The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

"Индивидуум имеет в себе способность понять факторы своей жизни, которые приносят ему несчастье и боль, и реорганизовать себя таким образом, чтобы преодолеть эти факторы." Карл Роджерс ©
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The no-frills home of both British boxing and the Kray twins, who ran East London in the 1950s and 60s like the American mobsters from their favourite movies, Bethnal Green has more than earned its rugged reputation. But underneath lies an unshakeable community spirit and grunge attitude, with some of London’s best art exhibitions taking place under railway arches and industrial warehouses bringing music lovers together. The past decade has seen eating and drinking places in the area gloss up significantly – some of London’s best coffee shops are here and seasonal small-plates are thriving – though you can still find cafés that have fed locals since the turn of the century and pubs that dish out pies and gravy. Set between two leafy urban parks, the London neighbourhood is a small but lovable creative zone with plenty of East End charm.

THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN BETHNAL GREEN

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    BISTROTHEQUE

    While most East London restaurants shy away from white-table cloths in favour of a more stripped back approach, Bistrotheque leans into pretension safely housed in a white-washed warehouse on an industrial-age cobbled street. It’s a popular local haunt that attracts a mixed clientele — creatives talking politics, grown-up children taking their parents out, and after-work daters — all coming for the mean cocktails, carefully curated wine list, and modern French cooking. Expect mains of steak and fish with spectacular sides: corn gratin, garlic crushed potatoes and buttery hispi cabbage. Just save room for the vegan berry crumble and coconut sorbet.

    Address: Bistrotheque, 23-27 Wadeson Street, London E2 9DR


    Telephone: +44 20 8983 7900


    Website: bistrotheque.com

    E PELLICCI

    This Grade-II listed greasy spoon has been serving up cafe favourites with a side of humour, since it was opened by the Pellicci family in 1900. Passed down through the generations, E Pellicci has resisted the frenzied gentrification in Bethnal Green to become a London institution complete with Art Deco interiors, wood-panelled walls adorned with pictures of it’s owners, and cash-only payments. Sit with the cafe’s regulars and banter with current proprietors Nevio Pellicci Jr, his sister Anna and cousin Salvatore Zaccaria over a full English and a strong tea.

    Address: E Pellicci, 332 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AG


    Telephone: +44 20 7739 4873


    Website: epellicci.co.uk

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    THE LAUGHING HEART

    This place is the ultimate late-night hangout. Fusing an eclectic list of organic wines sourced from artisanal farmers with creative cooking by former Great British Menu star Tom Anglesea, this pared-back drinking spot hits the balance between low-key and high-concept perfectly. Seasonal small plates are an international affair, from Brussels sprouts with caramelised yogurt to whole Cornish mackerel with garlic miso and a Sichuan crème brûlée.

    Address: The Laughing Heart, 277 Hackney Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 8NA


    Telephone: +44 20 7686 9535


    Website: thelaughingheartlondon.com

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    BONG BONG’S MANILA KANTEEN

    Other Asian cuisines have been part of the food landscape in Britain for decades but Filipino flavours have yet to gain the recognition they deserve. Lee Johnson and his partner Sinead Campbell want that to change. At the start of 2019, they won the BBC’s My Million Pound Menu with their street-food stall BBQ Dreamz and its creative take on the Filipino staples Lee grew up with. They’ve since opened a permanent base on Hackney Road and created a trendy home for their vibrant cooking. Steaming bowls of aubergine kare kare, an adaptation of the Filipino slow-cooked oxtail stew; a light prawn, lemongrass and coconut curry; and addictive adobo-glazed chicken wings and cauliflower are dished out to the tune of old-school bangers sure to make you boogie along.

    Address: Bong Bong’s Manila Kanteen, 460 Hackney Road, London E2 9EG


    Telephone: +44 7752 315088


    Website: bongbongs.co.uk

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    SAGER + WILDE

    Tucked under an archway on Paradise Row, Sager + Wilde’s second branch seamlessly slots fine dining into its industrial surroundings. After revolutionising London’s wine bar scene with the launch of their first Hackney Road location in 2013, they have now turned the focus on food, hiring ex-Chiltern Firehouse chef Sebastian Myers to create a menu of seasonal and locally sourced dishes. Come for homemade pastas and stay on for drinks – Sager + Wilde is cosy in winter with candle-lit tables and exposed brick walls, while a large al fresco space is ideal for glasses of white wine in the sun.

