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When nothing but flame-grilled grub will do, these are the spots for you

A Tomahawk steak being cooked over flames

Sometimes you just need barbecue. We get it. Succulent meat that tumbles away at the touch of a knife; vegetables kissed with smoke for that perfect flavour; filthy sides like mac 'n' cheese. It's the perfect gluttonous treat. But if the British weather (or your own laziness...) is putting you off firing up the garden grill, why not let someone else do the cooking for you? Check out our list of London's best barbecue restaurants below.

Various locations
Big Easy restaurant

Big Easy needs no introduction. Sure, it loses a bit of its charm as soon as it starts popping up in shopping centres next to Pizza Express and McDonald’s, but we’ll still remember the first time we visited the original, Kings Road restaurant back when it was a truly one-of-a-kind eatery.

It launched way back in 1991 and existed as a standalone, Southern-States inspired BBQ and lobster shack for 23 years before a rapid expansion brought Big Easy to Bluewater, Westfield Stratford, Covent Garden and Canary Wharf.

The premise is simple - rock music, exposed brickwork, dark woods and brass fittings, and a bar bulging with the finest whiskey collection in town. Oh, and we should probably mention the food: Sweet, tender meats cooked low and slow over flame; ‘slaw, voodoo shrimp, chicken wings, rib tips and loaded potato skins on the side and for the pescatarians amongst you, lobster served by the truckload. Big Easy

Our favourite location: 12 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7NA

Smokestak restaurant

In restaurant terms, Smokestak is already a stalwart on the London scene having launched back in 2016, but the Shoreditch barbecue joint still feels like it sprung from nowhere to become the meat-lover’s paradise in London.

The premise is simple: Good quality meat, smoked low and slow over fire and served with fresh, colourful sides like watermelon, mint and feta salads or charred greens with tahini, pomegranate and roasted peanuts.

But Smokestak achieves flavours we could only dream of managing. Is it witchcraft? Maybe. All we know is that once you’ve tasted Smokestak, there’s no going back.

35 Sclater Street, London, E1 6LB

Various locations
Food from Bodean's restaurant

Trays. Grease paper. Bucketloads of meat. This is barbecue the REAL American way - and it’s the reason Bodean’s has been serving up the smoked stuff since 2002.

There are no airs and graces at any of Bodean’s restaurants, which currently sit in Soho (where the brand was launched), Covent Garden and Tower Hill - and it’s their homely feel that sits at the centre of their appeal. Stepping into the restaurants is like finding yourself in the **LADS AREA* of a Midwest-American garage. Wood-slatted walls are covered in televisions blaring out sports games, hunting trophies and artwork, and the leather-clad booths are straight out of Mad Men.

The intoxicating smell of a smokehouse has been lost at Bodean’s of late - since they moved their cooking to a central kitchen to ensure consistency throughout their venues - but there’s still plenty of fumes to be huffed whenever a Pit Boss Platter (consisting of Baby back ribs, Spare ribs, Pulled Pork, Beef Burnt Ends, Texas Smoked Sausage, Brisket and Chicken Thighs) is carried through the restaurant.

Prices are incredibly reasonable (the aforementioned platter comes in at £28pp) and there are events throughout the year, with SuperBowl Sunday being a popular time to visit.

Our favourite location: 16 Byward St, London EC3R 5BA

A meat platter from Texas Joe's

Tucked away behind the ever-popular Vinegar Yard, in the shadow of London Bridge Station, sits the wooden facade of Texas Joe’s Low Smoked Meats. The sign is a pretty good indication of what you’ll find inside - juicy, tender smoked meat served up with slaw, pickles and sauce. It wouldn’t be Texas without a Mexican influence, so tacos also find their way onto the menu, alongside a long list of bourbons, Mezcals and sides including our personal favourite , Jalapeño cornbread.

As should always be the case with restaurants of this kind, the owner - yep, he’s actually called Texas Joe - is a proper character and even appeared on Dragon’s Den, hawking his Texas Beef Jerky long before the idea of a restaurant had taken shape.

It’s not a big place - and nabbing an outdoor table during the summer months is as difficult as  taming a bucking bronco - but this hidden charm is a must-visit for lovers of smoked meat.


8-9 Snowfields, London, SE1 3SU

Chefs at Acme Fire Cult in Dalston

Barbecue means MEAT, right? Well, not always. Acme Fire Cult has all the hallmarks of a ‘traditional’ American smokehouse: Tattooed, bearded chefs; black decor with wood and copper accents; loud rock music… but meat takes a back seat here in favour of fire-grilled vegetables.

You needn’t worry, barbecue fans, because the flavours and textures are just as (dare we say, even more) exciting as you’d get from a brisket or pork butt.

