Often overlooked for its big brother Brick Lane, Hanbury Street has just as many reasons to attract visitors and none of the curry shop hassle. The road was first laid out some time after Joseph Truman set up his nearby brewery in 1666, at a time when Spitalfields was welcoming a wave of French migrants. In the nineteenth century, Jewish refugees fleeing Germany and Eastern Europe joined the community. More recently, Bangladeshi migrants have created a Little Sylhet in E1 – so much so that in 1999 a local council ward was renamed Banglatown.
This place is a cultural palimpsest – just look at the mosque round the corner, which was built as a church for the local Huguenots, converted to a Methodist chapel in 1819 and then to an orthodox Jewish synagogue in 1898, and only became the London Jamme Masjid 40 years ago.
The latest newcomers to Hanbury Street haven’t been immigrants but trendy businesses. ‘Creative accelerator’ Second Home has turned the old Britannia carpet factory into a co-working space designed by the same architect as last year’s Serpentine Pavilion. Brick Lane will always be longer, louder and more bagel-y, but what Hanbury Street lacks in challa bread, it makes up for in chill. Dodge the Ripper tours and get to know a street rich with art, history and top-notch biryani.
Biryani and slow-cooked lamb shank curry (nehari) at the buzzy Bangladeshi Meraz Café. There are specials every day, and most dishes come in under a tenner.
Fresh-off-the-grill jerk chicken and rum punch on one of November’s rare sunny weekends at the open-air Hanbury Street Space.
Perfect tripe dishes, mapo tofu and fish-fragrant aubergine at the foodie favourite Sichuan Folk.
A flat white from the friendly baristas at Kiwi-owned coffee shop Nude Espresso, which has premises on either side of the street. They serve a bloody great brunch, too.
Espresso at café stockist Doppio, which also sells a huge array of moka pots, Aeropresses and grinders.
Pints at The Golden Heart, the former YBA favourite on the corner of Commercial Street. It dates back to 1936 and still has its original bar and illuminated sign.
Agua fresca and frozen margaritas at DF Mexico. They even make their own ice lollies (paletas), served with a tequila shot on the side.
Modern British classics and Katharine Hamnett collabs at cool clothing store YMC. Its Scottish-made lambswool scarves make on-point Christmas presents.
All the South Asian cooking essentials you’ve ever heard of and plenty you haven’t from cavernous cash ’n’ carry Bangla Town.
Read a book in peace at the mirror-ceilinged Libreria, attached to Second Home, or get stuck into one of their printing workshops one night after work.
Play crazy golf through recycled and scrap-built course at the pop-up Junkyard Golf Club, round the corner in the Truman Brewery.
Hit the food stalls at Sunday institution UpMarket and gobble down everything from Ethiopian injera to Nepalese momo. Hangover, what hangover?
And if you only do one thing…
Learn to tell your Roa from your Rone and discover the stories behind east London’s best-known art form with an AlternativeLDN tour of Hanbury Street’s graffiti and street art.