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. The best foodie spots include oysters at St Leonards, pizza at Voodoo Ray’s and Indian food at Dishoom. Check out our ideas for eating and drinking in Shoreditch, from Brick Lane to Redchurch Street and beyond…
Two Lights, Kingsland Road
A new neighbourhood restaurant in a corner of London that’s best known for its Vietnamese cuisine, Two Lights is the latest from the The Clove Club alumni with a sophisticated, so-called ‘modern American’ focus.
Décor is stark – whitewashed brick walls, clothless tables and not a soft furnishing in sight. But, a peek-through kitchen with a wood-fired oven glowing in the back, high shelves lined with weird and wonderful pickles, intriguing vintages, trendy creepers and ferns, and some intensely foodie bedtime reading keeps things interesting.
Also, 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.
St Leonards, Leonard Street
In a nutshell: A new, maverick fire-and-ice restaurant from Jackson Boxer and Andrew Clarke, of Brunswick House, in the heart of Shoreditch.
Who’s cooking? Between chef-patrons Jackson and Andrew there’s quite the glittery culinary CV, having worked for Margot Henderson, at The Salt Yard, The Square and St John, amongst others. But their latest project together is unlike anything either have done before.
What’s the vibe? A far cry from the grandeur and antiquity of Vauxhall’s Brunswick House, 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.
What’s the food like? 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. It’s worth its eye-watering £9 price tag – sweet, chubby and drinking in its szechuan oil dressing and fine dice of coriander stalks. There’s plenty more worth ordering. 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.
And the drinks? 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.
olive tip: 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.
In a nutshell: BRAT could have been a difficult second for album for chef and Young British Foodie winner Tomos Parry – such was the affection for his former gaff and celeb hang out Kitty Fishers – but it seems he’s learnt lessons in his time “off”.
What’s the food like? 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.
We order the Cornish moorland beef chop after a hot tip – 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. We regret not ordering the chopped egg salad with bottarga as we spot it on the pass, but a bouncy, blistered, pillow-soft grilled flatbread, topped with curls of salty anchovy fillets, a slick of oil and sprinkling of chives does the trick.
Sweet langoustines with earthy spikes of roasted rosemary are barely licked by the flames – still daringly see through. Spider crab, cabbage and fennel salad was refreshingly different – a careful dance between the sweet shellfish, brassica pepperiness and aniseed hit, lemon zest and chervil. Perhaps the most surprising, underdog dish of the night was a bowl of cockles, boldly served with a sharp, vinegary liver sauce, earthy, sweet – and (who knew?) the perfect partner for these salty little sea bursts.
Burnt cheesecake was granular and didn’t do it for us, but a Tomos classic, brown bread ice cream marbled with marmalade, was just right.
And to drink? 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 we consumed numerous glasses of.
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.
Finally, Muscat crème caramel could be our best dessert of 2018, so far – explicit in its wobble, unapologetic with its boozy flirting.
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. It’s the first set up of its kind from the local brewers, and unfiltered, unpasteurised pilsner are transported in old gantry tanks straight from the brewery.
The staff, too, 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. It’s all good – one mouthful in and we’re already planning the next trip – but 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.
In a nutshell: Niall Davidson plays with his Celtic roots in his first solo venture, an open-fire restaurant just off Silicon Roundabout.
What’s the vibe? With exposed brick walls and an industrial interior, Nuala is glossier than you’d expect for the area, but it suits the City workers down yonder. Highlights include a fire pit in the open kitchen and Irish boozer downstairs. Service is cheerful, tap water unblinkingly given, and a tasting of numerous wines offered.
What’s the food like? Niall and his head chef Colin McSherry have created a pared back but refined menu, peppered with Irish ingredients. Salt-baked beetroot, salsify and Isle of Mull cheddar is well balanced, the earthy beet subtly punctuating the farmyardy cheddar. A tartare comes with capers, a robust stout sauce to drizzle over, and unimpeachable dripping chips, a crisp exterior concealing cloud-soft potato. I’d return alone for the inspired combo of sweet, juicy clams, pistachio beurre blanc and sea-salt-accented samphire. The singed squidgy sourdough for mopping up the nutty juices is a blessing.
