LONDON


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The city

Restaurant time limitsMost restaurants have an explicit 2-hour dining time limit. Pretty cool when you're waiting for your table, so don't expect to sit at a restaurant all night
Bar reservationsbookings 🍸Most cocktail bars take reservationsbookings! And often, if they accept reservationsbookings, they're almost required if you don't want to wait on a list
Bar closing timesPubs (public houses) open early and close early (11pm). Cocktail bars usually close around 12-1am. Clubs and members-only clubs close later, but require cover or a member to get in.
Day drinkingDay drinking is normal, even on weekdays. You'll find pubs packed with businesspeople starting around 2pm every day. Sometimes, people go out for a pint, then back to work.
M&S (Simply Food, Foodhall, etc)There are Marks & Spencer food shops everywhere. My favoritefavourite thing there was the oven-ready gastropub steak pie. The steak is moist and the crust is somehow flaky and crispy. If you have access to an oven here, I'd highly, highly recommend this mini pie.
Contactless paymentsEverywhere accepts contactless payment (including Apple Pay). Don't be a n00b and insert your chip card into the card reader. Simply tap your card or phone on the screen to pay. (Contactless is also processed in seconds, whereas chips take minutes and a signature or pin). Also, you don't even need an Oyster (public transit) card to get around. Underground stations and buses accept all contactless payments!
CityMapper πŸ—ΊοΈUse this app for transit. It's more comprehensive and accurate than Google Maps in London
Don't rely on YelpEurope doesn't really use Yelp. Rely on Google maps for restaurant/shop locations, but double check their opening hours on each's official website

NeighborhoodsNeighbourhoods

Soho πŸŽ‰Soho was my favoritefavourite neighborhoodsneighbourhoods for restaurants and bars. This area is very dense in both activities and people, so it can get overwhelming. But you'll always be able to find something to do in this area. (Bars in this area close late)
Covent Garden + Leicester SquareI like this area for the shopping (no department stores). It's packed with tourists though
ClerkenwellI lived here for 6 weeks. There's lots of good food, but isn't very lively on the weekends
SpitalfieldsThis neighborhoodsneighbourhoods reminds me the most of the Mission District in San Francisco. Kind of bougie hipster, but has more flea markets and food stalls
FitzroviaMy dream neighborhoodsneighbourhoods 😍The houses are beautiful and the residential side streets aren't too noisy. It's also close to Soho, near shopping on Oxford Street, and has many public transit options

Bars

The LamperyDecent hotel bar (with a e s t h e t i c). We stayed here on our first weekend in London
Discount Suit Company 🍸v cool speakeasy. I loved all the drinks we had here. (They accept reservationsbookings)
The Zetter TownhouseTrendy hotel + bar
Merchant HouseGreat menu concept -- you pick a liquor (based on flavor profile) and a style (spirited, tropiclal, rocks, etc). Some combinations are better than others, so ask for help!
Mr Fogg's Gin ParlourAll the Mr Fogg's locations are great! This one is particularly fun because it's more speakeasy-esque. Ask the bartender for a recommendation-- they've made me a few off-menu drinks I loved
Mr Fogg's House of Botanicals 🍹When you make a reservationbooking, ask to sit upstairs! Their menu is so ridiculous, but I'm not gonna spoil it here. (Upstairs is not open Monday or Tuesday)
Cocteleria (downstairs of Breddo's)Gianluca is the best. Sit at the bar and talk to him, and maybe he'll make you an off-menu drink, or show you a new drink he's testing.
Cafe BohemeOld boho bar, which is somehow always poppin. They're in the heart of Soho nightlife and open until god knows when
VermuteriaVermouth bar in Coal Drops Yard. It's nice to sit on the patio and enjoy the architecture, but otherwise, nothing special
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat TownA London institution. The bar is hidden inside the restaurant (London loves American speakeasies lol) and they also serve food
LyanessAESTHETIC AF with creative/weird drinks. It's pricey but good for the view (indoors and outdoors)
Punch Room 🍸One of my favoritefavourite cocktail places, despite the weird, stuffy interior (the staff is really chill). Their classic Milk Punch takes days to make, and it pays off. They also have unlimited cacio e pepe popcorn. Make a reservationsbookings and GO
The Gibson 🍹Another awesome place for cocktails. The bartenders obviously take pride in what they do, and it shows in the intricacy of each drink. Make a reservationbooking!
Cahoots Another London instittution. This place is like the speakeasy-themed version of a Mr Fogg's
The HopeClassic British pub. Everytime I walked by, it was filled with people having a pint outdoors, so I had to try it. They don't do special drinks or anything, but I guess it's a cool place to hang?
Ye Olde WatlingApparently Watling Street is a favoritefavourite spot for after-work pints. People crowd the streets so cars can't drive through, and boo drivers when they attempt to. Every time a pint glass shatters, everyone cheers. I recommend going just once to see real London
Genuine LiquoretteWeird/fun/funky cocktails. The vibe is awesome and the drinks pack a punch.
City of London DistilleryIf you like gin, you have come here. They've won countless awards for their gin, and offer a variety of drinks to showcase their liquor flavor profiles
Exmouth Market GrindAll the "Grind" locations are cute and trendy af

