[London] Spitalfields/Shoreditch/Brick Lane
I've just moved to the area and have been reading up on the local specialties. I'd love to get everyone's suggestions for favorite spots in the area. I'm looking mainly for casual or low-key sort of places, but wouldn't mind getting some high-end suggestions too.
I'm particularly interested in Asian foods, but am open to everything!
Tayyabs (Fieldgate Street) and Lahore (Umberton Street) aren't too far from where you live. If you don't mind a ten to 20 minute walk (depending on where you start from), I'd recommend giving those two Pakistani places a shot.
A word of caution - if you don't want to wait in line, it's better to make reservations at Tayyabs beforehand!
For great steak - head to Broadway Market to Santa Maria Buen Ayre, its truly amazing and very cheap. On Saturdays they have a great market - food, vintage clothes, books etc
Best (very cheap) pizzas at Stringray Cafe on Columbia Road.
And of course all the Viet Namese places along Kingsland Road (there's many a thread on this elsewhere on the board).
For good brunch try the Rivington on Rivington St (near Old St) or Bistrotheque off Mare St for a more 'fashiony' crowd but always good food and atmosphere
Would second Gourmet San, Green and Red, St John's Bread.
Re: avoiding the Grocery - I have always found it fine, and certainly wouldnt want a 'decent' supermarket in the area - that's what gives the area it's charm, rather than a Starbucks and Tescos on every corner! (a decent butchers would be good though)
I love Leila's which is just off Arnold circus. They have funny hours, and are bossy about what goes into your sandwiches, but it is worth it.
The Owl and Pussycat on Redchurch St is another favorite. I'm not wild about that bangladeshi place next door, nor Walloon (although, this is only based on their cheese plates rather than the raclette or fondue).
Was at Hawksmoor on Saturday night, and was a little disappointed. The steak was pretty good (but not overwhelmingly good - perhaps my expectations were set too high) and the triple cooked fries just ok. My starter of pork ribs lacked flavour, although were juicy. Nice wine and a good mint julep, staff were perfectly ok (apart from when we were sitting at the bar and they were playing silly buggers with each other - which made us feel a little uncomfortable). Its starting to look a bit tatty around the edges (pieces of paper stuck up on the walls advertising their specials) and not worth the money - £150 for a steak dinner? If the staff were a little more professional and they tidied the place up a bit, I wouldnt mind so much.
I like Teasmith at Spitalfields Market for high quality teas that are carefully brewed. Their Phoenix Supreme, a "single bush" oolong from the phoenix mountains in Canton/Guangdong is probably my favourite tea there (minimal smokiness, lots of natural sweetness for a tea, lovely flavours/aromas of summer stone fruit and tropical fruit). They also have a good selection of Taiwanese oolongs, that are greener and less roasted, with rich buttery aromas, different floral notes (depending on the specific tea), and a nice acidity that makes it very friendly to various biscuits from William Curley (I'm partial to the miso walnut).
Also at Spitalfields Market, I like the raw food stall (Rainforest Creations), also at Spitalfields Market. Verde & Co. stocks Pierre Marcolini chocolates, some of the best stuff ever.
I frequent Brick Lane market, favourites are probably the Brazilian stall (Maracuja), the new Mauritian stall for freshly made roti (the curry is not bad, but the roti is what I like), the Pad Thai stall (the one outside near the carpark), the Hog Roast stall (ask for extra crispy skin) and one of the ethiopian stalls (Addis Go Jo). The Japanese donburi stall outside near the backyard market is also pretty good.
Rosa's - Thai. Hanbury St, opposite Absolutely Vintage
St John's Bread - Opposite Spit market.
Fika - Swedish cafe on Brick Lane
Green and Red - Great Mexican on Bethnal Green road.
Gourmet San = Sichuan cusisine on Bethnal Green road.
The Lanes - Upmarket Jamaican on Brick Lane.
G and R is probebly one of my fave places for Mexican.
Thanks for all of the suggestions. I tried Rosa's and really enjoyed it. Prices seem reasonable and the place is cute as well. Would recommend it for anyone in the area.
Am excited to hear about the Mexican place. Will definitely give that shot very soon. After that, will work my way down the rest of all of the ones on this thread. Thanks, everyone!
Green and Red isn't Tex-Mex but I almost wish it were - it gestures at being a kind of nouvelle Mexico City cuisine but doesn't really stand out enough for the price in my opinion. Yours may differ obviously. The atmosphere and the downstairs are nice, but make sure you book in advance; I've never just walked in and gotten a table.
Gourmet San has opened a branch at Middlesex Street (Petticoat Lane) called My Old Place. I'm told the original serves better food, but, to me, the lamb skewers tasted just as nice.
I'd second Green and Red. It doesn't serve Tex-Mex fare (thank goodness) and while it's not the cheapest place around, the atmosphere and the food were top-notch. And the magaritas were great too!