A digital media hub that nudges up against the City, Shoreditch is home to both hipsters and high-rollers, and its mix of eateries reflect this dual identity. Chic hotel restaurants and culinary destinations best visited on expenses cater to the suited and booted, while Cali-style cafés, new-wave Brit restaurants and dude-food dives supply hipsters with plenty of east-London Instagram fodder.
The best restaurants in Shoreditch
A modern café for style-conscious locals, Albion blends the bucolic and the urban, its tables heaving with freshly baked breads and cakes, its doorway flanked by baskets of vegetables, its on-trend white and wood interiors an orgy of laptops, beanies and beards. The all-day menu namechecks nearly every much-loved Brit dish imaginable: from the full English to bacon baps, kedgeree to devilled kidneys, and rabbit pie to Welsh rarebit. It’s expensive for a self-proclaimed ‘caff’, but modestly priced for a quality pit-stop.
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 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 (do you know your Peruvian from your Andean cuisine?) 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.
This Cali-style café near London’s tech-heavy, bathetically named Silicon Roundabout is a tiny space with a sunny yellow colour scheme and so little seating that it’s basically a takeaway – however, for our money, this is al desko at its finest. Mix and match vibrant, nutritious salads, adding meaty extras as you go, or opt for seasonal slow-cooked stews that pop with flavour, such as Ethiopian-style braised beef. Breakfasts are also delicious, and speak to both clean eating early birds and hungover hot messes.
Venue says: “For Europe's best independent custom motorcycle show, this May Bank Holiday, head to Bike Shed London at Tobacco Quay, Wapping.”
Possibly the only hip restaurant in London where the customers sport more tattoos than the staff, this biker café/boutique/barbers 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, superfood salads and veggie shepherd’s pie alongside more predictably ‘biker’ dishes).
Hats off to this dinky French bistro for its trend-bucking decor: this is a rare chance to dine out in east London sans the all-pervasive bare bulbs and battered brickwork aesthetic. Instead, we get richly coloured murals and gilt-framed mirrors on the scuffed plaster walls, spider plants dangling from the ceiling, and soft globe lighting, all of which prepare diners for a menu that mixes Marseilles with the Maghreb (cuisine from northwest Africa). Most dishes hit the mark, the service is lovely, and the vibe is winningly romantic.
Rooftop or restaurant, rooftop or restaurant? This Conran-designed style mecca and Shoreditch institution has a lot of aces up its sleeve (including Albion, above), but its pièce de résistance is its all-weather rooftop orangery complete with wicker sofas, herb garden, robata grill and sweeping views of the capital. Creatives come up here for some respite from Shoreditch’s unrelenting grime – with a cocktail in hand and something from the Mediterranean menu in front of you, the ground-level grind feels far, far away.
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.
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 meal upon booking, cooks seasonal ingredients that 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.
This vegan canteen suits its shipping container setting in Shoreditch’s Boxpark down to a tee – inside, a friendly, community feel prevails despite the area’s hipsterishness. The cheap, upbeat menu has fun making bowl food brilliant: dishes with names such as ‘Rainbowl’, ‘Da Infamous’ and ‘High Grade’ – the latter comprising veggies stir-fried with hemp oil and covered in a sweet BBQ sauce that recalls the scent of marijuana – are filling, healthy and all under a tenner. Not just for vegans.
Wherever a branch of this slick Iran-via-India ‘café’ shows up, you’re guaranteed a fun time, and nowhere more so than at Dishoom Shoreditch. 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.
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The ultimate guide to eating out in London – you’ll find it all: zeitgeist-defining celebrity haunts, simple but stunning food from some of the world’s most exciting chefs, Michelin-starred restaurants with starched linen napkins and places where you’ll have to eat with your fingers.
Chucs Restaurant & Café
You’d never guess on a first look, but that fashionably sparse little Italian clothes shop on Westbourne Grove actually sits on an extremely good restaurant. At Chucs, food is served up in a beautifully lit, serene room that oozes 1950s Amalfi Coast cool (to say nothing of the garden courtyard, perfect for al fresco dining when summer comes around). Staff are fawning, and if that’s your bag you’ll love the place. If not, it’s just about tolerable – though a glimpse at the menu will explain exactly why they treat you like a multi-millionaire. Crudités with anchoïade were the crispest, freshest vegetables imaginable, perfectly presented on a bed of crushed ice. But the £15 price tag had us wincing. Aubergine parmigiana was expertly created, while the mains – mushroom risotto (£21!) and tagliatelle bolognese – were even deeper in flavour, achingly rich and lovingly prepared. But there really is no way to dine here on a budget: wine starts at £36 a bottle and rises steeply thereafter. Saying that, this isn’t simply a cynical, wallet-baiting experiment to see how much people are prepared to spend: the Dover Street flagship is already a huge success and our fellow diners hardly batted an eyelid. Chucs is a place for people who don’t mind spending top whack to eat terrific food and be treated like kings (and queens). For those of you without a superyacht parked in the Med, come only with a rich aunt or an expense account.
Venue says: “Now that the sun is out, come and enjoy some fantastic Italian food at Chucs!”