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Graffiti tours, curry houses and cockney-inspired cocktails: it's the best bits of Whitechapel

By Time Out London contributor
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Coffee, curry, gangsters and goats – reader Mel Luff bigs up E1 as part of our #TimeOutTakeover.

Why go there?

Yes, you’ll see the occasional mattress or dishwasher left by the side of the road, but Whitechapel is shaking off its bad rep. With a chequered past as the old stomping ground of Jack the Ripper and the Kray twins, this historic east London hamlet is now a bustling, multicultural and creative part of the city.

What’s on the menu?

For coffee there’s The Exmouth Coffee Company (High Street) or Mouse Tail (Whitechapel Road), both with great brews and hip baristas. Whitechapel’s curry houses are among the city’s best and Tayyabs (Fieldgate Street) is a trusty Time Out fave. For something sweet, there’s the 100-year-old bakery Rinkoffs (Jubilee Street) or The Urban Chocolatier (Davenant Street).

And for a spot of shopping?

If you’re looking for a spot of leisurely window-browsing then you’re in the wrong place. From Monday to Saturday, Whitechapel Market transforms the Whitechapel Road into one of London’s most resilient – and hectic – street markets. It’s a real slice of east London life.

Any pubs about?

Whitechapel is home to notorious boozer The Blind Beggar (Whitechapel Street) where Ronnie Kray shot a rival gang member in the head in 1966 – but don’t let that put you off: it has a lovely beer garden. If gangland murders of yesteryear don’t get you in the mood for a pint, nip next door to the newly refurbed White Hart (Whitechapel High Street), which serves ales from its very own basement microbrewery. Or if you’re in the mood for something classier, head to Apples & Pears (Osborn Street) for a cockney-inspired cocktail.

How about some culture?

The free museum at the Royal London Hospital (Newark Street) has sections on Jack the Ripper and ‘The Elephant Man’ Joseph Merrick. The Whitechapel Gallery (High Street) is a vibrant centre for contemporary art, but if street art’s more your thing, Lollipop Gallery (Commercial Street) runs walking tours of graffiti in the area. And if you’d rather sit down than walk about, try Genesis Cinema (Mile End Road). Not only is it cheap (four paaands on Mondays and Wednesdays), but it goes above and beyond your average popcorn fare with an amazing selection of food and cocktails.

And if I only do one thing?

Spitalfields City Farm (Buxton Street) is the perfect urban retreat: a total oasis in the city.

By Mel Luff

Fancy a change of scene? Take a look at the best bits of Croydon.

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