The Buzziest Spots in London’s East End


On a foodie getaway in the British capital, our writer trusts the savvy hospitality staff to pick out her every stop.

In 2016, after we closed the doors of our farm–to–table Indian restaurant in Kelowna, British Columbia, I embarked on a solo, around–the–world trip through 10 different countries. After six gruelling years of restaurant life, the idea was to ditch the itineraries and scout each city like a local. In this case, that involved relying on the insider knowledge of local bartenders, servers or chefs to guide my next meal. It truly changed the way I travel, and now, that tried–and–tested strategy shapes my reservations, no matter where I go.

When I found myself booking a spur–of–the–moment trip back home to London — for the first time since that adventure years ago — it was time to get reacquainted with the city's ever–evolving food and drink scene with the help of some insider recommendations. Here are the spots in and around the East End streets of Shoreditch that industry folks were keen to point me to (and they delivered). 

Read more: London's 10 Best Neighbourhood Pubs to Grab a Pint In

July 27, 2022
Lyles restaurant in London

Lunch: Lyle’s

Chef James Lowe opened Lyle’s over eight years ago, and not only are they still racking up awards, but they also remain a firm favourite among locals. The moment you step into the airy, stripped–down former tea warehouse space, the genuine, unforced service primes you for the dining experience ahead. With a menu that constantly changes to show off the best of British, the idea is to order as many plates on the lunchtime à la carte menu as humanly possible. While the dishes on the menu have simple descriptions like Suckling Kid, Asparagus & New Season Garlic or Turbot, Jersey Royals & Whey Butter, the plates are, in fact, wildly refined (and delicious).

Bubala interior

Dinner: Bubala

At this cramped and cozy spot inspired by Tel Aviv cafés, the Middle Eastern menu just so happens to leave off the meat. Bubala, meaning “darling” in Yiddish, prepares thoughtful vegetable–forward mezze (small plates) with a bold yet playful touch. Classics like the silky–smooth hummus with burnt butter and pine nuts and the beautifully charred laffa flatbread help take us on a “trip” to Israel (via Spitalfields). But visit for the halloumi with uber–glossy black seed honey — the moment the pan–seared–until–golden melty cheese hits the table, it practically screams “squeeze me.” Executive chef Helen Graham (formerly at The Palomar and The Barbary) and founder Marc Summers launched a second location this July right in Soho.

Seed Library
   Seed Library | Photo: Caitlin Isola

After–Dinner Cocktails: Seed Library 

As you make your way down to the basement of the One Hundred Shoreditch hotel, the noise level starts to rise. Entering Seed Library— the newest bar from award–winning mixologist Mr. Lyan (real name: Ryan Chetiyawardana) — is like you've somehow travelled into a scene from That ’70s Show. Unlike other Mr Lyan bars, Seed Library takes a low–fi approach that focuses on the origins of ingredients: think classic cocktails with a twist. The summer whisky sour plays with botanicals like meadowsweet and woodruff; the penicillin is smoky with a subtle heat building from the galangal; and the coriander seed gimlet has a refreshing balance. Throughout the evening, a chorus of cheeky–but–endearingly–awkward chaps will pull up a seat, join the conversation and help figure out your next sip.

Leroy interior

Lunch: Leroy 

Departing from Ellory's fine dining approach in Hackney, the well–loved eatery found a new home — and a new name — just down the road in Shoreditch. Now oozing with unfussy, chilled wine bar vibes (thanks to a sweet vinyl collection), Leroy has one of the city's most affordable set lunch menus, especially for a Michelin–starred restaurant. (A two–course meal is £26 and the three–course meal is just £29 from Tuesday to Friday.) Artfully clad with bistro–style tables filled and a thirtysomething work crowd, expect a single–sheet, seasonally European menu that's impressive yet unfussy. As for the wine list? A 350–bottle–strong wine cellar has everything from classic crowd–pleasers to the unusual and quirky to keep you amused. 


Dinner: Manteca

Manteca is all about nose–to–tail butchery, hand–rolled pasta and fire–roasted everything, so even the deliciously salty salumi selection is cured in–house. As the menu draws inspiration from chef Chris Leach's travels across Italy, plus whatever top–notch British ingredients are seasonally available, you can say the food here is simply Britalian. As I watched the theatrics unfold from the kitchen counter, it's safe to say the star dish is the ever–changing tagliatelle al ragu. With a meaty mix of pork, beef and mortadella (this time), a splash of sherry vinegar helps cut through the richness, while the freshly grated Parmesan cheese binds the slippery, yolk–coloured noodles together. The beverage list is also teeming with low–intervention wines (organic and fermented without additives) from Europe and North America for a wonderfully mindful tasting experience. 

One Hundred Shoreditch
   One Hundred Shoreditch

Where to Stay in the Area: One Hundred Shoreditch 

One Hundred Shoreditch is a swanky new hotel located smack–dab on Shoreditch High Street. As you ascend away from the hustle and bustle of public areas — and the outside world — the emphasis shifts from work and play to turning off your computer, silencing your phone, and getting ready for some serious rest and downtime. Retreating to one of 258 dreamy bedrooms, a pop of colour from custom tapestries and hand–painted artworks accent the calm neutral tones to create a homely apartment vibe. Oh, and the bed is so impossibly comfy that it just tucks you in at night. 

Read more: Frank & Oak Co‑Founder Ethan Song’s Guide to London