Many love stories have begun in Shoreditch. Arguably, many love stories have also ended in Shoreditch, but that’s a conversation for a different guide. But thanks to Shoreditch’s abundance of restaurants and bars, its association with being somewhat cool, and its proximity to so many of London’s open plan office buildings, this area is often the go-to for Londoners’ dates. Whether you need a cool and casual coffee spot for a first date with someone from the internet, a proper little speakeasy for that crucial third date, or a knockout restaurant for your fifth anniversary, this guide has got all of your Shoreditch date needs covered.
If you’re a fan of good cocktails, cold pints, or landmark buildings with a stellar history of being a Victorian Power Station (electricity is our passion), then The Light Bar is the perfect Shoreditch date spot for you. Set over three floors, it’s a huge space that somehow still manages to feel date night intimate thanks to all of the cosy candlelit corners around the edge of the ground floor. With enough exposed brick to make any and all fans of grouting shed a happy tear, it’s also a great shout if you want to go for a casual mid-afternoon pint over Mediterranean nibbles, whilst utilising all the glorious natural light from their epic windows. That being said, if you’re specifically after an evening situation, you’re definitely going to want to get involved in their martinis and handmade pasta. Cue witty banter and cocktails until midnight.
TT Liquor is the kind of bar where you can picture a sexy person talking to another sexy person, probably about something sexy. This cool speakeasy style spot is inside an old converted police station with plush leather benches, transformed jail cells that are a lot more glamorous than they sound, and an entrance through a very good looking booze shop. The cocktails here are also seriously great.
Starting or maintaining a relationship on almost entirely fraudulent tastes and personality traits is vital to its success. You want to come across as a person who doesn’t just know wine bars, but frequents them. As the person who doesn’t just order the salad to be faux chic, but orders it because you know it’s the best thing here, here being Leroy, a classy and casual wine bar just off Curtain Road. This is a place you imagine, or dream, coming to with Thierry Henry. It’s got a little va-va-voom. And, even if your date doesn’t, there’s a strong wine list.
You’ve spent four years sending each other memes, getting handsy on buses after too much white wine, and avoiding ever momentarily thinking about that time you almost broke up in the children’s department of Ikea. Good job guys. Have a proper charmer of a dinner at St. John Bread and Wine. Despite being smaller than the original St. John in Farringdon, you can expect the same level of detail, a smart white wall feel, and their love heart emoji inducing freshly baked madeleines. Heads up, there’s a lot of nose-to-tail dining going on so it might not be the best shout if one of you is vegetarian.
Sure, you want to have someone to hold your hand when you think you’ve got the flu or consider the plight of baby sea turtles for a little too long. But you also don’t want to give up your evening to another shit date when you could be doing important things at home, like colouring. All day coffee spot Ozone is the perfect middle ground. It’s a big, airy space, and as well as serving excellent coffee, the food and cocktails here are also pretty great - should you decide they’re worth the full evening after all.
Bubala may well be what your grandmother affectionately calls you as she pulls out another grey hair whilst also asking you why you aren’t married yet. But it could take on a whole new meaning after a date at Bubala in Spitalfields. The atmosphere at this Middle Eastern-inspired lunch and dinner spot is as smooth and understated as their hummus, and it’s impossible not to love a majority of the vegetarian food here. Whether this is a third or thirtieth anniversary type date, you can be sure to enjoy the food. And also hopefully each other. But also mainly the flatbread.
If you’re going on a date with someone in Shoreditch, then the best thing you can probably do is make them feel like they’re not in Shoreditch. Here’s where Rochelle Canteen comes in. It’s a semi-secret-but-not-so-secret spot in the grounds of an old school, serving British and European-inspired classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The secluded atmosphere makes it excellent for conversation, especially with someone you, like, actually really like. Just make sure you book ahead.
You had a joke about M3ATBA11Z being your dream license plate on your Hinge profile. They had a joke about pappardelle being their ‘love language’. You don’t have to be Shakespeare to know that this love story was inevitable. Now, it’s time for pasta at Officina 00 near Old Street roundabout. The casual, candlelit feel of this place makes it just as perfect for your first date night dinner as it is for an affordable meal out together several years in. Be sure to get involved in their negronis, as many pastas as possible, and share a round of the profiteroles for dessert.
You’ve made the honourable decision to go for a ‘brunch date’, partially because you secretly think that poached eggs are an aphrodisiac, but mostly because you really need to stop proposing to prospective partners after drinking four glasses of wine on a Wednesday night. Good for you. A great place to romance over avocado toast is Joan, a laid back exposed brick meets velvet booths situation on Bethnal Green Road. None of the food here will change your life, but they make a great mezcal cocktail and everything on their Mediterranean-leaning brunch menu is pretty affordable so you don’t need to worry about dropping half your rent on a stranger who’s adamant the moon landings were staged. When the weather is behaving, their pavement terrace is a lovely place to be but for peak flirtatious schmoozing opt for pizzetta and palomas in one of their velvet corner booths. For the night owl daters, know that this place is open until midnight all week long, so it’s perfect for ‘one last drink’.
You can learn a lot about the person you’re dating at little cocktail spot, The Gibson. Important things like, their favourite film, their political stance, and the ultimate litmus test, how they look drinking a cocktail out of a small, glass dachshund’s ass. Yes, this place does serve their strong cocktails in some pretty, err, creative jugs and unicorn heads, but it’s all part of the fun. There’s a great candlelit, somewhat moody 20s feel with regular live piano performances here too - just be sure to book ahead as there’s minimal seating.
If your spirit date is similar to that legendary Guardian Blind Date - the one that ended with them going to a house party and losing a pair of knickers - then Gloria is where you need to book in Shoreditch. This Italian trattoria is OTT to the point of giant profiteroles, velvet curtains, transparent toilet cubicles, and the absolute necessity to be on an alcoholic drip for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Nothing says romance like sharing a spicy venison and vermicelli doughnut, does it. At least not in our eyes. That’s what you should be doing on your date at Gunpowder in Spitalfields anyway. This go-to modern Indian spot is made for a couples date. One where you’re looking for it to be a little hot and spicy. It’s a very small space (or should we say, intimate) and the small sharing plates like okra fries are perfect for a casual meal with someone you love almost as much as the lamb chop in your hand.
In all honesty, you’ve been watching way too many true crime documentaries lately and you just know that if you went missing your mum would insist they use that horrific overly-toothy picture from your graduation. Hence, the casual daytime meet and greet with the new love of your life from the internet. Just to be safe. Head for Allpress on Redchurch Street, it’s one of the best coffee spots in London and the bright, cool space makes it perfect for a public first date situation. Just keep in mind that it can get pretty busy at peak times and there isn’t that much seating.
The fact you’ve got down this far into the guide suggests to us that you aren’t really sure what you want. Or what they want. So, pub? The George and the Vulture is 10 minutes away from Old Street, serves Sodo Pizza, and offers the kind of safety that’s perfect for a first date, or two people who don’t need much more than a pint, a pizza, and each others company. Dreamy, huh.