The best restaurants in East London

East London has changed beyond recognition in the last 10 years, with new restaurants opening all the time in Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Hoxton, Haggerston, Stoke Newington, Shoreditch and Dalston.

Jellied eels and pie and mash was once the East London menu du jour, but nowadays you’re more likely to find handmade ravioli, Thai chicken wings or tantuni on a high street in these parts. We’ve eaten at a great number of establishments to bring you our pick of the best.

Extraordinary food can be found down unlikely backstreets and in swish Shoreditch rooftops flooded with light. If you’re looking for somewhere for a special occasion or a quick on-the-way-home bite to eat, you’ll find something memorable for your dinner here.

The best restaurants in East London

Acme Fire Cult

Live fire is at the core of this gritty but sophisticated barbecue restaurant. Despite the bearded chefs manning the flames, this isn’t barbecue as you expect it. Seasonal veg takes centre stage on the menu, supported by rare breed meat from regenerative farms and day-boat fish. It’s charred or slowly smoked over the fire, with fermentation and spice marrying everything with big flavours.

Examples include coal-roast leeks with pistachio pesto and longhorn beef rump with ancho beef butter and pickles. The operation is kept as low waste as possible – they’ve even collaboraed with courtyard neighbour 40FT Brewery to make Acme ‘marmite’ with leftover beer yeast – this is served on Dusty Knuckle sourdough (from their other neighbour) with a showering of pecorino.

With its regularly changing sharing plates menu, this could be any trendy East London restaurant, except it’s more than that; it has guts and heart, welcoming you into the fold as soon as you arrive, and of course that allure of the open flame.

Acme Fire Cult
Acme Fire Cult’s roast leeks

The Prince Arthur

At this U-shaped pub on a residential Hackney street corner, the food is exceptional. The kitchen produces plates of scallops in wild garlic sauce, salt cod brandade with espelette pepper and freshly cooked honey madeleines with citrus curd, all as if it’s no big deal at all.

What’s particularly charming about this small but mighty pub is that it still feels exactly like just that: a pub. Sometimes high-end cooking in these environments can overwhelm the good old-fashioned pub feel, but not here. It maintains a real ‘where everybody knows your name’ vibe, but with the bonus of a strong menu, homemade bread and the promise of an exceptional Sunday roast (the parsnips are particularly memorable).

Honey madeleines at the Prince Arthur


At this Bethnal Green Italian trattoria, the homemade pasta is a must, with shapes such as paccheri, ciceri e tria and rigatoni on rotation. The gnocchi fritto and mortadella starter is not to be missed, and expect antipasti such as red mullet, flying dragon orange, radicchio and vanilla or burrata with roasted onions, kale and pomegranate.

In the summer, the terrace is a relaxing place to sip a negroni or two while enjoying a plate of something special. Trust us: you’ll forget you’re inches away from the A107.

Gnocchi fritto
Gnocchi fritto with mortadella at Ombra

Smoking Goat

If you love tongue-tingling spice and fiery flavours, this bustling Shoreditch restaurant is for you. Mixing Thai cooking with smoking and barbecue techniques, the dishes come with a lick of smoke. The fried chicken is a must, coated in a sticky chilli sauce, as is the nahm d’tok smoked aubergine, which arrives collapsed and jammy and topped with a boiled egg. You’ll first visit for the flavours, but you’ll return for the buzz.


Nose-to-tail Italian cooking feels simple but special in this clean, neutrally decorated setting. The large restaurant showcases its chefs with a slick operation of multiple open kitchens, each working on a different aspect of their food, from hand-rolled pasta and wood-fired focaccia to house-made charcuterie.

Seasonality drives the menu, as does whole-animal butchery. The small plates dishes are paired back with a few ingredients allowed to shine in each and on-point execution lifting everything to luxurious heights.

Think strozzapreti brown crab cacio e pepe, slow-cooked short beef rib with salsa verde and shaved fennel and apple salad. The low-intervention wine list is an interesting one.