    Address: Sager + Wilde, 250 Paradise Row, Cambridge Heath, London E2 9LE


    Telephone: +44 20 7729 6278


    Website: sagerandwilde.com

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    CORNER ROOM

    On the first floor of the Town Hall Hotel, this is a far cry from any municipal building cafeteria. It’s run by chef Simon Shand whose uncomplicated French food is served up in an impressive space where industrial lights hang in front of a white tiled wall and plants tumble from the shelves. The dinner menu changes daily, though you’ll almost always find a creamy burrata with sweet pomegranate and fresh oranges to start, followed by mains with locally sourced meat and fish. In the morning, join in-the-know locals and an eclectic mix of hotel guests in a room flooded with light to tuck into homemade pastries, berry compotes, delicious granary toast and eggs.

    Address: Corner Room, Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, London E2 9NF


    Telephone: +44 20 7871 0460


    Website: townhallhotel.com

    Read our full review of Town Hall Hotel here

    Town Hall Hotel, London: Muted glamour in Bethnal Green

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    AREPA & CO

    Fluffy and more bread-like than their Colombian sibling, Venezuelan arepas are having a moment right now. For three weeks, La Pepiá, a pop-up stand at Borough Market, made rainbow arepas filled with their much-photographed cheese blankets, attracting queues around the block. But it’s Arepa & Co, with spots in Haggerston and Bethnal Green, that has carved out a permanent space in London for the delicious South American sandwich alternative. Filled with black beans, cheese, avocado and sweet plantains, these are the ultimate cure for a hungover Sunday morning.

    Address: Arepa & Co, 254 Paradise Row, London E2 9LE


    Telephone: +44 203 9410199


    Website: arepaandco.com

    THE BEST PLACES TO DRINK IN BETHNAL GREEN

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    SATAN’S WHISKERS

    It might be named after the cocktail sipped by starlets and playboys in prohibition-era Hollywood’s Embassy Club, but the atmosphere in this Bethnal Green boozer is more rough-and-ready than glitzy – a welcome change in a city of high-end bars and cosy pubs. With interiors of exposed brick, quirky taxidermy and vintage French posters, it feels like a dive bar on New York’s Lower East Side. The drinks are meticulously mixed and the menu of daily-changing cocktails draws off-duty bartenders from across London every night of the week.

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    THE SUN TAVERN

    The people behind cocktail haunt the Discount Suit Company have transformed this weathered pub, which began pulling pints in the 1830s, into an award-winning bar. They’ve curated London’s largest list of Irish whiskey and poitín (a moonshine that was legalised in 1997), as well as a short menu of cocktails and small-cask beers – broadening the pub’s appeal to East Enders, old and new. Find DJs playing on Saturday evenings or spin your own vinyl on the turntables during the week.

    Address: The Sun Tavern, 441 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AN


    Telephone: +44 20 7739 4097


    Website: thesuntavern.co.uk

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    COUPETTE

    There’s something mischievous (coupette translates roughly as ‘a cheeky one’) about this joint run by Chris Moore, the former head barman at the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar. He’s sourced an obscure collection of spirits from around France and created a menu of cocktails that celebrates them, with the Normandy-produced Calvados taking centre stage. The French brandy is stirred into various concoctions, including the not-so-creatively named Apples, for which it’s combined with juice and carbonated in-house, while a short list of snacks continue the bar’s Gallic feel. Keep this one in mind for someone special – it’s one the most romantic bars in London.

