El Aphrodite Taverna, 15 Hereford Rd. (7229 2206). Tube: Bayswater. The owners’ 20 years of experience is everywhere apparent in this warm Greek restaurant. Entrees £7-10. Chef specials £10-24. The cafe next door has some cheaper specialties. Restaurant open M-Sa noon-midnight. Cafe open daily 8am-5pm. AmExMCV.
La Bottega del Gelato, 127 Bayswater Rd. (a 7243 2443). Tube: Queensway. Now in his 70s, Quinto Barbieri still makes the best gelati this side of the Rubicon. Scoops from £1.60. Open daily 10am-7pm, later in summer. Cash only.
Alounak Kebab, 44 Westboume Grove ( 7229 0416). Tube: Bayswater. A discreet gem among the Persian restaurants in the area. All the dishes, including the kebabs (from £5.60), are served with saffron rice or taftoon bread. Open daily noon-1 lpm. MCV. Durbar Tandoori, 84 Westboume Grove (7727 1947; www.durbartandoori.co.uk). Tube: Bayswater. Durbar’s claim to fame is the extraordinary cooking of Shamin Syed, former International Indian Chef of the Year. Curries start at £5. Set menu for 2, £22. Open M-Th and Sa-Su noon-3pm and 6pm-midnight. MCV.
ENGLAND BLOOMSBURY AND MARYLEBONE
ECCo (Express Coffee Co.), 46 Goodge St. (7580 9250). 11-inch thin-crust pizzas, made to order, cost an incredible £3.50. Sandwiches and baguettes from £1.50. Rolls 50p. Buy any hot drink before noon and get a free croissant. Pizzas available after noon. Open M-Sa 7am-llpm, Su 9am-llpm.
Mandalay, 444 Edgware Rd. (ar7258 3696). Tube: Edgware Rd. Looks ordinary, tastes extraordinary; this Burmese restaurant’s wall is plastered with awards. Great lunch specials (curry and rice £3.70; 3-courses £6). Entrees £3-5. No smoking. Open M-Sa noon-2:30pm and 6-10:30pm. AmExMCV. O 13 Patogh, 8 Crawford PI. ( 7262 4015). Tube: Edgware Rd. Out of proportion portions in the tiny Iranian space; order bread’ and get a 14 in. flatbread with sesame seeds and subtle spices, just £1.50. Entrees £4-6. Open daily noon-midnight. Cash only.
13 Vats, 51 Lambs Conduit St. (7242 8963). Tube: Russell Sq. Small front conceals a long romantic wine bar. Food is pricey (entress £10-16), but delicious and innovative. “Good ordinary claret” £3.50 per glass and £14.50 per bottle; Burgundy from £16. Open M-Sa noon-11:30pm; kitchen open noon-2:30pm and 6-9:30pm. AmExMCV. Diwana Bhel Poori House, 121-123 Drummond St. (7387 5556). Tube: Euston or Euston Sq. No frills or frippery here-just great, cheap South Indian vegetarian food. Lunch buffet £6, served daily noon-2:30pm. Thali set meals £4-6. Open daily noon-11:30pm. AmExMCV.
Giraffe, 6-8 Blandford St. (7935 2333; www.giraffe.net). Tube: Bond St. Second branch of the world-food micro-chain, with modern decor, and great music. Communal tables. Entrees £7-10. Open daily noon-midnight. AmExMCV.
Ranoush Juice, 43 Edgware Rd. (7723 5929). Tube: Marble Arch. This tiny arm of the Maroush restaurant empire is commonly regarded as the best Lebanese joint on the Edgware Rd. Lamb kebabs £2.50-4. Open daily 9:30am-3am.