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Mile End and Bow area guide

Keep busy in E3 with Time Out's guide to Mile End and Bow’s best restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do

Flickr / Jim Linwood

Mile End boasts some enviable pockets of serenity. The Regent’s Canal offers a charming route north to Victoria Park or south to Limehouse, and Mile End Park offers a lovely kids’ play area (with special apparatus for children with disabilities) and its own bridge carrying it over the main road.

Gentrification is very much under way here, which is good news if you like nice pubs and a steadily improving café scene. Slightly further out is Bow, but tucked away en route to Vicky Park is Roman Road, a real gem of a high street with a good mix of independent shops and a palpable community spirit.

The best bits of Mile End and Bow

Vintage bargains, east end boozers and avocado on toast: it's the best bits of Mile End
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Vintage bargains, east end boozers and avocado on toast: it's the best bits of Mile End

Pubs, parks and art – this is old-school east London at its best. Why should I go there? Smack dab between Whitechapel, Docklands, Victoria Park and the Olympic Park, Mile End’s situation on the fringes means it has a little something for everyone.  Any nice pubs about? Obviously: this is the East End. If you fancy something new, mixed with a dash of hipster cool, then try the recently refurbished Victoria on Grove Road. Elsewhere, popular spot The Crown offers a convenient location directly opposite Victoria Park. But if you’re looking for a real slice of old London charm, seek out the dusty delights of The Palm Tree, an unreconstructed boozer in the middle of Mile End Park that’s perfect for a warming drink and a singsong on a winter’s eve.   What’s on the menu?  There are some nice joints that keep the locals well fed and the visitors visiting. For a meaty treat, try some wagyu beef at Greedy Cow (Grove Road). Elsewhere, Lebanese restaurant and takeaway The Orange Room (Burdett Road) serves up fresh, zesty dishes. For somewhere more relaxed, try Zealand Road Coffee (Roman Road) where you can munch on avocado toast with all the other cool young things.       I fancy a spot of shopping...  Mile End doesn’t have a high street as such, but those looking for a unique bargain will be rewarded by a visit to East End Vintage Clothes (Huddart Street). Pay by the kilo and fill up your bag with weird and wonderful discoveries at this well-hidden but promising bazaar.

You know you live in Mile End when...
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You know you live in Mile End when...

Mile End may not be the edgiest bit of the East End, but it’s certainly not lacking in character. Those of us who’ve come to call this little nugget of London our home wouldn’t swap it for any number of rainbow bagels or beard parlours. You really know you’re a Mile Ender when…. You have to slalom around endless dog shit when you’re on your way anywhere. Good luck on those late-night strolls…. Nipping to the shop means a stark choice between the world's unfriendliest Tesco on Roman Road or the world's narrowest Tesco on Mile End Road; aggression or high possibility of bum-to-bum contact in the biscuit aisle. Tough choice.   A photo posted by Kelly♔ (@xjustkellyx) on Jan 17, 2015 at 6:23am PST   You often wonder what you might see on your next trip underneath the ‘railway bridge of abandoned things’ just up from the road from the Morgan Arms on Morgan Street. Will it be a miniature pink keyboard? A tainted frying pan? Several throw cushions? Oh, the suspense! You like the idea of the ‘proper East End’ Roman Road Market and its myriad offerings of dodgy board games, weird furniture and Kelvin Clone underwear but in reality you’ve never bought anything there because it actually scares you a little bit. You constantly brag about how nice it is to be near the facilities of the Olympic Park without ever having actually used them.  A photo posted by anne joyce (@anne_joyce) on Nov 11, 2016 at 3:54pm PST You’re justifiably smug that your Amazon d

Restaurants in Mile End and Bow

Greedy Cow
Restaurants Book online

Greedy Cow

Venue says: “Now serving our 'greedy breakfast', Saturday and Sunday 8am-noon.”

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Muxima
Restaurants

Muxima

An artisanal café that also serves as an art gallery for local artists, musicians, comedians, DJs and more.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
The Coffee Room
Restaurants

The Coffee Room

Small café serving hot drinks and sandwiches on sourdough bread

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants

Bow Creek Cafe

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

Mile End and Bow highlights

Clue Adventures
Things to do

Clue Adventures

A magician has disappeared during a magic trick and his apartment’s about to be bulldozed. You’ve got one hour inside it to find his book of secrets and discover where the hell he vanished to (while, we imagine, hoping the Magic Circle don’t mind you ruining his trick). That’s the premise of this magic-based escape game, which throws actual magicians’ tricks in alongside the usual selection of logic challenges and combinations to crack. It’s an enjoyably hands-on game, featuring multiple rooms packed with so many impressively designed bits of kit to play with that you’ll feel a bit like a grown-up kid in a toy shop. The number of different tasks that team members can work on separately means that your team will soon be tearing around the room simultaneously piecing together clues in a whirl of literal escapism. One of the better recent openings within the world of escape games. You might even say that it’s a kind of magic.

