Where brunch was once a weekend-only activity, it’s now an all week-er. Where east London was once an area your dad complained about - ‘the sodding this and the sodding that’ - you can now confidently argue that it’s the best area in London to eat and drink in. Things change. Get over it. Moustached avocado yoga jokes are over. Sorry.
Here you’ll find all the best brunch places in postcodes that start with an ‘E’, ranging from small cafes that’ll cure last night’s hangover, to party-time restaurants where you can get started on today’s. Pretty much all of these spots get busy, but there’s good reason why.
Gloria is a brash, loud, fur jacket of a restaurant that’s had Aperol dropped down it and Le Labo sprayed over it. This is the ladies (and lads) that lunch spot that Shoreditch didn’t know it needed, but it very much does. That’s because this Italian trattoria is both fun and, somewhat shockingly, full of all kinds of flavour. Whether you’re eating carbonara that’s been mixed in a parmesan wheel, a buffalo mozzarella margherita, or a gravity-defying slice of lemon pie, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how decent it tastes. And also how reasonable the price is, considering the Disneyland-ish unreality going on around you. The brunch offering also extends to your French toast and your eggs on brioche, but be warned, you’ll need to pre-book.
Shoreditch is chock-full of cafes and restaurants and concepts serving things for brunch. Ozone is easily amongst the best and most comfortable. This coffee shop come restaurant is always buzzing, and serves everything from eggs benedict and scrambled tofu, to wagyu mince on toast. If you don’t like this place, then you’re a difficult person. Sorry.
If you want to have, hands down, one of the best brunches in London, then go to Esters. This little Stoke Newington cafe makes plates of food that are both tasty and unusual. French toast with seasonal fruit and ricotta. Chinese spiced pork with a crispy fried egg and toast. It changes constantly, but is always delicious. It’s walk-in only, but the turn over is fast. Mainly because you know you’ll be back.
Nothing says brunch like exposed plaster walls and coffee in ceramic (handleless) cups, does it? Slightly affected flourishes aside, Jolene is one of our favourite brunch places around. The food is simple and tasty. Eggs, jamon, and potatoes. A cheese and ham toastie. Basically, once you’ve bedded yourself into one of the seats by the wall (much better than the communal tables), you’ll find it very hard to leave. Especially if you start drinking.
Bistrotheque was one of the first restaurants to put East London on the map, and its brunch is especially strong. You’ll eat in a warehouse conversion with whitewashed walls, and when you’re halfway through sipping cocktails and tucking into a full English, a bloke with blue hair will start playing ‘Penny Lane’ on a baby grand piano. It’s pricier than the average rumble pit, but for a posh brunch, it’s one to put at the top of your list.
On the surface, a US-style diner in Dalston might sound like an awful concept dreamed up by someone with a trust fund and nobody who will tell them the truth. But Hash E8 is actually one of our favourite places in the area for brunch, and that’s because they make enjoyable food that’s exactly what you want after a heavy night of drinking. True to the diner theme, you’ll find filter coffee and classics like French toast and pancakes, as well as a chorizo and sweet potato hash. And not an avocado in sight. That’s a concept we can get behind.
Cafe Miami looks like it’s been designed by a person who permanently looks at the world through the filter of their baby blue transparent aviator lenses. If that puts you off, then ‘chai not’ to read the puns on their board outside. See what we did there? Sorry. That said, there are some very decent breakfast and brunch options going on here. Fish finger tacos are big, homemade, guac-and-cabbage-filled things, while their fried egg cooking (an underrated plus point in our eyes) is on point: perfectly crispy and yolky.
Hoi Polloi isn’t the kind of place you come if you have any kind of serious plans at 3pm. It’s one of the only places on this list where a plate of eggs can turn into a full-blown affair with champagne, oysters, and pudding, and there’s also a live string quartet playing Prince covers. It goes without saying that brunch here is a scene (it’s connected to The Ace Hotel after all), but it’s a fun one that’s worth experiencing with a few friends.
