The East London Brunch Guide guide image


The East London Brunch Guide

18 of the best places to eat brunch in east London.

Where brunch was once a weekend-only activity, it’s now an everyday one. Especially for the beard-pruning, avocado-obsessed, Netflix-loving residents of east London. At least, that's what the Daily Mail would say. The reality is that east London and its neighbouring areas have some of the best brunch spots in London, ranging from small cafes that’ll cure last night’s hangover to party-time restaurants where you can get started on today’s. 


photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The Snapery East review image

The Snapery East


373 Helmsley Pl, London
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Depending on which way you look at it, The Snapery East is a bakery that serves brunch, or a brunch spot that bakes everything in its airy London Fields railway arch. Either way, what you need to know is that its toasties, breakfast muffins, and pastries are a cut above. We’re looking at you, melted cheese and sriracha ketchup-smothered sausage muffin. You could get a springy focaccia sandwich to go, but it’s worth taking a seat in the covered and (crucially) heated terrace out front. It’s a spacious, calm spot, particularly ideal for escaping the Broadway Market crowds come the weekend.

Alongside breweries, timber workshops, and furniture makers, Blackhorse Workshop Cafe in Walthamstow is on an industrial estate-cum-workyard. The stripped-back, exposed steel interiors might be a copy and paste east London aesthetic, but the menu will give you double take whiplash. It’s a decadent collection of blood orange marmalade porridge, chipotle beans on doorstep bread, and a solid rotation of bagels and toasties. Come on the weekend for the blackboard specials, like jenga stacks of french toast and chilli crisp-drizzled eggs. There’s limited seating inside, but you’re pretty close to Lloyd Park so if it’s full, a halloumi bagel and locally roasted coffee to go is the move. 

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A churchyard isn’t a conventional brunch spot, but The Quarter Kitchen isn’t a conventional place. The Mexican kiosk, round the back of St John at Hackney church, is slinging excellent breakfast burritos—tortilla-swaddled scrambled eggs, sausage, hash brown, American cheese, and salsa roja—plus hearty egg, bacon, and hash brown tacos. Look out for changing specials too, like kimchi-topped chilaquiles. One important thing to note about the simple seating setup is that it’s all alfresco and very much open to the elements. 

Koya’s location in Hackney feels like a no-brainer and that’s because it is. The tiny Japanese spot off Broadway Market is open from 10am on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and if their English breakfast udon bowl—a combination of crispy bacon, mushrooms, gooey egg, broth, and noodles—is on, it’s a must order. Given its in-and-out space, this Koya isn't as comfortable as the others, but nonetheless, it’s a very useful and welcome place in the area.

There’s something distinctly New York-feeling about Esters, something a little bit East Village about this coffee spot in Stoke Newington. Locals swear by their coffee and even more people swear by their eclectic breakfast and brunch options. Things are always changing here, from their soy-glazed, pork-filled milk buns, to meatball and labneh sandwiches, or wildly delicious takes on french toast. Expect flavourful dollops with every golden yolk, be it a spoonful of anchoïade or a smear of chimichurri. It’s walk-in only, but the turnover is fast. Mainly because you know you’ll be back. 

Although their coffee is good and their homemade pastries, cakes, and cookies quite irresistible (we’re looking at you salted caramel brownies)—it’s the weekend when you want to be eating at Bake Street. The brunch spot in between Stoke Newington and Clapton makes fried chicken sandwiches that are McDz-like in the best possible way. Soft buns, crisp pounded chicken, and completely inhaleable in under a minute. But the flavours, be it a Nashville-inspired hot chicken or a silky sweet and spiced makhani fried chicken, are above and beyond anything Ronald could whip up. Don’t ignore the tacos either.

Snackbar is a cafe on Dalston Lane with a menu that’s just as suited to the feelin’ good brunch-goer, as it is to the fragile. Bread-based things are where this place really shines. The kimchi, cheddar, and cured ham toastie should be rated PG for being pretty gooey, while coconut jam-filled kaya toast soldiers tipped into a soy-bathing egg yolk makes for an excellently sweet and salty start to the day. There are rice bowls and granola things too, and the space is ideal for twos or fours. Head out back to the garden if the weather's good.

Take a moment with us to pause and imagine. It’s Sunday morning in Dalston. The sun is shining, the birds are tweeting, and your head is pounding harder than an impromptu Stomp performance at Berghain. You need sustenance. Filling, delicious sustenance—orange yolk eggs, thick cuts of sesame sourdough, chunky bacon, feta here, feta there. You also need air. Lovely, lovely fresh air. Eat, breathe. Breathe, eat. Maybe a sip of something tomato juice and vodka-spiked when you’re feeling a little perkier too. Now stop imagining and go to Brunswick East. It’s got everything you need, for every brunch.

Everything on The Dusty Knuckle’s menu could probably be classed, albeit contentiously, as a snack. Well, maybe not one of their doorstop sandwiches. But their pastries certainly can. Of them all, it’s the morning bun that’s a constant sell-out. Swirled and dusted with sugar, golden and crispy on the outside, but soft and doughy in the centre, it’s a little bit like a cinnamon roll and it's fully delicious. Other than their legendary pastries and sandwiches—don't skip on anything featuring focaccia—are changing plates every week. Always expect a ravenous queue waiting for either bread or brunch.

Ozone’s second location, two minutes from Cambridge Heath, is a white and bright warehouse space that’s just as good for all the things the original is when it comes to brunch. Specifically, this means big booths, a tonne of options, and eggs, lots of eggs. Brunch is our favourite meal to have at Ozone, whether it be meaty mushrooms with a poached orange yolk involved, or something pig-heavy with hash browns, or the never-not-good fish kedgeree. As far as weekend fail-safes go, this is up there, especially as it’s walk-in only at the weekend.

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 close to Cambridge Heath station, 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.

Hash E8, on Dalston Lane, is one of our favourite places in the area for brunch because they make enjoyable food that’s exactly what you want after a heavy night of drinking. True to its American-inspired 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.

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 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. If it’s on, 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.

Apart from a few stubborn locals in 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. There’s covered seating for drizzly days but when it’s warm, it’s particularly glorious.

Dishoom serves a seriously good brunch. The Indian restaurant in Shoreditch always has a queue, but breakfasts are a bit quieter, so come early for a calmer start to the day. It’s always worth asking if you can get a table in their verandah room too, which is like a beautifully decorated conservatory. 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.

Mae + Harvey is where you can get a plate of well-executed brunch food without having to haul ass to Shoreditch or Hackney. Know that the Bow cafe is very small, so there’s a chance you’ll end up sharing a table with strangers, but the crêpes with ricotta and blood orange you’ll want to keep all for yourself. Arriving at 11am before it fills up is a smart move.

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