Blistered Pizzas and Burrata at Gloria Trattoria

Shoreditch foodie guide: where to eat and drink

Check out our favourite places to eat in the capital's trendy city hub. Try crisp piri-piri chicken, hispi cabbage with pork fat and an XO crumb, and the best pizza slice in town

Looking for Shoreditch restaurants? Here are some of our favourite restaurants in east London’s buzzing borough around Old Street and Shoreditch High Street stations. Check out our ideas for eating and drinking in Shoreditch, from Brick Lane to Redchurch Street and beyond…

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Padella, Phipp Street – for pasta

From the brains behind Borough Market’s buzzing, booking-free pasta spot comes Padella 2.0, an industrial-style space that makes up for its cool interiors with a showstopping selection of antipasti and, you guessed it, pasta. Like the original, you can’t make a booking, instead, turn up when it opens (12pm for lunch and 5pm for dinner) to pop your name on a virtual queue. A spacious open kitchen accommodates bar stools, or there are red wooden tables further away from the action. Wherever you sit, the larger space feels like you can linger over your linguine for longer.

Start with a bitter, dark-berry blackcurrant americano (Campari, Hereford blackcurrant liqueur, fig leaf and soda) or sip a punchy gorgonzola-stuffed olive martini. Food-wise, if it’s not made in-house, it’s been carefully sourced from local and Italian producers, from the Islington-based Cobble Lane Cured ‘nduja to the vivid Sicilian Marinda tomatoes.

Every plate impresses, from sourdough with a crunch to the crust and satisfying chew to wobbly burrata in a pool of fruity Fiorano olive oil. You’d be missing a trick if you didn’t order at least half the pasta menu (there’s eight that change on the regular). Dexter beef shin ragu cooks for eight hours, clinging to the slippery sheets of pappardelle before being covered in frilly parmesan, while a Westcombe ricotta ravioli zings with lemon, sage and butter.

Come for the pasta, stay for the puds. A sliver of seasonal tart (be it lemon, rhubarb and almond or salted caramel) will end things nicely – a buttery, short crust, light filling and dollop of cooling crème fraiche.

padella.co


Daffodil Mulligan, Old Street – for Irish food

If you think you know chef Richard Corrigan’s shtick – posh British fare in Mayfair institutions – think again. His latest outpost, in partnership with fellow Irishmen John Nugent and Tony Gibney, and minutes from Old Street tube station, is an unapologetic tribute to Irish craic. The industrial Shoreditch space is modestly decorated with moody portraits of Irish legends – Sinéad O’Connor guides you down the stairs to the basement drinking den and unisex loos; while upstairs is where you’ll find the main restaurant, open kitchen, complete with a wood oven and grill, and oyster bar.

Let chef be your guide with six sharing courses and a Gibney’s stout for £45 pp, or work your way around the snacks, small plates, oysters and grill. Whatever direction you go in, you’re in for a surprise – this is, after all, a wilder, east London take on Corrigan’s version of refined cooking. Brown crab arrives as a whisper of foam – think savoury Angel Delight – topped with the season’s best purple sprouting broccoli and dark, toasted rye breadcrumbs. Beef tartare is a generous, fiery mouthful served in an oyster shell with saline sophistication from accompanying oyster cream.

With every plate – they come when they’re ready – the flavour continues to dial up. “Vongole, chicken and tarragon” needs to be served with a straw, so addictive is the briny, Marmite-y, silky lagoon in which the sweet clams bathe in. Save a slice of soda bread and sea salt butter for mopping up every last drop. More shellfish: lobster and kimchi are unexpected, sweet and funky partners.

More traditional Irish dishes stand up, too. Crubeens – boiled pig’s feet, breadcrumbed and fried – are sticky, gelatinous and served on a bed of crushed swede with a whole pot of english mustard. Cured collar of bacon is served with the creamiest mash and soubise (a sweet and mellow caramelised onion white sauce) and lifted with sharp and fresh pickled shallot rings. Many ingredients are even sourced from Richard’s own estate in Ireland, Virginia Park Lodge – including smoky, wood-roasted carrots that punch way above their weight.