Morito’s location on Hackney Road makes it feel like a neighbourhood restaurant, but once you’re inside, it’s immediately clear that this place that would murder the competition anywhere it opened. It’s always busy, and that’s because the food is exceptional. You’ll find a Mediterranean/North African twist on brunch, and it’s a great way to break an eggs royale habit. The poached eggs with spinach and chilli butter are the best thing on the menu, and you should definitely order those. The bougatsa (a Cretan filo pastry with fresh cheese, sugar, and cinnamon) is worth trying as well. Get there early or be prepared for a wait.
You know the usual brunch spots: the tables are packed together, it’s loud, and the waiter will probably forget at least one of the things you ordered. The Spitalfields location of Ottolenghi, our favourite of those around town, is the opposite of that. It’s a calm, low-key place to grab something in the morning, and all of the food is great. The shakshuka in particular is legendary, and you should also get the sweetcorn and polenta cakes with a poached egg. Be sure to book ahead.
After a big night out, catch up the next morning at Sager & Wilde, where there’s loads of room for a group and a big terrace that’s perfect for nice weather. While all of the food’s shareable, you should aim to have a couple of plates of maple French toast and pasta carbonara on your table. Also know that if you’re looking to keep it going, their cocktails are way better than those at your average brunch spot.
Blixen should be your go-to when you’re meeting friends for a boozy brunch close to Liverpool Street station. It’s an attractive brasserie with a short lineup of excellent brunch dishes, like a potato rosti with smoked trout and eggs that’s like a classed-up eggs benedict. The cocktails are good too, and there are also lighter dishes if you actually have things to do later on in the day. Even if ‘things to do’ actually translates to studying your ex’s tagged pictures on Instagram.
Apart from a few stubborn locals at London Fields, most people who live in east London agree that Victoria Park is the best place to see grass and trees in this part of town. Get brunch in the park at Pavilion Cafe, which is where everyone seems to end up at the weekend. You’ll sit by the lake while sitting elbow-to-elbow with strangers, as well as the odd French bulldog. When it’s warm and they put the tables outside, it’s pretty glorious.
One of our favourite Indian places in town, Dishoom also serves a seriously good brunch. It’s probably the most civilised way to experience the restaurant, and it’s always worth asking if you can get a table in their verandah room, which feels like sitting in a rich guy’s garden in Delhi. The masala eggs and bacon naan should be on your table, as should the masala chai.
There are a couple of things to know before you visit The Good Egg for brunch. First, it’s extremely popular so be prepared to queue, and second, everything’s sharing-style, so definitely lean towards over-ordering. It’s always rammed with Stokey locals, and that’s because the middle eastern-ish food is consistently great. Get the shakshuka and as much challah bread as your table can eat.
If you live in Bow or Mile End, you know that most brunches in the neighbourhood tend to be disappointing. One of the exceptions is Mae and Harvey, where you can get a plate of well-executed brunch food without having to haul ass to Shoreditch or Hackney. Know that the cafe is very small, so there’s a chance you’ll end up sharing a table with strangers. Arriving at 11am before it fills up is a smart move.
Rochelle Canteen is hidden away in a quiet Shoreditch square, which makes a meal here feel like an escape from the city. Breakfast here is the same deal, especially during nice weather when you can sit outside. It’s excellent if your parents or friends are in town for the weekend, and while the food’s basically a posh version of things you’ll eat in a caff, your beans will be homemade and the pork for your bacon will be from local farms. The closer you get to midday, the harder it gets to rock up unannounced, so plan accordingly.
Our standard order at Monty’s is two servings of matzo ball soup, a reuben special, and a cookie and ice cream chaser. But at brunch, we substitute one of the soups for salt beef hash, followed by a challah French toast for dessert. It sounds like a lot of food, but we like to think of ourselves as glass-half-full kind of people. Afterwards, you can pick up a few freshly-baked bagels and some schmear to continue your weekend at home.