In the future, you’ll sit your grandchild on your knee, unwrap a salt beef beigel from the Beigel Bake and wistfully tell them the story of when Shoreditch didn’t have an Alcatraz-themed cocktail bar. Only, you probably won’t. Because that seems a very long time ago now. Shoreditch has long been past the point of no return, but you’ll probably end up there at some point, a mojito in hand, being slowly led to towards an adult ball pit. But if you’re after a meal, at somewhere modest, try one of the spots below.
A ball pit cocktail bar should spell the death of any area, and so the simple familiarity of grilled piri-piri chicken is a welcome one. Casa Do Frango’s second location offers just that. It’s a straightforward roomy restaurant serving straightforward tasty Portuguese food. As well as its piri-piri poultry there are bacalhau fritters, a few satisfying salads, and chorizo and plantain packed rice. A solid choice for almost any situation.
Working in Shoreditch is something of an endurance test, but through various short-lived periods of employment it’s Troy Bar that’s been our lunchtime light. The Caribbean jazz bar is right in the mix of things with live music on most nights of the week, but during the day it’s a dimly-lit room making delicious jerk chicken, rice and peas, coleslaw and plantain for just over a fiver. Head over earlyish, grab a seat, and decompress.
On paper, a restaurant sandwiched between a Toni & Guy and an immersive Vincent Van Gogh experience should be a hard pass. But the younger sibling of London’s most influential restaurant maintains itself as a bubble of nonchalant British brilliance despite its location and the odd Jack the Ripper walking tour blocking its entrance. Rarebit and madeleines remain essential but coming for the whole suckling pig, head on a plate and all, is the real move.
Frills are not in Franco’s remit and nor either is portion control. The old school Italian caff on Rivington Street has long been a favourite amongst locals and the lunchtime crowd thanks to its hefty servings of carbs at very reasonable prices. Piping hot escalope between two slices of ciabatta and oozing mayo is a favourite amongst the hungover midweek crowd, as is mounds of creamy carbonara and a cheese and bean stacked jacket potato.
Some restaurants in Shoreditch have the misfortune to be guilty by association. Anything in Boxpark, for example, is a lost cause, because no one wants to pursue eating in a corrugated box on a regular basis. Other restaurants have placed themselves on still-beaten-but slightly-less-beaten streets instead, one being Leroy. The wine bar and restaurant has a humming Parisian feel to it with music playing and an always-strong selection of wines, while the menu darts around Europe. Their chicory, walnut and Ossau-Iraty salad is an essential order.
Molly’s Cafe hugs the border of Shoreditch in Hoxton and it’s all the better for it. The daytime cafe is adjoined to the Museum of Home and making everyone feel comfortable is its remit. It’s as good for a bacon sandwich as it is for a mid-afternoon negroni, a gooey lunchtime onion and parmesan tart or a ham and comté croque for the kids. Just like its sibling pubs, the Anchor & Hope, Canton Arms, and Clarence Tavern, you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time here.
Though we have no formal medical training, we’re pretty sure a steaming bowl of noodle soup is just what the doctor would order when someone needs a bit of down time. With that in mind, Bao’s latest incarnation is an extremely welcome addition to Shoreditch. Inspired by Taiwanese beef noodle shops, the corner spot on the top of Redchurch Street has plenty of solo bar seating ready for heads to hunch over Tainan-style rare beef noodle soup.
Just as good needs bad to be fully appreciated, Rochelle Canteen needs Shoreditch to be the sanctuary it is. East London’s most secluded (and least secret) restaurant is also one of its best. Seasonal British fare is served with a side of buttered new potatoes and something with a bowl of custard is more in the desserts than not. It may be housed in an old schoolyard but it’s unlikely you’ll want to be bunking out of here early.