Stratford area guide

Find the best things to do and see in Stratford, plus E20’s top attractions, pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants

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© WestfieldWestfield Stratford City

Stratford has transformed in recent years, stepping out of the shadow of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and quickly becoming a destination in itself. With your shopping needs covered by Westfield Stratford City, one of Europe's biggest shopping centres, there are also numerous restaurants, bars and pubs cropping up in the area, especially around the so-called ‘Hackney Riviera’. 

Of course, the former Olympic venues are now open to the public for any sporting and fitness needs, while thrill seekers can climb up the ArcelorMittal Orbit and ride the world's longest tunnel slide down. No longer just associated with nights down the Queen Vic, E20 is now one of the capital’s most exciting areas. 

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Things to do in Stratford

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Immaculate parklands located near the key Olympic landmarks. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Westfield Stratford City
Shopping

Westfield Stratford City

Giant shopping centre boasting 300 retail units, 70 restaurants, bars and cafés, and a 17-screen digital cinema. 

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Theatre

Theatre Royal Stratford East

A community theatre with many shows written, directed and performed by black or Asian artists. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
ArcelorMittal Orbit
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ArcelorMittal Orbit

The curly-wurly red scaffolding tower complete with a viewing platform and giant slide. 

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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The best restaurants in Stratford

Darkhorse Restaurant
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Darkhorse Restaurant

There aren’t many places to get a decent meal in Stratford and that’s where Darkhorse comes galloping in, a stylish eatery in a sea of chains. The Spanish- and Italian-inspired menu works for both tapas-style sharing or a more traditional three-course scenario. We mixed and matched, finding small plates to be a bit hit and miss, with juicy tiger prawns and padrón peppers overshadowing a disappointing roast avocado with ricotta (there’s never any need to heat up an avo!). Melted Monte Enebro cheese with rosemary honey was satisfyingly indulgent but the charcuterie platter was a tad uninspiring. It would seem that Darkhorse’s strength lies in more traditional dishes, rather than faddish additions. A main course of seared neck of lamb was a highlight: pink, tender and served with a delicious dollop of mashed aubergine caviar. I could have had a bowl of that on its own. Staff were attentive and helpful throughout the evening, in spite of failing to tell us that the kitchen was closing, so we sadly missed out on dessert. On the plus side, the place was buzzing on a Friday evening, so Darkhorse certainly makes a welcome addition to the area, both for locals and those in need of a well-deserved glass of wine after a Westfield spree.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Randy's Wing Bar
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Randy's Wing Bar

Bin off Google Maps: Randy’s Wing Bar has such a new address, at Hackney Wick’s Here East complex, that it won’t show up on a GPS map. But with its lip-smacking, chicken feast of a menu racking up the digital ‘likes’, it is unlikely that it will be off the foodie map for long. Like many of the capital’s coolest fledgling restaurants, this place began life as a street food concept. The enthusiastic duo behind the operation, Richard Thacker and Andy Watts (Rich + Andy = Randy) wanted to bring buffalo-style wings back from their US travels. Their success in doing so sees them cooking chicken extremities in five styles on their own premises.  It’s like a modern ranch in here: industrial ducts on the ceiling meet weathered, wood-panelled walls. The summer months see doors moved side-on, seamlessly extending the dinky room. It’s symbolic that they should open up the restaurant, as the service is so welcoming. Staff at Randy’s want to ease you into having a good time. They bring food and drink to customers sitting on deckchairs on the grassy verge outside, packaging up leftovers and doling out cocktail suggestions with glee. I found a sharp mango spritz worked wonders with fast food. Those eponymous wings come by the dozen. The Buffalo wings that make Randy’s name are served with a customary blue cheese dip. But the most popular option (we’re told) is the fiery Gangnam: Korean-fried wings, with a sweet, sticky glaze that’s hard not to get all over your chops. Not only do toppings

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Gotto Trattoria
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Gotto Trattoria

The best thing about this Hackney Wick Italian is its canal-side position. With the doors flung open on summer evenings, it almost feels like you’re dining in Amsterdam. Not quite Italy, but we’ll take it. The eye doesn’t focus out the window though, given that a loud, graffiti-style mural takes up one wall on the inside. Maybe Gotto is trying to prove it’s street enough to be setting up shop in the Wick, since the people behind this restaurant also operate the slick Italian eaterie Mele e Pere in Soho. Mele e Pere impresses most with its vermouth selection, and while that vast library isn’t replicated at Gotto, they do recommend a red or white aperitivo to kick off the evening or to pair with small plates. We happily tucked into a liquid-y burrata and a plate of bombette (pork and pancetta wrapped around cacio cheese), which offered little salty mouthfuls with springy meat. Simple main dishes didn’t bring the same excitement to our table, although they were well executed, particularly a whole sea bass fresh with lemon and Italian herbs. The tortellini had excellent bite and a delicate courgette flower filling, but the sauce on the top and a shower of black truffle made it overpoweringly rich. Is Gotto your go-to Italian in Hackney? Probably not. But it’s bringing a bit of chic to a neighbourhood that’s rapidly changing, and although dinner didn’t rock my world, I’d quite happily return for a bombette and vermouth beside the canal.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse
Restaurants

Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse

You can judge a good restaurant by its chicken. Or at least, I do. And the fact that the Smokehouse’s Reggae Reggae jerk chicken had me reaching for Levi’s infamous BBQ condiment made me wonder if this is actually a ploy to shift more bottles of the stuff. But to be fair, his new venture is actually better than that. Based at Westfield Stratford, Levi Roots’s Caribbean Smokehouse is a vibrant and ambitious restaurant that does everything from Nando’s-style meal deals to more upmarket restaurant fare. The generous menu’s dishes are a nod to that island life, with its chicken soup, curry goat and a top-notch ackee and saltfish. Yet you’ll also find quirky numbers like the roti ‘brap’ wraps or the divine calypso rum cake. It’s real value for money too. The well-seasoned skankin’ rice with its bite-sized chunks of pumpkin, ginger and peas is a terrific side and will cost you less than four quid. But back to that chicken. Although it looked good, it was a bit ‘meh’ in the flavour department. If they focus on upping the reggae factor sans sauce, this smokehouse could be a real contender.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
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Hotels in Stratford

Holiday Inn London- Stratford City

Holiday Inn London- Stratford City

Situated in the heart of Westfield Stratford City, this place is perfect for the shoppers. 

Users say
3 out of 5 stars
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MOXY London Stratford

MOXY London Stratford

Get active at the Olympic Village or relax in the on-site bar.

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The best pubs and bars in Stratford

Four Quarters East
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Four Quarters East

Venue says: “Book your Xmas party at Four Quarters East. Special packages and deals available. Every private hire in Dec gets a free DJ or games master!”

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Mason & Company
Bars and pubs

Mason & Company

Sitting on a slightly barren canalside stretch of Hackney Wick, where old industrial grubbiness meets the box-fresh Olympic Park development, there’s a sense that Mason & Company is catering for a crowd that isn’t entirely there yet. Though, as nearby scaffolding and cranes attest to, times are changing. The interior is slick and inviting: plywood benches, comfy booths. The staff have that wide-eyed attentiveness that you get in new places. They offered table service, and happily talked us through the craft beers. Of which there are many, from a range of brewers across the UK. It was Liverpool-based Mad Hatter that really shone, with a hoppy IPA called Eminent, and Down the Rabbit Hole, an American-style strong ale. East London Liquor Company’s product also shone in an excellent G&T. Snacks came courtesy of resident foodsters Capish?, who do an Italian-American truckstop-style menu. We went with the poutine – beef shin pimping up the usual unholy trinity of ingredients – and courgette fries with basil aioli. Which, admittedly, didn’t taste of basil. But at £5 and £4 respectively, both dishes were good value for hefty portions. Yes, it sounds like millions of other east London drinking spots. But it’s not like they’ve left it on the default setting; staff are too friendly, and there are lovely little touches, like serving customers on the grassy bank outside and letting dogs bound in and out. As custom inevitably picks up, I hope Mason & Company can maintain its cheeriness

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Print House
Bars and pubs

Print House

A bar and restaurant on the banks of the Three Mills Wall River Weir in Stratford. Expect a varied food menu, draught beers, cocktails, club nights, pop-up events and roasts on a Sunday.  That food menu ranges from fish and chips, chicken and ham terrines and smoked salmon and haddock fish cakes to chuck steak burgers, wild mushroom and smoked cheese bruschetta, Tuscan-style fish stews and linguine here served with honey roasted courgettes, mushroom duxelles, oil and herbs. A range of cocktails include a blackberry mojito and a Print House island mule with fresh chilli. They're 2-for-1 on Friday nights, when DJs provide the soundtrack.  

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Tap East
Bars and pubs

Tap East

At last: a bit of competition for the Queen Vic. For years, that nuclear sub has quenched the thirst of generations of ‘EastEnders’ almost unchallenged in its fictional district of E20. Fictional, that is, until someone decided to plonk a stadium, swimming pool and shopping mall in the lower Lea Valley, thus requiring a new postcode. This mall is, of course, Westfield Stratford City, E20. To their credit, its planners could have just given the green light to another Slug and Lettuce, but instead the people behind the The Rake pub and Utobeer stall in Borough Market have opened a brewpub here with a huge beer selection (there are plenty of chains too, if that’s your thing). And we’re pleased to report that Phil Mitchell probably won’t be happy – it’s a worthy rival. A new-build pub in a shopping centre will always seem like a relatively sterile proposition compared to a historic hostelry, lacking as it naturally does the reassuring imprint of those countless fags smoked, pies munched and pints supped. Tap East is not immune to this, but the evident commitment to exciting beer provides incentive to visit retail nirvana. (More comfy seating would perhaps be welcome too.) The advantages – for the owners at least – of opening a bar like Tap East in a shopping centre are clear. You get a shiny new space, untainted by previous owners, and plenty of room to set up brewing equipment. There are no obligations to buy through a big pub landlord conglomerate, and there’s guaranteed footfa

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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The perfect weekend in Stratford

Swim: The London Aquatics Centre
Sport and fitness

Swim: The London Aquatics Centre

Splash about in the pool of Olympic dreams.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Explore: ArcelorMittal Orbit
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Explore: ArcelorMittal Orbit

Enjoy the view then take a ride down the world's longest tunnel slide. 

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Drink: Four Quarters East
Bars and pubs Book online

Drink: Four Quarters East

Venue says: “Book your Xmas party at Four Quarters East. Special packages and deals available. Every private hire in Dec gets a free DJ or games master!”

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Book online
Play: ZAPspace
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Play: ZAPspace

Venue says: “Dodge the January Blues! From Jan 8th you can bounce your inter-office politics away with our head to head dodgeball tournament! Book now!”

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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