It's been another red letter year for London. In fact, we've had so many of those recently, we basically have a little crimson alphabet going. Yet more great restaurants opened, bars once again pushed the limits of creative boozing, and there were enough great events to fill three calendars. With all that stuff going on, we've decided to award our annual honors across an appropriately broad range of categories. Here then, are the best things of 2015:
Best new Scottish restaurant
Mac & WildAddress and Info
We’ve been going on about these guys for a while, but really they just keep getting better and better. All Scottish ingredients? Grand. Haggis pops and fried partridge? Double grand. Bottled cocktails you can take home? Um, AYE. This isn’t a theme restaurant; this is a wee trip to the highlands in all its understated glory.
Best pub revamp
The MarksmanAddress and Info
When you take ex-St. John and Fifteen chefs and give them free reign over an old-school pub, the results were only ever going to be great. While some facelifts can leave a place feeling sterile and plastic, these guys have managed to keep a comfortable vibe that’s exactly what you want paired with fantastic food and a solid drinks list.
Best new darts pub
Flight ClubAddress and Info
You know what London was missing? A bar devoted to playing darts. The guys over at table tennis central, Bounce, saw that need and came to the rescue with darts board designed by rocket scientists (seriously) and a cocktail list that would be respectable all on its own.
Best new street food market
DineramaAddress and Info
There are a lot of great markets out there, but this one by the Rushmore group holds our hearts. With 11 food stalls and six bars, there’s plenty of choice without being paralyzed by options, and plenty of space and seating to enjoy it all in. The fact that it’s free to just wander into is also a huge plus.
Best new members club
76 Dean StreetAddress and Info
By now, we’re pretty convinced there is some kind of dark magic used when opening Soho House Group properties, because they’re all stunning. This time around they went for a casual three bars, all day restaurant, roof terrace, and 42 seat private screening room in the basement. In a city brimming with members clubs, does it really need another? Well, yes, if it’s from Soho House, apparently it does.
Best new coffee by day/cocktails by night concept
Love Die LateAddress and Info
These guys have you covered no matter what poison you’re craving. With a bright 1960s, quirky cafe feel by day, and a sultry cocktail lounge vibe by night, the folks at Grind have a little competition on their hands.
Best new eco-friendly spot
PocoAddress and Info
After showing the tree-hugging foodies of Bristol how it’s done, and then writing the cookbook The Natural Cook to help out those at home, Tom Hunt brought his ‘all British all the time’ cooking to London. In a former cycle shop right along the canal, these small plates come from within the M25 whenever possible, and will make you never want to leave.
Best new cocktail joint
Cocktail Trading CoAddress and Info
Soho & Smithfield
After this weird and wonderful basement bar exploded into our lives in January, making wellies, snow globes, and ketchup bottles totally normal “glassware,” they’ve gone on to open two more venues (in London and Bristol) and have no plans to slow down. Keeping a certain level of class and charm amid cheeky jokes and blindingly good drinks, it’s a go-to spot any night of the week.
Best new wine bar
68 and BostonAddress and Info
With three talented booze hounds behind the joint, every detail has been figured out here -- the global wine list is sizable, and they kept the pricing super simple: all bottles are £20. In the mood for cocktails? They’ve got you covered as well.
Best new beer bar
Mother Kelly’sAddress and Info
Part of the growing scene over on Paradise Row, this hop-centric spot is raising a glass to brews of all varieties. They boast a staggering number of bottles, plus daily rotating taps, and the best part? They run a bottle shop, too, so you can drink that tasty new favorite beverage from the comfort of your own living room.
Best new way to get healthy
Voga (address and info)
The crazy lovechild of yoga and vogue (like Madonna), this new work out ditches the soothing, spiritual Enya and goes for a bit more of an ‘80s pop/dance hall vibe. With classes at The Proud Archivist, Shoreditch House, and Coq d’Argent (not to mention others in Ibiza, Paris, Edinburgh, and others), you can always find a time to strike a pose.
Best new Spanish import
Dry MartiniAddress and Info
Sorry, Pedro. No trip to Barcelona is complete without a tipple (or three) at the ever so classic Dry Martini where maestro Pedro Carbonell has been holding the reigns since 1978. The first edition away from Spain, the London branch keep true to its dapper roots, filled with over 80 gins, a strong lean towards the classics, and all that Spanish charm.
Best new seafood spot
Lobster BarAddress and Info
Once upon a time, seafood restaurants were banished into two categories: stuffy and overbearing, or so family friendly it lost any sort of gravitas. This little hideaway is thankfully a perfect middle ground. It’s set in a bright warehouse space, with genuinely friendly staff, and damn good food. Expect lobster, crab, octopus, squid, prawns, scallops, and every other sea critter -- and they’re all so fresh you half expect to see the ocean at their doorstep.
