The best restaurants in Shoreditch
From the people behind Parisian cheese merchant Androuet (around since 1909), cheesy specialities are naturally the highlights at Abondance. Indulge in fondue, tartiflette and cheese boards at the laid-back terrace on Spitalfields Market – there’s a smaller interior, too, with a little belle époque grandeur provided by a glittering chandelier.
Music exec-turned-restaurateur Martin Morales hasn’t put a foot wrong since he launched Ceviche Soho and we went collectively loco for pisco sours. This large Shoreditch spin-off is a hoot: built on the same foundations as Ceviche (upbeat music, exotically zingy dishes and plentiful routes to a pisco-induced hangover), it changes the record slightly, adding Andean dishes, street food and a superfood slant. Close-set tables, sharing plates and a lively vibe put it firmly in Shoreditch’s ‘pleasure’ rather than ‘business’ camp.
It’s tattoos all-round at this biker café/boutique/barbers, which makes two-wheeled petrol-heads mainstream. You don’t have to roar up to these arches on a custom-made motor – everyone is welcome – but if you do, you can shake off your leathers and savour a flat white, or tuck into generous portions of good food (the likes of charcuterie platters, huevos rancheros and superfood salads alongside more predictably ‘biker’ dishes).
Venue says With more than 10,000-square feet of restaurant, lounge, shop and event space, Bike Shed offers something for all. We also have a barbers!
The first bricks ’n’ mortar restaurant from the award-winning street food stall, Butchies is a superlative fried chicken joint with friendly counter service and sharp decor. Burgers are big, the crisped up fried chicken peeking out luxuriously from the sides of the bun. Think: bacon stacked numbers with playful names, like the ‘Jenny from the Block’.
You can always judge a restaurant by its loo, and there’s a tapestry of frolicking nudes in the bogs at Blanchette East. Plus there’s another naked babe above the bar at this solid-gold date spot right on Brick Lane. Foodwise, this is decent bistro fare with a few twists – North African-inflected, with Provençal and Basque overtones – rejigged into small plates you’ll want to share.
This fresh pasta specialist buzzes with activity as its pasta-makers deftly roll and fold their product behind the counter of the small, whitewashed venue. Most people buy by weight to take away, although there is a sit-down ‘tasting area’ further back. The monthly changing menu offers just a handful of ‘folds’ with seasonal toppings, but the signature dish of agnolotti cavour – ravioli filled with pork, beef and spinach bathed in sage butter – is always available. The only gripe? Parmesan costs extra.
A handsome, buzzy chophouse with a no-frills Basque-leaning menu of meat and fish, Brat has a sexy speakeasy style entrance: just a nameplate by the door. A set of pokey steps lead you up to a room above a former pub with glorious original features: wood panelling, arched windows, parquet floors. Expect smart service, and a nice line in ‘things on toast’.
This modern British restaurant is unusual for many reasons: on its no-choice menu, Isaac McHale, who was one of the first restaurateurs to make diners pay for their dinner upon booking, cooks seasonal ingredients (which other chefs ignore) in surprising ways. Located in Shoreditch Town Hall, the sparse, utilitarian dining room makes a focus of its calm, collected open kitchen – every plate produced is a thing of straight-to-Instagram beauty. This place gets better with each visit.
Wherever a branch of this slick Iran-via-India ‘café’ shows up, you’re guaranteed a fun time, and this Shoreditch branch is no different. The vast dining room, overseen by an army of friendly staff, is split into stylistically different sections – a Bombay-esque railway café here, a colonial-era verandah there. The menu is the same throughout: start with exotically spiced cocktails, then move onto inventive Indian small plates, with Dishoom signatures such as the black dal and Shoreditch specials including the slow-cooked lamb raan.
A tiny Indian restaurant just round the corner from Brick Lane, Gunpowder stands head and shoulders above the rest of the curry mile. They’ve ditched stomach-bursting breads and creamy sauces in favour of complex, imaginative dishes – think, venison and vermicelli doughnuts and sigree-grilled mustard broccoli.
The granddaddy of upmarket steakhouses. The look inside this original Spitalfields branch of Hawksmoor is ruggedly masculine, with an exposed brick bar that makes you want to order a thousand martinis. Get steak, yes. But there are 16 sides on the menu and they’re all amazing. Especially the caesar salad.
Neapolitan-style pizza might still reign supreme in London – think pillowy sourdough bases and spare scatterings of quality ingredients – but the good people of Homeslice are making a serious claim to the crown with their gargantuan New York-style pies. The 20-inch pizzas here are made for sharing, while toppings are genuinely well-considered: think kimchi, porcini cream and basil or spiced lamb with savoy cabbage and sumac yoghurt alongside standard margherita and salami numbers. You can get ’em by the slice too.
All dark wood, chic upholstery and huge windows – Lahpet is achingly stylish. Burmese flavours are the cousins of Thai and Indian: one moment all coconut and fragrant herbs, the next all heavy pulses and warm spicing. The salads here come spliced with split peas, shallots, tea leaves and fish. Then there are the lovely plates of hake and deep bowls of coconut noodles.
A place from the now-closed high-end Italian restaurant L’Anima, this might have a softer look and a more relaxed menu but that doesn’t mean you can roll up in your flip-flops. Dishes come with a few artistic smears and blobs and the space is glassy and expansive, with an onsite deli for lunching workers.
An EC2 reboot from the team behind Hackney’s now-closed Ellory, this timeless modern European restaurant serves bright, unfussy small plates. The large room used to be a wine bar, and the atmosphere is suitably relaxed. Expect the likes of cold, sweet cured trout, and pepper-flecked courgettes with yoghurt.
