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Shoreditch area guide

Discover the best things to do, see, eat and drink in London’s Shoreditch, from indie shops to tasty street food

Some say Shoreditch has had its day, that London’s trendy brigade have moved on. If you go to Brick Lane Market, though, it doesn’t look that way. The weird and wonderfully dressed hordes keep coming to the rough triangle made up by Old Street, Great Eastern Street and Shoreditch High Street, packing into ramshackle bars and independent shops. Despite the spread of affluence, much of the area maintains its original gritty, urban edge; many of the walls and shop fronts are plastered with graffiti. Of course, for many the grime is all part of the appeal – if you want a big garden and posh schools, move to Muswell Hill.

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The best bits of Shoreditch

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The best restaurants in Shoreditch

Andina
Restaurants

Andina

Bored with burgers? Tired of tapas? Then let Andina shimmy up your tastebuds with its Peruvian-inspired ceviches, street food, cocktails, and colourful smoothies. Peruvian food only started to make waves in London in 2012, when a couple of smart, aspirational restaurants – Lima and Ceviche – opened within months of each other in the West End. Ceviche is the more affordable of these two, a Soho bar and diner with a menu of dishes seldom seen on our shores. Andina is Ceviche’s second branch, but rather than imitating its older Soho sibling, it has new tricks, some of them inspired by the food of the Andes. Peruvian food is regionally diverse, but ceviches are enjoyed everywhere. Raw fish is marinated in citrus juice which can then be spiced with chilli or have other dressings or garnishes added. Andina’s ‘Cheeky’ ceviche, one of six on the menu, comprises thin slices of hake and cod cheeks marinated in citrus juice with spring onion, and it’s a proper palate‑cleanser. New World staples are well-represented: the giant Peruvian popcorn snack called cancha is a must-try; and potatoes appear in many forms. A main course of three potato cakes was beautifully decorated – the spicy seafood toppings did a decent job of livening up what would otherwise be dollops of cold potato mash. Unfamiliar names and unusual combinations litter the menu, such as the chupe (seafood chowder) of black quinoa, king prawns, broad beans and giant corn – never a dull mouthful. Andina is as much a bar as

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Dishoom
Restaurants

Dishoom

In Bollywood, ‘dishoom dishoom’ is the sound effect of blows landing in a classic fight scene, and is usually followed by a hip-thrusting song-and-dance routine. And while the naans are the only things that get slapped about by the Dishoom restaurant group – there’s still plenty of spice, both on and off the plate. This King’s Cross Dishoom, the third, is the best-looking yet. A magnificent three-storey Victorian warehouse has been furnished with sepia prints, whirring fans and an oversized railway-station clock to recreate the elegant feel of 1930s Bombay, while the seating arrangement by the ground-floor cocktail bar looks as if it’s been lifted from Aunty Ji’s verandah. It’s a witty interpretation of urban India, tastefully updated for trendy, spice-loving Londoners. If romancing is on the agenda, we suggest the booths on the dimly lit mezzanine level. But for skewer-wielding action, head to the top floor for a front-row view of smoky kebabs cooking over charcoal. Dishes are affordable and consistently deliver great flavour. Besides the first-class breakfasts, fragrant biryanis and fabulous curries, we love the gingery slow-cooked black lentils simmered with cream, butter and tomatoes. It’s a classic party dahl and a marvellous match for garlicky chargrilled lamb chops and handkerchief-like roomali rotis. Even an everyday mattar paneer, studded with pillowy cubes of fresh cheese and tender peas, is notable for its cumin-scented onion and tomato masala. And, for between

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Lyle’s
Restaurants Book online

Lyle’s

‘Wham-bam, thank you m’am’ – the new normal for London’s restaurants. Book ahead? You’re having a laugh. Queue? Of course. Meals come and go at breakneck speed, and before you can even settle into your faux-distressed school chair, the bill appears and you’re out on your ear, wondering if it was all just a dream. If that’s the kind of fast and furious that floats your boat, then you should probably give Lyle’s a swerve. Dinner here is a long, leisurely affair. You can book (they even have a telephone!) and stay as long as you like, as there’s no turning tables. The pricing is fair: the no-choice menu costs £39, which gets you seven small courses (plus bread, petits fours and filtered tap water), served in a drawn-out procession. The whole thing, from start to finish, takes a languorous two and a half hours or so. The chef is James Lowe, formerly one of the much-fêted ‘Young Turks Collective’ and still one of the most talented cooks in town. We were impressed by a terrific cube of blood ‘cake’ (baked pig’s head, blood, and semolina); mellow braised baby onions; and a hunk of fatty-edged mutton with an intense anchovy cream. Baked washed-rind British sheep’s cheese was lick-the-plate-clean moreish; as was a poached, slightly-tart rhubarb with a rich crème anglaise custard). In short, almost everything we ate was notably good. Only the bitter notes of charred dover sole in a somewhat over-seasoned broth disappointed. But the sweet staff knew their food; and the semi-industrial s