Gluttony leads us to the beef main. This isn’t a sharing menu but staff are charming when we ask to. Beef tastes mild compared to the current trend for full-flavoured, aged cow. Yet with the pickled cucumber element it’s elevated to delicate, smoky-nuanced beefiness. The champ side, with creamy potatoes and scallions, is unmissable.
For dessert, Guinness ice cream is light and wheaty. If I was being finicky, it was starting to melt so tasted a tad granular. A zingy, clean-flavoured tangerine tart with a blob of velvety soured cream, though, is polished off in seconds.
And the drink? Honey Spencer, once of Noma Mexico, takes care of the wine list, with lesser known grape varieties and labels including an unusual ballsy red from Pella in central Macedonia.
olive says… The lively, late-night Irish bar downstairs, headed up by Dublin-born Lauren Taylor (previously of Hawksmoor Spitalfields), boasts live music, cocktails, Irish whiskey punch and plenty of Guinness.
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.
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.
Best known for their speciality coffee shop on Aldwych, and artisan scotch egg business Scotchtails, Dominic Hamdy and Oliver Hiam’s new 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.
Hang around long enough, and food moves on to stuffed focaccia sarnies, soups and salads. And on the weekend, for brunch, you might spot the likes of waffles with poached apricots, thyme, candied pecans and ice cream.
Bullseye: Feeling delicate from the night before? There’s no judgement here. Just be sure to 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.
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.
Smokestack is one of London’s most talked-about barbecue street food traders, which has since gone permanent. But how does messy, low and slow finger food translate to the table?
For those Londoners that like spending their weekends cramming their pie holes with the latest on-trend mouthful, then Smokestak will be a familiar name. 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 – collapsed from the bone with only the merest nudge. Pigtails, cut into bitesize chunks were 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 was moreish – rudely blushing pink – amongst the dark, sticky plates that continued to stack up.
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.
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.
Fans will recognise some classics from the original restaurant, but there are plenty of new plates for its new setting here, too. 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.
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.
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.
The Alary brothers – Yannis, Maxime and Malik – originally hail from Paris. With backing from Ben Tish of Salt Yard Group (Salt Yard, Opera Tavern, Dehesa, Ember Yard), where Yannis worked as a chef for five years, they opened a Parisian-style bistro in Soho, London, and named it after their mum, Blanchette. Two years and countless fully booked evenings later, and the Alary brothers have introduced their second restaurant to East London, with a new, Southern twist on the menu.
US chef Matthew Kenney’s new Shoreditch opening offers a full plant-based breakfast, lunch and dinner menu of meat-, dairy-, gluten- and refined sugar-free dishes. The focus is on nutritious, flavour-packed vegan food, where everything is seasonal and made from scratch.
The beautifully presented heirloom tomato lasagne, with its thinly sliced layers of courgette in place of pasta, tangy sundried tomato marinara, pistachio pesto and creamy, fluffy macadamia ‘ricotta’, is an inspired interpretation of a classic.
Chickpeas with dates, turmeric, cinnamon and almonds
MBLT vegan sandwich
Sri Lankan beetroot curry
Vegan coronation tofu salad
Gul and Sepoy, Commercial Street
An ambitious new restaurant that delivers two different styles of Indian cookery at the same time. Don’t miss out on the potted pig head with blood masala onions. Intensely spiced, iron-rich caramelised onions mixed with soft, creamy morsels of rich pork, this was a masterclass in how to elevate humble ingredients into something truly memorable.
Andina describes its menu as being packed with superfood ingredients native to the Peruvian Andes paired with the best of British produce. Opened up by Martin Morales at the end of 2013 on the corner of Redchurch street and Shoreditch High Street, Andina is the sister restaurant to Ceviche. Andina is a light, café-style room with bare wooden tables and floors, an open kitchen (with stools you can pull up to the counter) and joyously bright wall hangings.
