This is very badly out of date.
General hints: Time Out delivers interesting suggestions now and again, though for concerts it tends to be too late. The London gigs website has been great; also just heard about London in Stereo. Best of all: Bandsintown for auto updates on bands you like.
Bloomsbury (and surroundings)
- Cafe Deco. Store Street. Panini, pasta, jacket potato.
- ICCo. Pizza – cafe/takeaway vibe.
- The Lamb. Very civilized pub; tends to be frequented by local academics.
- 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. Does tapas.
- Skoob. Wonderful, huge, second-hand bookshop. Loads of academic books, fiction, plays, poetry, everything…
- Yoi Sho. This place makes me want to learn Japanese – the food’s great and the staff are wonderful. Try the grilled quail eggs.
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/cafe. 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. 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
- Our 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!
- Bistro AIX. “North London’s top French bistro” (haven’t been yet).
- The Garden Gate. Nice pub with a large garden.
- Keith Fawkes great little bookshop. Enjoy climbing over the boxes.
- Big Red. Dive bar, allegedly. Good music (rock, metal, vibe). Does veggie hot dogs.
- Bluebell Bistro. Great cafe, very relaxed, welcoming vibes
- Buffalo Bar – saw Spearmint here; live music in basement
- Candid Arts Cafe
- 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
- 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, boardgames, and occasional cat wandering around. I knew this would be a great place when during the 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.
- Addis, Ethiopian restaurant and bar
- Camley Street Natural Park
- The Betjeman Arms. It’s in St Pancras train station close to the kissing couple statue. Hugely spacious out back thanks to the station.
New Cross (around Goldsmiths)
- The New Cross House. Pub. Food. Spacious garden in the back with a… sort of… tree house.
- Tiroler Hut. Austrian restaurant with all stereotypes amplified.
- 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 I’m not even a vegetarian.)
- 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 around afterwork time.
- ScooterCaffè. Cosy cafe/bar. Frequented by artists.