Toretellini in brodo at Manteca

In a bright, expansive dining room opposite Shoreditch High Street station, this one-Michelin-star restaurant offers a changing menu of seasonal, modern British food.

Since opening in 2014, the no-frills menu has highlighted the best of British produce in technically sophisticated ways. Fish and seafood come in direct from Cornwall and vegetables are picked and sourced in season. Dishes might include such delights as white asparagus with smoked eel broth and egg yolk, or a salad of peas and Ticklemore goat’s cheese.

The interior at Lyle’s

In flickering candlelight, this bare-bones industrial restaurant serves up small plates, homemade pasta and sharing platters of hearty, elevated food. The daily changing menu, scribbled on a large blackboard, is built around seasonal produce from regenerative growers and small producers, with a natural wine list to match.

It’s a romantic, relaxed neighbourhood restaurant where you can enjoy ingredients you won’t find in the supermarket: cavatelli with cime di rapa, chilli and garlic, pork chop, puntarelle, artichoke and apple mostarda and fig leaf pannacotta. They also sell pastries from their Big Jo bakery during the day, so don’t pass on the focaccia.

Afternoon light at Jolene

Llama Inn
At this Peruvian restaurant on the top of Shoreditch’s Hoxton hotel, the menu features dishes you definitely won’t have tried elsewhere. Known for ceviche – the dish in which raw fish is cooked in citrus juice – Peruvian cuisine offers plenty more beyond that famous export.

Highlights at Llama Inn are the pork shoulder sliders, served in a sweet potato bun with red onion salsa, as well as a steamed sea bass cooked in banana leaf and served with a comforting ‘aji amarillo’ chilli, coconut and herb sauce.

The ceviche is executed in new and interesting ways: a crispy squid and yuca dish is served alongside a spicy, well-balanced tigermilk with Peruvian hominy (chunky indigenous corn) for a satisfying texture. Cocktails are brilliant, with a special mention for the chicha morada alcohol-free option – it’s so good, the drinkers should get one too.

Llama Inn
Ceviche at Llama Inn

Needoo Grill

Tayyabs in Whitechapel is famous for its lamb chops, but venture a little further down Fieldgate street to where it meets New Road and you’ll find Needoo Grill, which promises all you love about Tayyabs and a little more.

Its daighi (slow-cooked dry meat curries) offer a heady and rounded hit of flavour that can only be found when dairy, meat and time become acquainted, and one bite will have you telling friends about it. The methi chicken and mixed grills will also rival the best you’ve eaten in the area. Vegetarians will eat well here too: daal baingun (dal with aubergines) and chana masala are executed to perfection.

A healthy spread at Needoo Grill


If pasta is your thing, Popham’s is sure to set your heart on fire with its changing menu of filled and hand rolled examples such as a cannelloni with beef short rib, celeriac and onion, or lorighittas (little plaits) with mussels, fennel, chilli and lemon.

The restaurant runs as a bakery in the daytime so the bread (and desserts)are not to be missed. Currently on offer is a sticky ginger croissant pudding with caramel and crème fraîche.

Popham’s desserts

Counter 71

At this restaurant in Shoreditch, chef-patron Joe Laker serves up a meticulous tasting menu of over 10 courses (including this exquisite fennel seed custard tart) to just 16 diners. The cooking focuses on seasonal British produce-led dishes, and Joe’s time spent in Michelin-starred kitchens ensures every dish is perfectly crafted. A special occasion restaurant, worth every penny.

Custard tart
Counter 71’s fennel custard tart


At this inviting Hoxton restaurant, the relaxed atmosphere belies the refinement of the cooking. Expect classic French and British techniques and excellent local produce, from quail served with poached fig and endive to charred kabocha squash to barbecued venison suet pudding.

The wine list offers an expertly chosen range of European varieties with some great value drops by the glass.

Roast pumpkin at Eline


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