Andina’s menu consists in an intricate granola of quinoa, amaranth, pumpkin seeds, rolled oats, coconut, almonds, maca root, goldenberry honey and seasonal fruits and yogurt, and a selection of superfood smoothies including the very green, green vayeho; avocado, pear, mint, spinach and lime and chaska: kiwicha, banana and hazelnut milk with lúcuma, an Andean fruit rich in all kinds of goodness.
However, it’s the savoury options that caught our eye. Order Peruanazo, a dish of tacu tacu (a hash of rice and Peruvian beans), belly bacon and sautéed vegetables, or go straight in for the chicharron sandwich; meltingly-soft pieces of confit pork belly in a sweet brioche bun piled high with red onion and tomatoes and served with camote (sweet potato) ketchup. You can keep your bacon sarnie.
Bull in a China Shop is an Asian-inspired all-day restaurant from Stephen and Simon Chan, the brothers behind Drunken Monkey just down the road. The cosy 40-seater restaurant was designed by Sara Lewin of Cereal Killer Café fame, and is a mix of oriental opulence and Shoreditch cool – think low, atmospheric lighting and velvety teal banquettes against white-washed brick walls and an eclectic collection of medicine bottles and ornaments.
It specialises in rotisserie chicken and whisky, but this isn’t some east-end fad, these guys are serious. 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.
It’s not just about the rotisserie, though. Bull in a China Shop is embracing the trend for incorporating toxin-absorbing charcoal into cooking with their striking black bamboo charcoal brioche buns, made down the road at The Dusty Knuckle Bakery in Dalston. Try it in the crisp panko crusted chicken sandwich, served with daikon radish and mayonnaise, or grilled halloumi with red pepper and harissa.
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. Not a whisky drinker? Ask the knowledgeable staff for a recommendation – whether it’s delicate and floral or heavy and smokey, there’ll be one for you.
Old Street’s Shoreditch Grind is an easily accessible breakfast spot for morning commuters, perched as it is on the edge of one of London’s busiest roundabouts. The recently introduced breakfast menu makes this spot ideal for casual business meetings at large wooden tables, or a people-watching session while sat on one of the wooden bar stools.
A generous portion of smashed avocado on toast is spiced up with chilli and your choice of extra topping (smoked salmon, prosciutto, poached egg and feta can rack up quite the mound). The crispy quinoa eggs dish is a substantial and healthy start to the day with plenty of crunch and perfectly poached eggs. For a refreshing palate-cleanser before you head off to work, try iced fruit salad with zingy lime granita and crunchy hazelnuts (though we would have liked the addition of more seasonal fruits as well as the berries). We’ll definitely be back to try the banana bread with crème fraiche and honeycomb.
On the drinks side, try a freshly pressed colour-coded juice – ‘green’ gets you going with avocado, spinach and pear; and ginger adds a fiery note to the orange and carrot ‘amber’ juice. Shoreditch Grind is still all about the coffee, and cortados and flat whites made with The Grind’s own blend were brought straight to the table – no waiting around on the side.
Restaurateurs Pablo Flack and David Waddington know how to put on a show. In its original incarnation, their first East London restaurant, Bistrotheque, was also an alternative cabaret spot famous for its tranny lip-synching contest. Located in the über-trendy Ace Hotel, Hoi Polloi is a more sedate affair but nonetheless of a piece with this buzzing, multi-faceted space.
After dinner, (which runs until 1am) diners are less likely to order a taxi than disappear downstairs into the hotel’s dark and edgy basement club, Miranda, for live music and trendy DJs. Hoi Polloi, by contrast, is sleekly designed in that modern Scandi-cum-LA way, where ergonomic minimalism meets natural finishes of wood, stone and leather to create something warm and sexy.
The sharp food, created by chefs Simon Gregory and Ken Tolley, is very London and very now in its freewheeling internationalism. This is a menu where an Asian chicken broth; a dish of charred lamb, smoked onions, chard and dukkah; and something as traditional as roast chicken with greens and aïoli, all sit together happily – and all taste fantastic.