Soho is one of London’s most vibrant neighborhoods. An area of only one square mile, Soho is an eclectic multi-cultural neighborhood that today is home to fashion houses, chic bars, restaurants, film companies, recording studios, record shops, and residences. A neighborhood once known for its sex industry, is also the birthplace of some of rock n’roll’s legends such as the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and David Bowie. You have not experienced London until you spend time in Soho.
As part of London’s West End, the name “soho” is believed to have been derived in the 17th century from a former hunting cry. Before London’s Great Fire in 1666, the Soho area was largely fields dotted with cottages and farms. It was an area known for hunting. The cry “soho” was believed to be a call to encourage the hounds to fetch the hares. By the mid-nineteenth century Soho was overtaken by whore houses, jazz clubs, and theaters. In the early 20th century it became a hot spot for bohemian authors and poets. Today its sultry past is revered, yet overshadowed by pop culture and great dining.
When my husband and I decided he would meet me in London for a few days holiday after my short time in Bordeaux, we immediately planned to spend time exploring Soho. As luck would have it, one of our favorite tour companies, Eating Europe, offers a similar Twilight Soho Food Tour to the one we experienced and thoroughly enjoyed in Rome called Twilight Trastavere Food Tour. We emailed Eating Europe and booked our Eating London tour before we planned anything else. For full disclosure, as a wine, food, and travel writer my participation in the tour was complimentary; however, we enjoyed the Rome tour so much we would have done it with our without my complimentary experience.
I would like to share with you the sites and flavors of Soho through MY Eating London Twilight Soho Food Tour experience. The following photos were all taken during our tour. I apologize in advance for the blurry pictures. Many of our stops were quite dark and photography was a challenge.
We began our tasting tour at La Bodega Negra for tacos and margaritas. As a Texan I must admit I was skeptical; however, the tacos and margarita were delicious!
Things you see in Soho
A walk through Soho Square included a common Hare Krishna encounter
I really don’t drink much alcohol outside of wine. Furthermore, I determined 25 years ago I do not like gin and have not had any since. Therefore, I was not really looking forward to our visit to the London Gin Club. I am so glad it was included in our tasting tour. The gin we were served was better than I could have imagined, and the gin-infused beef pie was delicious. It turned out to be my favorite stop on the food tour. Who knew?
Soho is filled with a wide variety of cuisines. Our next stop took us from traditional English fare to Spain! Enrique Tomas offers a full Jamon tasting experience served with a glass of Spanish wine!
A tour through Soho would not be complete without walking by Trident Studios. This famed recording studio saw the likes of The Beatles, David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Bee Gees, Manfred Mann, Elton John, James Taylor, Genesis, The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, and Kiss, to name a few.
It is ironic that Karl Marx spent his exiled years living, and dying, in Soho. I thought this photo was ironic.
From Spanish Jamon to Basque Country pintxos, our next stop took us to Pix Bar where we enjoyed our choice of pintxos (Basque for tapas), paired with delicious Txakoli. I chose a cup of gazpacho and a fig and cheese bruchetta. It was so good.
Music is everywhere in Soho.
We had eaten Mexican food, traditional English food, Spanish Jamon, and Basque Pintxos, now it was time to explore China. Opium is one of the best kept secrets in Chinatown. You would walk right past it if you did not know it was there. We climbed a narrow six flight staircase to reveal a sultry dim sum bar. We enjoyed a couple of dumplings along with Chinese tea crafted of Prosecco, vodka, and rose tea. It was dangerously delicious.
More signs of Soho’s sultry past
Our final stop takes us to another unmarked door. If you aren’t in the know you will never experience Basement Sate, a chic underground cocktail and dessert bar. Pair a sweet Prosecco based cocktail with hazelnut praline dessert and I am in heaven.
Our journey came to an end in front of this amazing work of art that brings together all that is Soho!
A special thanks to the beautiful and highly talented Allison for making our journey through Soho so much fun! And to the friends we made along the way, can you believe another couple from Dallas!
If this article wet your palate and peaked your curiosity you can learn more about the Twilight Soho Food Tour through Eating London’s web site. Furthermore, Eating Europe offers similar tours in Italy (Rome and Florence), Amsterdam, and Prague. Finally, I received no compensation for this article beyond my complimentary participation.