers and fantastic homewares from the likes of HAY, it houses over 400 brands.
The Swedish shoe brand was founded in 2014 and is fast becoming one of the world’s hottest trainer brands. Hand-crafted in Portugal of the finest Italian leathers, there are some hot styles alongside a new clothing collection. The store is a bastion of chic with some seriously cool design, not to mention a station for breathing life back into battered trainers; take along a pair that have seen better days and their team will work their magic to make them as good as new.
The only place to go when you need new specs, the flagship Soho store houses a custom design station where you can create your perfect pair of glasses or sunnies. With dozens of frame colours and styles to choose from, you might struggle to just choose one pair…
Specialists in raw and prewashed denim jeans, Nudie Jeans was founded in Gothenburg and undoubtedly captures a dose of Swedish cool. Purveyors of not just excellent denim but a fantastic wider clothing collection, what’s more the Soho outpost is home to a repair studio to fix up any jeans that are falling apart and make them as good as new.