This is one of my favourite local pubs. On colourful Columbia Road, The Royal Oak is almost a traditional boozer with dark wood walls and a three-sided bar that practically guarantees you'll get served at some point. If you go on a quiet night. I first came here at 19, on a date, and was blown away by the food served in the dining room upstairs. Since, I've made infrequent forays but it's still a firm favourite as it exudes warmth, a little bit of hipster pretention and enough old school charm to find you making excuses for return visits.
Wahaca's one of those perennial favourites that everybody and their cat is into these days. Set up by Masterchef winner, Thomasina Miers, Wahaca brings Mexican street food to the English high street in the form of tacos, tostadas and tequila. Departing from a habitual Wagamama, my mum and I popped in to the one near my work this weekend, started with a virgin mojito and guacamole and chips, then shared the black bean and cheese quesadilla, a cactus and courgette burrito (my first) and the shrimp and scallop ceviche tostada (my favourite). The flavours didn't jump out at me as much as I was expecting, but portion sizes are good (and inexpensive) and the drinks are tasty. Just enough to keep you going until dinner.
Lamb & Flag
The Lamb & Flag is a traditional boozer if ever there was. Tucked between Garrick Street and Long Acre, this was once Charles Dicken's haunt of choice. A bit spit and sawdust, it's a good place to stop for an after-work drink (or after-Dishoom drink) and mill around outside in the cobbled courtyard. Its olde worlde feel harks back to its 1772 origins and it's a pub that's been drinking in London's history for centuries and coating everyone who steps inside with a little bit of it. Worth a stop if you're in the area.