London places I like (and so might you)

This is desperately out of date (peak accuracy around 2012 and probably biased towards Kilburn and surrounds), poorly organised, geographically suspect. A PhD student once confessed that they found a few good places for first dates on it.

Baker Street

Bloomsbury (Russell Square and surroundings)

  • Cafe Deco. Store Street. Panini, pasta, jacket potato.
  • Chetinad. “Welcome to Chettinad, the world of phenomenal South Indian cuisine. Chettinad is a small village in the Southern Tamil Nadu State of India. Chettinad is known for its culinary delicacies and now is one of the many reasons why people get to know Chettinad.”
  • ICCo. Pizza – café/takeaway vibe. Cheap, quick – good if you’re late for something or someone.
  • The Lamb. Very civilized pub; tends to be frequented by local academics.
  • Hoga – amazing Korean place.
  • Italia Uno. Lovely sandwich bar. Unpretentious, good food.
  • Jeremy Bentham. Google maps says it’s a student pub – it’s not that bad.
  • Lord John Russell. At least one local seminar tends to make its way there.
  • Marquis Cornwallis. Another academic-filled place. Also does a good brunch.
  • Navarro’s. Best Tapas in London (I’m told).
  • Norfolk Arms. Tapas.
  • Skoob. Wonderful, huge, second-hand bookshop. Loads of academic books, fiction, plays, poetry, everything…

Brick Lane / Dalston / Shoreditch / Hackney / Hoxton / Whitechapel, i.e., East

  • Beigel Bake. Salt-beef bagel.
  • The Bridge. Very cosy cafe/bar – opens till around midnight.
  • The Dove. Cosy. Great Sunday roast.
  • Freedom Bookshop also home of Freedom Press. Independent bookshop with plenty of Kropotkin, Goldman, and friends.
  • The Book Club. Hipster sightings. Good bar/café. Table tennis table.
  • Jaguar Shoes. Saw a few nice experimental bands here. Colourful happy bar upstairs (could be a modern art gallery gift shop – supposed to be a compliment); gig venue downstairs.
  • The Macbeth. (Saw Stereo Total here.)
  • Mien Tay. On the “Pho Mile“; fully licenced Vietnamese restaurant.
  • Power Lunches (defunct?). Experimental music punk place with a squat feel to it. “Watch out for the f***ing spaghetti underfoot, cos you’re gonna slip,” says Anon.
  • Sebright Arms. Live music in the basement; nice pub on ground floor.



  • Andy’s Taverna. Greek restaurant.
  • Bento Ramen, Parkway.
  • Black Gull Books, Camden Market. Secondhand, great selection of philosophy and psychology (and other things).
  • Camden Lock market. All the things.
  • Dublin Castle. I saw Luxembourg play here in 2007 (try this song). I decided that night to try to find a way to move to London. It’s a great venue.
  • Egg. Not quite Camden but 15 mins walk from Camden Road overground; north of Kings X. House, techno, massive place. Open 11pm on Saturday eve to 10am(!) Sunday.
  • Hawley Arms. Pub. Great indie music vibe. Friendly crowd.
  • KOKO (Mornington Crescent). Huge live music venue and club.
  • Made in Brazil
  • The Old Eagle – lovely Thai food and pub
  • The Black Heart. Gothy rock bar.
  • Sushi Waka. Great Sushi! Upstairs they have low tables and sitting on the floor, downstairs table and chairs.
  • Walden books. Great 2nd hand bookshop.


  • Any Amount of Books, near Leicester Square. Secondhand books.
  • ICA and the bar there. Arty types. Minimalist. Quiet. Good friendly relaxed vibe. Excellent bookshop attached.
  • The Social. Lovely place – compact, good sound – have seen wonderful bands there. Unusual for such a great place to be so near Oxford St! Seems to have survived Covid.
  • Troy 22 – I’d just describe this place as LOL. It’s great. And survived pandemic (last checked Sept 2022). Cheery upstairs dive bar that should be a basement.
  • Retro Bar – “Occupying a site which has been a pub since the 17th century, Retro Bar has been a secret haven for the eccentric and the alternative LGBTQIA+ crowd since the 90s.” (Last check Oct 2022)
  • Waterstones top floor cafe, Piccadilly

Crouch End

  • Bistro AIX. “North London’s top French bistro” (haven’t been yet).
  • Les 2 Garçons. For people who have “a membership to the Royal Academy that they fear they don’t use as regularly as they should” (haven’t been yet).


