In the matter of food, the unwary tourist must tread carefully. There are any number of very mediocre places which will take your money and leave you with a poor impression of London. You can spot them by the crowds of large, baseball-hatted Americans and camera-toting Japanese. Expect to pay a lot more for food in London than you do in the US. Don't expect US btrands to be the same as they are in the US. London is easy to get around using the Underground system - buy a daily TravelCard and a pocket A-Z Guide (indispensable map book). My recommendations (food and ambience are very personal things, so I expect others to disagree with some choices): There are any number of McDonald's and similar places, but if crap food and slack-jawed staff aren't your bag, try Ed's Diner (several branches) for made to order burgers. Pret a Manger is a chain of sandwich shops all over London. Everything is freshly made daily. You can eat in, too. There are lots of individual sandwich bars which are usually excellent. Belgo Centraal - Covent Garden. Belgian themed, with mussels a big feature, though their steaks and chicken are good too. They do a lunch deal at Â£5.95 and in the evening, if you go early (as many Americans are wont to do), they have a Beat the Clock deal - the price you pay is the same as the time you order, so if you order at 6.39pm your main course will cost Â£6.39. Great for families, great for beer (over 100 types). No good for quiet romantic dinners. Harrods, Knightsbridge - there are several cafes and food places. Their pizzas (food hall) are superb, as are their fresh sandwiches and wraps. For a treat try the Oyster Bar. The Punch Cafe (near the antique print dept) does a very good afternoon tea at reasonable price. Warning: confiscate wife's credit card before entry. Fish and Chips are generally a disaster in London - you have to go to the North of England, where they use dripping to fry in. Avoid the Harry Ramsdens chain (recently panned by critics). Around the Edgware Road/Marble Arch/Queensway area there are lots of small, relatively cheap restaurants offering all sorts of cuisines. Pre-theatre, why not do it in style and go to the Savoy
? They do pre-theatre dinners and often have special offers. Likewise Simpson's, which is almost next door. I also recommend Claridges for a special dinner - in the Reading Room 2 courses are around Â£25. I was there again on Saturday and it was just superb. Any impeccably dressed gentleman will feel completely at home. I think the Criterion in Piccadilly also does a pre-theatre deal, but can be expensive. If you are ex-military, try the Victory Services Club near Marble Arch. Their Grill Room is good, and the bar is subsidised.... Cheap accommodation too, for those entitled. Afternoon Tea at the Ritz is a must-do, but a trifle expensive. Claridge's and the Connaught also do very good afternoon tea. Fortnum and Mason's Fountain Cafe is good, and has a convenient exit onto Jermyn Street. Most pubs have food, and this is usually a good option for 'routine' lunches. Note that the better places will have a dress code - usually jacket and tie, but dining in London is usually informal. I have eaten in all the places I have recommended above, but there are many other excellent places to eat.