Wapping and Shadwell area guide

Keep busy in E1 with Time Out's guide to restaurants, bars, pubs and things to do in Wapping and Shadwell

Hogging a generous chunk of prime riverside real estate, tiny Wapping very much wears its maritime heritage on its sleeve. A proud crew of riverside boozers all claim a rich swashbuckling history - try the George Tavern or Town Of Ramsgate, and there are plenty of restaurants to work your way through, too. More than a few of the high-end craft moored in touristy St Katharine Docks probably owe much to the same demographic. Wapping is well served by the Overground, and, as any estate agent will tell you, you can’t go wrong with the river.

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Mudchute Kitchen
Restaurants

Mudchute Kitchen

Mudchute Farm is a revelation – minutes from the DLR and edged by Canary Wharf’s concrete jungle, you’ll find goats, sheep, horses, even llamas ambling about in sprawling parkland. The café's clutch of wooden picnic tables isn’t altogether promising (it’s within smelling distance of the stables) but it does a decent line of paninis, cakes and indulgent farmers' breakfasts and brunches.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Yurt Cafe
Restaurants

Yurt Cafe

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Half Moon Young People's Theatre
Theatre

Half Moon Young People's Theatre

The Half Moon's inclusive policy places particular emphasis on engaging those often excluded by ethnicity and disabilities. Their broad participatory programme, which goes out to youth theatres and schools, is a vital extension of this. Within their East End hub, two studios provide a calendar of performance for children aged from six months, while kids can join one of a range of youth theatre groups.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
George Tavern
Bars and pubs

George Tavern

The George Tavern is thought to be one of the oldest pubs in London, with the current building dating back to the Georgian era. The historical feel has been meticulously preserved, making it a popular venue for photoshoots by the likes of Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and Nick Cave. Under the ownership of the current landlady, artist Pauline Forster, the George started to host live music in 2004 and played host to several of Factory Floor's early gigs. Current live music highlights include the regular Jupiter Club, hosted by Jem Finer of The Pogues.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Restaurants in Wapping and Shadwell

Il Bordello
Restaurants

Il Bordello

Attracting Wapping residents as well as tourists over the years, Il Bordello often sees queues out of the door during the week. Despite its position at the bottom of one of Wapping’s modernised brick wharfs, you could be taking a step back into the 1990s here – complete with tables covered in plastic cloths, and napkins carefully curled into wine glasses. The food, complemented by an all-Italian wine list, is similarly straightforward. A starter of parma ham and melon was simple and delicious, the portion more than ample for the price, though the bread used for a bruschetta was a touch too dry. Gigantic pizzas topped with time-tested combinations are a strength; we enjoyed a mix of bresaola, rocket and parmigiana. Another highlight was a perfectly cooked veal chop slathered in a rich sage butter sauce and accompanied by roast potatoes. This traditional style might not appeal to all modern sensibilities, but it’s hard not to be won over by the convivial atmosphere and jovial team of waistcoated Italian gents. Il Bordello delivers what so many other restaurants lack: a touch of old-fashioned Italian charm.  

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Bottega Wapping
Restaurants

Bottega Wapping

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Churchills Restaurant and Lounge Bar
Restaurants

Churchills Restaurant and Lounge Bar

Set in the ever popular St Katherine Docks in Wapping, East London is the brand new contemporary restaurant and lounge bar Churchills. With a British & Mediterranean menu to challenge any top London restaurant and a cocktail menu to dazzle the taste buds.Churchill’s is the ideal place for unique, exceptional corporate and private functions.We are available for private functions at weekends or week days and can cater for as little as 25 and can hold up to 150 on our exclusive restaurant. The atmosphere is stylish and decadent yet relaxed and effortless, our signature white decor creates the perfect setting for enjoyment and relaxation.Our menus reflect our London city surroundings with our very own unique twist. At Churchill’s no stone is left unturned to ensure the event of a lifetime.

Smiths Restaurant Wapping
Restaurants Book online

Smiths Restaurant Wapping

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
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Things to do in Wapping and Shadwell

Wilton's Music Hall
Theatre

Wilton's Music Hall

Walking down Graces Alley towards Wilton's Music Hall is a bit like stepping into another world – or rather back in time to the mid-19th century, when John Wilton opened his concert hall behind the Mahogany Bar pub. Thanks in part to the Methodist Church and John Betjeman, this lovely old building has survived the intervening century and a half more or less intact. The exterior – cobbled together from five Victorian house fronts – is chicly shabby, with peeling paint in mismatched colours, and long-extinguished gas lamps hanging along the walls beside flower baskets (brimming in the summer). Step inside, and you'll find the bar, entrance hall and side-room known as the 'Study' are very much in the same condition: apart from the exposed brickwork (originally covered by plaster), there's not much here that would have been out of place in Wilton's day. The gem here is the hall itself: church-like, with a high ceiling, a gallery on three sides and a proscenium arch stage on the fourth. It's been recently refurbished and strengthened thanks to a long-running fundraising campaign, and now has modern lighting, heating and ventilation, but most of the period features are still in place, albeit faded: the 'barley sugar' cast iron pillars, the sloping wooden floor, the carved balcony and the classical arches around the upper walls. One of the world's oldest surviving music halls and an architectural gem, it remains a choice hang-out for the post-work crowd and regularly hosts theatre,

