London’s Best ‘Hood for Foodies
Spitalfields is hardly a secret; its namesake market has been around since the 17th century. But thanks to a fresh crop of artisanal restaurants and bars, foodies are flocking there once again. Here, the eight spots you have to try. Dig in.
Taberna Do Mercado
While helming the red-hot kitchen at Chiltern Firehouse, Chef Nuno Mendes has also ventured east to launch his first Portuguese restaurant at Old Spitalfields Market. The marble tabletops and Goncalo chairs come from Portugal. And the menu is equally inspired by home, from the traditional pasteis de nata tarts for breakfast to the creative small plates like cuttlefish and pig trotters coentrada. For the best seat in the house, book the chef’s table hidden behind the kitchen, which seats up to four hungry guests.
After popping up at London’s Battersea Power Station and a slew of music festivals, Hotbox has found a permanent home for its globally inspired BBQ (chipotle short-rib tacos; house-smoked Japanese mushrooms). The new, industrial-chic space is decked out with communal wooden tables and has an art-filled bar serving highly experimental drinks. We love the Frankie Says Relax, a mix of Aylesbury Duck Vodka, grapefruit and bergamot sherbet, lime, Kamm & Sons.
Wright Brothers Spitalfields
Fancy an oyster happy hour? Head to the newest outpost of this popular sea-to-plate restaurant any day between 3 and 6pm, when bivalves from the British Isles—including the Wright Brothers’ own farm in Cornwall—go for £1 a pop. We suggest saving room for heartier plates like deep-fried haddock with triple-cooked chips, served on the covered market terrace. For the truly adventurous, oyster shucking (and tasting) master-classes are also on offer.
Bleecker St. Burger
A few years ago, New York transplant Zan Kaufman moonlighted at the East Village burger joint Zaitzeff. After moving across the pond, she started grilling her own meats using rare-breed, pasture-fed, dry-aged beef from small British farms. Her Bleecker St. Burger truck quickly became a London street-food favorite and now, a permanent location has opened in Old Spitalfields Market. Order the signature "Bleecker Black" (think two patties plus black pudding between toasted sesame buns). You won't be sorry.
Inside a bright-orange glass bubble fronting a new members club for creative entrepreneurs, Jago—or what you’d call this stretch between Shoreditch High Street and Spitalfields circa 1860—is not your typical Ashkenazi-Mediterranean restaurant. Chef Louis Solley taps into his east-London Jewish roots and the area's immigrant history for his globally inspired Yiddish fare. Try a plate of sweet-pickled guindilla chilliesto scallops with smoked lardo.
The latest and largest location of London’s cult favorite Ottolenghi, on narrow Artillery Lane, offers what its many fans have come to expect—namely Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes that are as flavorful as they are healthful, a tight menu of biodynamic wines, and a deli counter with delicious salads and cakes. Unlike its siblings, this one also has a cocktail bar serving pineapple-and-sage martinis alongside za'atar-stuffed Padron peppers.
With its seasonally inspired menu and cozy leather banquettes (along with rich locally roasted coffee), the just-opened brasserie in a former bank is a gathering spot for London’s creative crowd. Go for brunch (house-smoked trout with avocado and poached eggs on toast) in the enclosed garden and stay for the innovative cocktails in the vault-turned-basement-bar.
We love a good gastro-pub, especially when it has light-filled interiors, craft beers on tap, and house-made “porkcorn” (pork fat-doused popcorn with pork crackling bits). With four levels opposite the market, the restored Victorian Culpeper also houses a formal kitchen featuring seasonal plates to share, and a just unveiled rooftop greenhouse, grill, and botanical cocktail bar (only fitting, since the place is named after a 17th-century herbalist from Spitalfields). Coming this fall: five rustic-luxe guestrooms.