You never think it’ll happen to you. After all, you’re a good person. You pay your taxes. And you’ve only ghosted a handful of people. But here you are. You’re stuck in the epicentre of Oxford Circus. You’re hungry, you’re cold, and you just directed a group of tourists towards a club you’re 99% sure shut down four years ago. This situation is exactly what the huge Meatliquor just up from Oxford Circus is perfect for. It’s your harbour in the storm. Or rather, your affordable diner in the middle of London’s very own take on Fury Road.
The first thing you should know about this place is that if it was a person, they’d probably have a lot of stories that end with them waking up in Amsterdam with no idea how they got there. Don’t expect peaceful solitude here - it’s a loud and proud meat joint that has ‘poke for jäger’ buttons on every table and looks like it was decorated by someone who just discovered Panic! At The Disco. This place is open until 3am every night, which you’ll either find useful or dangerous once you factor in Meatliquor’s seriously good - and seriously strong - hard shakes and cocktails, including their £20 tequila-filled skull-shaped bowl. But for the sake of people with impending-hangovers everywhere, they also serve their full menu until 2.30am.
The food here is your classic American diner fare turned up a notch. The cheeseburger comes with two thick, mustard-smothered beef patties, the hot dogs are deep-fried and bacon wrapped, and even the ice cream is full of jägermeister. But for a restaurant named Meatliquor, it also has a surprising number of options for vegetarians, vegans, and kids. Not only is their halloumi mushroom burger one of the best meat-free burgers going, they also serve everything from a plant-based chilli dog to decent mock-chicken fingers, and £7.95 kid specials that mean you’re covered no matter who you’re stranded in W1 with.
Of course, after the shops have closed this place does start to feel more dive-bar than diner. The music feels louder, the service takes a sharp drop - shoutout to the off-duty server that desperately needed to share our booth because they wanted to impress a girl - the corners become make-out hot spots, and actually, fuck it, if we’re being honest, it’s a lot of fun. Whether or not we’ve used their portaloo photobooth is between us and our Tinder profiles, but this spot has come to our rescue several times. And even if you find yourself accidentally sauced and whispering ‘goodbye sweet prince’ to their eight-foot illuminated pickle come 3am, trust us, one day you’ll need Meatliquor W1 too.
You get the feeling that one day someone here was eating some mac ‘n’ cheese next to the deep fryer and thought, “huh, I wonder...“. We’re glad they did, but if you manage to eat more than two in a row we’ll be impressed.
The Dead Hippie sauce is Meatliquor’s equivalent of Nando’s piri piri. That’s code for: it’s essential you eat it whilst here. It’s a take on a spicy burger sauce and we’re very into it. For under six quid, you get a big portion of fries, grilled onions, and plenty of sauce that can also operate as dipping potential for your burger or hot dog.
Halloumi. Mushrooms. Mustard. Red onion. Honestly, what’s not to like.
This cheesy double-patty burger is also packed with mustard, ketchup, red onion, and pickles. Our Meatliquor wife.
A little bit spicy and the two beef patties are fried in mustard. The mistress.
This is a meat joint that can fit over 150 people and has several disco balls. It should come as no surprise that the hot dogs here are wrapped in bacon, deep fried, smothered in remoulade, and topped with a spicy relish. It’s equal parts tasty and difficult to fit in your mouth.
The kind of beautiful mass of marshmallow, oreos, and chocolate that Jamie Oliver would have started a campaign against in the noughties. Get involved.