Best places to eat in East London
I live in East London, so people are always asking me where I like to eat. Here are my favourites..
22 Newington Green, N16 9PU
Oh Jolene, how I love thee. For me, this is the epitome of a perfect neighbourhood restaurant – the staff are lush, the ambience is great and the food is regularly changing and consistently delicious. Always get pasta (preferably at least two of the three on offer) and always get dessert, but really, everything is good. It’s also a nice place to drop into at the weekend for one of the delicious, freshly baked pastries and a coffee. Oh and you can book, which is ideal.
49 Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
This friendly restaurant on Columbia road is also spot on with its simple décor and lovely staff but most importantly, I had a ricotta ravioli here that was so outrageously delicious that I declared it my dessert island dish right there and then. It was light, buttery, cheesy, very slightly zesty and cooked to perfection – I pretty much licked the plate clean. I also enjoyed a Parmesan-blanketed beef tartare with crispy sage and a seriously smooth, rich chocolate mousse/ganache situation with praline. It’s now up there in my top three restaurants in London, I highly recommend.
68 Dalston Lane, E8 3AH
An intimate restaurant with seats either around the open kitchen island or in cosy window alcoves. Since I live about 30 seconds away, I’ve visited a fair few times and the food has impressed me every time. Always start with bread and homemade pickles, then go for anything from the regularly-changing menu. Examples of some of the dishes I enjoyed on my first visit can be seen here.
43A Commercial St, E1 6BD
Som Saa makes Thai food with seriously smack-you-in the-face flavour (in the best way possible). Better than anything I ever ate in Thailand for sure. I definitely recommend getting the deep-fried crispy sea bass, plus sticky or jasmine rice (or both), a zingy Papaya salad and one of the curries. It really is a treat for the senses.
95 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, London E5 ONP
What used to be a very successful pop-up now has its own site in Clapton and I’m so pleased. I never thought I liked Chinese food but that’s when all I knew of it was gloopy, too-sweet takeaways. Lucky & Joy’s Chinese-inspired menu has all the things I love – loads of garlic and coriander, fresh zingy sauces, nutty sesame and salty soy. Everything we had on our visit was packed full of flavour but highlights were probably the starters (pictured) – cold noodles in silky sesame sauce, pickled, roasted peanuts, and tangy, spicy, garlic-laden smacked cucumbers.
62 Wentworth St, Spitalfields, E1 7AL
A casual, no-frills restaurant knocking out authentic northern Chinese dishes, this place is best known for its wide, flat hand-pulled noodles with beef or cumin lamb. Both are delicious, as are the pork dumplings in spicy sauce (also pictured). It’s quick, casual, affordable and delicious. Win win win win.
65 Commercial St, Spitalfields, E1 6BD
On the same, very foodie road as Som Saa and Xian Biang Biang is Bubala. This compact restaurant has a delicious, all-veggie menu of Middle-eastern sharing dishes. Highlights include warm laffa flatbreads with pumpkin, harissa & preserved lemon dip (I wish I had ordered all three dips – burnt butter hummus and labneh with confit garlic, yes please); incredibly soft, lightly charred halloumi drizzled in honey; fried aubergines with zhoug and super crispy, confit potato ‘latkes’ with tangy toum (garlic dip).
195 Hackney Rd, E2 8JL
Middle Eastern mezze meets Spanish tapas in this fail-safe small plates restaurant. The menu changes regularly, according to what’s in season, but dishes are always packed full of flavour. Expect things like warm, za’atar-coated Moroccan breads; fried aubergines with date molasses and feta; lamb kofte with spiced yogurt and Autumn fattoush (pictured). The vibe is good here as it feels smart enough for a special occasion yet, equally, casual enough for a last-minute dinner with friends (if you can get a table). They do breakfast/brunch on the weekends too, with dishes like Turkish menemen eggs and Moroccan pancakes with sheep’s cheese and honey.
254 Hackney Rd, E2 7SJ
Just down the road from Morito, The Marksman is a pub with a restaurant upstairs, serving excellent food. The menu celebrates classic British food with a modern twist which is all brilliantly executed. Highlights on my visit were the delicate venison tartare starter (pictured) and the warm, fluffy curried lamb bun with spiced yogurt. There’s usually also a hearty pie for sharing, a range of perfectly cooked British meat and fish options, and sides like proper crispy potatoes with caper mayo. And make sure you save room for brown butter & honey tart for dessert.
18 Phipp Street EC2A 4NU
A lovely spot for a special occasion, the food here is delicious and well-executed. The menu changes regularly but one of the consistent dishes is also one of my favourites – a generous mound of steak tartare on garlic-rubbed, charred toast with silky aioli. Foodies, get a table at the bar and watch the chefs in action in the impressively chilled, smooth-running kitchen.
56 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JJ
Lyle’s was one of those restaurants that I had always heard really glowing reviews about from chefs and fellow food-loving friends and, when I finally went for my birthday last year, it didn’t disappoint. Well-executed, interesting, seasonal dishes and attentive staff make dining here a really special experience. Plus, the desserts were so delicious that they had me and Doug both actually physically laughing with joy. Pictured is one of those desserts – a marshmallow, espresso and caramel number that blew our minds.
93 Stoke Newington Church St, Stoke Newington, London N16 0AS
Undoubtedly the best brunch I’ve had in Stoke Newington and always consistent. You can’t beat the absolute flavour sensation that is the Sabih (Iraqi aubergine pitta, pictured) but I also like the Jerusalem plate. People also rave about the shakshuka and the babka but I’m yet to try these. BUT FYI, you usually have to queue to get a table on the weekends.
159 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
The ultimate salt beef bagel. This freshly baked, chewy bagel encases a huge chunk of soft salt beef, a hit of mustard and a giant pickle. For £4. For me, this can’t be beaten as the quickest, cheapest and all-round best salt beef bagel in London. Plus, the shop is open 24 hours if you just so happen to want a salt beef fix in the middle of the night…
Abbot St, Dalston, E8 3DP
Up there in my top two best sandwiches in London (along with Max’s Sandwich shop). The regularly-changing fillings are generous and never dull – think roasted, curried cauliflower with pickled onions and chillies (pictured); romesco, Tenderstem broccoli & feta or porcetta with salsa verde and greens, all in deliciously fluffy bread. Slightly frustratingly, you can only get their most banging sandwiches during the week. On weekends, they only serve bacon sarnies, cheese toasties and brunch dishes and it now gets absolutely packed, so for the best experience, I’d go midweek if you can.