With restaurants like Brawn, The Clove Club and Lyle’s in its number, East London is the unofficial home of the modern British small plates movement.
But it’s also home to some striking examples of global cuisine; from buzzing Israeli restaurants to intimate Italian boltholes. There’s nine-seater sushi dens, and nose-to-tail institutions.
So, with no further ado, behold the best restaurants in East London:
The striking glass pavilion isn’t the only thing that makes Crispin stand out amongst other restaurants in East London. Chef Lewis de Haas is doing quite breathtaking things in the kitchen, whether for brunch or the seasonal tasting menus, or for the many collaborations he fosters with interesting guest chefs.
Details: Pavilion on The Corner, White’s Row, Spitalfields, E1 7NF | £££
Some people open a place because they love cooking. Some people open it for the drinks. Freddie Sheen and Zac Whittle opened their restaurant for the sheer love of restaurants, it seems – everything, from the ambient lighting to the relaxed but attentive service, has been meticulously designed to give you a really, really good time. Oh, and incidentally the food and drinks are really good too.
Details: 460 Hackney Road, Hackney, E2 9EG | £££
Acme Fire Cult
Abiding the laws of nominative determinism, Acme Fire Cult has inspired something of a cult-like following thanks to the grill skills of chef-owner Andrew Clarke. Housed in a brewery, and boasting a huge outdoor area, it’s an intoxicating den of smoke, craft brews, and banging music.
Details: Abbot Street Car Park, Dalston, E8 3DP | £££
What do ex-Kitty Fisher’s chef Chris Leach and Smokestak founder David Carter have in common? Lard. Or, to give it its Italian name, Manteca: their Italian nose-to-tail eatery that started out as a pop up and proved so outrageously popular that they moved to much bigger digs in Shoreditch, and still pack the place out.
Details: 49-51 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3PT | £££
The definition of “that great little place”. It’s tucked down a sidestreet off Old Street roundabout, and doesn’t announce itself particularly obviously. But walk past Popolo’s window and you’ll see a crowd of diners sat up at a counter overlooking the kitchen, sipping vermouth and dining on Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded Italian small plates. And you should join them.
Details: 26 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, East London, EC2A 3DU | £££
Ranked 55th in Restaurant Magazine’s 100 best restaurants in the world. Ranked in no particular position in The Nudge’s best restaurants in East London. We know which accolade we’d have on our website…
Details: St John St, Clerkenwell, EC1M 4AY | ££££
One word: omakase. Entrust the chef. After you’ve entrusted yourself to make a booking; it only seats nine at a time.
Details: Jerusalem Passage, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4JP | ££££
The Clove Club
The Clove Club combine frequently overlooked ingredients in their set restaurant menu of innovative British food, placing them at #26 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Call them beforehand to find out what’s on offer, or for a chat – the staff are friendly.
Details: Shoreditch Town Hall, Old St, EC1V 9LT | ££££
One of the best-kept secrets among London’s lunch spots. Enter via a buzzer, where the day-only modern European canteen lies tucked away in the walled courtyard of an old Shoreditch school.
Details: Rochelle School, Greater Arnold Circus, E2 7ES | ££
The Sea, The Sea Hackney
The Sea, The Sea, much like its West London counterpart, is part fishmongers, part restaurant. They take in daily shipments of swimmers fresh off the day boats, then descale, fillet, and occasionally dry-age them before sending them to some of London’s top kitchens. Including their own. That’s where chef Leandro Carreira puts together his highly inventive tasting menus, served up at their beautiful aquamarine bar…
Address: 337 Acton Mews, E8 4EA | £££
A double Michelin-starred restaurant housed in the grand Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, where a couple of ex-Fat Duck chefs create nine-course tasting menus intertwining Italian and South American cuisine.
