A heady mix of old-world London charm laced with the latest food and nightlife trends makes the city's E2 postcode – the area northeast of Shoreditch, encompassing Bethnal Green and Hackney Road – a worthy district to host your exploration of the British capital. It’s a burgeoning area with plenty of options to eat, drink, and shop, and local vendors offering a uniquely east London experience.
Writer Nardia Plumridge called London home for over a decade and regularly returns to discover a city confidently offering new openings in eastern neighbourhoods. Here is her guide to E2.
A morning brew at Ozone
Start the day at coffee roaster Ozone, who in 2019 opened their second London outlet on Emma Street. Sip your cup in the light and bright Nordic-style interior on green bench seating, or choose the long white bar in front of the open kitchen. Baristas roast their single origin-sourced beans in-house, with a daily-changing brew served alongside an all-day breakfast, much of it plant-based. Try the eggs Benedict on bubble and squeak cakes or field mushrooms on toast with fermented chilli, pickled onions and Old Winchester cheese topped with house creme fraiche.
Taxidermy and cocktails at The Last Tuesday Society
For the culturally curious, The Last Tuesday Society Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History is a unique experience. Run by effervescent owner Viktor Wynd, an extensive collection of taxidermy and bric-a-brac resides within a former east London abode. A small cocktail bar opens at night with a focus on pairing absinthe with creative cocktails (catch happy hour on weekdays from 6-7pm). For an insider's perspective, intimate guided tours by Wynd are worth the booking fee with a free cup of tea on request with your entry ticket.
A taste of British cuisine
For classic British fare, head to The Marksman, a former Michelin Pub of the Year winner (and the first in London). It's housed in a Victorian building still boasting original mahogany wood-panelled walls and bottle-green leather banquette seating. The pub focuses on seasonal dishes, many with game. Swing by Sunday morning for their breakfast bacon buns. True to its local credentials, the Marksman offers an extensive wine list of small producers from England and throughout Europe. Classic cocktails are also available: try the Marksman Sling with gin, fennel tops, morello cherry eau de vie, and lemon topped with soda.
Come the weekend, it’s all about the markets. Spend Saturday at Broadway Market, a foodie favourite. It retains a typically 19th-century feel with markets stalls spilling on the street selling fruits, vegetables and other treats. On Sunday, head to the famed floral stalls at Columbia Road as the weekly flower market pops up along this quaint strip of E2. The street is lined with Victorian shopfronts housing homewares, contemporary art and fashion. Pop into In Bloom for gardening supplies and furniture, and Angela Flanders for artisanal perfumes.
Vintage fare on Ezra Street
On Sunday, venture down Ezra Street. Tucked just off Columbia Road, this quaint road is home to a spill-over of market stalls selling vintage clothing and curios. The Lily Vanilli Bakery and Flour Market tucked in The Courtyard is ideal for a sweet treat (with vegan and gluten-free options). For something more savoury, the southern Italian cuisine at Campania and Jones, housed in a former dairy, won’t disappoint. Peruse B Southgate's vintage and antique homewares, run by furniture restorer Ben.
Date night at Sager + Wilde
For late night dates, head to Sager + Wilde, a wine bar with tipples from Britain to Burgundy (available by the glass or bottle). They offer daily pour specials ‘depending on what new and crazy stuff we are into and what old cellars we raid’. Pair them with small food plates of Cantabrian anchovies or olive tapenade on sourdough, cheese toasties or a charcuterie plate. A second outlet in a revamped railway arch on nearby Paradise Row offers a more substantial menu of pastas, pork chops and beetroot carpaccio.
Yoga classes for all ages at Stretch
To relax and recentre, take a class at Stretch, a yoga and exercise studio run by Carl and Sophie Faure. The couple offer classes for absolute beginners to those looking for dynamic yoga, core strength or calisthenics. Their serene studio with whitewashed brick walls and wooden floors is also suitable for kids and teens. Drop ins are welcome.
Stay at a quirky, affordable hotel
Rest your head at Mama Shelter. With an impressive room rate starting at £79, this family-run hotel group is big on style, hospitality and affordability. Rooms are funky yet functional, with quality finishes including plush bedding on their king-sized beds, and playful design cues. The ground floor dining room is ideal for lounging over coffee or cocktails, along with the daily papers. Night owls should head to the basement where two communal karaoke suites have guests belting out tunes until it’s time to turn in for the night.
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