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Shoreditch has earned itself a trendy hipster reputation in recent years, much to some people’s annoyance. But this means it’s one of the best places in London to try out the latest food and drink trends, whether that’s the country’s most potent craft ales or fat, juicy, meaty burgers dripping in chilli jam.
Here’s our guide to the best places to eat and drink in London’s coolest borough, whatever you’re looking for.
For street food: On the Bab
Shoreditch is fast earning a reputation as a mini street food capital, largely thanks to Urban Food Fest, a pop-up market dedicated to this style of dining, which dominates the local high street every Saturday. The traders vary from week to week, but a permanent fixture of the borough serving delicious Korean street food every day of the week is On the Bab.
Diners can either eat in or take away at this hip eatery that serves up traditional-style street food from the East, but allows you to eat it in the comfort of a restaurant, rather than outside on the road. For a truly authentic Korean dining experience, a steaming bowl of bibimbab – rice with vegetables and a choice of meat, topped off with a fried egg – is an extremely warming and comforting option. Alternatively, ordering a selection of the small plates, which include delights such as spring onion and seafood pancakes, pan-fried shrimp dumplings and fried chicken coated in crushed peanuts served with soy and garlic sauce, allows you to sample all the tastes and smells of a classic Korean kitchen.
For burgers: Hache Burgers
A hipster borough would not be complete without an abundance of trendy burger bars, and Hache Burgers is one of Shoreditch’s best. As well as the usual juicy beef and chicken options, Hache also offers lamb patties topped with fresh tzatziki, all of which come served with a choice of not just chips, but also ratatouille, and truffle-topped cheese fries. We recommend a boozy biscuit milkshake made with Jack Daniels to wash it all down with.
For craft ale: Old Fountain
Craft ale, the oxygen of hipsters everywhere, can also be ordered in abundance throughout Shoreditch, but the Old Fountain serves up some particularly spectacular brews. There are 17 different types of cask ale on offer at any one time here, and it’s not just the London breweries that get a chance to shine, but also a few lesser-known ones from further afield in the UK. The beers of the Red Willow brewery in Macclesfield, Cheshire are a particular highlight.
For cocktails: Barrio
If the drizzly London weather is getting you down, then Shoreditch’s Barrio is the perfect place to go for a spot of sunshine. With its vibrant interior of Hawaiian-style prints and a drinks menu inspired by sunnier climes, Barrio will help bring a taste of summer to your day even in the middle of January.
Menu highlights include the gingerbread colada, a warming, spicy twist on the creamy rum-based tipple, as well as a Ram Berry Jam, which features homemade raspberry jam-flavoured liqueur alongside vodka, lemon and cava, finished with a classic Jammy Dodger.
For sophistication: Tonic and Remedy at M by Montcalm
For those after something a little fancier, Tonic and Remedy at the M by Montcalm hotel is one of Shoreditch’s more upmarket offerings. The menu features the dirty burgers now synonymous with the area, alongside some fine dining options including sea bass and steak sourced from the Lake District.
Meanwhile, the cocktail – or ‘potions’ and ‘elixirs’, as the bar calls them – menu features some truly unusual concoctions, including the Meaty Perfect Manhattan, which comprises bone marrow rum with almond dust, while vegans can rest assured that their tastes are catered for with the Vegan Sour made from chickpea brine, lavender bitters, barley syrup, lemon juice and a dash of spirits. Beeswax makes an appearance in the Bee Hive Martinez, pomegranate and basil jam pops up in Jamming, and Cannon Fodder features blueberry-flavoured candy floss.
For drinking in the middle of a the street: The Magic Roundabout
A place famous for street eating should by rights also offer street drinking, and at The Magic Roundabout, housed on the centre of a traffic island, customers can do just that. This is the ideal place to grab some bar snacks with a beer, with the jerk halloumi and beer-glazed chicken wings both mouth-wateringly tempting. There are also ‘dirty’ dining options for vegans, which include a cauliflower steak burger topped with caramelised onions.