Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in London Whitechapel
Hardens guides have spent 31 years compiling reviews of the best Whitechapel restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 34 restaurants in Whitechapel and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Whitechapel restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Whitechapel Restaurants
. Townsend @ Whitechapel Gallery
British, Modern restaurant in Whitechapel
77-82 Whitechapel High Street - E1
“Lovely food and fantastic staff” feature in many reports on this – the latest in a series of impressive incumbents at Grade-II listed Whitechapel Gallery, which has (since early 2020), seen Nick Gilkinson (ex-Anglo and Lambeth’s Garden Museum café) and Joe Fox (ex-head chef at Petersham Nurseries) create ‘a modern British dining room’ whose thoughtfully conceived dishes have also won it solid plaudits in the press. It’s a smallish but sympathetic space, whose name references the gallery’s architect, Charles Harrison Townsend.
. Chez Elles
French restaurant in
45 Brick Ln - E1
“Like a rip in the fabric of space-time, transplanting a perfect Paris bistro to Brick Lane” – just the job for a quick French onion soup or plate of snails.
. The Culpeper
British, Modern restaurant in Aldgate
40 Commercial Street - E1
A “really beautiful spot, with a great buzz” – this handsome old boozer on a Spitalfields corner has been cleverly refurbished as a multi-storey venue with a spectacular rooftop garden, chic bedrooms, impressive first-floor dining room and “good gastropub food”.
. Som Saa
Thai restaurant in Shoreditch
43a Commercial Street - E1
“Food just like you get in Thailand” – “the quality and the range of flavours are superb” – can be found at this “amazing and very cool” five-year-old in a former factory near Spitalfields Market. “Zingy and authentic”, “each dish looks and tastes like it’s comprised of ingredients you’d be hard-pressed to source yourself”. “Vegan options are plentiful”, and “one price for ‘eat as much rice as you want’ feels generous”. There’s also a serious list of drinks that can cope with such highly flavoured cooking – including a “great Riesling menu”.
Pakistani restaurant in Whitechapel
83 Fieldgate St - E1
“An institution and rightly so.” “You don’t come to this 500-seat BYO in the East End for the dining experience: you come for the amazing Punjabi food.” “Still up there with the best” – the lamb chops in particular “are to die for”. “Terrible service but great buzz and great food.” “Such a brilliant place to take out-of-towners. Not fussy: fully authentic.”
. The Halal Restaurant
Indian restaurant in Aldgate
2 St Mark Street - E1
East London’s oldest Indian (established 1939 in Whitechapel) briefly found fame in late August 2020, when it was reviewed by Marina O’Loughlin for The Sunday Times. Run by four generations of the same family – and with somewhat antediluvian decor – it’s not the place to uncover the latest in food fads; or as Marina eloquently put it: “it tastes like the past, deliciously”. Reports please!
Middle Eastern restaurant in Tower Hamlets
65 Commercial Street - E1
“Tel Aviv café food of gourmet quality and with strong, delicious flavours” is to be had at this Middle Eastern three-year-old, near Spitalfields. Staff are “so welcoming” and it is “a find” in particular for non meat-eaters: “one of the tastiest and best-priced vegan feasting menus I’ve ever had!”.
. Satay Street Cafe
Thai restaurant in Spitalfields
15 Goulston Street - E1
Originally a stall on Brick Lane (which started in 2009), this 20-seater, a short walk north of Aldgate, is the first permanent home of this experienced Bangkok-style street food vendor. Enjoy dishes (with lots of choice for vegans) on a bed of rice, wrapped tight in a tortilla, or accompanied with salad.
. Flat Iron
Steaks & grills restaurant in Tower Hamlets
88-90 Commercial Street - E1
“If you want a good steak that’s half the price you’d pay at Hawksmoor or Gaucho, then this will do nicely!” – so say fans of this “always busy and dependable” chain, which added a Bevis Marks branch in October 2020 and opens a ninth 90-seater venue near Borough Market on Clink Street in late 2021. The success of the formula is its “straightforward” menu (“the simplest I have ever seen in a restaurant: five or six steaks, six sides, no starters, no puddings, but a delicious soft salted caramel in a cornet on the way out”). “Are prices creeping up though...?” – ratings dipped this year with more reports of the “good, but nothing special” variety. (Btw ‘Flat Iron’, aka ‘featherblade’, is a cut known for its tenderness, flavour and affordability).
