Here, local journalist Oliver Horton presents our guide to Shoreditch’s eateries.
East London has welcomed waves of immigrants since at least the 1700s: the area’s cultural melting pot enrichened by Huguenots, Jewish people and exports from the Indian sub-continent. The latter dominate the restaurant scene of Brick Lane, but our preferred diner is the other side of Whitechapel High Street. Tayyabs, founded in 1972, serves authentic Punjabi cuisine, probably the best in all London, a firework of flavour. If you’re a carnivore, do not leave without trying the lamb chops. But the vegetarian dishes are awesome, too. No alcohol is served but you can, with no corkage charge, bring your own booze. It might get loud.
83-89 Fieldgate Street, E1 1JU
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi is a British-Israeli chef with a handful of restaurants across the capital. His vegetable-centric (but not necessarily vegetarian) dishes and middle-eastern flavours caused a not-insignificant revolution in the city’s appetites and dining, and still feel fresh and innovative more than 15 years since the first Ottolenghi eaterie. The Spitalfields restaurant (booking recommended) is tucked away on Artillery Lane, which resembles Diagon Alley out of Harry Potter. It’s canteen-style but formal, with casual dining at the bar and in the window seats. Always order the aubergine salad!
50 Artillery Lane, E1 7LJ
The Ten Bells
The Golden Heart is a real honest boozer (a rarity these days). The Ten Bells, meanwhile, is notorious as a hostelry favoured by victims of local serial killer Jack The Ripper (in 1888). In fact, the pub was rebadged as Jack The Ripper for a while until someone realized that close association with a brutal murderer of women might be a touch misogynist. These days all the ladies are respectable and The Ten Bells is a hangout for a fashionably-scruffy crowd with good haircuts. Need a pint quicksmart? Take your pick.
The Ten Bells, 84 Commercial Street, E1 6LY
Fish and chips are a bit of a joke to many English people; Indian food is clearly the nation’s favourite. Partly that was due to a decline in quality, which the Poppies chain has gone a good way to turn around. The eat-in environment has a retro diner vibe, but you can also get chips in paper and slather them in salt and vinegar if you prefer to rock eat-in-the-street swagger. Hearty and comforting, Poppies was founded by veteran chippie Pat “Pop” Newland, an east-ender who cut his first chip in 1952 and hasn’t looked back. Comforting, fun and more memorable than a Christmas sandwich from Pret a Manger.
6-8 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR
Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
Cocktail? You bet! Alright but this is a little different. There’s a secret entrance. Which is a Smeg fridge. Which is in a diner called the Breakfast Club that serves – yep! – breakfast at all hours. Stride in and ask for the Mayor in a confident voice and one of the waiters will usher you through the fridge where you plunge into a basement speak-easy that’s dark and husky, albeit smoke-free. Simultaneously hip and friendly, the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is a warm, spiritually-nourishing hangout for a chilly December evening. Take a friend or colleague and blow their mind. Then order a Whisky Sour or Vodka Martini.
Inside The Breakfast Club’s Fridge, 12-16 Artillery Lane, E1 7LS
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