East London. Previously the home of the vagabond and the down and outs, now a hipster’s paradise and a playground for parties and pop ups. You’ll find it all here; from bubble tea bars to sloppy-jo joints and trendy gallery openings.
One of our favourite pastimes is to venture into London’s creative belly to see what culinary delights are on offer. However, it’s not always the five star restaurants or boutique bars that win our vote. The East End is best known for it’s alternative and experimental approach to both life and food and we’d definitely encourage you to indulge in its unique characteristics. On that note, here are our top picks of alternative places to eat in East London.
Ever wanted a quick hair cut and a delicious meal from the same establishment? Hurwundeki is the answer to your oddly specific prayer. Based out in Cambridge Heath, this creative hair salon, cafe and restaurant can style your ‘do’ whilst your grub cooks. Drop by in the morning for a perfectly roasted coffee, head over for a lunch/dinner of delicious traditional Korean dishes with a modern twist or pop in for simple haircut in 20 minutes or less.
Where: Cambridge Heath (E2 9HA)
When: Café Mon- Sat 08:00-18:00, Sun- Closed. Restaurant Lunch 12:00–16:00, Dinner 18:00–22:00 daily.
The Hackney Pearl
Hackney Wick has become one of London’s main creative hubs, with artists and musicians galore flocking to the area (having been priced out of the more gentrified Shoreditch). Amongst the industrial warehouses, estates and high rises are stunning little gems like The Hackney Pearl. Featuring white-washed, mismatched and eclectic decor and boasting a range of seasonal British dishes sourced locally, The Pearl is only one tube stop away from Westfield shopping centre. We’d recommend their £8 lunch special (Monday- Friday, 12-4pm) or 2-for-1 seasonal cocktails (Monday- Thursday).
Where: Hackney Wick (E9 5LX)
When: Mon – Sat 10:00- 23:00, Sun 10:00- 22:00 (kitchen closed 4- 6pm daily)
Dans Le Noir
Does sitting in complete darkness while dining on a surprise menu and served by visually impaired waiters sound like an alternative experience to you? Well it certainly is, and an incredible one to boot. A sensory journey designed to challenge your perceptions, Dans Le Noir turns the tables on a normal night out by offering an environment where “darkness kills shyness” and the blind become your guiding eyes for a whole new experience. While not cheap (surprise meals starting at £44), you’ll find Dans Le Noir to be a worthy investment and only a short walk from the hostel door.
Where: Clerkenwell (EC1R 0DU)
When: Open everyday but with some slightly complex hours. Find them here.
Street Feast- Dalston Yard
Another growing hub for the young, creative set of London is Dalston – home of London’s largest night market. Street Feast- Dalston Yard hosts over 50 of London’s best and most acclaimed street food pop-ups. From the epic toasted cheese sandwiches at ‘Grill My Cheese’ to mouth-watering meats from ‘BBQ Lab’ and home-made ice cream from the inventive ‘Scoopsy Daisy’ – your taste buds won’t know what’s hit them. Accompanying the myriad of food stalls are bars by the dozen; according Time Out, Street Feast- Dalston Yard is the “The food market that knows how to party.” Head along with as many people as you can – that way, you’ll get to try a bit of everything …
Where: Dalston (E8 3DU)
When: Fri & Sat, 17:00- 00:00 (£3 after 19:00)
Last but definitely not least is Brick Lane’s acclaimed Beigel Bake. Whether you’ve just arrived off the plane or find yourself hungry after a night out in Shoreditch, Beigel Bake is there for you – it’s open 24 hours a day. The fillings range from salt beef and gherkin to the classic cream cheese and salmon, followed by an offering of sweet pastries and cakes. Whatever you’re craving, regardless of the hour, Beigel Bake has you covered. You may have to put up with longer queues on weekday afternoons and 3am on Saturday nights, but we assure you, it’s worth it.
Where: Brick Lane (E1 6SB)
When: 24 a days, every day.
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Written by Caitlin (A.K.A. The Indie Butterfly).