When I lived in London, I lived in Shoreditch, a neighborhood in East London that is known for being ground zero for London’s hipsters, somewhat like Williamsburg in Brooklyn. However, a lot differentiates Shoreditch from its New York counterpart, not to mention the rest of London. There are several things that make Shoreditch special, but one of them is the way the Indian community seamlessly folds into its surroundings. Shoreditch is also home to Brick Lane, a street full of curry houses and as well as fashionable bars. The best curry can be found in nearby Whitechapel (check out Tayyabs) but it’s well worth a walk around for the atmosphere. On Sundays, the Brick Lane market serves food from every country imaginable next to stalls selling vintage clothes and funky knickknacks. There are great stores along Brick Lane for new clothes too, like JOY, but my favorite store is Rough Trade East, the flagship store for the famous record company, which also hosts the occasional concert.
Another one of my favorite aspects of Shoreditch is the prevalent street art. Shoreditch, much like Berlin, was ground zero for street artists. You barely walk a few feet without tripping over a work by Banksy or another famous street artist. In order to get an appreciation for the street art, I highly recommend you take a local street art tour. There are several, but I recommend Alternative London (http://alternativeldn.com/index.php) . The tour will also give you a sense of the history of the area, which was the former haunt of none other than Jack the Ripper. Art fans should also visit the Cube as well the other tiny galleries around the area.
In order to make sure you enjoy Shoreditch to the fullest, I’m including some of my favorite bars, resteraunts, and stores. Things change all the time though, so don’t be surprised if something is gone by the time you get there!
-Song Que: Kingsland Road is the place for Vietnamese, and Song Que is my favorite!
-Pizza East: Open Late and is a hip place for pizza and drinks.
-Albion: Upscale British food in a down-to-earth atmosphere
-Story Deli: On Redchurch Road. You’ll recognize it because it has no name. Very trendy flatbreads.
-Brick Lane Biegl Bake: You know what’s great when you’re drunk? Bagels! And not just any bagels either—fresh ones, slathered with cream cheese or piled high with salt beef, a specialty of the Jewish community in London.
Queen of Hoxton: A beautiful rooftop bar with club nights downstairs as well as movie nights on the roof during the summer.
Wilton’s Music Hall: An old theater turned drinking establishment. Go for the architecture.
Old Blue Last: Recently named the “Coolest Bar in the World” by Vice, the histper factor is strong, but there’s great live music upstairs. You never know who you might run into here (I hid from Luke, the lead singer of the Kooks, behind a pole. I don’t know why! I guess I was afraid he’d see me…)
Callooh Calley: A great place for funky cocktails with a rotating menu. They (very sadly) recently closed their members-only speakeasy, the Jubjub.
-Still a great speakeasy: The Mayor of Scaredycat Town. Near Liverpool Street station, there’s a restaurant called the Breakfast Club (it’s NOT the one in Hoxton square). Tell the host that you’re “here to see the mayor.” They will escort you to a refrigerator…which opens into a stairwell down to a bar.
-Dreambagjaguarshoes is a funky bar that hosts rotating art exhibits
-Book Club: Last but certainly not least, this restaurant-bar-club has it all, including ping pong tables!
-The Ten Bells: A traditional pub that is noteworthy for being the place where Jack the Ripper met one of his victims
-Florpia. Formerly known as Favela Chic, this is the place to go for Latin and hip hop in Shoreditch.
-The Macbeth – An old “party pub” with rotating theme nights and live music. Check the website to see what strikes your fancy at http://www.themacbeth.co.uk/
Make sure you visit Shoreditch! No visit to London is complete without a trip to this vibrant neighborhood.