When it comes to dining out in Singapore, there are three things we look for in a restaurant before giving it the Urban Journey seal of approval. Firstly, top notch food. Secondly, exceptional service. And finally, a buzzy atmosphere that makes us want to stay all night! So for the past few months we've been seeking out spots that are awesome places to eat with friends, your SO, or even suitable when you're flying solo and want a good crowd to chill with. Here're are our top picks for buzzy restaurants with great vibes.
Firstly, the pizza here is ridiculously good (we're talking best pizza in Singapore, possibly even the world, kinda good). Secondly service is second to none; the front of house team are slick and nothing is too much trouble. And finally, the atmosphere here is always buzzing. Whatever day of the week you visit expect a full house with a convival hum of chatter (interspersed with declarations of "OMG, you have to try this!") filling the air. Must-orders include the Chicago-style artichoke and spinach dip, the J-dog pizza, and the mother of all carrot cakes for dessert.
Blue Label Pizza, 28 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069708. p. +65 9821 9362. Open Mon - Fri 12pm - 2pm, Mon - Sat 6pm - late.
Offering South American vibes and cuisine, Bochinche is a sweet spot to check out when you’re looking for something a little bit different than your average after-work hangout. We like sitting at the long marble-topped bar and ordering up glasses of Argentinian vino along with starters like the Chorizo Croquettes or the Empanadas packed with spinach, goat cheese and pine nuts. If you’re really hungry, try one of their Argentinian steaks grilled over charcoal and served with traditional South American sauces.
Nestled within too-cool-for-school Tiong Bahru, Bakalaki is our current favourite haunt for excellent Greek food and a guaranteed great night out. The staff here are the epitome of hospitality; service is relaxed but efficient and complimentary tasting desserts and ouzo nightcaps are the norm. We'd feel comfortable dining here solo or with a large group for a celebration; anything goes. And the menu is filled with generous sharing plates channeling flavours of the sun. Tick. Tick. Tick. Go there.
Bakalaki, 3 Seng Poh Rd Singapore 168891 Seng Poh Rd, 168891, t. 6836 3688. Open Mon – Thurs: 6pm – 10pm, Fri – Sun: 12pm – 2.30pm and 6pm – 10pm
Set in a shophouse from the 1950s, Amo fuses the old and the new with vintage features like original mosaic floor tiles and exposed brick walls, as well as modern touches like comfy cushioned chairs and an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs pulling pizzas out of the wood-fired oven. They’ve also got a lovely courtyard outdoors with a huge wall mural painted by local artist Venetia Stevens. The pizzas are fresh, flavourful and the restaurant had a good vibe on the two Saturdays we've gone.
This hot spot on Amoy Street has been open for a little bit but we finally made our way there and we are sure glad we did. We ended up checking it out for a drink one Friday night and were pleasantly surprosed at the ambiance and thought to give it a go for dinner. We made a reservation and went in a few Friday's later. The restaurant was buzzy, there was music in the background and the back of the restaurant had a great skylight which added a warmth to the ambiance. There's a variety of food on offer and what we ate was really tasty. We'd go back and reorder the Weird Taste Chicken, Crispy Gyoza with Truffle Soy Vinaigrette and the Salmon 2 Ways.
Birds of a Feather, 115 Amoy Street, 069935, t. 6221 7449. OpenMon: 11am - 10pm, Tues - Wed: 10am - 11pm, Thurs - Sat: 10am - 12am and Sun: 10am - 10pm
Chef Andrew Walsh just opened up his second venture down the road from his first restaurant, Cure. They just officially opened for business. If you're looking for a new hot spot, this is definitely it. Make your reservations in advance. This place has got vibe and when we see Chef Andy warmly welcoming guests, it feels like home. They've also got a Sunday Roast which they've started, and we can't wait to check that out.
