Full of noise, colour and life, Brick Lane is a vibrant mix of history and modernity, and a palimpsest of cultures. Today it is the centrepiece of a thriving Bengali community in an area nicknamed Banglatown. The southern part of the lane is one long procession of curry and balti houses intermingled with fabric shops and Indian supermarkets.
Sadly the once-high standard of cooking in the curry houses is a distant memory, so you’re probably better off trying subcontinental cuisine in Whitechapel.
Just past Hanbury St is the converted Old Truman Brewery, a series of buildings on both sides of the lane that was once London’s largest brewery. The Director’s House on the left harks back to 1740; the old Vat House across the road with its hexagonal bell tower is early 19th century; and the Engineer’s House next to that dates from 1830. The brewery stopped producing beer in 1989, and in the 1990s it became home to a host of independent music businesses, small shops and hip clubs and bars. North of here Brick Lane is a very different place, stuffed with eclectic clothing stores, excellent bagel bakeries, and plenty of cafes and bars.