On a recent trip to London, we fell in love. We fell in love with everything, but especially with the east London neighborhood we stayed in, Shoreditch. Neighborhood Watch is dedicated to rounding up our favorite spots to eat, drink and shop and our favorite things to do and see in those special neighborhoods we come across while traveling that seem to magically have it all. Check out our Google Map HERE to save it for your next adventure in London.
DO + SEE
CLOAK AND DAGGER
While a shop focusing on American Traditional art might seem blatantly un-British of us, the aptitude of the artists here is undeniable. And you can always jump across the street for a bit of liquid courage or pain chasing and have a proper British pint at a proper British pub: The Carpenter’s Arms.
https://www.cloakanddaggerlondon.co.uk 34 Cheshire St. London E2
CHESHIRE STREET VINTAGE SHOPS
It seems like everyone in this neighborhood has got some kind of look on, or at least, they’ve put more thought and effort into their dress than the running average. Since you’re reading this magazine, we’ll assume you’ll be looking for something a bit more one of a kind. Cheshire Street is quite literally packed with vintage shops running the gamut of focus: hipster staples, used steel-toed boots, sunnies only, utilitarian attire, 1950’s Japanese Kimonos.
COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET
What’s that Oscar Wilde quote about no one having anything to complain about as long as there are flowers and a short list of other things? In honor of one of London’s favorite native sons, snag a coffee and a cake (either at our favorite shop or from one of the several street vendors near the market) and get yourself some flowers. Many varieties are represented and available for wildly reasonable prices, but the deep indigo English lavender was a nice surprise.
AUTOGRAPH ABP GALLERY
The programming at this gallery is on point to say the least; “Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness” was on while we were there. The space is bright, clean and thoughtfully laid out giving emphasis and import to the works on its walls. Go here if you want a museum quality experience without the energy suck of several thousand square feet to cover.
http://autograph-abp.co.uk Rivington Place, London E2
We asked all of our chef friends where we should eat in London (not just Shoreditch) and the answer was ubiquitous and quick: Lyle’s. They weren’t wrong. Similarly to Rochelle’s (see below), food is fresh and local. Expect the menu to change daily and an atmosphere which is a bit more zippy and cosmopolitan than Rochelle’s…but not that much more. Chef James Lowe holds it down but the restaurant also invites in guest chefs on the regular including one of our absolute favorite chefs (and humans really) Ignacio Mattos of Estela.
https://www.lyleslondon.com 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1
This was our first stop. And our last. Drop your bags and exchange stale planes/trains/automobiles vibes with contemporary secret garden/fresh af local ingredient vibes. They serve breakfast and lunch (with a short break in between) every day and dinner on the weekends. Plates are shareable and range from fresh and light to warm, comforting and decidedly British.
http://www.rochelleschool.org/rochellecanteen/ Arnold Circus, London E2
ST. JOHN BREAD + WINE
Another heavy hitter on the London scene in general (one of a trio for chef Fergus Henderson who also helms St. John Restaurant and Bakery). Technically, a Spitafields address but it’s close enough and too good to miss. Go here any time of day for what our server described perfectly: honest food. Donuts in the morning. Soups to warm you up from the seemingly inevitable mid-day British chill, roasted meat and fish for dinner (and of course their signature madeleines for a little something sweet to end your day). It’s a classic for a reason.
https://www.stjohngroup.uk.com/spitalfields/ 94-96 Commercial St., London E1
MARKSMEN PUBLIC HOUSE
There’s something incredibly democratic about a pub. It’s finance guys having shed their (remarkably well tailored) English suits for cleats and their urban football leagues sharing a pint after a game, families doing their ritual Tuesday catch up, new couples testing the waters, and a few patrons just looking for a little solitude. Most pubs we visited did this quite well, but the Marksmen also feeds you. And they do it impeccably. Start with the Curried Lamb Bun, make a few choices in the middle, and end with the honey and walnut apple cake. P.S. Don’t let the rumor of warm beer keep you away from these establishments. The Longman Bitter the barwoman poured me from the cask was incredible. And perfectly room temperature.
https://www.marksmanpublichouse.com 254 Hackney Road, London E2
You go to Katz’s in New York for pastrami and Schwartz’s in Montreal for smoked meat. In London, you go to Beigel Shop for salted beef (with pickles and English mustard if you’re doing it right). The added bonus here is that this shop is open 24 hours a day so if you take our advice and embrace warm beer with whole-hearted abandon, Beigel Shop is here for your 2am snack fix.