    Address: Coupette, 423 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AN


    Telephone: +44 20 7729 9562


    Website: coupette.co.uk

    THE CARPENTER’S ARMS



    The Kray Twins, whose gang The Firm was notorious in London during the 1950s and 1960s, bought the Carpenter’s Arms for their mother Violet at the height of their infamy. The pocket-sized plot on the corner of Cheshire Street became a meeting place for the organised crime group, a stone’s throw away from their family home and the Repton Boxing Club (now the city’s oldest boxing gym) where Reggie and Ronnie trained. They’re long gone – just like their boxing gloves that once hung over the bar – but the pub remains much the same with wooden panelling, battered tables, large chalkboards listing an extensive beer selection and classic pub grub.

    THE BEST CAFÉS IN BETHNAL GREEN

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    HOLY SHOT COFFEE

    Inspired by the Antipodean third-wave coffee culture, the team at Holy Shot want drinkers to geek out with baristas about brews. It’s all about high-quality coffee here, with roasters travelling to where the beans are produced each month to nurture relationships with farmers in South America and Asia, before they blend it into their sweet and nutty signature roast.

    Address: Holy Shot Coffee, 155 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 7DG


    Telephone: +44 20 3222 0693


    Website: holyshotcoffee.com

    A PORTUGUESE LOVE AFFAIR

    Dina Martins and Olga Cruchinho’s love letter to their home country celebrates old-school Portuguese favourites: pastel de nata (theirs were voted the best in the UK), tinned fish – tuna fillet and fennel seeds, spiced mackerel and octopus – plus wines sourced from regions including Alentejo and Madeira. They sell beauty products and homeware too, and host events in their small space.

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    NKORA

    Grab your Keep Cup and head to neighbourhood staple Nkora, whose convenient location beside Cambridge Heath overground station keeps locals caffeinated on their commute. It’s a tiny spot, in a red-brick Victorian building at the crossroad, with minimalist interiors and lots of blonde wood, that lets the coffee do the talking.

    Address: Nkora, 236 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9DA


    Telephone: +44 7018 0740


    Website: nkora.co.uk

    THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN BETHNAL GREEN

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    FOUR CORNERS

    In 1973 a group of students at the London International Film School set up this independent film workshop and centre for radical arts. Over the following decade it fostered grassroots campaigns for the women’s, LGBT and civil rights movements, becoming a hub for social engagement and experimental filmmaking that continues today. Visit the intimate spot for exhibitions, talks, events and screenings of films, photography and contemporary visual arts. Or become a member to gain access to the darkroom and training programmes.

    Address: Four Corners, Ground Floor, 121 Roman Road, Globe Town, London E2 0QN


    Telephone: +44 20 8981 6111


    Website: fourcornersfilm.co.uk

    A prime example of the high-low Bethnal Green does so well, The Approach Gallery sits above a popular pub by the same name. It’s a simple space, with exposed wooden floors and large windows, that hosts solo exhibitions of contemporary London-based artists at the start of their careers. Several of these have since gone on to achieve international success – but not before enjoying a pint and songs on the jukebox in the cosy Approach Tavern below.

    Address: The Approach Gallery and Tavern, 47 Approach Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 9LY


    Telephone: +44 20 8983 3878


    Website: theapproach.co.uk

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    Growing out of the Victorian terraced house in which it was born, the Interim Gallery has since become Maureen Paley’s eponymous space. In a large industrial building on Herald Street, a short walk from Cambridge Heath, the gallery showcases contemporary artists including Turner Prize winners Wolfgang Tillmans and Gillian Wearing, the late New York photographer Peter Hujar and postmodern artist James Welling.

    Address: Maureen Paley, 21 Herald Street, London E2 6JT


    Telephone: +44 20 7729 4112


    Website: maureenpaley.com

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    LONDON BUDDHIST CENTRE

    Everyone is talking about mindfulness right now, but at The London Buddhist Centre it’s been a practice since 1978. It has been teaching city folk about Buddhism, yoga and meditation in a way that’s relevant for modern life, creating a thriving community in the former East End fire station it’s set in.

    Address: London Buddhist Centre, 51 Roman Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 0HU


    Telephone: +44 20 8981 1225


    Website: lbc.org.uk

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    V&A MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD

    The largest institution of its kind in the world, the V&A Museum of Childhood has collected toys, games, dolls and clothes since it opened in 1872, with a few more recent additions you’re sure to recognise (hello Barbie and Ken). A multi-million-pound refurbishment is expected to be completed by 2022, which will add even more interactive installations and gallery spaces to its handsome Grade II-listed home.

