Something of a stalwart on the East End scene, Tayyabs is undoubtedly one of the most beloved restaurants in the area. The family-run Punjabi restaurant grew from humble beginnings in 1972 to take over three separate premises, and now sees huge queues of people streaming from its doors most nights. But it’s worth the wait – the menu features Indian classics cooked to perfection (the lamb comes highly recommended), and the atmosphere is second to none. Book early and bring your own bottle to avoid disappointment.
83-89 Fieldgate Street, London, UK, +44 20 7247 6400
With the recent influx of rib shacks and burger joints onto the capital’s food scene, it can be hard to find one that stands out. HotBox, however, manages exactly that. All exposed brick and benches, the American barbecue specialist puts the focus firmly on its mouth-watering selection of meat. If you can manage it, the Smoked Selection is a tour de force of barbecue food as it should be, and is matched perfectly by a small but carefully considered selection of sides. For after dinner drinks (if you aren’t too full to move), head downstairs to 46 and Mercy, who offer cocktails and an artsy atmosphere in equal measure.
46-48 Commercial Street, London, UK, +44 20 7247 1817
Copita Del Mercado
If you can make it past the huge crowds headed to one of the East End’s most famous markets, Copita Del Mercado on Petticoat Lane is well worth a visit. The Spanish tapas bar and restaurant offers finely crafted traditional Spanish fare, as well as a large selection of daily specials that make the most of the local produce available at the local markets. The open plan kitchen means the food really does take centre stage at Copita – although the vast selection of gins is a close competitor. We couldn’t resist rounding it all off with the churros con chocolate…for a taste of Spanish sunshine, it’s one not to be missed.
Unit 3, 60 Wentworth Street, London, UK, +44 20 7426 0218
One thing East London does well is a pub, and The Culpeper is one of the finest in Whitechapel. An upmarket bar downstairs, the second floor restaurant features stunning seasonal food in a beautifully restored setting of parquet floors and ambient industrial lighting. The menu changes often, incorporating as often as possible the local and (literally) home grown; much of the produce is grown in the Culpeper’s own rooftop garden, perhaps taking inspiration from the 17th century Spitalfields herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, for whom the pub is named. For classic dining with a touch of class, The Culpeper is hard to beat.
40 Commercial Street, London, UK, +44 20 7247 5371
Last but by no means least, is Mexican taqueria Lupita. Born half a century ago as El Farolito in Mexico City, the taqueria moved to London as Lupita in 2010, and the recipes have lost none of their flavour along the way. Well known classics are given a delicious traditional twist at Lupita, offering an authentic Mexican experience that stands out against London’s many contenders. Downstairs is the Mayahuel Bar, a cocktail den that matches the Mexican experience upstairs with equally delicious mezcals and tequilas.
60-62 Commercial Street, London, UK, +44 20 3141 6000