Butcher Boy, 31 Keong Saik Road, 089138, t. 6221 6833. Open Sat – Tues: 5pm – 12am, Weds – Fri: 12pm – 3pm and 5pm – 12am
At COMO Dempsey you have three different restaurants under one roof, each of which are creating a buzz for their creative menus and concepts. Candlenut by Chef Malcolm Lee is the first Peranakan restaurant to earn a Michelin star for its contemporary take on traditional Straits Chinese dishes. Then you have Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s venue The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar for Asian fusion dishes, and Ippoh Tempura Bar by Ginzo Ippoh for Osaka-style tempura. Now your only dilemma is which one to choose.
When a group of party promoters open a tropical-themed ‘social kitchen and bar’, you can bet it’s going to be a pretty happening spot. Brought to us by the Sunshine Nation crew, Don Ho sports loads of tropical greenery, comfy booths and round tables that encourage communal dining. Go for some of their shared plates like the Smoked Sweet Potato Hummus, Ash Cured Ocean Trout Pastrami or Suckling Pig, and be sure to try one of their tropical cocktails made with fresh ingredients like green apple, coconut syrup and homemade yuzu honey.
Don Ho, 1 Keong Saik Road, 089109, t. 6223 5001. Open Tues - Sat: 6pm - 12am
Just like its New York City flagship, this slick bar has a real speakeasy vibe and offers up cocktails with a kick and modern comfort food. Head here for an early dinner before it turns into a full-fledged bar replete with rowdy crowds, and sample dishes like the Hand Cut Steak Tartare or Skate Paprikás with Spaetzle & Crème Fraîche. After dinner you can sidle up to the bar and try signature concoctions like their famous version of the Manhattan or the La Mikana with Tanqueray 10 gin, grapefruit cordial and champagne.
If you dig middle eastern food, Fat Prince and The Ottomani are good spots to check out on the weekend. We went on a Friday recently. We recommend start off with a drink at the bar at Fat Prince before sitting down to dinner. Fat Prince servies up interesting mezzes, salads and kebabs in a high energy atmosphere. If you prefer a darker and more relaxed setting, head to The Ottomani in the back and enjoy great bites and larger plates.
Fat Prince 48 Peck Seah Street, 079317, t. 6221 3683. Open Mon – Fri: 8am – 12am, Sat: 11.30am – 12am
The Ottomani, 48 Peck Seah St, #01-01A, 079317, t. 9231 9316. Open Mon – Sat: 6.30pm – 12am
Tapas were invented to be eaten in a social setting, and FOC offers a fun and funky space that encourages group gatherings over shared plates and glasses of vino. Here Michelin-starred chef Nandu Jubany teamed up with Chef Jordi Noguera and mixologist Dario Knox to create handcrafted cocktails and a mix of classic and edgy Catalan dishes. Grab a seat at the bar and order a Cuzco Sour or fruit Sangria before digging into dishes like the Squid Ink Paella and Braised Beef Cheek Sliders.
The atmosphere at Lucha Loco, a Mexican taqueria and garden bar in Duxton Hill, is laid back and lively, which makes it a great place to pop into after work when you’re looking for a few cold Coronas and some tasty Mexican street food style eats. If it’s not too hot out, we like sitting on the patio in the back and chilling out al fresco style with some light bites like the Elotes, grilled corn with chipotle mayo and cotija cheese, or the De Barbacoa tacos with braised lamb, grilled tomato, mint, red onion and salsa.
Lucha Loco, 15 Duxton Hill, 089598, t. 6226 3938. Open Tues - Fri: 12pm - 3pm, Tues - Sat: 5pm - late
Neon Pigeon takes its inspiration from Japanese izakayas, which are social drinking spots that offer up tasty snacks to go along with cold beer. However, they put a modern twist on the izakaya experience with cool street art on the walls, funky beats and innovative bar bites like the Chicken Tsukune “Banh Mi” sandwich, the Duck Liver Okonomiyaki, and the Bacon, Egg and Cheese Rice. Their cocktails are just as intriguing with Asian accents like ginger beer, matcha syrup and yuzu.
