28 Places To Eat And Drink In London

With the highly-anticipated London Olympics kicking off on Friday, and with many of our readers making the trip across the pond for Pimms and beach volleyball, we figured it would a good move to pull together some of our favorite London restaurant, bars, pubs, brunch spots, late-night dives and so on.

This is hardly an exhaustive list. But it's a solid selection from the Food Republic writers and editors. And if you don't have tickets to the bronze medal water polo match, you should head to London some other time. We hear it's nice when not overtaken by people wearing Spandex. Cheerio!

For further reading you can check out all of our London coverage on Food Republic.

1. The Hawksmoor

The Hawksmoor, located on a gritty stretch of Commercial Street in Spitalfields, is styled a bit like Peter Luger in Brooklyn, serving giant steaks with no-nonsense service. But unlike Luger, they offer a 12-page cocktail list of preprandial classics and Edwardian bridge drinks. The list is a really good read. Head to the bar downstairs for a Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew — gin, ginger syrup and lemon miraculously balanced with London Pride ale. Take that, dark and stormy! Or order a British breakfast martini, made here with gin, Campari, lemon and marmalade. Our cocktail columnist Brian Quinn wrote about it in January. 157 Commercial Street, thehawksmoor.com

2. French House

There is no love lost between the British and the French, so the irony that one of Central London's most proper of proper British boozers is actually "The French House" is pretty ripe. This spot was recommended by several bartenders as a drinking choice for Central London. When you're wandering the busy streets around Picadilly Circus, Regent Street and Soho, or you're about to catch a show on Shaftesbury Avenue, meander the streets to The French House. Their collection of spirits is a little more extensive than most pubs, and a lot more French, and the menu at the bar had things like pate and saucisson — available with chips! 49 Dean Street, frenchhousesoho.com

3. Danger Of Death

Found only by following an unmarked staircase in the corner of a non-descript pizzeria off Brick Lane, Danger Of Death is London's best Soviet-era bomb shelter turned cocktail lounge. It's a private club, so you have to literally knock to get in or know someone who holds membership. But if you're nice, and are up for drinking Moscow Mules (ha!) or a fine Old Fashioned variation, they might let you in. 202 Brick Lane, dangerlondon.com

4. HIX

Walk into HIX restaurant in London's Soho neighborhood and the last impression you'll get is "farm-to-table." Waitresses walk around in skin-tight short dresses with strategically placed cut-outs near the hip. Cuts of raw meat are showcased à table. Well-dressed, and even better coiffed, Londoners sidle along the dining room perimeter on their way to the underground hotspot Mark's Bar. And yet, the menu touts prawns pulled from nearby waters, beef raised on farms in the English countryside — all manner of vegetation, meat, cheeses and other dairy that traveled only a short distance to arrive in this buzzing boîte. The man behind it all, Mark Hix, is a chef, restaurateur, art collector, journalist and maybe even a — gulp — visionary. Out near the Games in east London, he recently opened the meat-centric Tramshed as well, featuring a rather prominent piece of art by a guy named Damien Hirst. Read our interview with Mark Hix. 66-70 Brewer Street, hixsoho.co.uk

5. Callooh Callay

Located in the shadows of the Shoreditch club land, Callooh Callay (that's a Lewis Carroll reference) is an evening-only cocktail lounge and member's club (there are two private rooms far away from the madness in the front). The drinks are very well-regarded. Take the Quick Buck for example — mixed with Four Roses bourbon, Benedictine, Vic's famous spiced apricot liqueur and ginger ale. It's a "drink that's on the money" according to the description in the 25+ cocktail menu. You can download it here. 65 Rivington Street, calloohcallaybar.com

6. Caravan

Caravan is a coffee roastery, restaurant and cocktail bar in the busting Exmouth Market in London's Clerkewell neighborhood. Their mending, hair-of-the-dog brunch sorta of knocked our socks off — and not because of an engergizing cocktail made with ginger-infused Sipsmith gin. But that didn't really hurt our cause. The deal here is global small plates — such a blah food-writerly term we realize, but indeed the case. On a recent visit we ordered many such dishes, each truly hitting different parts of the globe. A bowl of salty Sichuan pepper shrimp was cooled with wonderful chili mayonnaise. Spanish-styled croquettes —giant and a perfect golden brown — were filled with a creamy smoked mackerel and leek puree, sided with bright lemon dipping sauce. Global goodness. 11-13 Exmouth Market, caravanonexmouth.co.uk/