Biscuity champagne and a light, very gluggable muscadet are winners on the wine list – but drinks nerds should explore the cocktails with infused spirits, from jalapeño-infused tequila in a blood orange margarita to chilli Aperol with mezcal, chocolate and orange bitters.

daffodilmulligan.com


Gloria, Great Eastern Street – for a group dinner

A Paris export bringing top-quality Italian food to the streets of east London in its own quirky, seriously OTT way. All produce is sourced from Italy and it shows. Order smoked stracciatella (if you can resist burrata from Puglia), accurately described on the playful menu as “bloody godsent”.

If Instagrammable dishes are your bag then look no further than the La Gran Carbonara, for two to share, served in a giant wheel of pecorino, and the “incomparable” lemon pie with a promised 5.9-inch meringue layer.

Click here to read our full review of Gloria

Blistered Pizzas and Burrata at Gloria Trattoria

Two Lights, Kingsland Road – for date night

This neighbourhood restaurant in a corner of London that’s best known for its Vietnamese cuisine is starkly decorated with whitewashed brick walls, clothless tables and not a soft furnishing in sight. Staff seem to be genuinely happy to see you. They care – whether that’s ensuring your glass of (great) wine is served at the perfect temperature, or guiding you through their menu highlights.

Our favourite dishes were a sardine katsu sandwich – perhaps the least Instagram-friendly dish this side of Old Street station – and crab atop beef-fat ‘chips’. The former, a panko-battered fish (tail and all, poking out from one end) sandwiched between cheap, crustless, white slices, is brilliant. The chips, millefeuille-like, are super crisp fingers topped with delicately sweet picked and dressed white crab meat, with a welcome sharpness from tiny pickled elderflower buds, all served on millennial-pleasing blush-pink plates. Don’t skip the sides – carrots roasted, dusted with fennel pollen and draped in disappearing, melting lardo was simply ace.

twolights.restaurant

Sardine katsu sandwich

Casa do Frango, King John Court – for Portuguese food

This two-floor Shoreditch spot is the second Portuguese chicken joint from Casa do Frango. Start in Bar da Casa on the ground floor, where cocktails have pleasing Portuguese twists – such as a dash of tawny port in a punchy old fashioned, or tropical Licor Beirão to lace the caipirinha-like Caipirão. Continue upstairs in the candlelit dining room where long wooden tables, dusty pink banquettes and plenty of plants fit neatly round curved walls with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Friendly Portuguese staff are keen to share wine knowledge and recommend dishes like their grandmas used to make. Try a selection of petiscos (small plates) served in terracotta dishes – shell-on prawns slathered in a garlicky white wine piri piri sauce and deep-fried salgadinhos (empanadas stuffed with caramelised onion, kale and mushrooms). The main event is succulent chicken with crispy, sticky piri-piri skin and extra-hot piri-piri sauce on the side. Accompany with a refreshing chopped salad of tomatoes, cucumber, onions and green peppers or African rice studded with tiny peas, plantain pieces and chorizo, with crisp chicken skin on top to add crunch. Leave room for a delicate, cinnamon-laced custard tart, fresh and warm from the oven.

casadofrango.co.uk

A table of Portuguese dishes including half a piri piri chicken at Casa do Frango

St Leonards, Leonard Street – for bold flavours

St Leonard’s is a vast and underdressed space in the grungy end of Shoreditch. Living trees add a bit of colour to the sparse, concrete-chic decor – wooden tables adorned only with cutlery, crudely pressed linen napkins, and tortoiseshell tealight holders. Funky, industrial chain lights cast pretty shadows.

Expect flavours and combinations here that you won’t have tried before and a lot of love for pork. There’s a dramatic, large, log-fuelled open fire which produces small plates of flame-scorched margarita onions, with a tuna bone (yes, you read right) caramel (sweet, umami, sticky) and specials such as Swaledale lamb leg, slow roasted and rosy, with Vesuvio tomatoes and anchovies.

