Saturday, 20 April 2013

soho date circuit

Soho is what I had always dreamt, and so much more. It's probably the most true to original London of all areas and it’s managed to keep its integrity despite the Oxford street madness around the corner. It's grungy, edgy and trendy all at the same time. A long established entertainment district famous for is sex-shops, film industry and night-life. You can get your hands on anything your heart desires whether it’s a world class cocktail in a secret lounge bar, delicious food from the newest upcoming place or a spot of class a’s in a dingy alley (although I wouldn't recommend it). 

The Soho Date Circuit (I stole the name off a friend who took me on his) is a list of my favourite Soho secrets that aren't so secret. It has been chopped and changed and added to and takes it form mostly because I worked around the corner. Soho was my backyard and I would spend hours wandering around during my breaks exploring what the streets had to offer.  A fine example of its quirkiness; I found an awesome little window in 'stripper alley' that served the best 2 pound tom yum soup. I went there at least 5 times, the guy recognised me as I walked to work and then, it suddenly disappeared. The streets are full of vintage shops, independent retailers, record stores, theatre and cinema, little cafes and daily markets that do fantastic lunch time street food. Plus is the gay centre of London, which isn't surprising considering the funky, hip vibe that Soho oozes with, that heteros surely couldn't pull off. 

During the night is when it morphs into different beast. Party goers frolic in funky underground bars and businessmen (and women) come out to play, in search a little something after work to take the edge off that will surely slow their productivity the next day. Soho is a place where you are guaranteed to have a good night, and you would be shunned upon if you didn't consider stopping off at the strippers on the way home. 

So take a date or take a mate. Just don't take your grandma, it is Soho after all.

The best area to wander is within an imaginary triangle between Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus and Tottenham court tube stations. Try walking down Berwick Street as a starting point but also walk down Wardour Street, Dean Street, Poland Street, Kingley Street, Soho Square and Shaftsbury Avenue.

  • Cafes - Flat white, Foxtrot and Ginger and Yumcha all along Berwick St
  • Healthy organic bites - try Beatroot for fresh vegetarian and Vitao for an amazing vegan buffet style lunch
  • Gourmet Burger Kitchen - you could almost find it in every london suburb, GBK is one of the only 'chain' restaurants I'd support coz its pure deliciousness. Its a little pricey but amazing and make sure you get a milkshake! Its made from real chocolate. Just don't admit it's a kiwi joint; do what we do best and claim its Australian
  • Shopping – beyond retro and absolute vintage shops (for other shops read timeout article)
  • Busaba - CALAMARI. Get it or get out! It's the f*cking bomb-digitty and everyone in London ould agree. Busaba is the type of place where you share a big table with a bunch of strangers but in no way can you hear their conversation. It's great to go with friends, especially when you're a bit boozed. Inexpensive meals that are well above average. Do it.
  • Theatre and Cinema - soho is full of it
  • Record shops – sister ray and bm soho
  • Feel - a top London hairdresser in the heart of Soho. Seriously one of the best I've been to, ask for Stellios, he's the man!
  • Soho House - apparently quite famous although I was naive at the time I went. This place isn't cheap though and it's kind of a private members' club
  • Two bars right next to each other on Frith Street; Ceviche (a peruvian kitchen/pisco bar) and the Arts Theatre Club (a cozy underground bar that also does great cocktails)
  • Experimental Cocktail Club – classic 'speakeasy' in the middle of china town, good luck finding it and go well dressed, with a ‘I’ve been here before’ attitude is all I can say
  • The Toucan – near soho square, this place serves THE best Guinness in London without a doubt. Even the Irish think so!
  • La Bodega Negra – think of a normal Mexican restaurant with a grungy underground version below it. Don’t go asking the main resuatnt where the entrance is either , they’ll pretend they don’t know what you’re talking about. Its around the corner from Singing in the Rain, through what seems like a peep show/sex shop. It's a way to keep to the geeks out I guess
  • LAB bar – arguably the best cocktails in Soho (try the Solero cocktail) 
  • for more bars read BarChick's article Soho Safari

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