Indian restaurant in City
11 Whites Row - E1
“Brilliant Indian cuisine with an experimental flare” – “glorious morsels of street-style foods” on “tapas-style” small plates – has earned all-but-universal praise for this popular duo, first in Spitalfields and more recently on the South Bank near Tower Bridge (“handy before or after the Bridge Theatre”). Now their signature “tender lamb cutlets” and Kowari soft-shell crab can be sampled at a high-profile new venue in Soho’s Greek Street, opened in late 2021. “You always over-order because everything sounds so good!”.
. Lahore Kebab House
Pakistani restaurant in Whitechapel
2-10 Umberston St - E1
The legendary lamb chops are “great – but all the food is delicious” – at this teeming Whitechapel landmark, which notches up its half-century this year. “The atmosphere is an experience – cricket on big screens, and the weirdest mix of Indian and Pakistani families, East End geezers, hipsters and City boys”. “You don’t come for the indifferent service”.
. Sichuan Folk
Chinese restaurant in Whitechapel
32 Hanbury St - E1
Sichuan hot pot is a big deal at this often “outstanding” Brick Lane café – an excellent “cheap ’n’ cheerful choice”.
. The Rib Man
Burgers, etc restaurant in Shoreditch
Brick Lane, Brick Lane Market - E1
‘Holy Fuck’ hot sauce is just one of Mark Gevaux’s unique contributions to the London street food scene. His Sunday stall – selling ribs from outdoor-reared pigs sourced from Norfolk and Suffolk farms – has only just, as of September 2021, returned to Brick Lane post-lockdown, but fans know that he also pops up at his beloved West Ham’s home games, and items are available to buy online.
Fish & chips restaurant in Spitalfields
6-8 Hanbury St - E1
“Proper fish ’n’ chips” is the order of the day at this self-consciously old-school trio from Pat ‘Pops’ Newland, an 81-year-old East Ender with a lifetime in the trade behind him. The fish arrives daily from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, and 1950s memorabilia adorns the walls. Sceptics say it’s “not bad, but expensive for what it is”.
. St John Bread & Wine
British, Traditional restaurant in Shoreditch
94-96 Commercial St - E1
“The food is typical St John” – although the ‘nose-to-tail’ eating is in a small plates format – at this “noisy and crowded”, characteristically austere Spitalfields canteen: the long-running offshoot of Fergus Henderson’s iconic Smithfield venue. “My go-to venue for when I don’t know where else I fancy – more accessible and casual than its big sibling, with ‘big’ St John the pick for a celebration or blow out”. Top Tip: “the madeleines remain unbeatable. Always order half a dozen on your way out”.
British, Modern restaurant in City
Dorsett City Hotel, 9 Aldgate High Street - EC3N
“Reliable, whatever the hour” – this small group of upscale diners has grown from its long-established Chelsea base, although – with closures in recent times – its only two siblings now are within midtown hotels in Aldwych and Bloomsbury. Aldwych is the only one actually open 24/7 (VQ = ‘Vingt Quatre’, i.e. 24-hour), but both its siblings are open for most of the wee hours, which is when they come into their own as a pick-me-up post clubbing. “It’s a very cosmopolitan menu, but drink may dull the senses of fussier gastronomes…”
Mediterranean restaurant in Spitalfields
50 Artillery Pas - E1
“Mouthwatering salads” which look as dazzlingly good as they taste set the tone at Yotam Ottolenghi’s deli-restaurants, where “the food is always outstanding” and “you always discover new ingredients and different takes on traditional dishes”. It’s now 20 years since the Israeli-born writer and TV chef opened his original Notting Hill venue, sparking a new interest in Levantine cuisine; in summer 2021 he opened a fifth branch, near the Wallace Collection in Marylebone.
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