155 Brick Lane, London E1
When’s the last time you walked into a relatively unassuming (read: unpretentious) wine bar and opened the wine list to see like at least 5 of your favorite unicorn wines on the list? Recently? Ok cute. Brawn has 5…..pages of those wines making up their list. Get there early and sit at the bar where the service is a bit more personable, close your eyes and point to something. It’ll be delicious. In addition it’s probably impossible to have a bad meal here but we can’t promise: we were drunk on all the Ganevat.
http://www.brawn.co 49 Columbia Road, London E2
Some of us really, deeply, near the point of annoyingly, love cocktail bars. Some of us just need a Fernet in the actual desert of amaro that is London. Either way, you’ll feel more than comfortable at Happiness Forgets. Even if you’re on the scroog-y side of cocktail culture, it’s impossible to enjoy watching the bartenders work with sushi chef like precision and dedication. It definitely doesn’t hurt that everyone working here is unflinchingly hospitable. Pre or post dinner is best as the food options are limited (but available if you go a bit further than you anticipated).
http://www.happinessforgets.com Basement Level, 8-9 Hoxton Square, London N1
ALLPRESS REDCHURCH ESPRESSO BAR
We like our coffee delicious (read: of high quality) and no frills (read: lacking an option for a caramel/oreo/rainbow flavor addition). For this along with the usual cast of pastries and a few lovely breakfast plates, head to Allpress’s Redchurch St. Espresso Bar. Allpress opened their first roastery on Redchurch St. in 2010 and when they outgrew the space they couldn’t quite say goodbye to the neighborhood (it was hard for us too) so they opened this perfect little café to maintain their roots. It’s a great spot to pop in and out of on the daily. If you prefer a working coffee or cocktail, see below.
uk.allpressespresso.com 58 58 Redchurch Street, London E2
STAY + WORK
While we didn’t get a chance to stay here this trip, we imagine things are business as usual at the Ace Shoreditch: thoughtful and place-specific amenities, smartly outfitted guest rooms, well curated programming and our consistent favorite anywhere we go in striking that work/life balance we’re all chasing in their lobby. We dropped in for a few hours of work, wifi and gin and tonics. We weren’t disappointed.
https://www.acehotel.com/london 100 Shoreditch High Street, London E1
LABOUR AND WAIT: HOUSEWARES
Definitely not the queens china. Or your grandmothers. More like your grandfather’s Stanley thermos and fishing knife. If you appreciate the simple perfection of utilitarian design in your housewares and small goods, don’t miss this place. It’s classic everything from feather dusters to lamp shades or stock pots. You’ll know it by its glassy green tiled facade.
https://www.labourandwait.co.uk 85 Redchurch Street, London E2
ALBION: ONE STOP SHOP
On the morning we’re feeling more green juice and oat and banana muffin rather than coffee and pastry because perhaps too many pints and pies the night before, we head to Albion in the Boundary hotel. Just a bit more variety than your average coffee shop but they’ve got you covered if you’re an habitual flat white/croissant in the morning type. They’ve got quite a few more things in the grocery category as well in the event you’re cooking at your quaint airbnb but the fluorescent lights of the local Tesco don’t quite do it for you. As a bonus, they make every effort to stock products of British origin. Cheerio af. The adjacent restaurant serves meals all day and the hotel features a roof-top dining option as well if you’re so inclined.
http://boundary.london/albion/ 2-4 Boundary Street, London E2
ARTWORDS BOOKSTORE: BOOKS + PERIODICALS
This is an indie mag. These people sell indie mags. Simple enough, except they had in stock more than a few art books and monographs we’ve been coveting from afar either because they haven’t been released in the US and possibly won’t be, or they’re out of print.
https://www.artwords.co.uk 69 Rivington Street, London E2
MODERN SOCIETY: COFFEE, INDI MAGS + CLOTHES
Where to go to get transported almost instantly to Marfa. Okay bit of a stretch there but the aesthetic is similar. Indie all of the things: artsy jewelry, magazines, prints, sweaters + jackets, and home accessories. Not in the mood for retail therapy? All good. Grab a coffee from the in-store café and scoop a perfect window side seat and watch the scene on Redchurch Street unfold.
https://themodernsociety.com 33 Redchurch Street, London E2