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Hoi Polloi
Restaurants Book online

Hoi Polloi

The Ace Hotel in New York is deepest hipster territory, with a cavernous lobby used by every Midtown creative for its free wi-fi, Stumptown coffee bar and – for those who can get a booking – chef April Bloomfield’s outstanding Breslin restaurant. I was once marooned at the Ace for a couple of days during a snowstorm; there are few better places to be stuck. Shoreditch’s new Ace Hotel is not, however, a cookie-cutter copy of its Big Apple cousin, and Hoi Polloi – its all-day brasserie – exemplifies this. Access, for instance, is not from a vast lobby, but via a tiny flower shop. Walk straight through and the large restaurant (from the team behind Bistrotheque and Shrimpy’s) reveals itself with a mix of retro and contemporary styling that wouldn’t look out of place on a Scandinavian cruise ship circa 1950. The casual and sneaker-clad service is notably smooth and well informed. The music (a mix of retro ’80s pop and US alt electronic) isn’t too loud, allowing attention to focus instead on conversation – and the food. The menu looks like a college music paper, which gives the curious impression that other diners are reading up on the LCD Soundsystem back catalogue. It covers breakfast, lunch, snacks, cocktails and dinner. Dishes are British, very seasonal and juxtapose flavours in modern but not outlandish ways that will leave you craving more – and wondering why other kitchens can’t manage so deftly. A fresh, vibrant starter of braised celeriac is topped with a tangle of remo

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
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Things to do in Shoreditch

Columbia Road Flower Market
Shopping

Columbia Road Flower Market

Bucketfuls of beautiful flowers every Sunday.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Rich Mix
Cinemas

Rich Mix

Gigs, theatre, cinema, art and festivals.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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The best bars and pubs in Shoreditch

Cocktail Trading Company
Bars and pubs

Cocktail Trading Company

It’d be churlish for an otherwise stellar cocktail bar to lose points just for playing truly awful music, but on a quiet Tuesday evening the new branch of the Cocktail Trading Company came very close. Beleaguered by a Maximum Dad Rock playlist, it was hard to focus on the excellent drinks they kept sending our way. Okay, it wasn’t that hard. This new bar off Brick Lane is the Company’s second follow-up to the closed Soho original. More spacious than their year-old Smithfield branch, the new wood-panelled drinking room is two parts classy cocktail bar to one part comfortable pub, stirred with a dash of wink-wink, owl-heavy retro kitsch. Then there are the drinks: a cocktail list two-dozen-strong at £9 apiece. A rich and gulpable espresso martini proved that they’ve got the classics in hand, but once we got to the weirder stuff, things really started to fly. The Guido Forks came whisky-rich, smoky and sour and served with a small explosion. The One In A Million was sharp and refreshing with a chilli kick and a lottery ticket. The Handy Nightcap used a frozen golf ball instead of ice. I could (and did) go on. Even the menu was a tiny treasure, pocket-sized – according to our friendly bartender – so we could take it home. Which, believe me, you’ll want to do. With its superb booze and constant stream of icebreaking surprises, CTC could well be the best place for a first date in the whole East End. And to be fair, the music offers an inbuilt vetting system: if your partner star

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Happiness Forgets
Bars and pubs

Happiness Forgets

The only problem we’ve encountered here is an excess of popularity: if you haven’t booked, don’t bank on getting a table whatever day of the week it is. Hoxton is not short of a bar or two, but this basement room packs in the punters with a lively vibe, incredible cocktails, and, in our experience, dazzlingly wonderful service. Staff go out of their way to make sure you’re happy. Some drinks have been on the list since the bar opened. They’re innovative but sensible, based on a tight grasp of cocktail fundamentals. Decor is minimal, table lighting is from candles, no standing is allowed. One of the best bars in east London – or in all of London, for that matter. 

