London’s top queer food and drink destinations
Check out our pick of London’s best queer food and drink locations to be used for Pride Month and beyond, as recommended by queer members of the BBC Good Food team.
Summer heralds a number of Pride events around the UK, with London Pride bringing the capital to life in July. In the spirit of celebrating all sexualities, genders and ethnicities, BBC Good Good is reflecting on how food and drink acts as a vehicle for fostering connection and joy all year round.
While the UK’s capital city celebrates all things LGBTIQA+ and in between, there are even more queer-friendly spots that stretch beyond the streets of Soho. Here are our picks of the best queer food and drink destinations in London that go beyond sticky, beer-soaked floors and rainbow flags – as chosen by queer members of the BBC Good Food team.
Weino BIB, Dalston
A leader in the industry for its natural boxed, canned and keg wine, Weino BIB is a queer-run bar, deli and taproom in the heart of Dalston.
Working closely with farmers and importers who ‘tread lightly on the earth’, Weino BIB aims to reduce its carbon footprint by improving the way we consume, while never compromising on quality. The results speak for themselves, as Weino BIB’s transparency of waste creates a taproom filled with integrity.
The menu sees a daily rotation of the usual cheese, charcuterie and deli morsels, but take the Wednesday to Saturday menu seriously (think: small plates of goat's curd, Tropea onion & fennel galette, and courgette, almond, saffron & spelt orzotto). Our last visit fell on a Tuesday, on which we were served a seasonal pie and glass of gamay.
For those who are in-the-know regarding Dalston’s Wine Mile, hosted by natural wine merchant Natty Boy Wines, this establishment needs no introduction. We certainly hope it will be included in the next iteration of east London's walking wine crawls.
Formed through the owners' mutual love of 80s band Prefab Sprout, TOAD Bakery in Camberwell is a queer-owned business that’s famed for its divine pastries. The bakery started life as a pop-up in The Platform Café near Loughborough Junction station. Thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, TOAD now calls Peckham Road home.
TOAD aims to be as inclusive as possible, working with queer producers so it can ensure its pricing is as accessible as possible, while still using the best-quality ingredients available.
The menu changes seasonally, but you can be sure of croissants, cinnamon buns and sourdough (long-fermented using sustainably farmed grain from the UK). Everything is baked fresh daily by the team. Arrive early to avoid disappointment – especially at weekends when queues down the street are not a rare sight.
Avalon Café, Bermondsey
Avalon Café is a community focused café, music venue and arts centre based in south Bermondsey, and it has risen in popularity thanks to its contemporary evening events (think: spoken poetry, play readings, gigs, DJ sets and everything in between). It also serves up classic British café dishes by day and drinks at night.
Supporting LGBTIQA+ artists and performers, Avalon Café has a packed monthly event schedule, including heavy electronic and electro-acoustic constructions from worldwide music artists, chess club, drawing classes, open mic nights and informative political discussion evenings.
Avalon Café aims to to create a safe and inclusive space for everyone, regardless of race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, body, age, social class, nationality or religion. It’s definitely worth a visit for a low-cost, high-culture expedition next time you're in south London.
The Standard, King's Cross
Known as the ‘jewel’ of King’s Cross, you might have seen The Standard Hotel peppered all over your social media feeds. Nestled within its brutalist walls, you’ll find kitsch seventies decor and moodily-lit lighting between its array of dining and drinking areas.
On the tenth floor you can find Sweeties, the Hollywood-inspired lounge and discotheque mixing up a playful soundtrack as well as feel-good cocktails. The menu created by The Standard mixologists Jack Sotti and Todd Austin incorporate feel-good ingredients and invigorating adaptogens nootropics into each cocktail to really keep the mood going all-night-long.
Or if you’re looking for something a little quieter, head across the floor to Decimo, where Michelin-starred Chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias merges his Spanish heritage with his love of Mexico. Think small plates that go big on flavour, gambas rojas, Iberico pork, mezcal cocktails and a brand-new take on tacos.
