Meat has long been considered man fuel. Raw, thick steaks and burgers all washed down with lager over the footy. But nowadays there's more than meats the eye when it comes to what is on offer in the capital.
Whether it is the heady fragrances perfuming middle-Eastern lamb or a slow smoked American short rib that softens in your mouth like caramel, here are the best meat for meat lovers.
Vegetarians, cover your eyes.
Spitalfields is having a bit of a moment in terms of boasting the most exciting new restaurants London has on offer. One such gem is BBQ joint Hotbox, which combines traditional Texan dishes with the bright influence of South American flavours. Trips around Mexico City, Dallas and Austin were where founder Basit Nasim learned the art of BBQ smoking with a cocktail of spices.
The menu is so jammed with delights that you need several trips to master it, but start with the fish glaze chicken wings or jumbo prawns with fermented chilli and mezcal butter. For mains Esquire insists you try the beef short rib which after cooking for 8 hours is so tender you'll want to cry - we nearly did.
Hotbox, 46-48 Commercial St, London E1 6LT
This meat mastering restaurant has come a long way from a food van under Hungerford Bridge serving brisket and pulled pork. For a while co-founders Tom Adams and Jamie Berger commanded long queues in Soho where they ran their minuscule 30 cover restaurant. But when the wait became farcical they packed up shop and moved to near Bishopsgate in East London and a site that seats nearly 150 people inside and out.
The menu has grown too, though specials change rapidly due to availability, get your hands on their caramel chicken thighs which crackle and crunch gloriously in your mouth. For mains the grilled octopus is so far from rubbery you'll marvel at the texture and the rich onglet is beastly and brilliant with every bite. Eating in Pitt Cue is a greedy treat and their use of unusual cuts of meat is inspired.
Pitt Cue, 1 Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YP
Berber & Q
Inspired by mezze-style Eastern flavours and dining, Berber & Q is a genuinely unique dining experience. From the spices flooding the menu to wooden benches and hanging copper lampshades, nothing feels tired or ripped off from elsewhere. You can certainly say the same of the food, which the grill house lovingly prepare and arrange on metal trays with sweet sharp pickles, warm pitta breads and house dips including labneh, feta & dill which can be lathered over everything.
As for the meat itself, whether it is the harissa hot wings, short-rib with date-syrup glaze or hand-pulled lamb shawarma, you'll gobble it all past the point of being full. Even the grilled whole cauliflower with tahini feels as meaty as the rest, even if you do feel like you're being unfaithful.
Berber & Q, 338 Acton Mews, London E8 4EA
Walter And Monty
If you ever visited hipster hangout Night Tales you might have smelt the tantalising wafts of Walter & Monty who hosted a pop-up stall their last summer. Legs of lamb and beef picanha are cooked whole on their charcoal grill and bundled into flatbread wraps with perfectly seasoned and sliced salads and sauces like garlic and feta or chilli and lime.
Like Pitt Cue, they too have relocated to permanent residence right next to the gherkin are are selling their famous wraps as well as grilled meat with salads or rice. They're only open for lunches currently but take the day off work if you need to, they've got some of the most delicious meat Esquire has ever tried.
Walter And Monty, Bury Ct, London EC3A 7BA
With a pretty outside area and pared back interior design, Smokehouse consistently reflect their philosophy of simplicity - excellent well sourced meat, smoked and grilled to perfection. It is a philosophy that has earned them stellar reviews and frequently full restaurant since opening in 2013.
We recommend you put your trust in the chefs and order outside your comfort zone, the lamb shoulder with raclette and sambal or the chopped brisket roll & gochujang - a tangy Korean kind of ketchup - are excellent choices. The notorious Sunday roast which included a sticky soft rare beef is the perfect way to end the weekend.
Smokehouse, 63–69 Canonbury Rd,Islington, London, N1 2DG
In the small Soho quarters that used to hosue a dive bar, Smoking Goat wanted to replicate that energy and so play vibrant music in the Thai BBQ restaurant. They specialise in rare breed meats and fish and cook with wood-ember barbecue and Thai flavours following time spent cooking in Thailand. Smoking Goat use an English chestnut wood to burn the fire which gives everything a warmth and sweetness.
The flavours are sharply contrasted but excellently executed - particularly the crispy pork belly with pickled watermelon and picanha beef with lemongrass and chilli. The star of the show is the restaurant's namesake, a smoked goat shoulder with Thai herbs. Order it with sticky rice which you prize from a plastic bag and scoop onto a fork with pink strips of goat which are both fatty and tender.
Smoking Goat, 7 Denmark St, London, WC2H 8LZ