In the heart of the West End, 5 minutes away from Covent Garden, Neal’s Yard is a tiny hidden square that looks more Californian than British.
It is accessible via a small tunnel from Soho’s Monmouth Street. Though it is not always easy to find it at first – I was myself taken there by a friend – it is a rewarding discovery. Away from the noise of the city’s traffic, it’s a friendly place with multi-coloured houses and small plants. It hosts two cafés (belonging, it seems, to the same company) that serves what seems to be Brasilian organic food (maybe a little too organic to my taste) and fresh fruit juices and welcomes a mostly English clientele.
Nearest Tube station: Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road
Even in a neighbourhood as oversupplied with restaurants and snacks as Soho’s Wardour Street, Princi is a place that stands out.
Created by restaurateur Alan Yau, who’s already launched Busaba and the more upscale Yauatcha and Hakkasan, among others, Princi is a mix of architectural minimalism – the communal seating might not reach unanimous support – and great Italian food. The range of options is large, from pastries, deserts, slices of pizzas or more substantial dishes. Try the canoncinis, a small pastry filled with cream that costs less than a pound: it’s worth the trip. Princi can get a little hectic, and I wouldn’t recommend going there as a group, but it’s perfect for a savory snack.
Nearest tube : Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road
… It’s overcrowded (though you won’t see many Asian faces) and you can’t even see the few animations organised. Going up Gerrard Street will take you 20 minutes. And don’t even try to get in a Chinese restaurant: the queue stretches long in the street.
Nearest Tube: Picadilly, Leicester Square