  • Dalston Superstore – “East London’s premiere queer pleasure palace”
  • Red Hand – has Stiegl, my fav beer when I lived in Salzburg (including the near 0% variant)

Edgeware Rd, Church Street, Lisson Grove

  • Alfies – art, antiques, rooftop kitchen
  • Bookery Gallerie – secondhand bookshop, gallery, creative space (the kind of place that has experimental electroacoustic nights during which you are passed a microphone and encouraged to contribute)


Finsbury Park

  • Cats Café des Artistes Thai Restaurant – it’s simultaneously HUGE and cosy. Magic.
  • Loads of other places I haven’t got around to adding…



  • Big Red. Dive bar, allegedly. Good music (rock, metal, vibe). Does veggie hot dogs. Haven’t been in ages, keeps changing hands.
  • Bluebell Bistro. Great café, very relaxed, welcoming vibes. Used to be my local and it is/was the sort of place that can easily become anyone’s local.


  • Buffalo Bar – saw Spearmint here; live music in basement
  • Candid Arts Cafe – this is a great place for a quiet catchup with a close friend
  • Chilango – burritos on Upper Street; also has beer and frozen margaritas; cafe/takeaway-vibe
  • Kilis Kitchen -Turkish and Lebanese
  • Kings Head – live music and with a theatre
  • Hope and Anchor – live music in the basement
  • Le Mercury Deuxieme – “good place to take your mum for dinner”
  • Lexington – the Chap (the best band in Europe) play here now and again


  • Toulouse Lautrec. Live jazz upstairs – really surprisingly fantastically good jazz. Good food.

Kilburn/Queen’s Park/East Kilburn/Whamp

  • Barraco. Great Brazilian restaurant – cafe/bar vibe. I hope it still exists. Maybe now (Dec 2023) called Kaipiras. Shall investigate.
  • Betsy Smith. Great food, funky decor, mostly mainstream dancey music kinda place.
  • Betty’s (Belsize Road). Deli; good coffee.
  • Little Bay. Very cosy place with booths and balconies – have a look at the pics to see!
  • Offside books: secondhand bookshop, opened 2015. Loads of a fiction and poetry. A few nice philosophy, science, and maths books too (and improving every week).
  • Priory Tavern. Good beer, food, often live music, board games, and occasional cat wandering around. I knew this would be a great place when, during the 2011 riots, when everyone else was tweeting about cars on fire, they tweeted that they’re still open with 2-for-1 cocktails.
  • Queen’s Park Books. Support your local bookshop so it doesn’t disappear like Zadie Smith’s childhood favourite Kilburn Bookshop.
  • Rose’s. Reliable fry-ups.
  • Tricycle. Theatre and cinema.

Kings Cross

Manor House

New Cross (around Goldsmiths)

Notting Hill

  • Tiroler Hut. Austrian restaurant with all stereotypes amplified.

Soho/China Town

  • Assa. Korean restaurant.
  • Bar Bruno. Looks a little greasy spoonish but better. Some seats outside.
  • Bistro 1, “best cheap eat restaurant in Soho”
  • Feng Shui Inn. Chinese restaurant.
  • HIX Soho – cocktails downtairs – cosy.
  • The Shaston Arms. Smallish cosy pub, generally playing good music (or least music I like, like the Cure!)
  • The Ship. Good music. Nice pub.
  • Herman Ze German. (There’s a couple of these: go for the Soho one.)


  • Bonnington Cafe. Vegetarian BYOB cafe. Book first via their web page! Warm, cosy, friendly place and CLOSED.
  • Tamesis. Boat bar with great views of the Thames. Music: Beyonce and thereabouts at the beginning then moving on to early 2000s speed garagey type stuff, Disclosure, etc. Dancing on the lower floor. Crowded on a Friday eve, especially afterwork.