Eating My Way Through London’s Soho

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When it comes to London's Soho neighborhood, there are a few things you need to know.

First, you need to know that Soho has been considered a major entertainment district in London for at least the last century. Except that, traditionally, the entertainment was of the, shall we say, unsavory kind. This was long the neighborhood of brothels and sex shops; of nightclubs and rowdy pubs.

In the mid-1900s, Soho was a grungy, seedy part of town.

Sign on a door in Soho
You'll still find signs like this in Soho.

In the last few decades, though, Soho has undergone a bit of a renaissance. Now, it's home to some of the most famous West End theaters, is filled with chic cafes and trendy boutiques, and is always packed with tourists and Londoners alike.

But a lot of those gritty undertones can still be found throughout Soho.

Which makes this the perfect neighborhood for a food tour.

Carnaby Street in Soho

Twilight Soho Food Tour in London

I went on my first food tour with Eating London back when it was just starting out and only offered one food tour. That tour was a food tour of the East End, and I still site it as one of the best food tours I've ever been on. Partly because of all the food, but also because of the fact that a tour from this company is about so much more than just the food.

So when they approached me about trying out their Twilight Soho Food Tour, I pretty much jumped at the chance (and made a note to wear my stretchy pants).

Soho mural in London

I met my guide, Hannah, outside the Palace Theater in Soho around 4:30 p.m. on a sunny June evening. The theater was buzzing as a preview of the new Harry Potter play was on that night, which was a perfect introduction to Soho as a whole – a little chaotic, but full of character.

Tacos done right

After a brief introduction from Hannah, we wasted no time and headed straight to our first tasting of our Soho food tour: tacos at La Bodega Negra. If anyone ever tells you that you can't find good tacos in London, bring them here and see if they don't change their tune.

Our tasting included two tacos: one pork and one shrimp. And one of them even had a jicama tortilla!

Tacos at La Bodega Negra

The tacos were paired with a tiny frozen margarita (oh, did I mention that this food tour also includes booze?!?), which this alcohol-avoiding traveler actually did not hate.

Forgive me Father for I have ginned

The London Gin Club

Another fun fact about Soho: In the early 1700s, the area (and London as a whole, really) went through what is now officially known as the Gin Craze. People went absolutely mental over the stuff – it got so out of hand that the government actually tried more than once to pass acts to slow the flow of gin.

Gin and tonic at the London Gin Club

Today, the London Gin Club keeps the traditions of the Gin Craze alive with a menu of literally hundreds of gins. We had a classic gin and tonic made with the London Gin Club's very own 7 Dials gin paired with an amazingly delicious gin-infused beef pie.

Gin-infused beef pie at the London Gin Club
Gin-infused beef pie

A hint of Spain in Soho

Our next stop was at Enrique Tomas, a Jamón shop that seems plucked straight out of Spain. We tried three different dry-cured slices of salty Jamón (including the delicious Jamón ibérico), paired with some cheese and a nice red wine.

Tasting plate at Enrique Tomas

I'm going to go ahead and admit that I enjoyed the cheese more than all the ham, but I loved this stop simply for the store itself. If you visit, be sure to take a look at the legs of Jamón hanging on the wall – some of them are worth nearly $1,000!

Jamon at Enrique Tomas

Jamon at Enrique Tomas

No shortage of choice

After filling up with Jamón, we headed over to the atmospheric Pix Bar. This place serves up Basque-style pintxos (think tapas) in a small space filled with high-top tables and bar stools.

Pix was packed even on a weeknight, and I waffled back and forth like crazy trying to choose just two pintxos to try (I went with some fried cheese and patatas bravos).

Pintxos at Pix Bar

A peek into Chinatown

What I loved most about this food tour was the variety – and it was broadened by our second-to-last stop in Chinatown at Opium. Depending on who you talk to, Chinatown either is or isn't part of Soho. But, regardless, Opium definitely earned a spot on this tour.

A ridiculously large bouncer outside directed us up to the attic of a small building, where we enjoyed dim sum and some Chinese tea.

Dim sum at Opium

As we ate/drank, Hannah told us a little about how London's Chinatown formed. It dates back to the early 1900s, when Chinese dock workers settled in this part of London. And what was the area particularly known for back then? Its opium dens, of course.

A very Soho ending

The last stop on the tour saw us heading underground via a very nondescript door and set of stairs. As Hannah pointed out, “It wouldn't be Soho if it wasn't hard to find.” Since so many places in this neighborhood used to be “underground” (both literally and figuratively), our last tasting at Basement Sate seemed appropriate.

Dessert at Basement Sate

Here, we enjoyed a delicious chocolate and hazelnut dessert paired with a tequila, prosecco, and fresh vanilla drink. And we even sang happy birthday to someone celebrating a birthday on the tour.

What sets this tour apart

If you've read this entire post, you'll probably realize that this tour not only comes with a variety of food, but also a LOT of it. Two tacos, a meat pie, Jamón and cheese, pintxos, dim sum, and dessert. I definitely did not need dinner afterwards.

