From Big Ben to Hyde Park, there's plenty to see and do in London. But while shopping on Oxford Street makes for a fun day, no stop in London is complete without exploring the charming and historic streets of the city's East End. Home to many immigrant communities, this part of London has a huge range of food to sit back and savor. The East End flourishes with colorful street art, great shopping, and of course, delicious grub. Here, seven must-stop spots for delectable food in the East End.
Poppies Fish and Chips
Arguably the most iconic dish in England, fish and chips is a must-try while in London, but especially in the East End. At Poppies Fish and Chips, born and bred East-End owner Pat “Pop” Newland has been in the business since he was a kid cutting up newspapers to wrap the greasy meal in. Poppies serves up tender, golden-fried servings of fish in their own Poppies newspaper, which is printed with edible ink. Poppies has its own in-house fishmonger who prepares the fish on site daily, which ensures the freshest fish and chips in town. For even more English tradition, order mushy peas to go along with your fish and chips for a salty side dish.
The English Restaurant
Walking into this seventeenth-century establishment is like stepping straight into a Charles Dickens novel. With dark wood accents, dim lights, and squeaky wooden floors, The English Restaurant oozes with British charm. Keep with tradition and sample a classic British dessert – bread and butter pudding. Originally made from stale bread and leftover ingredients, this version raises the bar and is decadent and silky, made with bread soaked in a rich vanilla cream, topped with a hot rum custard.
Curry has been served in London since the eighteenth century, when men from the East India Company were returning home from India and wanted a taste of the curries they had during their travels. It’s now a staple in London, and Aladin at Brick Lane serves some of the best in the city. Situated in the heart of the famous curry mile, Aladin is known for its spicy curries.
Also on Brick Lane, Beigel Bake is a great stop for a late-night snack. Open 24/7, Beigel Bake is a Jewish bakery and an East End staple that makes over 7,000 bagels a night. But these aren’t just simple bagels. Try the salt beef on a soft bagel, served hot with English mustard and a pickle. Or, go classic with the smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel.
St. John Bread and Wine
After a night of too many gin cocktails, head to Fergus Henderson’s St. John Bread and Wine for a bacon sandwich – one of London’s favorite hangover foods. The legendary sandwich here is simple yet divine, with bacon made from top-class Old Spot pigs, fresh, toasted bread that’s baked in house, and a special house-made ketchup with a hint of apple. It’s a salty, buttery, tender, juicy experience that will (almost) bring you to tears.
Pride of Spitalfields
On a cobblestone street near Brick Lane you’ll find Pride of Spitalfields, a “boozer” (British slang for a place to drink) that serves the best English beer and cider. There are no frills here, only fair-priced suds, a lively crowd, and a good ol' British time.
Old Spitalfields Market
To taste an array of cuisines, a stop at Old Spitalfields Market is a must. The market has 44 retailers and restaurants, 88 market stalls, and 25 street food traders all under one roof in the East End. Open seven days a week, Old Spitalfields Market is a great place to start a food tour and sample cheese, dumplings, burgers, noodles, seafood, Ethiopian food, and much more.
You can experience many of these eateries on a food tour with Eating Europe or other organized tours. For an extended journey, experience many of these eateries on a London cruise extension with Viking Cruises. The cruise line offers multiple extensions in London after cruises that stop in Norway, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Ireland, and England.