phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
London’s Themed Bars and Restaurants

London’s Themed Bars and Restaurants

18 October 2016 Eva de Valk

We all know it’s true: you can’t call yourself a real Londoner until you’ve visited one of our fine city’s ‘quirky’ bars or restaurants. Initially the privilege of the Shoreditch crowd, speakeasies are now found on practically every other street corner, but there’s a themed venue to suit pretty much everyone’s tastes these days. Leave your self-consciousness at home and put on your best dickie bow, deerstalker or overalls, because we’ve listed some of the best places for a truly unique evening out.

Whether you love or loathe them, Prohibition-themed bars are all the rage at the moment, so we couldn’t possibly get through this post without mentioning two of the coolest. Probably the most committed to sticking to their shtick, don’t expect to just walk into Evans and Peel Detective Agency without a proper cover story. If you manage to impress The Detective, you’ll be allowed to enter the bar through a secret door hidden in a bookcase. Inside, it’s all off-white tile, American-style cocktails and drinking your beer from a brown paper bag.
Another popular speakeasy is Cahoots, a tube-themed bar that takes you back to the time of the Blitz. Located in an actual air raid shelter that’s been stuffed full of weird and wonderful tube, WWII and London paraphernalia, it’s a bit of an assault on the senses. Brush up on your Cockney as well before you go, because you don’t want to look stupid when the doorman directs you down ‘the apples and pears’. 
 
If you’re quite over the Prohibition trend by now, have a crack at one of London’s ‘fictional’ bars. Breaking Bad-style popup ABQ is back in town for just a few months after last year’s summer of success. An evening with Mr White and JP involves cooking your own cocktails while wearing the familiar yellow overalls, in an actual RV.  Also, lots of dry ice and nitrogen. Yeah, science!
 
An entirely different cup of tea is Mr Fogg’s Residence, the home of the explorer of Around the World in Eighty Days-fame. Interior design features are penny farthings dangling from the ceiling, stuffed animals and over-stuffed armchairs, and of course the famous hot air balloon makes an appearance as well. The cocktails are at least as spectacular as the decoration, and Phineas has recently expanded with a gin parlour as well.   
 
It’s not just your booze that you can get with a theme in this great city. Sarastro, a Turkish-Mediterranean restaurant on Drury Lane, is not a venue for the faint of heart. It has been kitted out with the most eye-wateringly kitsch décor (crushed velvet napkins! gold painted everything!), all in the name of opera. Most tables are in their own private box, each in a different historical style. On Sundays and Mondays the experience is further enhanced by live performances, so expect proper dinner entertainment here.
 
Equally dazzling, albeit for slightly different reasons, is Bunga Bunga. Named after Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous sex parties, this pizzeria-cum-karaoke-bar features depictions of Italy’s favourite crook than anyone could wish for. Want to see Silvio’s face on a whale? They have a picture of it! The theme is, inevitably, complemented by a range of ‘typically Italian’ decorations such as Sistine Chapel wallpaper.  

If these places are rather impulse-heavy for you, Dans le Noir? could be just the ticket. Run almost entirely by visually impaired staff, the pitch black dining room gives customers the unique opportunity to go an entire evening without relying on their eyes. In the darkness, guests become more attuned to other senses like touch and smell, which makes eating quite a different experience. If you manage to get your food into your mouth, that is. 
 
Of course, this being London, there’s plenty more to choose from. We haven’t even talked about the range of circus-themed venues. Or about all the places where you have to crawl through a fridge or phone booth to get inside. Or about the ones that you only get into with a special password. Or… well, you get the point. Time to go out and explore!   

Tell us what you think

You may also like

Win Private View Tickets!

MADE LONDON - Win Private View Tickets!

This October, meet designers and craftspeople and buy beautiful handmade objects at Made Marylebone.

Top 5: London Street Food Markets

Top 5: London Street Food Markets

Street Food stalls are fast becoming as quintessentially London as chimney sweeps, expensive pints and the Routemaster. There’s nary an area without some form of street…

Bearpit Karaoke

Bearpit Karaoke

An international impromptu karaoke sensation

Mouldy Grapes

Mouldy Grapes

Get ready for a wild and filthy farce from Break The 'Verse.

This Week September 18-24

This Week September 18-24

Two huge exhibitions dominate this week’s cultural calendar, as the Barbican Centre’s highly anticipated Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition opens two days before the Royal Academy’s enormous Jasper…

A cultural Guide to French London

A cultural Guide to French London

France isn’t just about croissants and berets – it’s a country of freedom, pleasure, and joie de vivre. We can trust the French to show us how…

King’s Cross Creative Quarter at London Design Festival!

King’s Cross Creative Quarter at London Design Festival!

Celebrate design, culture and creativity this September with the return of the King's Cross Creative Quarter.

The 15th London African Music Festival

The 15th London African Music Festival

The unique and exciting festival from Joyful Noise is back this September!

Tango Vivaldi!

Tango Vivaldi!

Britain's finest chamber ensemble return to Cadogan Hall this October for an exciting and evocative classical concert.

This Week August 28 – September 3

This Week August 28 – September 3

“Do you remember dancing in September? Never was a cloudy day.” Earth, Wind and Fire knew their stuff, as September, despite heralding the start of the…

Most popular

Win a 3 Course Meal with Wine at Drake and Morgan

KXCQ - Win a 3 Course Meal with Wine at Drake and Morgan

We're giving away an indulgent meal for two people to enjoy in King's Cross.
Win 4 Tickets to Climb an Iconic London Landmark

Up at The O2 - Win 4 Tickets to Climb an Iconic London Landmark

Prepare yourself for an unforgettable 90 minute experience on the roof of The O2!
Win One of Five Pairs of Tickets to Symphonic Queen Concert!

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Win One of Five Pairs of Tickets to Symphonic Queen Concert!

Experience a night of Queen’s greatest hits, performed by the amplified Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Royal Albert Hall.
Win Tickets to an Exclusive Spanish Art Event!

Wallace Collection - Win Tickets to an Exclusive Spanish Art Event!

Join us for an after-hours tour and drinks reception at an exhibition of stunning Spanish artwork.
Win a Meal for Two People

Off the Wall & onto the Plate - Win a Meal for Two People

Your chance to win a seven-course meal of deliciously decorative dishes!
Win two stand-up comedy tickets, food and drinks!

Pizza Express Live - Win two stand-up comedy tickets, food and drinks!

Win two tickets, plus food and drink, to Andrew Ryan, Phil Jerrod and Ivo Graham at Pizza Express Live
Win Private View Tickets!

MADE LONDON - Win Private View Tickets!

This October, meet designers and craftspeople and buy beautiful handmade objects at MADE LONDON.
Win Tickets to an Opening Night Concert

London Piano Festival - Win Tickets to an Opening Night Concert

Your chance to win tickets to a night of beautiful piano music, including Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Schumann, Rachmaninov, Liszt.
Rhythm Passport Tickets Giveaway

Rhythm Passport Tickets Giveaway

Our lovely friends at Rhythm Passport are giving away lots of free gig tickets!

Your inbox deserves a little culture!!