Slideshow: Where to Eat in London

For a Quiet, Cheap, Lunch: Yalla Yalla
For a Quiet, Cheap, Lunch: Yalla Yalla
Wander off from Piccadilly Circus looking for a bite, and you'll be stuck in a maze of pricey sit-down chains and sex shops. In the midst of all this, Yalla Yalla is a fine place for a meal: billing itself as a "Beirut Street Food" restaurant, it serves a fine selection of wraps, meze, and full lunch plates; we loved the garlicky, lemony hummus topped with lamb shawarma and a pressed halloumi wrap. Best part? Two can eat for under ten pounds.

Yalla Yalla: 1 Green's Court, London W1F 0HA (map); 020 7287 7663; also at 12 Winsley Street, London W1W 8HQ (map); 020 7637 4748; yalla-yalla.co.uk

For a Pub With Great Food: Harwood Arms
For a Pub With Great Food: Harwood Arms
The single best meal I ate on a recent trip to Europe was at Harwood Arms, a pub in Fulham with a serious kitchen (and, now, a Michelin star). It's a place that's giddy with the possibilities of meat and British tradition—wild rabbit, prune, and bacon come together in loose, juicy faggots (a traditional dish of meats wrapped in caul fat); a Scotch egg is wrapped in ground venison and fried to an incredible crunch, its yolk a glorious orange-yellow suspension; absurdly tender beef cheeks pair with a smoked bone marrow toast. It's powerful, gutsy food that uses salt and animal fat to extreme effect. With wide wine and beer selections and service worthy of a much more formal restaurant, it's worth making a detour out to Fulham for. (Note that it's still a pub; Tuesday trivia nights are sacrosanct.)

Harwood Arms: 27 Walham Grove, London SW6 1QR (map); 020 7386 1847; harwoodarms.com

For a Pakistani-style Party: Tayyabs
For a Pakistani-style Party: Tayyabs
I enjoy Tayyabs for the experience as much as the food. It's a loud, brash, always-jammed Pakistani Punjabi restaurant on an otherwise quiet Whitechapel street of apartments and mosques. The sort of place where you're nearly sitting on your neighbor, where the waiter speeds a searing-hot mixed grill platter by your table and you're left coughing and spluttering on cumin smoke.

But I mean all those things in a good way. And once you're past the wait, the food descends immediately: spicy and shatter-crisp popadoms and homemade chutneys before you've picked up your menu, followed perhaps by a tandoor-cooked lamb chops or a boldly spiced but intensely lamb-y Karahi Gosht. Go with a group, bring your own booze, order as much as possible, and leave with your wallet intact.

Tayyabs: 83-89 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1JU (map); 020 7247 9543; tayyabs.co.uk

Borough Market for the Crowd Averse
Borough Market for the Crowd Averse
Want to see Borough Market, but don't want to get stuck in its vast expanses? Grab a flat white at Monmouth Coffee; duck into Brindisi for jamon Iberico; and pop into Neal's Yard Dairy for an education in cheese. There's far, far more to see, of course, but the crowd-averse might prefer this option.

Neal's Yard Dairy: 6 Park Street, SE1 9AB (map); 020 7367 0799; nealsyarddairy.co.uk; Monmouth Coffee Company: 2 Park Street, SE1 9AB (map); monmouthcoffee.co.uk; Brindisa: The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, Borough Market, London SE1 9AF (map); 0207 407 1036; brindisa.com/shop

For Animal Parts and Culinary History: St John
For Animal Parts and Culinary History: St John
Few spots are so closely associated with the revival of English cuisine as St John, in a former smokehouse near Smithfield Market—Fergus Henderson's mighty, meaty restaurant that's been a destination for nose-to-tail cooking since 1994, a place where you'll order something called "Gull's Eggs & Celery Salt" or "Ox Heart & Chips." While St John is hardly news these days, it's still a place for an excellent meal: a recent visit brought a remarkably crunchy crumbed veal and a surprisingly tender, slippery-rare pigeon breast over heavily bacon-ed greens.

St John: 26 St. John Street, London EC1M 4AY (map); 020 7251 0848; stjohnrestaurant.com

For a Blowout Brunch: Cookbook Cafe
For a Blowout Brunch: Cookbook Cafe
While the Cookbook Cafe might not quite serve the best brunch I've ever had, it serves far and away the best buffet-style, all-you-can-eat (and drink!) brunch I've ever had. Start with a cold table whose selections range from incredible British and Irish cheeses to smoky, creamy baba ganoush to buttery salmon sashimi and beet-cured gravlax; move on to a crisp-edged waffle topped with clotted cream and berry preserves, or, better yet, one of the day's roasts: on our visit, a fork-tender lamb shoulder and a fine sirloin with Yorkshire pudding. All the while, your champagne glass is cheerily topped up.

In the Intercontinental Park Lane, it does have a five-star hotel's steep prices and air of slight formality, but if you're celebrating an occasion or looking to spend Sunday afternoon in a happy food daze, this is a fine place to do it; the food is as tasty as it is plentiful.

Cookbook Cafe: Intercontinental Park Lane, 1 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7QY (map); 020 7318 8563; cookbookcafe.co.uk