The 17 Best Restaurants In Shoreditch guide image


The 17 Best Restaurants In Shoreditch

From an iconic British restaurant to homely Vietnamese, open-fire cooking, and more.

Shoreditch, what are you? Are you a workplace or a playground? Are you the vortex of creativity, commerce, and cool that came to symbolise the future direction of an entire city, or are you a sell-out? Has the party moved on? Are you all washed up, are you done? These are just some of the questions we ask ourselves when we go out to eat in Shoreditch. Love it or hate it, the Shoreditch restaurant scene isn’t going anywhere. And the spots on this guide will tell you why.



There are two superlative-laden white-walled British restaurants around Shoreditch. One is St. John Bread and Wine—which is simultaneously a little fancy but utterly unfussy—and the other is Lyle’s, which is both fancy and fussy when it comes to food. But that’s what makes it so good. The evening tasting menu reads simply—razor clams and tomatoes, fore rib and onions—but every ingredient at Lyle’s is turned up to the max. With nothing else to focus on in the industrial space, it’s the food that’s the centre of attention. That said, lunch is our favourite time to eat here. It’s when sunlight streams through the warehouse windows and you can order whatever you want from an à la carte menu.

Manteca has a large dining room that feels constantly full. There are people crowding into booths for lunches that involve pappardelle with duck ragu. Early days relationships, hiding parts of themselves but sharing focaccia. And counter-cruisers ordering two plates of this, two glasses of that. This Italian spot is stylish and assured, with accomplished, comforting dishes—deep-fried pig’s head with mostarda and brown crab cacio e pepe—that are just a little creative. Order pasta, yes, but don’t ignore the house-cured, Rizla-thin salumi either.

Rochelle Canteen is a brilliant and unique British restaurant in Arnold Circus, a quiet street off the high street. Ring the buzzer and you’ll enter a hidden garden with a path leading to this secret garden of a restaurant full of well-heeled regulars. The British menu is excellent (everything from soup to salad to suet crust pies and sundaes is fantastic), but the feeling of discovery is a huge part of the Canteen’s appeal. It’s open all week for lunch, you can also sneak a cosy dinner in during the latter part of the week.

This Lebanese-inspired restaurant on Shoreditch High Street is good for many reasons. It’s run by Fat Macy’s, a social enterprise that provides Londoners living in temporary accommodation with training programmes to help them move from hostels into their own homes. The restaurant makes for an intimate dinner space ideal for sharing chewy flatbread with chilli butter-laden labneh and a bottle of something funky from the decently priced list.

A trip to Smoking Goat is worthwhile for this fiery Thai restaurant’s crunching chilli fish sauce chicken wings alone. Sweet, sour, and spicy—they’re some of the best in town. Wings aside, Smoking Goat is an expert in humming flavours and atmosphere. Groups of friends and colleagues fill the industrial space to shovel larb on to their tongues and turn to fried egg noodles and lardo for respite. There’s a counter too, usually abuzz with couples, and perfect for exploring the reasonably priced cocktail list.

Attached to an upmarket greengrocer of the same name, Leila’s serves excellent, homely dishes in a serene, whitewashed cafe/canteen-like space. Befitting its location in a leafy, calm part of Shoreditch, it’s somewhere to pop in for a quiet lunch among the arty, Margaret Howell-clad crowd. Pick from the short chalkboard menu of seasonal European-leaning dishes like roast chicken and raisin-flecked pilaf, or a slab of creamy fennel gratin. Solo diners are particularly welcomed—plus it means you won’t have to share any of the puddings. If there’s anything with jelly, get it.

London never tires of excellent pasta restaurants, and Officina 00 is one of those. Getting a seat at the counter and watching your flying saucer-like raviolo bergese stuffed with mushroom and egg yolk is one of Old Street’s most soothing activities. Often filled with post-work dates, romantic and platonic, this laid-back space fits anything and everything. Plus, all the pasta—from the pork occhi to the pappardelle—is around £15 a plate.

Since opening, Brat has established itself as one of London’s perma-hottest restaurants. That isn’t just because of its open-fire cooking approach, which produces the glorious blackened bread with burnt onion butter, that carefully basted beastly whole turbot, or one of London’s first burnt cheesecakes. But also because the windows rarely open and it gets quite toasty in there, up high on Redchurch Street. No, we kid. It’s because this is quite simply an elite restaurant. Full of natural atmosphere and simply done, fantastic food.

