London Olympics 2012 – Where to eat, drink and shop in East London
I love watching all of the London 2012 Olympics coverage and seeing snippets of my old hood, and subsequently reading the zillions of features online and in travel magazines about where to eat, drink, shop and play in East London. Most of them hit all the typical spots – Brick Lane, Broadway Market, Pizza East, the Albion and more, but as someone who lived in the heart of East London for about three years, I wanted to share my personal picks for the area of the city I am madly in love with.
If you’re visiting London for the Olympics this year, these East London spots won’t disappoint.
Coffee and Eggs
Nude Espresso, 26 Hanbury Street London E1 6QR
Hands down the best coffee in East London. Most Americans are inclined to get a standard drip coffee, but you’ll be sorry if you miss out on a delicious latte or flat white. They also do delicious sandwiches, quiches and sweets if you’re after a bite to eat.
A Little of What You Fancy, 464 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AE
Located in Dalston (slightly northeast London), this café is off the main road of an area that is even more hipster-chic than Shoreditch. They do a really great breakfast with a seasonal menu including homemade granola and American pancakes. Plus, with a name like “A Little of What You Fancy,” you’ll feel extra British inside.
Victoria Park Pavilion Café, Victoria Park, Crown Gate West, E9
I love Victoria Park, and if it’s a nice day in London I suggest you take a long walk and forget you’re in a big city, and sit down for a coffee and a full English breakfast – or anything else on the menu made with seasonal, local and organic produce – outside and on the water. One of my all-time fave spots to sit and relax for hours.
Brawn, 49 Columbia Road, London E2 7RG
Small plates featuring pig and a really good wine list. ‘Nuff said.
Poppies, 6-8 Hanbury Street, London E1 6QR
A very traditional “East End” restaurant and a must try for traditional fish and chips. Poppies has a fun atmosphere, delicious food and it’s a great spot to sit and watch East London pass you by.
Pizza East, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ
Ok – all the guides tell you to try Pizza East but I have to recommend it because I worked there for a short time and although the food is slightly expensive, the NYC meatpacking feel is unique in London, the service is fantastic and the pizza is really, really good. They also do great cocktails, antipasti and desserts. It’s also one of the only East End restaurants that lets you book a table in advance. Perfect for a Friday or Saturday night on the town.
The East end is the one and only place to get your Vietnamese fix in London. My favorites include the new Pho in Spitalfields for the best pho around, a selection of Vietnamese beers and a to-die-for papaya salad, and BanhMi11UK in Broadway Market (Saturdays only) serves up the world’s best banh mi for under a five-er.
Tayyabs, 83-89 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1JU
You’ll wait in line for a while but this place lives up to the hype. Skip all the horrendous, cheap places on Brick Lane for Indian and head straight to Tayyabs for authentic, family style Punjabi cuisine.
Brick Lane Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
The only place for late night eats when you’re out east. These bagels are less than $3 and the place is open 24 hours. Go for the salmon and cream cheese – and be warned, these are very different from traditional American bagels.
Bar Kick, 127 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JE
I love this place. I have hosted many a get-together at Bar Kick because they have an outdoor space for summer time, bar games and a great happy hour deal (which is hard to come by in London). The crowd is generally young ready to party.
The Redchurch, 107 Redchurch Street, E2 7DL
One of my favorite cocktails bars with cozy couches and friendly bartenders who know their stuff. A fancy alternative to the pint of lager.
The Royal Oak, 73 Columbia Road, London E2 7RG
Head here for a traditional British pub with a young, “east end crowd.” Keep a look out for celebs, too.
Markets and More
I love the markets in East London because they all link together, and on the weekends you can start at Broadway Market and mosey through Columbia Road Flower Market, up through Brick Lane Market and Sunday UpMarket and finish with Spitalfields. It will take you all afternoon, but these markets are the best for unique, handmade clothing, jewelry, beautiful flowers and delicious and authentic street food.