Activities

Flight Club 🎯Surprisingly fun "social darts". The dart boards are pretty high tech: you play virtual games (like Snakes and Ladders) by hitting certain parts of the board. Since the goal is to hit different areas of the board, you'll find that being particularly "good" at darts doesn't really help. The games are silly and everyone has a good time.
Jack the Ripper walking tourI LOVED this tour. You learn a lot about the non-mainstream history of the serial killer. Our tour guide was so knowledgeable because she researches the murders full time
Red Brick LaneFun, more hipster-y, outdoor shopping walk in Spitalfields. There are hundreds of food, clothing, tchotchke, and miscellaneous stands.
Spitalfields MarketA lot like Covent Garden Market, but with more stall vendors.
Santander bikes πŸš΄β€β™€οΈIt's only Β£2 for 24 hours of unlimited bike use, including check ins and outs! Download the app first-- you can pay online and skip the line at each bike stand
SugarSin 🍬My favoritefavourite candy shop. Try the fruity gummies in the pick-and-mix!
Selfridges FoodhallMost department stores have a food section, but Selfridges's is just so much bigger than the rest. You can buy groceries, liquor, gifts, and even fresh food.
BoxparkCool (yuppie) food yard / food truck park in a pile of shipping containers (lol). It's fun to hang out here because everyone can pick different things to eat and drink. It gets particularly packed on game days
Primrose Hill (+ Camden Town)Primrose Hill is a beautiful park with a nice view of London. Camden High Street is chill too (reminded me of Brooklyn or Toronto), but Camden Market is the WORST. It's packed with tourists, which seems to taint an otherwise lovely neighborhoodneighbourhood
The Garden at 120New rooftop garden. You can grab a coffee up here and take in the view of the Thames and Gherkin
House of MinalimaA Harry Potter store/museum for super fans of the movies. This place was founded by the propsmasters for the movies, who spent hours hand making every prop in the movie. It's a treat to see how thorough the props are
House of SpellsA Harry Potter store for the casual fan. They have official merchandise and it's not nearly as crowded as the shop in Kings Cross
Borough MarketOne of the classic London outdoor markets. There are dozens of food stands where you can buy ingredients, produce, or fresh food. It gets very crowded with tourists though
The ShardTip: It's free to go to the top if you're visiting the restaurants or bars

DessertPudding

Dum Dum DonutterieBlech. Dry and flavorlessflavourless
Mamasonsdank ice cream donut sandwich
Cereal Killer CafeFun novelty restaurant where everything is made with cereal
CrosstownGood PB&J donut! Not good rose donut
Happy Lemonit's a chain lol you like it or you don't
Milk Train 🍦Super Instagrammable soft serve that actually tastes good??
Doughnut TimeI only had the Nutella donut and it was incredible. There's literally a 1/3 cup of Nutella stuffed inside....

Restaurants

ReservationsBookings recommended

Dishoom 🐟 Modern Indian food and one of my favoritefavourite restaurants in London. Go for breakfast or lunch, when they take reservationsbookings, or risk waiting 2 hours. I love love love the tandoori fish and black lentils.
XU Restaurant Very tasty modern Chinese food. My favoritefavourite dish here is the IbΓ©rico Char Siu and I love their oolong gin & tonic
Lyle's Very "creative" seafood dishes. It was too weird for me, but everyone else seemed to like it
Monsieur le Duck Average duck dishes
Kym's Solid modern Chinese food. They also had fun cocktails, so if I ever went back, it would be for the drinks
Hide Pretty good modern British food. Lunch prix fixe is around Β£38
St John St John is an institution. They were at the forefront of "nose to tail" eating and for good reason. Their bone marrow is dank and they have a strong, reasonably priced wine program
Trishna Dope lamb chop. It was so tender and juicy that I had to check if it was actually a chop and not ground meat
The Ninth 22 for 2 courses at lunch but pretty forgettable
Duck and Waffle reservationsbookings are required; they don't leave any seats for walk ins. IMO the namesake dish is forgettable, but their "corn ribs" and fun and tasty
Ikoyi Creative Asian-West African prix fixe. Around Β£35 for a set lunch menu
Benares More modern Indian food. Early dinner prix fixe is Β£35
City Social Modern British food. Β£32 lunch prix fixe but not memorable