James Lowe was once a pop-up partner of Isaac McHale, and, like at McHale’s Clove Club, the no-choice, four-course dinner menu at Lowe’s cutting-edge solo restaurant goes big on foraged, oft-forgotten finds (dulse, verbena, ransoms), unusual cuts (monkfish liver, mutton breast) and very British ingredients (Jersey oysters, game, Neal’s Yard cheese). Lowe has worked under Fergus Henderson, and it shows: the clinical all-white dining room shares St John’s minimalism, while the beautifully presented dishes are dazzling yet restrained.
Nuala feels a bit like a US ski lodge: there’s an open fire pit, rustic wooden panelling and cosy group tables – perfect for sexy winter dining. The menu is straight-up trendy London – with dishes like burrata and beef tartare, and sea bream ceviche – but they do it exceptionally well.
With casual counter seating for the cool kids, plus elegant marble tables for grown-up business meetings, this smart, contemporary gem has one foot in each of Shoreditch’s clientele camps. Turkish-Cypriot ingredients and dishes are given a modern, fusion spin: think smoky cocktails made with Cypriot brandy, or lahmacun flatbreads topped with marinated octopus, ricotta, herbs and honey, rolled up with crunchy salad. The buzz is lively, the staff are lovely, and the prices are gentle on the average wallet.
If ‘Friends’ was still relevant, Joey and co would have ditched Central Perk for somewhere like Pizza East by now (although they’d be the oldest people in there). It’s very New York: a former warehouse with a rustic feel thanks to wall-to-wall wood and long shared tables, serving Italian-American nibbles, luxury pizzas, brunches and great cocktails. This being a Soho House venture, serious money has been thrown at everything, from staff training to creating the exact right vibe.
What d’ya get if you meld the small-plates creativity of Bocca di Lupo, the top-quality ingredients of River Café, the peripatetic, borrow-from-the-Med-and-Middle-East approach of Morito and an ex-kickboxer chef who trained under Theo Randall? Popolo, that’s what. The food at this tiny Rivington Street joint is stunning, too. Check out the likes of deep-fried olives, agnolotti pasta parcels filled with veal shoulder and the two-day-marinated bavette with chimichurri and you’ll see what we mean.
A handsome pub downstairs, an elegant restaurant upstairs, The Princess reigns supreme in east London by being all things to all people. In the faintly regal dining room, the modern, seasonal menu includes dishes like curried cauliflower with cucumber raita, pan-fried cod with rainbow chard and guinea fowl with prosciutto-wrapped broccoli. Drinks are just as interesting and the Sunday roasts are worth a journey east.
Margot Henderson’s awfully well known ‘hidden treasure’ is a dinky, discreet, restaurant located in the bike shed of a former school. Inside, things are prettily low-key, with white walls and jugs of flowers on the tables; on warm days, snap up sought-after spaces in the allotment-cum-yard. Simple Brit fare on the short, daily menus include dishes such as pea and mint soup, duck offal and bacon skewers, or boozy, oozy Welsh rarebit. This is heart-and-soul dining that should really cost more – not that we’re complaining.
Raising the steaks in the capital’s meat market is this vast London branch of a highly respected Basque steakhouse chain. You’ll need to dig deep for the taste of the Basque country that Sagardi offers – this is pricey even by City standards. However, a meal here is a sound investment: the signature txuletón, for example, is expertly grilled over oak until smokily charred on the outside and perfectly pink in the middle, and there are wines aplenty with which to pair it.
Venue says Spring is here so time to enjoy new seasonal Basque dishes at Sagardi incl. white asparagus, Atlantic mackerel & fisherman-style marmitako
Dining out at this smoked meat specialist is a bit like eating in a medieval nightclub. It’s a big, semi-industrial space thrumming with bromance and beef brisket. This is speciality meat and comes two ways: a single hunk of flesh; or shredded, snuggled inside a pillowy, slightly sweet bun, brushed with a lick of barbecue sauce and bone marrow butter.
A Shoreditch home for the Thai barbecue restaurant, Smoking Goat is low-lit and fun, all smoke and noise and music. The food will smack you in the face: tiny, volcanically hot ‘mouse dropping’ chillies abound. There are also heaps of fresh herbs, such as lemongrass stalks and casually ripped-up lime leaves. Just don’t miss the lardo-fried rice.
Set in a sexy former east London garment factory, this Spitalfields restaurant serves food from Thailand’s north-eastern provinces, where nothing gets dumbed down and your tastebuds will be held up at gunpoint. Think: intense Burmese-style pork curry, deep fried sea bass and silky palm sugar ice cream. Once you eat at Som Saa, you may never order pad thai again.
Two open prepping stations jostle for the limelight at St Leonards, a modern European eatery near Old Street. At the first, a smouldering stack of logs came flanked by a dangling line-up of carcasses; at the raw bar next door, there’s the filleting of fish and shucking of oysters. The menu features delights from each – like, burnt baby leek, charred bavette and wild bass crudo.
St John’s Spitalfields offshoot has the same workaday style as its Smithfield parent: a bright, white, canteen-like space, and a utilitarian bakery counter in one corner. The menu is an exploration of every under-appreciated British ingredient (especially gutsy meats). There’s also a renowned bacon sandwich at breakfast.
Shoreditch can be a real drag in the evenings, the textbook hordes of cool kids coming in wave after ‘Walking Dead’-style wave. But lo: head to Tratra for some subterranean solace. Set in the basement of the Boundary Hotel, this joint is a meaty marvel. Cheap it is not, but when the food’s on point – think pork and duck terrine, killer charcuterie and platters of cheese – it’s seriously formidable. Factor in a couple of bottles of wine, naturally.
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