Things change fast in a time of coronavirus. Check on venue websites and social media ahead of visiting for the most up to date details.
Hanar Kurdish Restaurant, Peckham
Casually lovely, Hanar Kurdish Restaurant — tucked under a railway arch, down a Peckham alley — is filled with candlelight and the smell of tahini, and, pomegranate, and ovenfresh flatbreads. Read about our visit here.
Corkage is £2.50 a head, and Peckham's crammed with nearby places to stock up on drinks, including craft beers from the Brick taproom, a great selection of wine at Peckham Cellars, and a bunch of newsagents along Rye Lane selling everything from fancy IPAs to canned Christmas cocktails (cannot recommend the latter).
Hanar Kurdish Restaurant, Peckham.
Yada's Green Kitchen, Peckham
Another Kurdish Peckham restaurant, Yada's used to sit in Hanar's current spot. Now they have a more prominent (but no less cosy) spot at 104 to 106 Rye Lane, with a menu of Kurdish classics, including dalooja — roasted peppers blended with pomegranate and walnuts into a rich, nutty-sweet dip — chicken stew with saffron rice, and a good range of vegetarian and vegan options. No corkage charge makes it extra good value — but the generous portions and friendly buzz would make it feel like a bargain regardless. Closed on Mondays.
Yada's Green Kitchen, Peckham. No website — call 07490 324354.
Hawksmoor, Seven Dials, Air Street, Knightsbridge, and other locations
A trip to Hawksmoor is never going to be cheap, but you can make your bill a bit less eyewateringly steep by going on a Monday — when it's BYO with a £5 corkage charge. Spend the cash you save on their gloriously rich mac and cheese.
Hawksmoor, Air Street, Knightsbridge, Seven Dials, and other locations.
There isn’t a shortage of BYO curry houses around town, but Tayyabs is a league of its own. The north Indian meets east London restaurant's legendary in the neighbourhood — with starters from £4, mains from £10 and free corkage, it’s a bargain, and the food's spectacular. Tayyabs is as busy as it is beloved — so very — but it's also huge enough that there's a steady churn of diners, and you rarely have to wait long for a table. Loud, busy, friendly, and doing portions so cartoonishly generous you can think you're ordering modestly but yet still leave weighed down with boxes of leftovers. In summary: great.
Lahore Kebab House, Whitechapel
'Since 1972', proclaims the website. 'The years of Burt Reynolds.'
The exact nature of the Burt connection remains unclear, but if the moustachioed sex symbol ever found himself roaming the streets of east London in search of a late night lamb chop and a chilli naan, he could've done a lot worse than this low frills, high spice Punjabi curryhouse. Lahore Kebab do great naans, seafood curries, kebabs, and a big vegetarian offering, at decent prices — and the big dining spaces with room for long feasting-style tables make it a favourite for group dinners.
The rivalry between fans of Tayyabs and devotees of LKH would have you believe the two are wildly different in quality and Vibe. Official Londonist policy is that they are equally great, and that you should go to both, often.
Lahore Kebab House, Whitechapel.
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If the cheese-heavy Georgian gorgeousness of the menu weren't reason enough to drop by their Hackney restaurant, the tiny welcoming space — warm lighting, smell of aubergines and ajika (a spicy Georgian paste) cooking — and the fact that Little Georgia offers zero corkage charge on BYO should have you hammering that reservation button hard. It helps that so many of the Little Georgia dishes are perfectly geared towards staving off winter blues and soaking up wine — Exhibit A: the Adjaruli Khachapuri, a long flatbread with curved edges, with a blend of cheeses baked into the hollow, topped with butter and an egg. Heads up that this doesn't apply to their Islington branch, which doesn't offer BYO (but has a licence to sell alcohol).
Little Georgia, Hackney.
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Serving local Xi'an dishes from her childhood, chef Wei Guirong serves hand pulled noodles, potstickers, and buns — many of Xi'an's traditional dishes involve a lot of dough: stretchy, tensile biang biang noodles, toasted flatbreads stuffed with slow cooked pork, delicate wheat noodles served cold — in a small restaurant near the Emirates Stadium. The decor's spartan, the flavours are big, and the crowds are a testament to how good the food is — and the modest £5.50 corkage fee (£1.70 for beer) doesn't hurt.
Xi'an Impression, Highbury.