The Best Of 2022, According To The Secret London Team

Oh, what a year it has been! A year spent making memories and making up for lost time. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is absolutely exhausted, but sort of in a nice way? As a team, we’ve been very busy—not just creating content for you lot, although you’re welcome—but having various jollies around this fine city on our days off. We’ve decided to round up our ’22 favourites, featuring drool-worthy dishes, life-affirming events and certified bops.

Jack Saddler – Staff Writer

🍽️ Favourite restaurant: Fez Mangal in Ladbroke Grove. Best Turkish food you’ll try in London, and it’s BYOB.

🍕 Best thing you ate: Late to the party but Rudy’s Pizza and Padella are both quite good, aren’t they? Can’t believe no one told me.

🎪 Best event you went to: Sorry, London – it was Glastonbury festival. A life-affirming weekend that made the dagger of missing out on tickets for next year all the more painful…

🍿 Favourite new film: The Northman. Robert Eggers does not miss.

📚 Favourite new book: Later… With Jools Holland: 30 Years Of Music, Magic And Mayhem by Mark Cooper. A deeply informative tour of tales on the making of the UK’s definitive music television show. There’s interview excerpts with the likes of Nick Cave, Björk and Kano; but it’s the stories of the near-collapse, artistic genius and elation told by the show’s co-creator that will have any and every music fan on tenterhooks. Prepare to load up dozens of YouTube tabs to enjoy videos of the legendary performances described.

🎶 Favourite new album: NO THANK YOU by Little Simz. Some nerve to drop the album of the year with only 19 days of 2022 remaining. But it has been done. And it is glorious.

🗞️ Best news story of the year: Arsenal going into Christmas top of the Premier League. Yes, it shut off early because of the oddly-timed World Cup, but I’m having this one.

🗓️ What you’re looking forward to most in 2023: Getting lucky in the Glastonbury resale and Arsenal lifting that league title. These are hope-based; so something more concrete? Continuing to attend more gigs after the rocky times for live music (and everything else) in 2020 and 2021. Rancid playing their first London headline show since 2012 in the summertime? Yes please.

Alex Landon – Managing Editor

🍽️  Favourite restaurant: There’s nowhere that stormed onto my top restaurants list this year, so I’ll go with an old favourite revisited in 2022: Suvlaki. Shout out to Crust Bros too, I finally made it along this year and found the pizzas were just as fab as advertised.

See also: 25 Incredible Pizza Restaurants In London

🥪 Best thing you ate/drank: The Honey Truffle Parmesan sandwich from The Black Pig in Borough Market. I’ve had it at least twice this year, and it’s my contender for the best sandwich in London. They’ve been all over TikTok for their Christmas special too, but IMHO the year-round option is the best. For drinks, an honourable mention should go to the Pisco+ at Little Mercies in Crouch End – there’s a little bit of recency bias here, but it’s an utterly banging cocktail.

🎶 Best event you went to: I’m literally sitting here going “what did I do this year?”… Let’s go with a top three: Maggie Rogers bringing the house down at Alexandra Palace, my low-key but lovely 30th birthday party, and the premiere night of Dead Canny, a comedy pilot that my best friend wrote that screened on TV back in the summer (it’s fab, go watch it). I even made t-shirts for the occasion!

🍿 Favourite new film: Everything Everywhere All At Once – hilarious, heartbreaking, beautifully acted, and stayed with me long after I’d left the cinema. Give it all the awards, please.

📚 Favourite new book: I haven’t got through as many books as I’d like this year, but Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem stands out as a masterclass of sci-fi work. For something a little lighter, Daisy Jones & The Six was a fun read!

🗞️ Best news story of the year: I mean, it’s got to be the news that we’re getting an extra bank holiday in 2023, right?

🎭 What you’re looking forward to most in 2023: Plenty of immersive art exhibitions I want to try, with Frameless at the top of the list. I’ve also got a list of West End shows I still haven’t seen, and my ever-growing London bucket list still has 144 places on it, so I’ll be spending my weekends ticking as many of those off as I can! Apparently I should start keeping a diary so this exercise is much easier next year…

Annie Simon – Commercial Editor

🍽️  Favourite restaurant: It’s an impossible choice between Singburi for deliciously spicy Thai food and Manteca for indulgent Italian.

See also: 8 Of The Best Italian Restaurants in London

🤤 Best thing you ate: The razor clams at Singburi truly spoke to my soul and the beef fat fudge at Manteca has been occupying my dreams for several months now.

🎶 Best event you went to: I was unashamedly excited to see Harry Styles in the summer and he didn’t disappoint.

🍿 Favourite new film: The Banshees of Inisherin – dark tragicomedy at its finest.

📚 Favourite new book: I finally got around to reading Klara and the Sun and it was lovely.

🗞️ Best news story of the year: That giant Christmas bauble rolling down Tottenham Court Road causing chaos.

☀️ What you’re looking forward to most in 2023: Hopefully, being warm again soon.