7. The Lady Ottoline

Recently revamped old dame. Flirty and delicious. Upstairs is for more serious eats; downstairs for house-made sausages, rabbit terrines, chicken liver parfaits and perfectly pulled pints. 11a Northington Street, theladyottoline.com

8. The Dove

Tucked away in a little alley right on the River Thames in Hammersmith is a tiny entrance to a pub that was everything we could hope for in a classic British pub. There's a reason The Dove is on nearly every "pub guide" to London. They've been open since the 17th Century, so they've had some time to get it right. The floorboards are worn, the pub is on split levels, and it's the kind of place residents bring some work and their dogs on a sunny afternoon and sit down with a tasty pub lunch and a drink for a leisurely few hours. It's like a proto-Starbucks, but so much better. 19 Upper Mall, dovehammersmith.co.uk

9. 69 Colebrooke Row and Zetter Townhouse

Tony Conigliaro is a cocktail visionary, having setup a lab in a former Pink Floyd recording studio in Islington (see our photo tour). The fruits of his research are found at these two bars, each small and intimate and must-visits when traveling to London. Trust us here. And call ahead for reservations. 69 Colebrooke Row, 69colebrookerow.com | 49-50 St John's Square, thezettertownhouse.com

10. The Good Mixer

Camden might not be as cool as it once was, but it will always be cooler than the coolest place you can think of anywhere. We asked around for the best spot to grab a drink before checking out a gig and a friend who used to write for the NME recommended The Good Mixer. The pub had its heyday in the 1990's and was known as a musicians' hangout, and a favorite pub for the guys from Blur. It's still a great place to grab a few drinks, strike up a conversation and pat the head of Dodger, the resident bar dog who likes to perch on bar stools—and the only pool table we spotted in our giant pub crawl. 30 Inverness Street

11. The Social

The Social, located in hip Fitzrovia, was founded 11 years ago by the mates behind Heavenly Recordings (the home of Saint Etienne, Doves and the Magic Numbers). It's a cocktail lounge, small plates restaurant and music venue (located in the venue) that succeeds at all three. Order an Aviation, Bramble on the rocks or Bulmers cider. And you might just find the members of Hot Chip or Heavenly founder Jeff Barrett hanging out in one of the tight booths. 5 Little Portland Street, thesocial.com

12. Bumpkin

Farm-focused, two-story, food-and-beer hall in quite section of Notting Hill. Fancy upstairs; pub downstairs. Killer mac 'n' cheese made with sublime English Cheddar. 209 Westbourne Park Road, bumpkinuk.com

13. Angel & Crown

The newest gastro specialists to set up shop in Covent Garden. Pig head terrine, potted mackerel, steak and kidney pudding. Craft bottle beers. 58 St. Martens Lane, theangelandcrown.com

14. Opera Tavern

Hot new spot in Covent Garden's theatre district. The brass door handles are shaped like pig's hooves — enough said. 23 Catherine Street, operatavern.co.uk

15. The Star Tavern

When you've spent a long day shopping at Harrod's and Harvey Nick's, wandering the Victoria and Albert, strolling through Hyde Park and gawping at Buckingham Palace and you think to yourself, "I need a rest... and a drink!" wander over to The Star Tavern in Belgravia—a little way down a charming little mews street right off of Knightsbridge. Along with the requisite pints of good British bitter ales, this is also a place to order a glass of Champagne. (Do remember, good fellows, Belgravia is a posh neighborhood.) 6 Belgrave Mews West, star-tavern-belgravia.co.uk

16. Harwood Arms

Michelin-starred for good reason, deep into Chelsea. Roasted pigeon. Grilled ox tongue. Freshly shot wild game. Poached duck egg with chanterelles and bacon. 27 Walham Grove, harwoodarms.com

