East London essentials

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East London is in a world of its own. All comers are welcomed to its patchwork of scenes, but where do you start? These are the essential bars, shops, clubs, restaurants, galleries and hangouts in the East End. Whether you're an arty type, an indie hipster or fashionista, here are the places to head for

  • East London essentials

    Broadway Market © Nick Ballon


  • Indie hipsters | Arty types | Fashion queens | Family-friendly | Old school

    East London for indie hipsters


    When they’re not selling their guitars to buy turntables, they’re selling their turntables to buy guitars – EaLo’s  hipsters are frontline soldiers in the culture war. Look out for their American Apparel camo at all the area’s free gigs, basement aftershows, secret raves and pose-friendly cafés.
    • Photo for “The Star of Bethnal Green”

      The Star of Bethnal Green

      359 Bethnal Green Rd, London, E2 6LG

      The epitome of scruffy East End cool attracting some of the best DJs and drinkers on the circuit. There’s a windowless karaoke room too. Read more

  • The Old Blue Last

    38 Great Eastern St, London, EC2A 3ES

    The paint might be peeling but this indie hangout has seen the likes of Klaxons, Amy Winehouse, Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen play secret gigs in its sauna-like upper room. Read more

  • Brick Lane Beigel Bake

    159 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SB

    No guide to east London is complete without a nod to this 24-hour icon: the queue winds out the door when the bars and clubs kick out. Read more

  • Bardens Boudoir

    36-44 Stoke Newington Rd, London, N16 7XJ

    This tiny basement has single-handedly put Dalston on the clubbing map. Mismatched wallpaper and battered sofas give it a worn-in vibe; edgy bands and DJs make it the last word in cool. Read more

  • Rough Trade East

    Dray Walk, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL

    Racks of vinyl and CDs, well-chosen (mainly music) books, lovingly crafted ’zines and a café make this one of the capital’s music gems. Read more

  • 93 Feet East

    150 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU

    With three rooms, a balcony and a wraparound courtyard that’s made for barbecues, 93 Feet East is a classic stop for bands on their way up. Read more

  • Pimps & Pinups

    14 Lamb St, E1 6EA

    There’s a nod to old Hollywood in the decor, and the soundtrack flits from rockabilly classics to Brooklyn indie. Despite aspiring to the heights of hipness, the clientele is pleasingly varied – and the service is speedy and slick. Read more

  • Café Oto

    18-22 Ashwin St, London, E8 3DL

    A cafe-cum-platform for experimental, world and leftfield acts (‘Oto’ is Japanese for ‘sound’, see?). Read more

Indie hipsters | Arty types | Fashion queens | Family-friendly | Old school
When they’re not selling their guitars to buy turntables, they’re selling their turntables to buy guitars – EaLo’s  hipsters are frontline soldiers in the culture war. Look out for their American Apparel camo at all the area’s free gigs, basement aftershows, secret raves and pose-friendly cafés.

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