Tamsin Salfrais – Senior Staff Writer

🍽️  Favourite restaurant: Italian restaurant TOZI – delicious, indulgent, staff are super friendly, and prices aren’t out of this world.

🍗 Best thing you ate/drank: Ate: Either the macaroni and pork cheek ragu from aforementioned TOZI, or the chicken wings at Jungle Bar & Grill. Drank: Many margaritas. They’ve been my drink of choice this year. If I had to pick one bar I love though, I would say Hokus Pokus (despite their lack of margs).

👀 Best event you went to: Aside from all the weddings, and family/friend occasions this year, I’d have to say getting to dine in the Shard for their Mid-Autumn festival celebrations was up there (like me, sitting 33 floors up), and also, going to the charity launch of The Black Society. The Shard offered fantastic views, impeccable service and the food was incredible, and I’d wanted to dine in the Shard for yeaaaaars. The charity launch was a fantastic evening, filled with laughter, but also important voices, focused on lifting up communities.

🍿 Favourite new film: There’s a running joke between my friends and I that my film repertoire is shocking. I can’t think of any film I’ve watched this year… apart from reruns of the Titanic, Harry Potter and Love Actually. I’m going to see Avatar this week though.

📚 Favourite new book: The Mixed Race Experience by Natalie and Naomi Evans. I felt seen. It gave me the language to say things I’ve felt for years, but never knew how to put into words (lol, hi, Senior Staff Writer), but also had me challenge some of my own views too.

🚆 Best news story of the year: The Elizabeth Line being launched because IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME.

🏝️ What you’re looking forward to most in 2023: Going to Jamaica for my birthday. Sorry, Secret London, but I will be OOO. Sun, sea, and rum punch, here I come!

Sam Barker – Staff Writer

🍽️  Favourite restaurant: Corrochio’s easily became my most recommended restaurant and the place I’ve returned to the most. The place reveals the incredible possibilities of Mexican food, and their margaritas are untouchable.

🍺 Favourite pub/bar: Sitting on the borders of Clerkenwell and Hackney, the Wenlock Arms is one of the London beer scene’s most cherished drinking holes. Unassuming, full of character, and oozing with personality, it’s the kind of place that takes just as much pride in their perfectly kept (10 lines!) of cask ales as their kegged craft selection and real cider. As an added boon, they have more Tayto flavours than any other London venue I’ve ever visited.

See also: 50 Of The Best Pubs In London

🌱 Best thing you ate: Grilled Leeks with Pistachio Romesco from Acme Fire Cult. This dish perfectly encapsulates Acme Fire Cult’s approach to cooking, heavy, but knowledgeable, use of fire and char with bright, but deep, flavours and tons of veggies. If you go to Acme Fire Cult and only eat the meat dishes, you’re missing what they do best.

🍸 Best thing you drank: A dirty vodka martini from ‘mu’ that was so good that I couldn’t stop talking about it for the next week (well, this write-up marks over two months now). I bought the vodka they used immediately upon returning home, but stupidly neglected to ask what vermouth and olive brine they were using. I’ll be back though…

☕️ Best event you went to: The Manchester Coffee Festival, since I missed the London edition, where I drank so many espressos and got so over-caffeinated that I somehow needed a nap…

🍿 Favourite new film: Stay On Board: The Leo Baker Story. Not quite a biopic, not quite a straightforward skateboarding documentary, but unafraid to be honest about how the skateboarding world affected Leo Baker as they grew from child skate pro to a legend of the industry.

📚 Favourite new book: The Pachinko Parlour by Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins – a book whose sparseness hides a world of conflict and emotion as the protagonist grapples with their multi-national identity. I definitely cried on the tube reading this.

🗞️ Best news story of the year: Not quite a specific news story, but watching Mick Lynch clearly, simply, and calmly explain how a strike works and why they’re important, as many media sources attempt to portray strikers as bad or selfish people, is always satisfying.

🍷 What you’re looking forward to most in 2023: Finally trying out Speedboat (which has been on my list for months!) and Oranj: my favourite online wine store getting a physical location with food from a rotating lineup of London’s most interesting cooks? It’s a shock I haven’t yet been. Especially since it means I sadly missed out on the Decatur food residency!

Georgie Hoole – Editor-in-Chief

🍽️  Favourite restaurant: Tofu Vegan on Upper Street is outstanding. Entirely vegan (and mostly gluten free) Chinese food, but not the kind that makes you hate yourself a little bit the next day. If I’m being totally honest, I went at the end of 2021 – but nothing has beaten it yet.

See also: 40 Of The Best Vegan Restaurants In London

🥗 Best thing you ate/drank: The best thing I ate was actually a filthy portion of poutine from a burger restaurant near Montreal, but I guess that doesn’t count, does it? So instead I’ll use this opportunity to shout out my go-to lunch when I’m at the office: the Magic Box from Magic Falafel in Camden Market.

🎸 Best event you went to: Foals playing Olympia. Dancing to my favourite band with a crowd of people after being deprived of gigs for so long? It was pure joy, let me tell you.

