How do you dive into the heart of a city? Better rephrase the question—where is everyone eating right now? A hot restaurant is more than a place to have a meal; it’s the microcosm of a scene, the movers sitting elbow to elbow with the shakers. Case in point: Coya (pictured; $$$), in London, where aristos and art dealers alike dine on sea-bream ceviche, rib eye with chimichurri, and other bites from Peru, culinary touchstone of the moment. It’s the newest opening from restaurateur Arjun Waney, whose Zuma and Arts Club were themselves era-defining canteens for the in-crowd.

The long-awaited Covent Garden outpost of Balthazar (44-20/3301-1155; $$) is a near-replica of the New York original, down to the distressed mirrors, steak frites, and media bigwigs in the booths.

Pollen Street Social chef Jason Atherton promises to further dismantle fine-dining conventions at Social Eating House ($$), in Soho, while respecting the refined cooking he learned from Gordon Ramsay.

Multicultural Brixton Market is enticing hipsters south of the Thames. The biggest draw: fried chicken with Thai tamarind sauce at Wishbone ($$).

The Clove Club ($$$), a pop-up supper club that was one of the toughest tickets in town, has settled down. The permanent restaurant, located in the Victorian Shoreditch Town Hall, is sure to play Pied Piper to East London foodies.

Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150