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14 glorious things to do on Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch

Lisa Wright

You don’t need us to tell you that Shoreditch’s reputation has taken a battering in recent years. An affordable refuge for trendy types at the turn of the millennium, it has seen its art-school cool plummet as those types increasingly favour less central parts of the city. In time-honoured tradition, the area has in many ways priced itself out of what originally made it great. And this isn’t just us mouthing off: last month, in our global City Life Index survey, 3,000 Londoners named Shoreditch the capital’s most overrated neighbourhood. The dream is over.

Or is it? If you dodge around the hordes of weekend tourists coming off the Friday night train from Essex into Liverpool Street station, there’s still shedloads of good stuff to be found here. Coming from the City towards Shoreditch, Great Eastern Street is a left turn that heralds a wealth of delights.

To the casual observer it’s just a big through-road with a Pret, an Eat and a Subway like everywhere else. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll find treasures set back from every corner, down side roads and in basements. And if cannily hiding your gems away from the lamestream masses isn’t in the original ’00s spirit of the area, we don’t know what is. Shoreditch is dead – long live Shoreditch!

Drink this

A beer at The Book Club, round the corner on Leonard Street, where you can also get stuck into speed dating, arty talks or hip hop and soul club nights.

‘Alice in Wonderland’-level curious cocktails served in lightbulbs and cigar cases at secret hideaway Lounge Bohemia. This in-the-know bar, accessed via an unassuming door next to a newsagent, is the best on the street.

Less kooky but equally delicious bevvies at The Jones Family Project, which also does a mean steak.

Eat this

Enormous, succulent Prawnography crustaceans or pillowy Yum Bun bao at street food mecca Dinerama.

Bizarre but brilliant raw vegan food, including a ‘cheese’ board, at Essence Cuisine, two seconds down Leonard Street.

Next-level ramen at the newest branch of Shoryu. Asking how firm you want your noodles is just one sign of their impressive expertise.

Cheap, quick Indian bites like roti wraps and biryani pots from Inito.

Bit squiffy? Local lifesaver Corner Savoy’s halloumi wraps will sort you out. It’s open till 4am most nights.

Do this

Grab your favourite single ladies and head to nearby Frame (a stone’s throw away in New Inn Yard) for a Beyoncé dance workshop.

Head to the upstairs venue at iconic boozer The Old Blue Last for a gig. As well as putting on the best new bands (almost always for free), it’s had everyone from Wiley to Kylie through its doors in recent years.

Or learn something rather different at the Royal Drawing School, tucked up Charlotte Road, which runs free life-drawing classes on the first Thursday of the month.

Buy this

Quirky handmade clobber at A Child of The Jago. Ever wanted a bespoke gold tailcoat? This place has got you covered.

A fancy new do at luxe hairdresser Mie Mani – a pampering paradise amid the hustle and bustle.

And if you only do one thing…

Get down to the sound of Village Underground. This venue in a railway arch and warehouse has been keeping Shoreditch’s creative rep alive since 2007 with raves, gigs and art. Look out for the tube carriages on the viaduct roof.

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