Carnaby is one of those rare places in central London that hasn’t been overrun by generic lunchtime chains. Whether you’re looking for a delicious snack to grab and go, or a more leisurely lunch hour catching up with friends, you’ll find an array of unique and delicious cuisine from around the world.
Bustling Carnaby is always in hot demand for people looking for great lunches. The many offices, shops and tourist attractions nearby mean the area is always buzzing at lunchtime, and luckily the restaurants in the area are more than happy to oblige. You’ll find affordable lunchtime deals ready to pick up and take with you, as well as more elevated spots for catching up with pals or entertaining clients.
Carnaby has always led the way in showcasing international cuisines. In the Newburgh Quarter you’ll find Ugly Dumpling, for example, one of Soho’s tiniest restaurants. This popular spot has a few outdoor seats to ensure Londoners can still get their dumpling fix during the lunchtime rush, watching the world go by on their unmissable blue outdoor benches. Indulge in playful takes on classic dim sum, and save room for sweet versions like pecan pie and Nutella afterwards.
Another great lunchtime destination on Newburgh Street is INO Gastrobar, bringing the bold flavours of Greece to the table. It’s run by the chefs who started Michelin-starred Funky Gourmet in Athens, and also OPSO in London, on a mission to celebrate traditional Greek cooking over fire and charcoal. Their seasonal menu includes a range of sharing plates, with some of the more unusual dishes including octopus tacos and jacked potato eel.
Peruvian restaurant Señor Ceviche makes for a delightfully different dining experience, with a special offer to tempt in the lunchtime crowd: their Lunch Special set menu costs £17, available Mon-Thurs from 12pm. The Kingly Court restaurant is inspired by the bohemian district of Lima, with stripped back interiors and colourful Peruvian street art. You’ll find a lot of ceviche (fish cured in fresh citrus juices), naturally, as well as Peruvian BBQ specials like Pachamanca pork ribs and grilled chicken wings.
Nearby, head to Ganton Street to find some of London’s fresh handmade pasta at Pastaio. It’s a wonderful place to watch the pasta being rolled, chopped and cooked in the open kitchen, equally suited for a quick bowl of steaming cacio e pepe as it is for a lazy weekend lunch with friends. For the latter, Pastaio’s burrata, gnocchi and tiramisu are outstanding, along with an excellent menu of Italian cocktails.
Speaking of Italy, the Venetians also get a look in when it comes to lunches in Carnaby. Polpo on Beak Street is a long-lasting staple of the area, serving small plates of dishes like Polpette and Octopus salad and Cuttlefish in its ink, alongside yet more excellent pasta dishes.
Located in the heart of Kingly Court, Club Mexicana is a mixture of Mexican street food inspired by the rowdy street side taquerias of Los Angeles and Mexico City, that just so happens to be 100% vegan. It serves a menu of cult favourites. You’ll find their much-loved burritos, including the Jackfruit Short Rib with hickory smoked vegan ribs, as well as tacos, nachos and good vibes galore.
Check out more ideas for where to eat in Carnaby, including al fresco spots and what’s inside Kingly Court.
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