There’s also a raw ice bar where oysters come natural, dressed or, with help from the hearth, flamed. Ours come warm from the fire with a lardo crumb – every bit as mind blowing as you might imagine – but still not as good as the single cherrystone clam. Smoked eel and foie gras custard with pork rind is like the punk sister to an elegant and restrained chawanmushi (a Japanese savoury egg custard). Sides, too, shouldn’t be shunned. Hispi cabbage – uncontested king brassica – is crowned with more pork fat and an XO crumb. Sprouting broccoli is slathered in delicious, dainty scraps of ham knuckle and aggressive smoked chilli. Desserts are no less ballsy, so don’t skip, even if you don’t think you have a sweet tooth: the salted caramel and East India sherry tart with cardamom ice cream is the best thing on the menu. And, trust us, it’s got a lot of competition. 

Bitter is the theme when it comes to apertifs – Cynar and Kamm & Sons spritzes, and Suze, get star billing, alongside sherry and vermouth. The wine list is well annotated with full tasting notes, which make navigating the lesser-known bottles a dream.

stleonards.london

Roast duck with olives at St Leonard's. Credit Steve Ryan
Credit Steve Ryan

BRAT, Redchurch Street – for sharing plates

Brat, slang for turbot – the much ordered and much Instagrammed star dish on the menu at this former Shoreditch strip bar – is grilled over an open wood fire grill to much dramatic effect, along with more prime ingredients. 

Order the Cornish moorland beef chop – slices of ruby red meat with a darkly charred bark, come lined up like dominos, their border of gamey yellow fat almost better than the meat itself. Italian tomatoes, on the side, are simply quartered, seasoned and drenched in an olive oil so peppery it catches in your throat.

The rest of the menu follows the trend for sharing plates – small snacks up to giant platters. Chopped egg salad with bottarga, and bouncy, blistered, pillow-soft grilled flatbread, topped with curls of salty anchovy fillets.

Sweet langoustines with earthy spikes of roasted rosemary are barely licked by the flames – still daringly see through. Spider crab, cabbage and fennel salad is refreshingly different – a careful dance between the sweet shellfish, brassica pepperiness and aniseed hit, lemon zest and chervil. For dessert try a Tomos Parry classic, brown bread ice cream marbled with marmalade.

The wine list lives up to its promise, too – curated with the help of the cool gang at Noble Rot – there’s plenty for the chipper team to recommend, from supremely sippable sherries, to the grown-up Koehler-Ruprecht riesling trocken.

bratrestaurant.com

Brat Restaurant Review. Photo credit Ben McMahon
Photo credit Ben McMahon

Leroy, Phipp Street – for a relaxed dinner

Those followers of Michelin will recognise the team behind Shoreditch’s latest bistro from the now (sadly) closed Ellory in Hackney – with sommeliers Ed Thaw and Jack Lewens, and chef Sam Kamienko at the helm. Leroy (a pet name for their former gaff) is decidedly more relaxed, more affordable, and the sort of place we want to hang out in every damn day. Olive-green tables are gold trimmed, school chairs have red-leather cushions, there’s dark, marble-topped counters and an open kitchen, which looks like a scene out of the Bon Appétit test kitchen. It feels like Brooklyn – but better.

Its new home used to be a wine bar – and the drinks are definitely still a draw, from deliciously puckering rhubarb house soda and aromatic vermouth spritzes to a long list of low-intervention, natural wines (although only a few by the glass). When it comes to the food, simplicity and flavour are key – so everything on the menu appeals. One to two plates per person, with a couple of snacks to share for good measure, should do it. Quail skewers are so tender, still pink inside, with a sticky and hot honey sauce. Caramelised and moreish, the tingly heat that gently lingers is a reminder of just how good they were. Ricotta dumplings, under a cloud of parmesan, are like edible pillows sent from heaven, crashing down to earth in their bed of early summer peas and courgette. Don’t miss Muscat crème caramel for dessert – explicit in its wobble, unapologetic with its boozy flirting.

leroyshoreditch.com

Leroy Restaurant

Som Saa, Commercial Street – for Thai food

The interior of this popular Thai restaurant wears that trendy East London warehouse look well – it’s a former fabric warehouse – with a mix of exposed brick, thick, battered wooden tabletops, steel girders and tanks of beer from Camden Town Brewery. The staff are really good – friendly, passionate, knowledgeable, efficient. Many have been with the chefs (Andy Oliver and Mark Dobbie who both previously worked at Nahm with chef-patron and Thai food guru David Thompson) from the beginning.