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Nuala Bar
Bars and pubs

Nuala Bar

Irish pubs have cropped up the world over, but the country’s famed party spirit and warm-hearted welcome seems to be infiltrating London in other ways. Take Nuala, a Celtic restaurant just off the Silicon Roundabout from an ex-Chiltern Firehouse chef. He’s hired a host of talent from across the London hospitality scene to help raise the roof in the basement bar. Don’t expect rowdy hell-raising and four-leaf-clover decor: you’ll see winks to Irish tradition in old Guinness artwork, a wood-panelled room with red leather bar stools and flashes of green tiling – and The Pogues on the sound system. It calls to mind New York’s leading bar The Dead Rabbit: modern and polished but undeniably Irish. The drinks line-up pulls no punches. Well, except for the kind you want: punch served in sharing jugs. Order by the glass and you get what seems a diminutive measure to suit a leprechaun, but it’s practical, since Punch No 3 contains sherry, cognac and two types of rum. A list of five cocktails holds native flavours in store, from parsnip to peat. I sipped away at The Manhattan Serve, cocktail perfection blending single malt whiskey, sherry and armagnac with honey and squash-seed oil for a nutty, smooth and sweet finish. The whiskey list is an astounding long read, while purists can also drink pints of Guinness poured with loving precision. A strong-looking, flame-haired fury is on the bar’s logo, although I was served by a female bartender who was actually quite charming and totally tal

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Bull in a China Shop
Bars and pubs

Bull in a China Shop

'Bull in a China Shop’ – a strange name for a bar, with its connotations of crashing-around clumsiness. And when you read their website, it does little to alleviate fears: ‘Our menu boasts eggs benedict, superfood salads, charcoal bun sandwiches, and Asian-spiced whisky glazed rotisserie chicken. Our bar serves an extensive selection of over 30 rare and premium whiskies, hailing from Japan and Scotland.’ Yet despite such a smash and grab of influences, Bull works. The spirits selection makes it a proper whisky destination – it has more Japanese whiskies than anywhere I’ve seen in London, from the cool Nikka From the Barrel to rare Karuizawa bottlings. There are some brilliant Scotches too, and a list of inventive whisky cocktails (a Wabi/Sabi at £12 was made with Hakushu single malt, vermouth, green tea syrup and black walnut bitters). The Bull’s menu, with its breakfast-to-late-night diversity, has a lot of good stuff on it. The rotisserie chicken is brined with ginger, marinated in yogurt and grilled with that whisky glaze – it’s great, although served in an annoying mess-style enamel bowl that makes it hard to cut. Most humans – civilians, at least – prefer to eat off plates. Remember that, restaurateurs. No bull: this Bull is a great place and a destination for whisky fans. All breakages, however, must be paid for.  

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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The best hotels in Shoreditch

Ace Hotel London

Ace Hotel London

Ace is a destination in its own right, thanks to its prime location and its own inimitable brand of cool. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Check prices
Hoxton Hotel

Hoxton Hotel

A hip and wallet-friendly hotel with an ace brasserie downstairs. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Check prices
See the best hotels in Shoreditch

The perfect weekend in Shoreditch

Eat: Brick Lane Beigel Bake
Restaurants

Eat: Brick Lane Beigel Bake

Refuel on the cheap at this Shoreditch institution. 

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Shop: Boxpark
Restaurants

Shop: Boxpark

Buy some hip new stuff from a shipping container.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Explore: Queen of Hoxton
Clubs

Explore: Queen of Hoxton

Their huge themed rooftop is one of the best in London.

Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Dance: XOYO

Dance: XOYO

Groove through the night at one of east London’s top clubs.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online

Love London Awards: last year’s winners

The Orange Buffalo
Restaurants

The Orange Buffalo

New York styled Buffalo wings, served from a van in the Truman Brewery yard.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Embassy East
Restaurants

Embassy East

Breakfast, brunch and lunch café.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Guys and Dolls Parlour
Shopping

Guys and Dolls Parlour

This beauty spot just off Brick Lane opened late 2013 under the patronage of LA-trained primper-to-the-stars Shimol Kanuga. Done up like a 1950s parlour, Guys and Dolls offers a whole range of top-to-toe services, with the most popular (with both men and women) being the waxes. A hi-tec, low-temperature Lycon wax starts from £8 and promises to remove even the shortest, finest hairs and leave you silky smooth. Manicures are also a popular option, with gel polishes available. Owner Shimol is friendly and knowledgeable, with a wealth of aftercare tips to help you get the best out of your treatments. A nice neighbourhood salon.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Rich Mix
Cinemas

