With the 2012 Summer Olympics due to start tomorrow and the influx of millions of athletes, support staff and tourists, it seems as good a time as any to recommend places to gain calories. Given that the majority of people will come and go in two weeks and likely everywhere in central London will be bustling full regardless, and that most locals intend to stay away from these main areas I don't have fears of these places being overrun to the point of annoyance. Having said that, as I live in the east (and Olympic Park is slightly more east than me) and my most regular eating places are local I won't be surprised to see a few extra people around.
If you read this post, then you deserve to eat well.
Favourite Restaurant in London - Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
More reasonably priced, conveniently located and equally tasty to The Fat Duck. Not as theatrical but the one place to be if you were lucky enough to get a reservation months ago. See my post for the recommendations.
Favourite Minimal Choice - Burger and Lobster
Well known as the lobster-place-to-be. Once again be prepared to wait with the no bookings policy, but apparently you are able to wander locally and they will call you when your table is ready. Get the lobster for the best value or the lobster roll for something more balanced. Don't even think about the equally priced burger.
Favourite Burger - MEATliquor
The best burger I've eaten. Some may find this a bit tasteless if used to the heavily salted versions found elsewhere around the world as these patties are thick pure rare beef flavour. A bit oily and messy to eat and likely to leave you waiting outside, but worth the entry. The more recent MEATmarket in Covent Garden is a takeaway version of the same thing.
Favourite Fish & Chips - Poppies (Shoreditch)
When you walk along the street you can smell the alluring frying scent. Inside you will find beautifully crisp batter coating soft delicate fish. If on the move, a cone of chips will keep you happy and satisfied.
Favourite Sharing - Ceviche (Soho), Wahaca (Canary Wharf), Boho (Shoreditch)
Serving happy dishes of ceviche, guacamole, various meat and fish dishes. There are also lots of tapas places in central London all of which are recommended (and some quite pricey) and none of which I can tell you the difference between.
Favourite Healthy Food - Kastner & Ovens (Spitalfields) and Beatroot Cafe (Soho)
Both have similar concepts - fresh salads that vary daily that you select into a takeaway box for a deliciously healthy meal. Beatroot is vegetarian, Kastner & Ovens has optional hot meaty food to have with your salads. Must try the "sausage" rolls at Beatroot and anything with beetroot at K&O.
Favourite Breakfast - The Breakfast Club (Spitalfields)
Inspired by the 80s movie, the decor is a trendy retro diner style. Great breakfasts ranging from muesli to eggs to Mexican. Team it up with a healthy smoothie, lovely morning mojito or a jug of sangria for the perfect that to the day.
Favourite Markets - Borough Market (Saturday preferred), Broadway Market (Saturday), Sunday Upmarket (off Brick Lane)
Borough Market is the well known staple that all visitors should see. Teemingly busy on a Saturday, try some samples, pick up some gourmet supplies, fresh produce and make sure the fresh oysters and clams (especially clams if you like strong ocean flavour) and chorizo rolls make it into your belly.
Broadway Market is much more local in the east. A more spacious street for enjoying life and the Momofuku-style pork buns from Yum Bun, roast pork crackling rolls and more.
Sunday Upmarket sets up within an indoor carpark. Vintage clothes stalls hide the true gems of street food stalls that have people sitting all over streets eating. Cantonese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Ethiopian, Lithuanian, Mexican, cupcakes and more. My personal favourite is Carribean which serves chicken and fried plantains. Go at 6pm for the closing time when everything becomes discounted between £1.50-4 each.
Favourite Curry - Needoo (Whitechapel)
Avoid Brick Lane - that is common knowledge. Go to Tayyabs - that is common knowledge. However Tayyabs guarantees a lengthy >30min wait and the smell of meat-body-odour sticking to your body and clothes after you leave. Needoo around the corner (run by the ex-manager of Tayyabs) has a similar menu, similar flavours and reasonable prices and much less touristed. Guaranteed to please are the meat biryani and dry meat curry and lamb chops (not that "meat" on the menu is generally lamb).
Favourite Asian - C&R Cafe (Chinatown)
Tucked away in a small alley in Chinatown on a street unmarked on Google Maps, this is the place that gives me my Malaysian food fix and makes me happy on my days off. Har mee, assam laksa and ice kacang will keep you happily enjoying Asian flavours that are difficult to find in London.
Places recommended but untried - Pitt Cue Co, Dabbous, Pollen Street Social, Opera Tavern, Roganic, La Bodega Negra.