17. Cock and Bottle

We love urban legends. So when we asked some music industry friends if they knew of any proper boozers we should check out, we were immediately pointed straight to the Cock and Bottle in Notting Hill. Apparently, the owner is a lovably cantankerous Irish bloke who gets offers to sell the pub on a daily basis, but he stubbornly stays put and refuses to change a thing. And Mick Jagger has been known to pop in for a pint. 17 Needham Road

18. The Clarendon

Posh newcomer in Notting Hill serving pot-roasted pheasant, roasted lamb rump and sticky toffee pudding. 123a Clarendon Road, theclarendonlondon.com

19. The Portman

Tasty new entry in Portman Village/Marylebone from the folks behind The Only Running Footman (longtime fave in Mayfair). Fish 'n' chips, roasted partridge, pressed duck with rosemary kumquat confit. 51 Upper Berkeley Street, theportmanmarylebone.com

20. The Young Turks At Ten Bells

A dry-aged beef rib tartare arrives dotted with oyster aioli. Yes, aged and raw and unbelievably good. Salsify, cow's curd and hazelnuts mingle for a middle course. Mutton, perfectly tender and gamey, is served in a rich jus topped with seaweed. The Stones, Pulp and Black Keys blast out over the sound system. Neon — a piece by Tracey Emin — hangs on a wall as a sort of mantra: "Keep me safe," it reads. A deconstructed rhubarb tart closes the deal. If the Young Turks pop-up is running above the 100-year old Ten Bells pub in Spitalfields, please book. Book now! And read our interview with the two chefs behind the project. 84 Commercial Street

21. London Cocktail Club

Hip basement pub focusing on cutting-edge cocktails. World-famous chef Raymond Blanc consulted on the bar snacks that include spicy lamb kebabs, hush puppies, smoked bacon balls, hot buttered mushrooms on toast. 61 Goodge Street, londoncocktailclub.co.uk

22. The Cow

A Westminster classic worth revisiting. Perfect spot for a pint of Guinness and a dozen oysters, plus excellent mussel chowder and boiled ham. 89 Westbourne Park Road, thecowlondon.co.uk

23. Bricklayers Arms

A lovely, old spot with the best selection of British craft beers we came across, it's best enjoyed sitting in front of their fireplace in low wooden chairs. Take advantage of the selection by ordering a half of the chocolate orange stout, and several other offerings available most nights. No food, though. 32 Waterman Street, bricklayers-arms.co.uk

24. The Princess Louise

Imagine if Oscar Wilde opened a pub shortly after returning from his influential visit to America's Wild West. That pub would look sort of like this amazing establishment. 208 High Holburn

25. The John Snow

This pub is located a few feet from the infamous pump that was the source of contaminated water during the horrific cholera outbreak of 1854. Dr. John Snow mapped the cholera infections and was able to track it back to a single pump. The discovery was a huge breakthrough in medical research in the interest of public health and the spread of infectious disease. Drink up! 39 Broadwick Street

26. The Champion

A welcome oasis just a few steps from the craziness of Oxford Street, this lovely pub's best feature are the stained-glass windows that immortalize various sporting champions of the time. 12-13 Wells Street

27. Union Jacks

Pizza in London? Ok, normally we'd scoff too, but Jamie Oliver (who has fancier restuarants all around the city) teamed with his Yank pal Chris Bianco on this concept, which now has four locations, and it's a great spot for a casual meal. The wood-fired pizzas are the main draw (plus a decent, affordable wine list), and the must-try for heat seeker is the Chilli Freak, which features hot peppers crushed into a red sauce, then layers of fresh peppers and rocket (a type of arugula that Jamie Oliver puts on EVERYTHING); the cheese is a clotted English curd that you dollop on the pizza to counter the burn. The rest of the menu's good too, with ingredients sourced from around England. Multiple locations. unionjacksrestaurants.com

28. Global Fest 2012

The organizers of this ambitious, slightly nebulous, pop-up plan to "divide the world into 20 equal evenings, each momentarily focused upon for a unique and unrepeatable moment in an epic journey eastwards through the key culinary regions of the world." Which basically means 20 guest chefs from Sweden and Morocco and several London supper clubs being thrown into the mix. You can book here.