Guests take their seat in the courtyard of the 40FT Brewery taproom in Dalston and tuck into smoke-kissed dishes while the sound of Metallica fills the air. Expect Charred Broccoli, Gnocchi Parisienne and Smoke Beetroot as vegetables make up at least 50% of the menu. There’s still meat on offer (it’s not a vegetarian restaurant, just ‘veg-first’) and the Smoked Tamworth Pork Belly is a thing of beauty. Read our in-depth review of Acme Fire Cult here

Abbot St, London E8 3DP

Shepherd’s Bush
Prairie Fire restaurant

Pit-master Michael Gratz missed the smoked slabs of his Kansas City hometown, so set up Prairie Fire to bring the flavours to us - and our city is all the better for it. Certified USDA black Angus beef is flown over the Atlantic before being welcomed with a slathering of Prairie Fire’s signature tomato-based sauce and molasses and laid in a smoke-filled chamber for 16 hours. The result is meat that tumbles apart at the touch of a fork and sides including Jalapeño Rangoons - fried cream cheese, jalapeño and mushroom filled wonton pillows.

This ain’t Kansas any more, Toto, but it’s the closest you’ll get without needing a passport.

Arches 88-89, Wood Lane Archways, London W12 7LH

Various locations
Temper restaurant

If upmarket barbecue is more your thing, Temper is the smokehouse it’s acceptable to book for a first date.

Eschewing all of the usual ‘BBQ joint’ cliches, this highly-styled eatery looks like a modern brasserie, save for the huge fire-pit that takes centre stage.

The menu is full of left field choices, too. Heritage prawns, Drunken goat’s cheese (served with a shot of Cazcabel Honey Tequila), Sweet and sour pork rib and Chicken-dukkah carnitas are the kind of dishes on offer.

Temper Our favourite location: 25 Broadwick Street, London, W1F 0DF

Soho & Chelsea
The fire pit at Sophie's restaurant

Technically a steakhouse, Sophie’s sneaks into our barbecue roundup by way of its custom-built fire pit, which not only takes centre stage in the restaurant, but also sends the scent of flame-cooked meat through the full-length bi-fold windows and onto the breeze along Soho’s  Windmill Street. That’s a better investment than an A-board any day of the week.

As you make your way past the opulent, horseshoe shaped bar to your seat, you’ll catch sight of the fire, where large cuts of meat dangle from a metal frame and fresh cuts sizzle over the coals.

The menu includes native breed beef by Philip Warren, which is dry aged and butchered in house - expect Chateaubriand, Axehandle Ribeye and Porterhouse cuts to share or single cut steaks for those who want their own dish.

The Smoked Brisket Croquettes are a winning small plate here, as is the Grilled Red Prawn Skewer, and for mains there’s also plenty of fish and barbecue classics including Ribs and Chicken.

Our favourite location: 42-44 Great Windmill Street, Soho, W1D 7NB

Cue Point

There’s no escaping one fact about barbecue restaurants: They have a certain, testosterone-fuelled vibe. It’s all pig-meat and beef and rock music and dark, woody tones. Cards on the table, we love all of those things, but it’s not exactly inclusive.

Step forward Cue Point, an Afghan-British smokehouse run by Mursal Saiq, a Kabul-born woman who’s not your average BBQ honcho.

Cue Point serves Halal meat, plenty of vegan-friendly dishes and a healthy side-portion of ‘nacos’ - somewhere between tacos and naan breads - with everything.

As you’d expect from a place with former Smokestak and Shotgun chefs on the team, everything oozes with rich flavours and makes you want to over-eat in the way that only a barbecue can.

Cue Point 225 & 228 Fielding St, London SE17 3HD

Inside Berber & Q restaurant

If you say Berber & Q enough times, you start to sound like someone who’s slipping into a meat coma, which is exactly how you’ll feel after a visit to their Haggerston restaurant.

Housed in an old taxi repair shop under the railway arches in East London, Berber & Q take inspiration from American barbecue and mix it with the ingredients of North Africa and the Mediterranean.

The result is a menu full of delicious meats cooked over fire and paired with seasonal mezze.

Try the Smoked Roasted Bone Marrow and thank us later.

Arch 338 Acton Mews, Haggerston, London, E8 4EA

Market Hall Oxford Street & Market Hall Victoria
Brisket by Hotbox

Hotbox make the bold claim that they serve the best brisket in London, which means it’s your duty to go along to one of their two Market Hall venues and test it out for yourself.

Sure enough, it’s succulent, flavoursome and soft, with a deliciously crunchy outer layer. Is it the best? Who knows, but you’ll not regret giving it a go.

Hotbox has travelled our great city over the years, popping up at Dalston Yard, Street Feast, Battersea Powerstation, Model Market and Hawker House and the smell of Hickory and Oak will hit you long before you catch sight of their low-and-slow cooked meat.

It’s not all brisket, by the way - St. Louis Pork Ribs, Korean Pork Belly and a variety of burgers will all fight for your attention and you’ll want to pair your main up with breadcrumb topped Mac & cheese.

Our favourite location: Market Hall Victoria, 191 Victoria St, London SW1E 5NE

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