Casual (reservationsbookings accepted, but not required)

BAO πŸšπŸ— The bone marrow + egg yolk rice is life changing. Do you like fat and umami? EAT THIS. The fried chicken chop is also A++. I got both of these foods during every visit. Also, the oolong G&T and sweet potato cocktails are very good
Poppies Popular fish & chips among tourists. But is it just me or are all fish and chips in London just not salty enough??
Koya City Yuck udon :( Soggy noodles + flavorless broth
The Modern Pantry bougie but pricey brunch. Pretty ordinary
The Green Chill British pub with decent pub food
Chick N' Sours A fried chicken party! They have pretty good chicken and bright, tasty cocktails (esp the fishbowl)
Ask for Janice IMO a very Brooklyn cafe
Honey & Smoke πŸ₯™ This was one of my favoritefavourite meals (modern Mediterranean). The mezze selection is broad and delicious, but the signature cheesecake is to die for. It's unlike any cheesecake I've ever had-- light but thick and on a crispy pastry base. I highly recommend trying this if you like cheesecake.
Pasta Nostra Very popular pasta place in Old Street. I don't love Italian food though, so I can't recommend this place
Ramo Ramen Filipino-Japanese fusion ramen?! Very weird but enjoyable.
Bravi Ragazzi πŸ• Stellar Neapolitan pizza. The dough is so soft and chewy, and the kitchen chars it perfectly. My friend from Napoli is on a pizza search in London, and this is his favoritefavourite
Honey & Co This is the original Honey & Smoke (see above). You can get the cheesecake here too!

Fast casual

Pigling Street πŸ– Dank porchetta. If you see this place while shopping along Red Brick Lane, ask for a sample (but I'm sure you'll invest in a whole bowl)
Leon "Health" fast food that actually tastes good! I really like their coconut (vegan) soft serve, which is somehow creamy. Also, after eating a full meal here, I don't feel like shit!
Nando's πŸ— Fast grilled chicken that will make you feel like shit (in a good way). If you haven't heard of Nando's, you should check it out to learn how Londoners could love a chain restaurant
Coco Di Mama My favoritefavourite chain for coffee and a light breakfast. Their flat white is reliably good, and they have great service (they give out coffee stamp cards like candy). I really like the blueberry overnight oats here!
Coqfighter Pretty darn good fried wings. This is located in Boxpark, so grab some chicken and a drink and relax. (I don't like their sandwich, so buyer beware)
Pret A Manger (and Eat.) Pret is by far the best place to take a break. It feels like there are 100s of locations throughout London, and they're all speedy. Bottled water is always Β£1, and the breakfast sandwiches are surprisingly good.
Woody Grill Moist, juicy, and flavorful shawarma. If you mention this place to anyone familiar with Camden Town, they'll smile and agree how good it is.
McDonald's Most locations are open after midnight. Lucky you!
Traditional Pure Mediterranean food in the banking area that we only went to because we were desperate.
Good Friend Chicken Taiwanese fried chicken cutlet. I've had better

Coffee

Curators CoffeeVery good flat white
Black Sheep CoffeeI really don't like this place... I've been to the Aldgate station location several times and the coffee always tastes over roasted
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs β˜•Reliably good flat white (also very close to my apartment, so maybe that's why I liked it so much)
Association CoffeeFlat white wasn't creamy enough and their coffee usually tastes realllyyyy strong in general. But, carrot cake slice was moist and not too sweet!
Prufrock CoffeeDecent but not worth going out of your way for. This seems to be a local favoritefavourite
Rosslyn CoffeeAward winning coffee in a beautiful, minimal shop. The only bummer is that it's in the banking district and frequently packed with navy suits
GrindVery trendy and Instagrammable. Does it even matter that they serve coffee??
CostaThe Starbucks of London
Redemption RoastersTheir beans are roasted by inmates! Pretty cool idea.
DoseCozy neighborhoodneighbourhood coffee shop

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