Bourgeois? Nah mate, Bethnal Green’s still got that rough ’n’ ready East End flavour. The locals fall roughly into three groups: old-school embedded East Enders, Bangladeshi families an recently arrived professionals. And the best thing is that everyone gets along famously, whether it’s strolling around at Columbia Road Flower Market, partying at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, or eating and drinking at one of the many quality pubs, bars or restaurants the area has to offer.
What are your favourite Bethnal Green haunts? Let us know in the comments.
The best bits of Bethnal Green
16 great things to do on Hackney Road
Despite weaving its way through some of the east’s trendiest bits, Hackney Road was until relatively recently a bit of a nothingy stretch of pavement. You’d only head down if you were looking to walk from Shoreditch to Bethnal Green, or were keen to buy some back-of-a-lorry luggage or wholesale plumbing products. But the nearby Broadway and Columbia Road Markets and the increasingly densely hip suburbs of Hackney, Haggerston and Hoxton have now spilled over and blessed Hackney Road with some art, culture and food to call its own. Though you’ll still wander past any number of ‘unique bag’ stores, and the odd derelict building, such as the abandoned (and soon-to-be-redeveloped) Mecca Bingo, all that radial gentrification from the surrounding areas has started to glam the place up a bit. There are small and intimate cocktail bars sandwiched between secondhand shoe stores and ‘USA Pizza’ takeaways, as well as a few special art galleries, coffee shops, high-end restaurants and even a city farm full of pigs, llamas and chickens. The street art scene has also crept up from Shoreditch. It’s not as pretty as the markets or the nearby Regent’s Canal, but Hackney Road is finally a destination. Take a walk this weekend – you might just be surprised. Do this A post shared by MARIEKE HARGREAVES-MACKLON (@mariekemacklon) on May 18, 2017 at 5:53pm PDT Catch a gig at the Sebright Arms, an old-school boozer tucked away down an alley. There’s a cosy live space down
16 reasons to go to Bethnal Green Road, E2
Running east from the centre of Shoreditch, Bethnal Green Road is the place to go if you fancy a goggle at east London’s transformation from no-go neighbourhood to hip heartland. You’ll spot plenty of the tensions that often accompany rapid change in a formerly working-class area, like coffee shops and cocktail pubs next door to branches of Iceland and budget homeware stores. But what’s important is that Bethnal Green Road and its environs also show London at its best. Its many watering holes run the full gamut from ultra-trendy to old-man-friendly. While Rich Mix arts centre showcases the best of local Asian and African culture, just yards away Boxpark is at the forefront of new-London cool. If there’s one place that captures the essence of the area (and London itself, to be honest) it’s E Pellicci, a genuine institution in a city that loves to overuse the term. This Grade-II listed caff not only serves up the finest breakfasts anywhere in London – I’ll personally fight anyone who disagrees – but you’re almost invariably forced to squeeze on the end of a table and chat to strangers. It’s awkward at first, but by the end of it E Pellicci manages what no edgy bar could: it makes you enjoy meeting strangers. It’s a riot of energy, a melting pot of people and the food is damn tasty: London in a glorious, greasy nutshell. Drink this A post shared by The Star Of Bethnal Green (@starbethgreen) on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:43am PDT After-work pints at the Star of Bethnal Gr
15 reasons to go to Cambridge Heath Road, Tower Hamlets, E2
Decorated with a cursive script of railway arches and nearly touching the hem of Victoria Park, Cambridge Heath Road is the reason why locals rarely venture far from home on Sundays. It runs all the way through Bethnal Green, from Whitechapel to Regent’s Canal, but just to clear this up from the outset: it’s got nothing to do with Cambridge, and there’s no heath to speak of. Sorry, literal-minded Londoners. Bethnal Green residents have long enjoyed themselves on this short drag, but gentrification over the last ten years has wrought a number of changes. The old town hall’s now a stylish hotel, the railway arches are home to many of London’s enterprising craft brewers and even the local Caribbean food joint couldn’t avoid being turned into an award-winning cocktail bar. Nonetheless there’s still a sense of community and continuity in this corner of the capital. The York Hall, a boxing venue since 1929, is now also a GLL-run gym, the Genesis Cinema, first opened in 1912, is still going strong, and the Victorian mission at St Margaret’s House remains a firm neighborhood fixture nearly 130 years on — thanks, in part, to its brilliant café. So next time you’re wending your way home from Victoria Park or Broadway Market, investigate this under-the-radar high street. Just don’t bother looking for the heath. Drink this A photo posted by Georgie (@belleswhisky) on Aug 3, 2016 at 12:33pm PDT Cocktails at Satan’s Whiskers. This joint is undoubtedly one of the b
11 reasons to go to Roman Road in Bethnal Green and Bow
Gentrification in east london: weep, sigh, moan, etc. The popular image is one of beleaguered enclaves of valiant jellied-eel vendors battling an onslaught of cash-haemorrhaging, craft-lager-addicted professionals. And okay, it’s not wholly a myth. But there are places where the two tribes live in harmony, and Roman Road is one of them. Running for more than a mile between Bethnal Green and Bow, it’s a street that’s earned its place in East End history. A stone’s throw away on Grove Road, the first V-1 rocket fell in 1944. Today, thanks to its grocers, butchers, bakeries, convenience stores, charity shops, boutiques, cafés, restaurants, cash-and-carries and thrice-weekly market, Roman Road is home to a living, functioning community. And yes, the affluent residents and pricy establishments are multiplying. But that’s the beauty of Roman Road: you get the best of both worlds. Take eating out, for example. There’s the whole avocado-on-sourdough thing if you’re feeling virtuous, or a fry-up from one of umpteen greasy spoons if you’re still pissed from the night before. And so far, the road seems to have a pretty strong immune system when it comes to fighting off the usual chains. Prices rise, people move and areas change in this fickle city. Roman Road, I think, though, will do just fine. Drink this Wander up to Old Ford Road for a pint at The Eleanor Arms. In an area where, to be honest, decent boozers are pretty thin on the ground, this cosy Shepherd Neame pub is run by a l
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Clarendon Cocktail Cellar
Tucked away in a residential dead zone near Victoria station, this subterranean bar is cute and cosy, but unfortunately lacks pizzazz. The decor attempts to trick people into forgetting they’re still in Pimlico – it’s a mishmash of circa-2010 Shoreditch-by-numbers elements, with the triple whammy of exposed brickwork AND wood panelling, plus metal signs pinned all over the walls. The lack of a solid theme extends to the menu (printed on coasters), where cocktails, all £10 or less, are named after famous paintings – from the Scream (mezcal, lime, cassis) to A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (gin, Oleo Saccharum, lapsang souchong). While these were both overwhelmingly smokey – though they did go down easy – the Son of a Man was a winner. Combining both three- and ten-year aged apple cider brandy with amaretto, peach juice and cinnamon, it was like a perfectly tart, totally potent fruit pie. Staff were warm, and kept us topped up with popcorn to nibble. And props to the playlist: we were lulled with a drinking soundtrack of gentle Americana from the likes of the Shins. A perfectly pleasant bar, but its location – and lack of self-assurance – won’t draw the kind of crowd it seems to be looking for.
Venue says: “A hidden cocktail bar beneath Artist Residence and the streets of the ever changing Pimlico neighbourhood”