    Address: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA


    Telephone: +44 20 8983 5200


    Website: vam.ac.uk/moc

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    MASAJ

    An urban wellness retreat in three shipping containers at the Gossamer City Project is about as East London as you can get, and as locals will confirm, it’s the perfect cure to city living. From the plant-filled courtyard to the streamlined massage menu (there are just five options) and eco-friendly products – soy wax candles sit beside own-brand natural massage oils – Masaj is all about tranquillity and detoxing.

    Address: Masaj, The Gossamer City Project, 20 Gossamer Gardens, The Oval, London E2 9FN


    Telephone: +44 7944 321542


    Website: masaj.me

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    BETHNAL GREEN WORKING MEN’S CLUB

    Founded in 1887, the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club retains much of its classic decor – a tiny wood-clad bar, broken lampshades and sticky red carpets – though what it offers the community has changed with the times. A kitsch red heart and tinsel now hang above a small stage that hosts a changing roster of performances. There’s drag shows and live music, burlesque parties and themed rock ‘n’ roll, plus disco and hip-hop nights that all promise to be raucous fun.

    Address: Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, 42-44 Pollard Row, London E2 6NB


    Telephone: +44 20 7739 7170


    Website: workersplaytime.net

    OVAL SPACE AND THE PICKLE FACTORY

    When there’s a club scene filmed in London it’s often at this former pickle factory turned industrial warehouse and now events venue in Tower Hamlets. But Oval Space came first: transformed by friends Jordan Gross and Daniel Sylvester in 2011, it breathed fresh life into London’s licenced nightlife scene. It has since hosted live shows, experimental classical concerts and club nights in the 5,000-square-foot space, attracting world-renowned DJs who play night and day.

    Address: Oval Space, 29–32 The Oval, London E2 9DT


    Telephone: +44 20 7183 4422


    Website: ovalspace.co.uk

    THE BEST SHOPS IN BETHNAL GREEN

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    CONSERVATORY ARCHIVES

    Sip a fresh coffee and listen to records among the curated botanical beauties and antiques at Conservatory Archives. After graduating with a horticulture degree from agricultural college in Essex, founder Jin Ahn and her partner Giacomo Plazzotta decided to create this haven for the green-fingered on Hackney Road with unusual plants sourced from Holland, Belgium and Denmark.

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    A NEW TRIBE

    This is a rug shop like you’ve never seen before. Rare vintage Moroccan finds hang beside contemporary minimalist designs from New York brand Cold Picnic and Matisse-like works by Californian artist Lilian Martinez inspired by her home in the Mojave Desert. Founder Ella Jones works closely with local cooperatives in Morocco to ethically source what she buys and has designed her own collection of Azilal rugs as well. Creatives also come for her colourful ceramics, abstract vases and tamegroute candlesticks that make great gifts for discerning urbanites.

    Address: A New Tribe, 273 Hackney Road, London E2 8NH


    Telephone: +44 7815 534545


    Website: anewtribe.co.uk

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    EASTERN BIOLOGICAL

    When Alfred Addis set about designing his modern-day curiosity shop Eastern Biological, he insisted his architects look to the volcanic archipelago of the Galapagos Islands for inspiration – a place of historical importance in the study of natural history. They created a luscious green oasis spanning two floors, filled with art prints and animal-themed wrapping paper, books about foraging, biology and adventure, plus educational toys and gifts sourced from around the world.

    Address: Eastern Biological, 85 Hackney Road, London E2 9ED


    Telephone: +44 20 7059 0915


    Website: easternbiological.co.uk

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  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    Bistrotheque

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    Arepa & Co.

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    Arepa & Co.

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    Satan’s Whiskers

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    Bong Bong’s

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    Bong Bong’s

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    Holy Shot Coffee

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    A New Tribe

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    A New Tribe

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    A New Tribe

  • The best of Bethnal Green: restaurants, bars and shops

    Eastern Biological