🍿 Favourite new film: I really loved See How They Run featuring Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell. A pretty silly but very enjoyable murder mystery set in 1950s London. Plus Saoirse is a queen.

Credit: Apple TV+

📺 Favourite TV series: ‘Trying’ on Apple TV+. I don’t want to give anything away, but this is the most wonderful, hilarious, heartache-inducing bit of telly I’ve ever watched and everyone should see it. (Plus it was shot in London, so it’s fun to point out all the places you’ve been.)

📚 Favourite new book: I have a one-year old, so reading looks a little different these days. I always want him to choose ‘The Littlest Yak’ at bedtime, which is a lovely story about how little creatures can do BIG things – but realistically it’s ‘Dear Zoo’ every time. (A classic, to be fair.)

🎶 Favourite album: I had Why You Lacking Energy? by Cassia on repeat, but I can’t choose between that, Palace’s Shoals, or Sports Team’s Gulp!, so have all three.

🗞️ Best news story of the year: I was obsessed with the discovery that a famous Piet Mondrian artwork had been hanging upside down for 75 years. But, better yet, I was thrilled to hear that “London’s loneliest dog” Hattie had found a home after more than 500 days in a shelter.

Infinity Rooms
Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life, Yayoi Kusama [Credit: Tate Modern]

What you’re looking forward to most in 2023: I’ll get into trouble if my answer is anything other than “getting married” 🙈🎉 but I finally got tickets to Yayoi Kusuma’s Infinity Rooms at Tate Modern, so I’m looking forward to that in February.

Sam Hopkins – Senior Staff Writer

🍽️  Favourite restaurant: Chourangi.

See also: 15 Of The Best Indian Restaurants In London

🥘 Best thing you ate: Chourangi’s ‘daak bungalow chicken curry’ with a heavenly fenugreek, mace, stewed tomatoes and cashew nut sauce for main – mopped up with a ‘calcutta naan’ and ‘cashew nut and raisin pulao’ rice.

🍹 Best thing you drank: The ‘Sicily’ – a lovely concoction of blanco tequila, 1757 extra dry vermouth, lime, agave orgeat, guava puree, averna, bitters and rosemary absinthe – at new restaurant Sparrow Italia.

🪩 Best event you went to: Honey Dijon at the new club ‘The Beams’, a welcome new addition now that Printworks is closing for redevelopment (sigh).

🍿 Favourite new film: The Northman.

📚 Favourite new book: ‘How To Kill Your Family’ by Bella Mackie.

🎶 Favourite album: ‘Fragments’ by Bonobo.

🗞️ Best news story of the year: A lettuce outlasting Liz Truss (if you don’t laugh you’ll cry).

🎪 What you’re looking forward to most in 2023: Going to Glastonbury.

Caitlin Odell – Commercial Content Writer

🍽️  Favourite restaurant: Maremma in Brixton is a cosy little Italian with an open kitchen – you won’t find pizza but you will find amazing pasta, delicious antipasti and three different kinds of negroni.

🌶️ Best thing you drank: Without sounding like a member of the Made In Chelsea cast, my best drink of 2021 has got to be the spicy margarita from Beach Blankets Babylon in Notting Hill. I asked the waiter for the secret ingredient and unfortunately it still remains very much a mystery.

🎷 Best event you went to: Would have to say Habibi Funk for my first ever night out at Jazz Cafe.

See also: 10 Of The Best Jazz Clubs In London

🍿 Favourite new film: ‘New’ for me means within the last 12 months, and the first one that springs to mind is Elvis.

🐟 Best news story of the year: The man in Kidderminster catching a giant goldfish, or ‘the orange beast’ as it was named in the article, was a source of endless amusement in the office.

What you’re looking forward to most in 2023: Christmas 2023?!

Phoebe Anderson – Video Producer

🍽️  Best thing you drank: Best drink was the boozy hot chocolate at Jimmy’s Fire and Fromage pop up. It had a massive toasted marshmallow on top of it. I dream of it to this day.

🎨 Best event you went to: Frameless immersive art exhibit. It was just epic.

📚 Favourite new book: A Gentlemen in Moscow – the Wes Anderson of novels.

🗞️ Best news story of the year: Patagonia turning company profits over into a climate fund. Not really a London thing but it’s global and es mas importante.

Louis Schofield – Commercial Video Producer

🍽️  Favourite restaurant: Speedboat bar in Chinatown. JKS’s new joint with head chef Luke Farrell. It’s a mix of a Thai restaurant/sports bar (always showing sports and has a pool table upstairs). Really good, authentic Thai food and lovely decor.

🎪 Best event you went to: Does Glastonbury count?

📚 Favourite new book: I’m a videographer, I don’t read!

Fair enough, Louis. If you do read, and you’ve made it this far: Congratulations! You’re officially our biggest fan. We can’t wait to make similar (or better, even) memories in 2023 — and you can bet we’ll be sharing them with you. Thanks for your support this year, reader. ❤️

Also published on Medium.

Secret London