But, of course, it’s the food that draws these sorts of crowds: uncompromising, regional Thai. We’re recommended to order four to five dishes between two after sampling a cocktail each. Bangkok-style Som tam Thai screeched with flavour – salt, sour, and chilli fire. Sticky rice was addictively good and the ideal carrier for a mellow, sticky Burmese-style curry (gaeng hung lay) of pork belly and shoulder, topped with pickled garlic and ginger. Nahm dtok pla thort (whole deep-fried sea bass) looked terrifying, but hacking into the crisp, roasted rice-coated skin, gave way to the most tender flesh, and was perked up with sprightly dressed Isaan herbs.

There are only three desserts on the menu – Jackfruit poached in coconut cream, which they make in-house (authenticity is everything here), and palm sugar ice cream with grilled banana are worth a try.

Click here for our full review of Som Saa

Overhead shot of Thai dishes on a wooden table at Somsaa

The Napoleon hotel and bars, Christopher Street – for a one-building bar crawl

The team at The Napoleon describe it as London’s smallest grand hotel, which is fitting. Building (literally) on the success of whisky bar Black Rock, The Napoleon has launched with three unique concepts under one roof. You’ll still find Black Rock in the basement, but the ground floor is now home to Sack, a fun and authentic sherry and tapas bar. Upstairs again is The Devil’s Darling, a quirky hotel bar that wouldn’t be out of place in a Wes Anderson film, and one decadent bedroom suite above, which features bottled cocktails from the Aske Stephenson range.

napoleon-hotel.com

The Devils Darling

Voodoo Ray’s, Kingsland High Street – for pizza slices

For the best slice of pizza in London, head to Voodoo Ray’s for a New York style slice. With four locations across London, this joint bakes 22-inch pizzas topped with everything from wild mushroom, squash and red onion; salt beef, sauerkraut and emmental and a vegan option, piled high with artichoke hearts and green olives. If you fancy a pizza pie for brunch, Voodoo Ray’s serve 10” pizzas on the weekend topped with classic eggs and bacon or a veggie spinach and ricotta version.

With a selection of craft beers (think Beavertown, Red Hook and Kona) and frozen margaritas on offer, Voodoo Ray’s is the place to go for a late-night munch.

voodoorays.com

Voodoo Rays pizza, London

Crispin, Spitalfields – for brunch

This all-day and night café can be found on a quiet corner just off Spitalfields and Liverpool Street Station. In a quirky, purpose-built zinc and glass pavilion, designed to look like an origami-folded bird, light pours into the back onto the cool polished concrete bars, and terrazzo-topped ash bar. There’s Assembly coffee from Brixton during the day, and at night Fernando Berry of Otros Vinos has helped curate a rotating wine list focussing on natural and low-intervention wines.

Breakfast starts at 7.30am and covers the classics, alongside trendy new contenders. There’s an organic bacon sandwich with house ketchup; bright-yolked, boiled Burford Brown eggs with Dusty Knuckle Bakery soldiers; and Secret Smokehouse (made in London Fields) on sourdough (check out our guide to sourdough here) with soft cheese, lemon and dill. There’s avo on toast, too, plus scrambled eggs with chives and parmesan, and overnight oats with kefir, toasted seeds and compote. Order the super-crunchy, smoked ham toastie – oozing with melted cheddar, topped with a crispy fried egg and showered in finely grated, nutty Berkswell cheese.

Click here to read about the best brunches in London

Crispin, London E1

Old Spitalfields Market, Spitalfields – for street food

Spitalfields Market has a selection of street-food traders right at its heart. Berber & Q, Dumpling Shack and Monty’s Deli are a few familiar faces, but there are new names, too, including seasonal fresh pasta from Sood Family and traditional Taiwanese dishes from JiaBa.

Don’t miss out on nose-to tail hearty dishes from Flank (by Brighton chef Tom Griffiths), including bone-marrow crumpets with tender beef cheeks and Marmite sauce. For dessert, head along to Happy Endings for indulgent ice-cream sandwiches and next-level hot chocolates.