Mile End Park
Attractions

Mile End Park

The Children’s Park in Mile End Park is the place to head for a colourful and imaginative space that has a rope slide, scrambling wall, complicated climbing frame, swings and a see-saw, as well as a dedicated area for under-fives that includes a vast sandpit. New apparatus installed in the playground is designed to appeal to children with disabilities as well as to their able-bodied playmates, with a huge, bird’s nest-style swing and a ramped bridge. Summer additions include play fountains and fire pits; don’t miss the recently created skateboard park either.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

Bars and pubs in Mile End and Bow

Palm Tree
Bars and pubs

Palm Tree

A relic of a pub, the Palm Tree has no time at all for the modern trappings most east London hostelries. Don’t expect the crispest of pints or the most chivalrous service either. But people still traipse to this middle-of-nowhere Mile End venue for something money can’t buy – the Palm Tree provides a Cockney experience more intense than Danny Dyer pulling pints at the Queen Vic. Signed pictures of obsolete celebrities and forgotten jockeys line the walls above the oval-shaped bar, and spaces that aren’t plastered with memorabilia are covered in gold chintz accented by cabaret-esque red lighting. Regulars can be real characters, but it’s refreshing to visit somewhere with a distinct lack of hipsters. Its canalside position is appealing to summer strollers, but it’s the evening vibe that’s the real draw. There’s often a live band, and since there are no neighbours within shouting distance, late-night knees-ups often get lairy.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
East London Liquor Company
Bars and pubs Book online

East London Liquor Company

It’s a beautiful bar with a great pedigree: an old glue factory transformed into a gin distillery. Tall ceilings, dusty brickwork and wooden stable doors remain making it all look a bit fabulous by night, especially with spotlights bouncing off the copper stills visible through glass behind the bar. The view sure beats a plain old back-bar. But you’ll have to know where you’re going: it’s in a Bow Wharf car park, so you’ll hardly stumble across it on the late-night Tower Hamlets trail. As such, it stays quiet on week nights, somewhat dampening the drinking experience.The stash of bottled booze is pretty impressive. They make gin and vodka as well as smaller batches of rum (distillery tours can be booked), but in the bar itself there’s also a variety of imported liquors on show. Many cocktails have silly names (‘I’ll have the sec’s-ual healing, please’) but this blend is both serious and refreshing: dry curacao, rhubarb, lemon and orange bitters topped with soda water.Gin lovers can keenly test out mother’s ruin straight from the ELLC source with cocktails based on the distillery’s own London dry and premium batch. Should a marva Collins (London dry, yuzu, lime, bergamot bitters and soda, £8.50) not take your fancy, well-trained staff can whip up something to your taste. Barman Mikey Pendergast has headed up Hoxley and Porter in Islington and Powder Keg Diplomacy in Clapham in the past.When it’s quiet you can eavesdrop on the bartenders concocting new recipes or playing around

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Bars and pubs

Lord Morpeth

And East End boozer by Vicky Park and Hertford Union Canal. They also serve sourdough pizza here.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Morgan Arms
Bars and pubs Book online

Morgan Arms

There's more than a hint of the gastropub about this busy Bow boozer, with Sunday roasts proving particularly popular. The pub dates back to the late nineteenth century, and while there are a fair few aesthetic nods to its past, the modern artwork, covered al fresco decking and recent lick of paint keep things contemporary.  Although much of the produce is sourced locally, the food menu takes its lead from a variety of cuisines. Expect, therefore, Italian charcuterie boards and coq au vin alongside Thai beef salads, pork bellies with anise and carrot purée, pumpkin and ricotta ravioli and 12oz rib-eye steaks.  The wine list focuses on the old world, with wines from Spain, France, Italy and Portugal dominating. There are a few organic options, too. Beer comes from five hand-pulls, with drops from London Fields Brewery, Truman's and Hackney Brewery alongside the odd guest. Bottled options include Brooklyn, Anchor Steam and plenty from local brewers, Redchurch.  

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Book online

The perfect weekend in Mile End and Bow

Learn: Ragged School Museum
Things to do

Learn: Ragged School Museum

Delve into the history of an early experiment in public education

Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Drink: Palm Tree
Bars and pubs

Drink: Palm Tree

Drink like an East End local at this ‘proper’ boozer

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Drink: East London Liquor Company
Bars and pubs Book online

Drink: East London Liquor Company

Sip vodka and gin at an old glue factory transformed into a gin distillery

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Explore: Mile End Park
Attractions

Explore: Mile End Park

Walk or just relax at this popular riverside greenery spot

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

Love London Awards: last year's winners

Greedy Cow
Restaurants Book online

Greedy Cow

Venue says: “Now serving our 'greedy breakfast', Saturday and Sunday 8am-noon.”

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Muxima
Restaurants

Muxima

An artisanal café that also serves as an art gallery for local artists, musicians, comedians, DJs and more.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Baruch
Shopping

Baruch

A Roman Road bouique selling womenswear, menswear, jewellery, gifts, accessories and homewear. 

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Attractions

Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

The park, set in a disused nineteenth-century cemetery, is the only woodland in Tower Hamlets and its 33 acres are home to a wide variety of wild plants and animals.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
See the full results of last year's Love London Awards

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