Rich Mix

Recently saved from threatened closure, Shoreditch's independent cultural centre houses three cinema screens alongside exhibition and performance spaces and a cafe/bar. Run as a charity, it's a vibrant arts hub and any given week could see it hosting an assortment of music gigs, theatre shows, art exhibitions, themed festivals and all manner of workshops.  Families are well catered for with weekly parent and baby cinema screenings of the latest films, a family cinema club with affordable tickets and the fortnightly Wiggly Jigglers active play session for under-twos. Local residents with a Tower Hamlets Libraries or Ideas Store card get discounted entry to cinema screenings.

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

Comments

6 comments
Snaz P

helen o is a bit freaked out. What she means is it's a hipster gentrification zone, like alot of areas are in cities around the world.

There's plenty to find on and off the beaten track and there's always alot of interesting stuff to see or try out. Despite hipsters being a bit of a pain they do like fun stuff so you'll find that kind of thing in mega quantities in the Shoreditch quater.

I always would say conventional visitors would enjoy that area and dilute the hipster crowds too - so why crap all over it ?

helen o

I'm sorry Shoreditch is a highly pretentious and not particularly attractive area that has been shoved down our throats by so called cool rags like Timeout and estate agent sponsored papers like the Evening Standard. Truth is that it is a commercially driven fantasy created by the media colluding with businesses to drive up commercial footfall of sheeple to the area. Sheeple are people who en mass, blindly follow trends proclaimed by the  media  as gospel truth and try to live out those fantasies en mass aka Hipsters et al. So a real shitty borough like Hackney suddenly becomes paradise in the eyes of sheeple, the same process can be seen in Peckham with its post nuclear habitat being proclaimed as the next cool thing by Time Out and other rags, ditto Brixton and Walthamstow and Deptford. I was in shoreditch the other day and stumbled into a so called cool gathering of hipsters at a streetfood pop-up event in a disused car park. I was concerned that the crowd had been easily deluded into believing that such an uncool dirty and harsh place could be cool. I guess the average individual can be psychologically brainwashed and convinced of anything by the media, hence  it is so-so cool to pay half a million pounds and incur a life times' debt to live on one of Shoreditch's or  Hoxton's numerous run down estates than to pay a third of that price to live in a fairly decent flat or house in an uncool area such as Catford or Morden. You have to ask yourself whatever happened to the former cool areas such as Notting Hill, Portobello Road, Camden, Clapham, Islington etc My guess is that they've become too cool to be Ice cool and hence frozen out of the anals of coolness by the likes of Timeout et al and it looks like Shoreditch is rapidly going that way from recent articles on the area. It makes you wonder why people believe in this charade in the first place?  

jon w

O helen I love you!!! Everything you say is absolutely correct. Only it's actually all good, exactly as it has been for ever... and will always be. Just dont be the sheep.

Marion W

Oh wow. Just wow. I live in Homerton. Even more underrated, and granted, there isn't much to do there, but shoreditch, it's fun! It's become a bit of a trend to insult anything that alot of people enjoy. You have decided it is 'cool' to follow this trend... And omg look! You've joined the freaking sheeple! I don't know where you live, but I'd rather live in Hackney where not only can I buy jeans and a bag of chips for less than 5 pounds if I feel like going to that sort of place, but I can also visit a huge record store, buy bubble tea in a shop where I can also play table tennis and eat macaroons, and then go to a family farm with a classy italian restaraunt! To be honest, in the end it gets more interesting than constant chelsea coffee shops, as nice as they are. And I've been to the urban food fest. The food is nice, the people are nice , so the environment is old, is that not thrifty?! Making a fun place out of an otherwise boring urban environment into an interesting fun festival. Stop your prejudiced shit please? Thankyou.

Misch M

Shoreditch is not good place for the clubbers  too costly / rubbish .. I was given excuse at some bars that there are too many guys in the bar / club so cant enter .. it's ridiculous in the name of London .. 

Sophie

A great, comprehensive guide to this area - so it's not just full of posers after all! Tho anyone who actually uses the word 'Pho mile' is probably a bit of a poser...