Click here to read about the best street-food markets in London

Monty's Deli salt beef bagel

Smokestak, Sclater Street – for barbecue

Founder David Carter launched his US-style smoked and barbecued meat stall onto the capital’s street food scene in 2013. Since then Barbadian David, who previously worked front of house at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, The Savoy Grill and Roka, has grown a reputation in London and beyond (praise the lord for the UK food festival circuit) for his USDA brisket, pork and beef ribs.

Ribs – beef and pork – collapses from the bone with only the merest nudge. Pigtails, cut into bitesize chunks are fiddly with the bones still intact, but this isn’t a place for airs and graces, or cutlery. It’s a place to gnaw, and spit out bones. Pastrami with sour cabbage and pickles is moreish – rudely blushing pink – amongst the dark, sticky plates that continue to stack up.

Click here to read our full review of Smokestak

Smokestack sticky toffee pudding

Boundary Hotel, Boundary Street – for rooftop vibes

In fast-changing Shoreditch, Boundary is virtually prehistoric. Which is a compliment. Opened in 2009, the fact that this hotel – part of the Prescott & Conran empire – is still buzzing means it got its recipe for classy but unpretentious food, wine and bedrooms right from the off.

In the basement is a small bar serving classic cocktails, and the main Boundary Restaurant, an elegant, boudoir-ish, space that wallows in the gloom, with theatrical lighting bouncing off red velvet chairs, the glass walls of its kitchen and polished cutlery. The menu here also has a strong French influence, with dishes such as roast and confit duck with a cherry sauce and salardaise potatoes and herb-crusted rack of lamb, and a good-value menu du jour (there’s also a wine club, for tastings and events, should the all-French wine list not sate your thirst).

In summer the Boundary Rooftop is the ideal spot to rise above the streetside hustle and sip cocktails as the sun sets over a slightly hushed, 360-degree view of London. It’s by no means out of bounds in winter, though, with its heaters, blankets and covered pergola; shelter under a string of fairy lights with a seasonal cocktail and a sharing plate of octopus and chorizo skewers, or fish or meat dishes cooked on a Robata grill. Or just head up after dinner and sit by the outdoor fireplace nursing a digestive glass of vielle prune.

The real hub of the hotel, however, is Albion, an all-day café, shop and bakery on the ground floor, plus various other outlets around the city. For overnight guests, this is also where breakfast is served. There’s a grown-up vibe but an on-trend menu, stretching to a range of cold-pressed juices, marmite scrolls from the bakery and a ‘healthy’ range of cooked breakfasts.

Click here to read our full review of Boundary hotel

Boundary Hotel Rooftop, Shoreditch

Red Rooster, Curtain Road – for Southern soul food

Beneath a taqueria upstairs, Red Rooster is moody, industrial and buzzy, crammed with art on the walls and creative types at the tables – just as you would expect this far east. There’s an open-hatch kitchen so you can see the action pretty much from wherever you sit, but perch at the central bar for a relaxed dinner.

The food here is all about Southern soul – but tastes of anywhere from Ethiopia (in the form of warming berbere spices) to Sweden (think meatballs with gnocchi, an unusual but delicious pickled gravy and lingonberries) are apparent on the menu. It shouldn’t all work together, but it does. Cornbread (damp slabs, made better yet with whipped honey butter and sticky-sweet tomato jam) is good, but so too (surprisingly) is black kale salad – the leaves, a mixture of curly, red Russian kale and bubble-wrap-like cavolo nero, are massaged with a creamy almond caesar dressing. If there’s a group of you, order whole fried chicken with waffles, biscuits, mac and greens, pickles, hot sauce and (yes, really) sparklers.

Click here to try Red Rooster’s recipes for yourself at home

Cornbread Recipe

Dishoom, Boundary Street – for Indian food

Inspired by the all-day Irani cafés that were an integral part of Bombay life, there are now five branches of Dishoom in London (and another in Edinburgh and Manchester), each serving Bombay breakfast, lunch, afternoon chai and dinner. 

Breakfasts at Dishoom have won a cult following. Not least for the bacon naan rolls – crisp bacon wrapped in tandoor-charred naan with a dollop of chilli tomato jam and cream cheese. Pair with a breakfast lassi or house chai.