Another thing I like to point out about Eating London's tours is that they aren't solely about the food. You also learn a lot about the neighborhood you're walking through. We stopped in Soho Square (fun fact: that little timbered building in the middle is actually a gardener's hut), took a break outside the old Marquee Club (where the Rolling Stones played their first live show), and even saw the recording studio where the Beatles recorded “Hey Jude.”

Soho Square in London
Soho Square

Hannah was great about pointing out interesting buildings and sharing fun historical tidbits about the non-food-related places we were walking past, which made this so much more than just a food tour.

I came away with a much deeper understanding of London's Soho (as well as a huge list of places to eat at next time I visit).

IF YOU GO

Interested in taking this tour yourself? Here's all the info you'll need:

WHAT: Twilight Soho Food Tour with Eating London

WHEN: Tuesday-Friday, starting at either 4 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. (tour lasts about 3.5 hours)

HOW MUCH: £94 ($120 USD) per person. I know this sounds like quite a bit for essentially a dinner, but remember that you get food at six different places (and an alcoholic drink at most of them, too), as well as a walking tour around Soho.

NEED TO KNOW: Since there's alcohol involved at most of the stops, this is not a tour recommended for kids. 18+ only!

OTHER FOOD TOURS:

If food tours are your jam, here are some others to try in London:

READ NEXT: A Guide to the Most Unique Themed Afternoon Teas in London

Is this a tour YOU would take in London?

 

A food tour of London Soho

 

*Note: I did receive a complimentary food tour care of Eating London. But, as always, all opinions are 100% my own.

A food tour of London's Soho neighborhood

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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36 Comments on “Eating My Way Through London’s Soho

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  1. Not that I needed another reason to return to London for the 5th time…

    People always joke about how the food in England is awful but really I love how there is so much on offer in places like London. I do like a classic fish and chips with mushy peas though… it’s just so British! ha

      Any excuse to visit London is a good excuse in my opinion. 😉

      And I agree – there’s SO much diversity when it comes to London, and that includes the food!

    Everything about this post made me hungry, but as a gin-lover, I now need to get to London stat to check out the London Gin Club. Thanks for sharing!

      I probably should have added a warning at the beginning that you shouldn’t read this post on an empty stomach. 😉

      And yes, get thee to the London Gin Club!

    I would definitely take this food tour. Sounds incredible! And I love all the atmosphere of the area. That ‘No Prostitutes’ sign is awesome. 🙂

      And that sign is not there as a joke, either!

    This sounds like the MOST DELICIOUS tour! Literally every single one of these food photos had me practically salivating. I love Soho – though it’s often super pricy and easy to get caught out by how much things cost. (Note from experience: don’t order a double whiskey without checking the price first.) Glad you had such an amazing tour though 🙂

      London in general can be pretty pricey – but that’s a bonus of a food tour! You get to try a bunch of different things without paying full-price for everything. 😉

    Hi Amanda! The food pics are amazing. It starts my drool engine. Delicious and yummy post. Thanks

      Haha drool engine – I like that!

    I’ve been to London a couple of times, and I even lived there for a month a few years ago but it had never occured to me to do a food tour. The locations you visited, and the amazing photographs of the food have convinced me I should definitely book this tour next time I go! Yum!

      It’s a great tour of Soho – and their East End tour is also fantastic!

    Soho looks really cool! Although I don’t think I would go on the tour, because I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food. The Gin Craze reminds me of America’s 18th Amendment – the Prohibition Act that took place in the 1920s. This and the Gin Craze proves that it is impossible to ban alcohol!

      Oh yeah, people will always find ways to get alcohol! That’s for sure. And a food tour might actually be a great way to nudge yourself into being a bit more adventurous with you food (if that’s something you want to do)!

    Yum! Looks like a good tour and for the price, sounds like you get quite a bit! Something to consider on our next visit to London.

      Yes you definitely get a full dinner out of this – and I remember there being even more food on their East End tour!

    Hi Amanda,

    Any thoughts on good, affordable places to stay in London?
    I love your blog!

      Hi Harold! London can be tricky. I often go the Airbnb route if I’m staying for a while, as it’s almost always cheaper to rent someone’s apartment than book a hotel! But some of the more affordable hotel chains in London include Tune Hotels and Ibis. There are also a handful of really good hostels, but that’s not really my speed any more!

    I’ve never thought about doing a food tour but this post has got me reconsidering! Everything looks amazing – especially the tacos and the cocktails! x

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

      I don’t consider myself a foodie, but I really love food tours! Not only do you get to try some delicious dishes, but you always end up getting a unique look at the part(s) of town you’re visiting.

    I love food tours – especially since I’m a picky eater and need someone else to push me a little to order new things!

      Ah yes, a great way to try new things! The portions are usually small, too – meaning if you don’t like something, it’s no big deal!

    Took that tour last summer and loved it! Saw Rose Leslie and someone from Peaky Blinders at the pinxtos place.

      So cool! And also suggests that these places aren’t touristy hangouts – they’re where “normal” people go for a meal out! Love that.

    Awesome pictures, I’m hungry now 😛

      Then my mission is complete. 😉

    Gin-infused pie looks great. I would definetly take this tour.

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