Neon Pigeon, 1A Keong Saik Rd #01-03, 089109, t. 6222 3623. Open Mon - Sat: 6pm - 12am
Brought to us by the same amigos behind Lucha Loco and Super Loco at Robertson Quay, the Super Loco at Customs House is a tad more sophisticated than its Rob Quay sister, but still loads of fun. Start with a few of their mezcal-based margaritas on the patio overlooking the water to get the evening started off right, then segue into elevated Mexican dishes like braised duck leg tostadas, soft shell crab tacos and their famous Oysters Kilpedro with chorizo, shallots and habanero-infused worcestershire.
Super Loco, 70 Collyer Quay, Customs House #01-04, 238252, t. 6532 2090. Open Mon - Fri: 12pm - 12am, Sat: 5pm - 12pm
Under the umbrella of the renowned Jiggery & Pony group, Sugarhall is all about rum, reggae, and really great grilled meats. Have a seat at the long wooden bar and let the bartender whip you up a cheeky concoction like the Sugarhall daiquiri with two types of rum, fermented banana, lime, and caviar. If you come with a group, you’ll definitely want to get in on one of their boozy punch bowls. Feeling peckish? Try the burrata and broccolini or bikini sandwich for nibbles or go all out with the dry-aged rib eye steak.
Sugarhall, 103 Amoy Street, Singapore 069922. p. +65 9732 5607. Open from Mon - Thurs 6pm - 1am, Fri - Sat 6pm - 2am
Le Bon Funk
Club Street is always a happening spot for after-work drinks, and now Le Bon Funk is adds to the good times with their cosy little hangout that offers up a great selection of natural wines and communal style dishes like house-cured charcuterie and cheese platters. Not so familiar with natural wines? Not to worry because head sommelier Josée Yeomans can walk you through the selection and drop a few tips about the different flavour profiles.
Le Bon Funk, 29 Club Street, Singapore 069414. p. +65 6224 1490. Open Tues - Sat 5:30pm - 12am
If you’re a fan of French food like we are, then you can’t go wrong with Merci Marcel. Brought to us by the same folks behind Ô Comptoir and Ô Batignolles, this bright, lively spot does awesome brunches with freshly baked French pastries, organic egg dishes, and colourful salads. Come evening they turn into a stylish wine bar with tasty treats to go with the vino like the duck rillettes with marinated pear and melted camembert cheese. Heaven!
Merci Marcel, 56 Eng Hoon Street #01-68, Singapore 160056. p. +65 6224 0113. Open Tues - Sat 8am - 11:30pm, Sun 8am - 10:30pm
Another fab offering from the Jigger & Pony group, Caffe Fernet is housed in a beautiful glass-fronted space in Customs House just next door to Super Loco. The views and vibes here are pretty superb, and the menu features a mix of contemporary Italian-styled dishes. The food is pretty decent, but we suggest coming here for happy hour between around 5pm and 7:30pm when you can grab sundowner cocktails and glasses of Prosecco for great prices. Snag a seat on the patio if you can.
Caffe Fernet, 70 Collyer Quay, The Customs House #01-05, Singapore 049323. p. +65 9178 1105. Open Mon - Thurs 12pm - 12am, Fri - Sat 12pm - 2am, Sun 11am - 5pm
Craft beers and comfort food with a twist are on offer at The Guild, a buzzy new spot in the Keong Saik hood. Step inside and you’re greeted with a central circular bar surrounded by various dining areas. Brews include the 1842 Island IIPA, the Rye on Wood, and the intriguing Days of Being Wild made with cherries. Be sure to also dig into some of their divine dishes like the mac ‘n’ cheese with scallions and a house cured egg yolk.
The Guild, 55 Keong Saik Road #01-01, Singapore 089158. p. +65 6224 1262. Open Wed - Sun 6pm - 12am