These are our favourite Indian restaurants in London

dishoom

Luigi’s Bar, Shoreditch High Street – for cocktails

Evening sees all-day eatery and café Spelzini turn into Luigi’s Bar, serving Italian snacks and punchy cocktails in a sleek setting – think earthy, natural tones, low-slung leather sofas and communal wooden tables.

Drinks are designed by founder Jim Fisher (who named the bar after his Ligurian great grandfather) and mixologist pal Fin Spiteri (Rochelle Canteen), and are characterised by creative DIY ingredients and a playful approach to tweaking classic Italian apertivi drinks. Luigi’s – Victory gin, cherry shrub and Campari – is described as a riff on a negroni – but is less aggressively bitter and herbal, with a silky, fruity, subtly tangy character. Jim’s Favourite is a clever pairing of smoky mezcal with tangy, tropical passion fruit, with a fun garnish of Campari candy floss. Vermouths also get top billing on the menu – we tried a coffee-tinged one infused with cascara berries – and there’s also a pithy list of Italian wines and beers, plus homemade kombucha, on offer. Bar plates range from the likes of rosemary salted nuts and pickled chicory to hearty toasties (ask for gooey gorgonzola) and pretty plates of ruby-red charcuterie, including coppa, bresaola and fennel salami.

spelzini.co.uk/luigis-bar

Six cocktails in different shaped glasses on a granite table

Shoryu Ramen, Great Eastern Street – for ramen

Ramen has taken London by storm over the past few years. This hearty pork-based noodle broth is usually reserved for a quick fix in Japan, where ramen joints are full of businessmen slurping noodles alongside young people after a stint in their local izakaya (Japanese bar).

Though London’s ramen bars tend to be more upmarket and come with a higher price point (in Japan you rarely pay more than a few pounds), the authenticity generally remains in the best of them, particularly at Japan Centre-owned Shoryu.

Click here to read our full review of Shoryu Ramen

Shoryu Ramen

Blanchette East, Brick Lane – for French favourites

Duck in to narrow-fronted Blanchette East off chaotic Brick Lane for French favourites and North African flavours. Starters include an anchovy and black olive pissaladiere along with other French classics of frogs legs and a wooden board piled with florets of super thinly sliced Rosette de Lyon (cured sausage), gherkins and a celeriac remoulade was ideal to nibble on before our next round of dishes arrived.

North African-inspired small plates include pork loin with pickled girolles and cauliflower florets, monkfish on chermoula courgettes and a spiced lamb tagine with rose harissa and saffron rice. For dessert there’s refreshing basil sorbet with pieces of fresh mango or chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise with crème fraîche ice cream.

Click here to read our full review of Blanchette East

Mural and bar at Blanchette Shoreditch Restaurant Brick Lane

Bull in a China shop, Shoreditch High Street – for whisky cocktails

Bull in a China Shop specialises in rotisserie chicken and whisky. The chicken is brined for four hours before being left to marinate for a further 24 hours in a mix of Asian spices and yogurt. It’s then finished with a deliciously-dark, sticky whisky glaze. The result is such incredibly succulent, richly flavoured meat that you’ll have to exercise a great amount of willpower not to finish a whole one by yourself. Pair this with some cauliflower cheese fritters and spicy mayo (we’re obsessed), guacamole salad, and house slaw with mooli.

As for drinks, it’s all about whisky. Take a seat at the gleaming copper bar and watch the staff hand-carve the ice for your chosen dram from a 30-strong selection of Japanese and Scotch whiskies.

Click here to read our full review of Bull in a China Shop

Bull in a China shop

Passione Vino, Leonard Street – for wine

Wine importers Luca Dusi and Federico Bruschetta have run this Shoreditch shop since 2013, supplying Italian wines from 75 different producers to top restaurants including Hélène Darroze at The Connaught and The River Café. Behind the shop itself is a ‘secret bar’ which also spills downstairs to the basement with small tables which can be booked. There’s no wine list or menu as customers are encouraged to discuss their tastes so the team can recommend something just a little out of their comfort zone.

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A colourful room has floral-patterned wallpaper. Between the wallpaper is a section with bottles of wine