Maybe, probably, definitely, the best thing in Shoreditch these days is Troy Bar. This little Caribbean bar does one of London’s best lunchtime deals: jerk chicken or curry goat with rice and peas, plantain, and coleslaw. Bear in mind that this is primarily a bar—with jazz and funk nights throughout the week—so the lunchtime feel is very much functional: chairs, tables, and a flirty amount of natural light. But if you’re more likely to take it to go, then it’s worth knowing that you can pick up a box for a couple of quid more in the evening.

This small, pink-accented space is basic and the handful of stools are made for a good time, not a long time. But it’s worth sitting in to enjoy hot doughnuts straight from The Treats Club's kitchen. While the filled doughnuts plucked from a tray are excellent, it’s the fried-to-order, glazed ring ones you should get. The crisp, golden exterior gives way to pillow-soft, warm dough, and the shiny glaze hugs the top. The pistachio and white chocolate is a standout, balancing savoury nuttiness and sweet chocolate.

Bao’s sleek spot on the corner of Redchurch Street is busy with every kind of diner, from solo slurpers all along the window sill leaning into bowls, to friends and colleagues crossing off menu items from cosy stool seats. Warming beef and vegan noodle soups, rather than fluffy bao, are the main event, though the buns are of course still on the menu. But the real stars of the show are the small plates. Grabbing a spot here with a plate of spiced crispy tripe and a steaming bowl of Tainan-style noodle soup is the move.

For some of the best phở in London, Sông Quê should be high on your list. It’s usually slammed with families and ravenous assorted Shoreditch groups, most of whom have been coming here for years, and the Vietnamese restaurant’s dining room has the feel of a bustling canteen. We love the bánh xèo (Vietnamese pancake) and the grilled quail is also very good, but the steak, flank, and tendon phở with tofu is what we return for.

With locations in Shoreditch, the City, and Soho, Kêu is probably London’s most recognisable Vietnamese mini-chain. The Shoreditch location is a functional spot with window seats for solo diners and tables at the back for friends after a quick bite. Their Hoi-An Deluxe bánh mì combines ham, roast pork belly, sliced head cheese, chicken liver pâté, and a gravy-ish sauce that’s heavy on pork and sweet onion flavour. Bread-less stuff is great too: the rice and roasted meats or lemongrass curries make for an always-delicious midweek meal.

Do you ever get those days where you smell a bit whiffy and all you want to do is sit in a dimly lit room and eat meat off a metal plate? No? OK. Well, that day will come. And when it does, go to Smokestak. This is one of the best barbecue restaurants in London. The brisket bun is perfect. It’s ergonomically designed to sit in your hand like a really cute small pet that you will eventually eat. Everything else is good too, like salt-baked beetroot or charred greens. Plus, you come out smelling all lovely and smoky.

Despite being right there on Redchurch Street, not a lot of people seem to know about Burro e Salvia. And that, we think, is just how they like it. The small handmade pasta restaurant has a short changing menu of antipasti and pasta. Be it the signature beef, pork, and spinach agnolotti with butter and sage, or a seasonal autumn truffle-piled bowl of passatelli. Despite being in the middle of Shoreditch, it’s a low-key spot and that’s why you’ll like it.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine a place with any kind of relative serenity in Shoreditch. But through all the bustle, ball pits, and streams of beer, there’s Leroy. This wine bar is a great spot when you’re in the area but also looking to escape the area. It’s very easy to get comfortable, thanks to the room, the wine, and the steady amount of tasty little European-leaning plates you can pick on.

A faux-Italian trattoria plonked in the middle of Old Street and Shoreditch serving pizza and pasta under punny names should, by all rights, be everything you love or hate in the world. It’s a Marmite restaurant, just like its Big Mamma siblings Ave Mario and Circolo Popolare. Yet Gloria, with its ridiculous carbonara mixed in a parmesan wheel, and its desserts that are dramatic in both looks and flavour, will (potentially) charm you. OTT Italian accents and all. Just remember to try and book a table.

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photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

The 17 Best Restaurants In Shoreditch guide image