Lina Stores : 18 Brewer Street
Brewer street (like most of Soho) is ever changing, the sex shops are slowly dying out whilst the cute bakeries and skateboarding shops are moving in. Not Lina Stores though, its been around since the 1940s and it seems like the kind of place that will outlive anything else on the street. Its a classic Italian deli that can provide you with the best ingredients if you feel like making something at home or they can make you mean sandwich at their counter and follow it up with and a great espresso. If you are ever in need of a break in south Soho there is no better spot than one of their little outdoor tables.
Oi Polloi : 1 Marshall Street
Isn't it funny that the best menswear shop in London is actually from Manchester? The store has only been around since 2015 but I hope they never leave because these guys have great taste. Mainly focused on utility and workwear but not in a way that makes you look like a factory worker from WW2, more like a chic French painter or well heeled Japanese hiker. They stock some great foreign brands that often get overlooked by bigger menswear stores, so come here if you are after some obscure gear that you will not spot anyone else wearing. I mean is anyone else stocking new season Nanamica or Engineered Garments in London? The Soho store is small but you can tell everything has been hand picked so the shelves are filled with gold, so its a great intro for the larger selection they have online. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable too which is can be a rare thing for a London store. Pro-tip: they start all their sales in their physical stores first so this should be your first point of call for a bargain come sale time.
Andrew Edmunds : 46 Lexington Street
Right next to the daily huge line for Bao you will find another Soho culinary treat that is often overlooked and unnoticed. Andrew Edmunds is a small continental restaurant (don't let the the bookshop fool you) that stands out from the crowd by being so quaint that you can't help to fall in love with it from the first you have a meal there. Its tiny, dark, lit almost entirely by candle light and has daily updated hand written menus. All this means that this place has more charisma and atmosphere than you can really process. When the food comes and it tastes grade A, you will think you have hit restaurant nirvana and you will want to eat all of your meals here. Unfortunately, all this excellence does not come cheap so when the bill comes you realise that this place is only going to be for special treats. Thats ok though because the thing with excellence like this is that its best consumed occasionally and with an appreciation that can only be created by time spent away. If you want to impress someone on a first date with your restaurant choice then this is it. Pro-tip: ask the staff for wine recommendations as they all seem to be experts and avoid the basement tables at all costs.
Sounds of the Universe : 7 Broadwick Street
Soho is not short of record stores but for some reason Sounds of the Universe has always been the one for me. I think it has something to do with its dishevelled charm and the great eclectic taste. There is no better way to kill half an hour in central London than to pop into this store, flick through the new and noteworthy section and jive out to whatever LP they have playing in the store (normally some sort of obscure yet catchy dub album). The crowd in the store is reflective of the records, you get all sorts and it only adds to the charm. Pro-tip: check out the basement, thats where they keep some of the real rare gems.
The Photographers' Gallery : 16 Ramillies Street
What list would be complete without a museum? The photographers' gallery focuses on exhibiting modern photography that is pushing the envelope of fine art photography along with the occasional retrospective from the old masters. This is a new location for them, they used to be over in a much smaller space towards the Covent Garden area, and with the move they have cemented themselves as the most exciting place to see photography on display in London. Sure the bigger name galleries might have a few pieces on display from the superstars but this is the place you come to see continuously evolving displays and discover some new names. They also have a great little cafe on the ground floor that is encased in huge windows which makes it the perfect people watching spot whilst you sip on some tea. Pro-tip: the bookshop downstairs is one of the few places in central London that has some decent film choices for all you analogue lovers.
Ain't Nothin' But : 20 Kingly Street
I'm not normally the type to recommend bars, clubs or drinking holes but I have to make an exception for Ain't Nothin' But. This is a funky little blues bar that is proudly flying in the face of the sterilisation of Kingly Street. Every time I walk down this little alleyway beside Liberty it seems to get that little bit cleaner and that little bit more high street friendly as the chains move in. Despite this Ain't Nothin' But is still as grimy and rough around the edges as ever and thankfully its also packed every night. One of my earliest memories of London involves getting a little overexcited in this place and I have loved it ever since then. The secret to their success is the completely down to earth unpretentious attitude mixed with live jazz that fills the place with warmth and life. I am not a huge jazz head but I have always found the music to be very decent and the wonderful mix of people and atmosphere make this the most enjoyable spot to let your hair down. I don't know why but I like the fact that city workers in suits rub shoulders with scruffy looking students and nobody seems to care because everyone is there to just enjoy some decent music with a few drinks in hand. This place is the perfect antidote to all those hoity toity bars populated by the cast of Made in Chelsea in nearby Piccadilly. Pro-tip: the nachos here are surprisingly good and can make an emergency dinner substitute.