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Stratford area guide

Explore London's newest hospitality hotspot, and discover things to do, restaurants and bars in E20

© Westfield
Westfield Stratford City

East London's newest revamped postcode has become a bustling center of activity following the glory days of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. With newly built restaurants and bars amongst the traditional Stratford haunts, Westfield Stratford City, one of Europe's biggest shopping centres, and the former Olympic venues now open to the public, the area provides a fantastic range of shopping, drinking, dining and fitness activities. Stratford is becoming a new go-to destination in the capital.

What are your favourite Stratford hangouts? Let us know in the comments.

Love London Awards: this year's winners

Darkhorse Restaurant
Restaurants Buy tickets

Darkhorse Restaurant

There aren’t many places to get a decent meal in Stratford and that’s where Darkhorse comes galloping in, a stylish eatery in a sea of chains. The Spanish- and Italian-inspired menu works for both tapas-style sharing or a more traditional three-course scenario. We mixed and matched, finding small plates to be a bit hit and miss, with juicy tiger prawns and padrón peppers overshadowing a disappointing roast avocado with ricotta (there’s never any need to heat up an avo!). Melted Monte Enebro cheese with rosemary honey was satisfyingly indulgent but the charcuterie platter was a tad uninspiring. It would seem that Darkhorse’s strength lies in more traditional dishes, rather than faddish additions. A main course of seared neck of lamb was a highlight: pink, tender and served with a delicious dollop of mashed aubergine caviar. I could have had a bowl of that on its own. Staff were attentive and helpful throughout the evening, in spite of failing to tell us that the kitchen was closing, so we sadly missed out on dessert. On the plus side, the place was buzzing on a Friday evening, so Darkhorse certainly makes a welcome addition to the area, both for locals and those in need of a well-deserved glass of wine after a Westfield spree.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Sawmill
Restaurants

Sawmill

On-trend café serving creative cakes and drinks in jam jars, which you can pay for with BitCoin, if you like

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Attractions

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

So what did we get for our £8.77bn? In addition to an expectation-busting Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, there's the small matter of those remaining buildings and all that parkland. Officially known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the last of E20's green acres are now open to the public. The immaculate parklands to the north launched in summer 2013, their paths and waterways enhanced by the new Timber Lodge with its cafe. Next came the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre (opened in March 2014; £3.50-£4.50 adults, £2-£2.50 concs), which is open for public swimming and diving sessions, followed by the VeloPark, home to road, track, BMX and mountain biking, and the southern section of the park. The latter comprises all the remaining parkland, including children's play areas, four walking trails, a couple of dozen public artworks, plus the attraction of ascending the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre (www.visitleevalley.org.uk/hockeytennis) opened in May 2014, with two superfast hockey pitches and ten tennis courts (four indoor, six outdoor) – you can just turn up and play, although it might be advisable to book ahead. All that remains is the Olympic Stadium, which is currently being retooled (including the addition of a roof over the seats). It is due to reopen for the Rugby World Cup in 2015, before West Ham take up permanent residence in 2016. Further ahead, the venue will host the 2017 IAAF World Championships and 2017 IPC World Athlet

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Read more
Bat & Ball
Bars and pubs

Bat & Ball

A ping pong bar and café at Westfield Stratford, with pizzas, sharing platters and craft beer alongside the wiff waff. 

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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See the full results of this year's Love London Awards

Things to do in Stratford

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Attractions

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

So what did we get for our £8.77bn? In addition to an expectation-busting Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, there's the small matter of those remaining buildings and all that parkland. Officially known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the last of E20's green acres are now open to the public. The immaculate parklands to the north launched in summer 2013, their paths and waterways enhanced by the new Timber Lodge with its cafe. Next came the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre (opened in March 2014; £3.50-£4.50 adults, £2-£2.50 concs), which is open for public swimming and diving sessions, followed by the VeloPark, home to road, track, BMX and mountain biking, and the southern section of the park. The latter comprises all the remaining parkland, including children's play areas, four walking trails, a couple of dozen public artworks, plus the attraction of ascending the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre (www.visitleevalley.org.uk/hockeytennis) opened in May 2014, with two superfast hockey pitches and ten tennis courts (four indoor, six outdoor) – you can just turn up and play, although it might be advisable to book ahead. All that remains is the Olympic Stadium, which is currently being retooled (including the addition of a roof over the seats). It is due to reopen for the Rugby World Cup in 2015, before West Ham take up permanent residence in 2016. Further ahead, the venue will host the 2017 IAAF World Championships and 2017 IPC World Athlet

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Read more
Westfield Stratford City
Shopping

Westfield Stratford City

The 'city within a city', Westfield's £1.45 billion retail behemoth snakes through the Olympic site, with 300 retail units – the cornerstones of which are gigantic versions of High Street brands John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose – 70 restaurants, bars and cafés, and a 17-screen digital cinema. So far, mega-mall, but Westfield Stratford City has attempted to be lead a little by its east London neighbours.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Comments

2 comments
Thomas D K
Thomas D K

A great little cafe/bar is nooks kitchen opposite maryland station / stratford. Good food, great coffee, friendly staff. Worth mentioning are also the cultural events including art exibitions and theatre plays / comedy

Yvette E
Yvette E

Friendly, independent cafes in Stratford include The Sawmill and Cafe Lympic in West Ham Lane and Cafe Mondo in the Grove, next to the Library. Brilliant fish and chips from Ifratelli on West Ham Lane. Best curries ( and much cheaper than Brick Lane prices) at The Spice Inn and The Hemalaya.