Details: Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, Bethnal Green, E2 9NF | £££
Mouthwatering Israeli dishes in a cosy, unfussy bistro on Shacklewell Lane. Nibble on ox cheek on a bed of hummus or brill tartare with Kurdish cheese, accompanied by a formidable wine list from Zeren Wilson.
Details: 89 Shacklewell Lane, Hackney, E8 2EB | ££
A warm, artfully ramshackle southern Italian restaurant housed in an old dairy on the corner of a courtyard tucked just behind Columbia Road. Hearty dishes combine with excellent wines, sunshine, and convivial chatter.
Details: 23 Ezra Street, E2 7RH | ££–
Simply put, one of the most exciting new restaurants in London. Israeli vegetarian small plates – burnt butter hummus; squidgy burnt aubergines and freshly made malawach (a Yemenite Jewish pancake) – are put together by Barbary and Palomar alumna Helen Graham.
Details: 65 Commercial Street, E1 6BD | ££
A restaurant with considerable ‘hot right now’ status, entirely earned thanks to its canal-side location, snappy monochrome interiors and mouthwatering small plates menu, spanning from sage & anchovy fritti to Guinness bread ice cream.
Details: Canal Place, 32 Andrews Road, Hackney, E8 4FX | £££
A no-fuss, but highly fussed-over Hackney restaurant from Terroirs’ Ed Wilson. Beautiful assemblies of seasonal ingredients are plated up in a minimalist dining room with a tender creativity that’s won the hearts of several of London’s top chefs and critics. READ MORE
Details: 49 Columbia Road, Bethnal Green, E2 7RG | £££
Everything you could want from a local, plus a little bit more. Namely, a roof terrace for breakfast buns and the Sunday papers; bar-setting roasts; and some of the loveliest food in town.
Details: 254 Hackney Road, E2 7SJ | £££
A 114 year old Dutch cargo barge moored up on the Hackney riviera, serving small plates of such impressive elegance, you’d never think they were being assembled in a kitchen the size of a captain’s cabin.
Details: Sweetwater Mooring, River Lee, White Post Lane, E9 5EN | ££
The Water House Project
The long-awaited permanent incarnation of chef Gabriel Waterhouse’s mind-blowing pop ups. His aim is to create a fine dining restaurant that has the same relaxed atmosphere as a supperclub. And he’s totally succeeded.
Details: 3 Mare Street, E8 4RP | £££
A Michelin-starred eatery serving up a £89 set menu for dinner which changes every day, put together by James Lowe (one of the founding members of ‘The Young Turks’ – a trio of chefs who were behind possibly the most successful pop up of all time, ‘Upstairs at The Ten Bells’).
Details: The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ | ££££
The eagerly anticipated first solo restaurant from Nathan Outlaw protégé Tom Brown, and easily the best seafood spot in East London, thanks to the creative dishes and soothing, minimalist setting. And the Michelin man agrees.
Details: 3 Prince Edward Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LX | £££
A mighty fine tapas spot, serving up Spanish-Moorish dishes like arak-cured trout, guinea fowl croquetas and slow-cooked pork shoulder in buzzy, beautiful surroundings.
Details: 195 Hackney Road, E2 8JL | £££
Berber & Q
Middle Eastern flavours. American BBQ. Berber & Q is a railway arch grill house mixing up menus in all the right kind of ways.
Details: Arch 338 Acton Mews, Haggerston, E8 4EA | £££
Another bastion of Modern British dining, this time in a Bethnal Green warehouse. And before you roll your eyes, this place opened in 2004, so it’s one of the true originals – and still great.
Details: 23-27 Wadeson Street, Bethnal Green, E2 9DR | £££
Pidgin | A Dalston restaurant where you have no say whatsoever in what you’ll be eating. Luckily for you, it’s guaranteed to be delicious.
Details: 52 Wilton Way, E8 1BS | £££
Last Updated: 16th August 2022 | Main image: Cornerstone
Liked exploring the best restaurants in East London? You’ll be needing a nightcap at one of the best bars in Shoreditch…
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