To ensure a smooth flow to your show, local journalist Oliver Horton offers a pocketful of quick-fixes for drinking and eating on the go.
There is no key for the door because Beigel Bake never closes. A gift out of Brick Lane’s Jewish heyday, the 24-hour bakery serves fine bread and – hence the name – bagels. The salt beef bagel is the icon: fat, stacked layers of meat, pickle slices if you want, and enough English mustard to burn your lips off. Smoked salmon and cream cheese is a lighter alternative. Stand up and eat at a narrow counter, sipping coffee and tea that are decidedly old school. Popularity breeds a queue, but this one moves quickly.
159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
Taylor St. Barista
London’s not short on coffee stops but the denim community includes more than its share of coffee connoisseurs, so here’s a place that grinds its beans with love. New Street is quaint and pedestrianized. This small café’s clientele holds a mirror to the neighbourhood’s polarization, suit-wearing money-monkeys served premium beverages by tattooed, pierced baristas to a rave-y soundtrack (even at dawn). Bankers, punks… oh for a breakdancing policeman to fulfill the London cliché! Atmosphere (and jokes) aside, the coffee is refined, considered and among the best in town.
1A New Street, EC2M 4TP
Spitalfields Market is a slightly uncomfortable mix of chain restaurants and market stalls; corporate cool rules this one-time cathedral of independents. Among the food trucks is Crosstown, which takes doughnuts all the way premium. Fresh every day, flavours include Matcha Tea and Vegan Lemon-Thyme, alongside top-notch classics such as Raspberry Jam, Cinnamon Sugar and Vanilla Glaze. The truck at this location is named Dorothy, but that needn’t deter you. There’s also a proper shop on Brick Lane next to Beigel Bake. Or if you prefer an American-style cupcake, head to Hummingbird Bakery on Frying Pan Alley.
6 Lamb Street, E1 6EA
Need a juice? Come to Café 1001. Tenants include independent fashion stores, the Rough Trade East record shop and Café 1001. A self-proclaimed “creative playground”, the café doubles as a nightclub, featuring live bands and djs. But in the daytime this is a super easy spot for a quick pick-me-up: croissant and a coffee, freshly-squeezed juice, sandwich… Picnic tables out the front handle overspill from inside. And, being on the corner with Brick Lane, it is a fine spot to people watch. Or the free wifi makes it easy to catch up on whatever your phone has to tell you. If fancier juices are your deal, stroll over to the Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street, which houses the fastidiously fruity East London Juice.
1 Dray Walk, E1 6QL
As Nature Intended
Mini supermarket on Commercial Street with a health food slant. Organic victuals, as well as beer and wine, comprise a big chunk of the merchandise. The extensive range of artisan chocolate would make Willy Wonka blanche. Fermented food and drink, raw food, superfoods, dairy alternatives and sugar-free drinks share space with natural remedies including vitamin supplements, skincare products and even aromatherapy oils. But if you’re more basic bitch there’s a Tesco two doors down to get a Mars bar.
132 Commercial Street, E1 6AZ