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Plus, The Standard’s Library Lounge is also host to TheirStories, a monthly series of conversations hosted by Laurie Belgrave, the founder of the pop-up queer bar The Chateau. Each discussion seeks to celebrate the diverse narratives of London’s LGBTIQA+ scene, with intergenerational talks, performances, cultural moments and music that acts as a platform to spread queer joy.
Happy Endings, Greater London
Currently a pop-up in Pavilion Bakery, east London, Happy Endings' soft-serve ice cream and ice cream sandwiches are also available at a few venues across the country, with a larger number in London.
It's queer-owned and founded by award-winning baker Terri Mercieca. As well as focussing on taste, it's also passionate about creating quality relationships with providers and having fun, whether that’s during the production process, or with the product itself. With products named ‘Monumintal’ and ‘The Naughty One’ and more, simply holding a tub of the soft-serve ice cream will leave you grinning from ear to ear. Best of all, the sweet, creamy ice cream delivers a nostalgic feeling – the raspberry ripple is one of our faves.
For more information about the pop-up and to find stockists, visit Happy Endings.
This relaxed, art deco restaurant has graced Old Compton Street since 1987, with its first venue (then called the Old Compton Café) joined later by a second site on Old Compton Street, followed by those in Shepherd's Bush, Stratford and Kensington. The Balan’s Soho site is at the heart of the area's queer community, growing alongside the scene that is now London’s best-known queer neighbourhood.
Balans' menu is modern British with a global influence, but it's famed for its breakfasts (served at any time of day, of course). Once dinner is over, expect to party late into the night, the next morning or potentially over the course of the entire weekend (on the few occasions throughout the year when it doesn’t close for three days).
Don’t just take our word for it, though: even queer icon Lady Gaga has been pictured leaving Balans after a late-night rendezvous.
The Common Press (The Glass House), Bethnal Green
Established in 2019 as The Glass House, Bethnal Green in east London is now home to a brand-new venue, The Common Press. Emerging as a beacon of artistic expression and communal solace in the heart of Shoreditch, The Common Press acts is a multidisciplinary space and queer arts venue, hosting a community hub, café, podcast studio and events space.
The Common Press offers a triad of spaces: Common Counter, the welcoming local bar dedicated to catering to the queer community; The Common Press, a consciously inclusive bookshop and café that celebrates the literary brilliance of queer individuals and people of colour; and The Commons, a versatile and exquisitely outfitted events area – the perfect canvas for a kaleidoscope of gatherings, from contemporary dance performances to captivating workshops and parties.
Keep your eyes peeled, as The Common Press is soon launching a queer co-working space at The Glass House. We’ll be taking our meetings there from now on.
Ottolenghi, Greater London
One of London’s best-loved food spots, Ottolenghi is also available for delivery nationwide. In both the deli and restaurants, customers love the colourful dishes that have foundations in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Although there are many venues, they’re not all the same. The newest addition, Rovi, is known for its experimentation with fermented food and cooking over open fire. At an Ottolenghi deli, you can choose your food from the counter or try something off the menu. A warning though: it's a bit like choosing between your favourite Kylie bangers – not an easy decision.
Ottolenghi was started by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, both gay men who have championed gay rights. Yotam has since become a well-loved TV chef and food columnist who has spoken openly about his journey to becoming a gay father. The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen team has also become known for their OTK series of cookbooks.
On Soho’s Broadwick Street you’ll find Mediterranean-style restaurant Miznon. Under the visionary guidance of celebrity chef Eyal Shani, this cult-classic eatery is known for its delectable Israeli creations, accompanied by an equally spirited selection of beverages.
Famed for dishes such as their original roasted whole cauliflower, succulent lamb kebabs and filled pitas with ‘Guinness blood’, Minzon brings the vibrant flavours of Tel Aviv to London.
This year for London Pride, Minzon teamed up with the iconic queer Jewish party, Buttmitzvah for a pickle-flavoured Pride party, including drag queens, DJs, klezmer music, chair-lifting, classic round-and-round spiralised dancing, and of course, lots of pita bread and hummus.