Establishment neighborhood
25 Broadwick St., Soho
Temper is chef Neil Rankin's first foray into London's culinary big leagues, with all the space, high design, and hype that goes along with it—and it's great. Greeting guests upstairs are a humble tortilla machine, some sacks of maize, and a few bottles of mezcal, innocently belying the dark, clubby man-cave below. Here, it's all about performance: All eyes are on the kitchen, where burly dudes grill, char, smoke, and blow-torch hunks of meat and fish, served up on beautifully handmade tortillas. While the Mexican roots here are undeniable, the tacos, grilled meats, and side-dishes here are otherworldly. After a couple rounds of blowtorched mackerel, beef fat and aged cheeseburger tacos, diners emerge from Rankin's cave stuffed, a little drunk, and reeking of barbecue, which only adds to the experience.
29 Poland St., Soho
With its terrazzo-tile bar, kitschy neon lights, and Art Deco entrance, Corazón could easily be tucked away on a side street in Mexico City. And the menu, with its tribute to the city's famed tuna tostadas at Contramar, really drives it home. This place has the heart (corazón en español) and soul of an authentic Mexican comfort-food eatery with old-school snacks like shrimp cocktail Campechana-style, classic tacos, and arguably the best margarita in town. It's easy to while an afternoon away here, just like in good ol' DF.
Cafe Monico
39-45 Shaftesbury Ave., Soho
This French brasserie is yet another feather in the Soho House's cap, which means you can expect great food and an always-buzzy vibe. They've really gone all out here, though, and created a charming space that feels just like an old Belle Epoque Parisian institution, complete with classic croques, moules frites, pâté, and the like served all day long. Located right on Shaftesbury Avenue, this makes a great pre- or post-West End show stop. Head upstairs for the best seats in the house, overlooking the main floor.
Quo Vadis
26-29 Dean St., Soho
Quo Vadis is a classic private club, but the downstairs dining room is open to the public and a wonderful, characterful Soho haven at that. Owned by the Hart brothers, of Barrafina fame, with a kitchen run by Chef Jeremy Lee, their daily changing menu features the best meat and vegetables of the season, though you might be just as happy with their eel sandwich on house-made sourdough. They know how to make a classic cocktail here, too. The whole place is full of old Soho charm, accentuated by illustrator John Broadley's artwork which punctuates the entire space, menus included.
58 Brewer St., Soho
To appease the masses of fans of Smoking Goat, the teensy dive bar that serves up some of the—if not the—most incredible Thai BBQ in town, chef Ben Chapman has expanded into a much bigger, glitzier space in Soho. Here, thrillingly, with a long bar facing the kitchen you get to watch the action unfold in the mighty kiln for which the restaurant is named. It would be hard to name one dish to go for, as all the sharing plates on the menu are pretty unforgettable, so the best bet is to book downstairs with a large group so you can dive in and share it all—it's a short menu.
Bar Termini
7 Old Compton St., Soho
From Tony Conigliaro, the don of cocktail-making in London and founder of 69 Colebrooke Row, and Marco Arrigo, the head of quality at Illy, comes an Italian-inspired coffee and cocktail bar so perfect that it might just beat the real thing. Here, you can have your cappuccino at the bar—made with UHT milk, just as the Italians do—or sit at one of the tables sipping transcendent cocktails served by mixologists in elegant, crisp white uniforms. The space is tiny, which actually makes the experience all the more charming and authentic.