April 18, 2012

When anyone mentions Brick Lane nowadays it conjurs up memories of long, lazy afternoons spent in pub gardens, hobbling along the cobbled streets in savage heels after a night out, and entire Sundays spent blissfully wandering around various markets and pop-up shops.

I lived in and around Brick Lane forΒ over 2 years, before recently making the move to West London (I know – traitor). There’s no where quite like it in London, and despite moving to the other side of the city, I still make the trip along the entire district line whenever I can to see what I’m missing.

From curry festivals to vegan buses, record stores to vintage treasure troves, you can easily spend a few hours getting lost in it all. So here’s my guide to the best of Brick Lane, from someone who has spent far too much of the past 2 years stumbling on it’s cobbles:

There’s a huge array of vintage stores lining the main road and side streets, and plenty of market stalls on Sunday offering some great little bargains.Β Take a walk down Cheshire Street and you’ll find some of the best vintage stores the East has to offer. Some of the smaller ones have great peices at reasonable prices, much cheaper than you may find in the bigger outlets.

And then there’s Beyond Retro. Situated right at the end of Cheshire Street and quite unremarkable from the outside, this place is stacked full of absolute gems. Yes, the prices can be slightly higher than in smaller, less commercial stores, but if you’re looking for variety and something unique, this is the spot for you.Β I picked up an amazing sequinned shirt here, along with an all-time favourite summer bag and numerous sweatshirts.Β 

Spitalfields market a few minutes walk away is also worth a visit, and make sure to check out Rokit on the way. For those into their vinyl, Rough Trade East is hard to beat.

Bagels. You can’t write a post about Brick Lane without mentioning the famous 3am bagels. Any time of day or night, they’re open and ready to serve. Check out the revellers spilling out of clubs at closing time and making a beeline for them.

Curry. There are far too many curry houses to name, but I can recommend Mango – most places will do you an amazing deal and drinks on the house. The curry festival that takes place along Brick Lane Sunday 8th-15th May is also well worth a visit!

Where to start? The street is literally brimming with quirky bars and cafes, from cocktails and shisha to fishbowls and pitchers of pints. A personal favourite of mine for blow-your-mind cocktails is Casa Blue, located just off of Bethnal Green road. A tiny bar full of mis-matched furniture and walls covered in postcards and photographs, these guys serve a mean mojito in a really cool, laid back setting. If you’re out with a group of friends make sure you try the fishbowls – lethal.

If you’re looking for a livelier setting, 93 Feet East serves up a cool mix of indie, electro and everything in-between, with a grungy, underground feel. Just opposite, Fuel is worth a look in, if not only for the amazing beer garden, and a few yards away Cafe 1001 combines comfy sofas with a back room that transforms into a club later on in the evening.

If that’s not enough to tempt you, you could sit and people watch here for literally hours with the kind of crowd this street attracts. The graffiti is photo-worthy, the atmosphere is electric, and the vintage stores are second to none.

Think I’ve missed somewhere worth mentioning? Where’s your favourite place on Brick Lane?

Em xx

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