Best new hotel
Zetter Townhouse Marylebone (address and info)
With a tourist population as big as ours, there are a lot of new hotels. But the new Zetter Townhouse, sister to then pretty great Clerkenwell joint, isn’t just another hotel. With 21 guest rooms all decked out in quirky classic grandeur, and a bar run by cocktail genius Tony C (69 Colebrooke Row), it’s a destination unto itself.
Best new coffee shop
KaffeineAddress and Info
The original Kaffeine on Great Titchfield St, has long been a temple for the highest order of coffee devotees, who obsess over grind thickness, milk texture, and what kind of equipment is used to create the life giving liquid. After years of helping us get our fix they’ve finally opened a new location, just around the corner on Eastcastle street with a slightly larger food selection and coffee still as potent as ever.
Best new garden with a view
Sky Garden (address and info)
While the Shard might hold the title for best views in London, the Sky Garden in the Walkie-Talkie building is pretty awe-inspiring in its own right. With a panoramic perspective of the river and most of the city, it’s a pretty perfect spot to sit, smell the flowers, and feel so high above it all.
Best new random activity
Alcoholic Architecture (address and info)
This is the future, people. No longer to you need to drink to feel intoxicated. Bompas & Parr have made a breathable cocktail and believe us, 20 minutes of standing in this alcoholic weather system will leave you giggling. It’s like a sauna, only made of booze.
1. Mac and Wild65 Great Titchfield Street, London
2. Marksman Public House254 Hackney Rd, London
3. Flight Club2 Worship St, London
4. Dinerama19 Great Eastern St, Shoreditch
5. 76 Dean Street76 Dean St, London
6. Love Die Late114 Great Portland St, London
7. Poco129 Pritchard's Rd, London
8. The Cocktail Trading Co.22 Great Marlborough St, London
9. 68 and Boston5 Greek St, London
10. Mother Kelly's251 Paradise Row, Bethnal Green
11. Dry Martini1 Albany St., Camden Town
12. Lobster BarUnit 2, London
13. Kaffeine66 Great Titchfield St, London
Game rules at this two-story hang inspired by the tastes of the Scottish highlands. Sink your teeth into the "VeniMoo," which was voted London's Best Burger of the year; it's a delicious conglomeration of beef and venison, squished together in between a flaky broiche bun and smokey bernaise cheese. Can you say yum?
While this old school pub was given a makeover, it still has all the same charm. Owned by two best friends and joint head chefs who served some time at St John and Fifteen, the food is fantastic and is paired with a solid beer selection and casual wine list.
Head here to play darts and get your drink on.
Can't choose between tacos or burgers? You don't have to decide when you dine at Dinerama, an open air market "street feast" in Shoreditch that hosts 12 delicious restaurants all under one roof.
The newly opened London outfit of this fabled NYC social club is as exclusive as its across the pond predecessor. Rub shoulders with movers and shakers inside a gorgeous, renovated Georgian townhouse equipped with a full bar and restaurant, or kick up your feet in a suite style room, sure to be your new favorite pied-à-terre.
Coffee bar by day, cocktail lounge by night, Love Die Late's got all your beverage needs covered 24/7. In the morning, enjoy unique, English roasted brews in the retro chic digs upstairs; by dusk, descend into the lush, dimly lit lounge area for ornate house cocktails created by master mixologist Karol Bobinski.
This eco-minded spot, located in a former cycle shop on Broadway Market, focuses on locally sourced ingredients and seasonal flavors. There is al fresco dining and communal table seating, and the space is meant to feel rustic and ethical with plenty of reclaimed and recycled materials. Humble and affordable tapas compliment unique and artfully prepared cocktails.
Ensconced neatly underneath Soho's Central & Co., The Cocktail Trading Company, remarkably, trades in cocktails. This bar features master cocktail crafters who whip up a vast menu of tasty and unique concoctions that are part of an "ongoing experiment," meaning that if you like the look/taste of something you had, enjoy it while you can. It could be gone before you know it.
This is one of our favorite new London bars.
Nestled under the railway arches of Bethnal Green, Mother Kelly's Tap Room is a great spot to take it easy with more than 20 brews on tap. Tried something you like? More than likely it's for sale at the on-site Bottle Shop. Take it to go with a growler.
Located in the Melia White House Hotel, the Dry Martini bar by Javier de las Muela is one part classic cocktail lounge (think velvet banquettes, low lighting, and martinis, shaken not stirred) and one part Barcelona style bistro (an early night starts at midnight).
Enjoy their fresh seafood menu in their bright and airy restaurant.