London’s best underground bars and restaurants

Delve beneath the city’s surface for some of the capital’s finest hidden restaurants and cocktail haunts.

Trailer Happiness

This Notting Hill institution just celebrated its 15th anniversary. Down a staircase behind an unassuming storefront on Portobello Road; Trailer Happiness is all mood lighting and low velvet seats and banquettes, exuding a 1970s lounge bar feel and serving classic cocktails with a Tiki twist. Try The Hurricane, their delicious variation on a rum punch. trailerh.com

Ichibuns

This basement restaurant and bar is a relatively new addition to the bowels of Soho. The interior is what would happen if you opened an America diner in Harajuku, Tokyo and the menu reflects this curious culture clash; burgers with wagyu beef, chicken bites in soy sauce and spicy tuna tacos. Everything is served diner style, even the cocktails, like the bourbon-based Rising Sun Iced tea, which comes in a plastic cup with a straw. ichibuns.com

The Lost Alpaca

Beneath the Floral restaurant in Covent Garden is this colourful and cosy cocktail bar, which serves up some serious Latin American flavour. The spirits on offer are a veritable feast of piscos, tequilas, mezcals and rums in various iterations; from the coffee-infused Dulce de Martini to the humorously-titled El Chapo with Ron Cartavio Black, Aji Amarillo, lime and agave. The bar snacks alone are also worth the visit; try the Yuca fries to Cuzco corn cakes. www.lostalpaca.com

Tonight Josephine

The original Waterloo incarnation of Tonight Josephine was a surprise London hit- not least because of its curiously instagramable interiors. Now they’ve opened this east London outpost in Shoreditch; a basement bar saturated in millennial pink and mirrored ceilings. It’s riotous décor is matched by a playful menu; with skittle-infused vodka and cocktails called ‘No Time For Napoleon.’ www.tonightjosephine.co.uk/shoreditch/

Blakes Below

This South Kensington hotel is one of London’s hidden gems, making their basement bar even more of a covert find. Stunningly decorated by Anoushka Hempel, in burnt orange and dark navy, it’s in keeping with the hotels’ dark but cosy aesthetic. With a classic cocktail menu and an impressive roster of spirits, it’s one of London’s most elegant nightcap haunts. www.blakeshotels.com/eating-drinking/bar

Mnky Hse

Below stairs on Dover Street, Mayfair, Mnky Hse may have a playful name (and toy monkeys on the table to prove it) but its serious about its food; a varied and delectable feast of Latin American standards with a twist; like seabass sashimi tostadas and yellow fin tuna tartare. The cocktails and vibe are also excellent. Do not leave without sampling the mezcal espresso martini. www.mnky-hse.com

Fare Bar and Canteen

Newly opened in Clerkenwell, Fare Bar and Canteen is the latest venture from Sage + Wilde duo Marcis Dzelzainis and Michael Sager. Set over two floors; the basement plays home to the intimate restaurant and cocktail bar, serving up Mediterranean classics in a sleek and simple white brick and wooden enclave. A mix of small and larger plates, it’s an eclectic yet delicious collection. Highlights include the fried lamb sweetbreads and ricotta gnudi with roasted pumpkin and pesto. Wash it down with anything from their brilliantly curated wine list. www.sagerandwilde.com/coming-soon/

Black Rock

Probably one of the finest whisky bars in London, this Shoreditch basement is a must for any dram lovers; serving up over 250 bottles of the stuff, as well as their inventive – and fairly priced- cocktail list. An suitably moody and intimate space; it’s the perfect date night venue. blackrock.bar

La Bodega Negra

Certainly now a Soho institution since it opened back in 2012, this shadowy and sexy Mexican does both storming tequila cocktails and classic, brilliant Latin American food. Cleverly hidden behind a sex shop façade, it maintains its speakeasy vibe throughout, with an always buzzy weekend atmosphere that somehow feels both elicit and welcoming; not to mention a stunning house margarita- made with mezcal. www.labodeganegra.com

Demon, Wise and Partners

Snugly nestled beneath The Arbitrager in the heart of the City, Demon, Wise and Partners has an old-school elegance to it, that matches its name. Seating only (and reservations are advised) this is an extremely cosy, warm spot- brilliant for intimate parties or dates- populated with dozens of booths. The drinks menu is classic but finely done; with inventive additions like the house cocktails; the Demon and the Wise; one a devious twist on an egg nog, the other a limited edition vermouth served with olives and cheese. www.demonandwise.co.uk


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