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Open-City Architecture Tours
Things to do

Open-City Architecture Tours

Open-City is best known for organising the annual Open House London festival, but London's leading architecture educators also host walking, cycling, photography and boat tours all year round. Some - King's Cross Renaissance, London Riverside - focus on London's newest developments. Others - Square Mile, Hidden West End and Bloomsbury - include an historical angle. Cycling tours typically cover lots of ground - the Lea Valley, for example, on a tour covering Olympics regeneration - while photography tours pick out panoramic vistas and iconic structures. But the boat tours have proven Open-City's biggest draw. Book in for Architecture of the Thames - East to witness the dramatically different landscape east of Greenwich, including the otherworldly Thames Barrier; or reserve a spot for Architecture on the Thames, which starts at Festival Pier near Waterloo Bridge before passing upstream and downstream through central London. Or, if you're looking for something a little more intimate, check out 'Eve With...', a series of weekday tours of private homes guided by the architects that designed them, complete with prosecco and nibbles. Guides include acclaimed architectural photographers, advisors to English Heritage and others. Visit the Open-City website for tour details including prices, times and location. (Please note: tours do not begin at the below location, Open-City's private office.)

Bars and pubs in Wapping and Shadwell

Prospect of Whitby
Bars and pubs

Prospect of Whitby

If you've ever taken a boat up the Thames, you'll have probably noticed a scaffold and hangman's noose outside an appealingly aged tavern by the Wapping riverside. It’s a grim reminder of Execution Dock, a nearby gallows where many a pirate met his end (yes, really). And the tavern in question is the Prospect of Whitby, London’s oldest riverside pub and the best of three by the river in Wapping. Wood panelling, dark corners and uneven stone floors help to make it one of the city’s most atmospheric old drinking dens. Indeed, it seems hardly to have changed since the days of dock workers and deckhands. The neighbouring old warehouses might have been converted into luxury flats, but the pub still feels like the shadowy haunt of weatherbeaten sailors, smugglers and pirates, all just a few gulps of rum and a fist fight away from their next voyage.

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

Victualler

A narrow residential street in Wapping is perhaps not the most obvious location for the brave new venture that is Daniil Vashchilov’s natural, organic and biodynamic wine bar and shop. Then again, locals clearly appreciate quirky quality and are prepared to pay for the privilege. There’s a good deal that is quirky about this reclaimed pub, aside from the motley assortment of wooden tables, chairs and sink-in sofas. One such element is the determined focus on British and even local-to-London produce; another is the purist approach to wine (and beer). But perhaps the least usual and most welcome aspect is the friendly, enthusiastic and hugely informative engagement with customers: order just a glass of something unfamiliar and you’ll be given a taster; express enthusiasm and a number of corks will be popped and the pedigree of each wine laid bare. The food too – simple platters of cheese and charcuterie in prime condition, with carefully selected accompaniments – is provenance-identified with pride. On our visit, beef strips, cured in-house and still pink and tender, proved a cleverly conceived partner to richly fruity Morgon and a contrasting Gamay de Chaudenay, its choucroute notes indicative of ‘natural’ wine making. The list changes constantly, so there’s plenty to keep local palates refreshed, and much that would reward a speculative excursion.  

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

George Tavern

The George Tavern is thought to be one of the oldest pubs in London, with the current building dating back to the Georgian era. The historical feel has been meticulously preserved, making it a popular venue for photoshoots by the likes of Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and Nick Cave. Under the ownership of the current landlady, artist Pauline Forster, the George started to host live music in 2004 and played host to several of Factory Floor's early gigs. Current live music highlights include the regular Jupiter Club, hosted by Jem Finer of The Pogues.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Satan's Whiskers
Bars and pubs

Satan's Whiskers

The less intrepid Londoner may be put off by the street view of Satan’s Whiskers: it looks every bit a down-and-out dive bar. Inside though, it breaks the east London bar mould, with hip hop on the stereo, a smartly modish setting, vintage French posters on the wall and some of the best cocktails to be found in Bethnal Green’s burgeoning booze scene. But luckily, it’s more of a laid-back neighbourhood hangout than an out-of-place, high-end cocktail bar. Think not so much stuffy, more stuffed animals – there’s plenty of taxidermy pals lounging around, but it never borders on the tacky. The drinks list changes daily, which attracts a keen crowd of booze enthusiasts as well as Tinder’s finest out to impress. On our latest trip we sat at the bar, a prime position to catch the attention of staff in shirts and braces, who gladly ran us through their favourites on the menu. You’re in for a hell of a night at Satan’s Whiskers.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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