Who knew there could be such an amazing variety of great food and great boozers along one street? This east London wonder-street stretches from Aldgate East station to Shoreditch High Street. (See also: the best restaurants in Shoreditch.) It’s a short 12(ish) minute walk from one end to the other, but there’s so much to do along the way: Asian food, fried chicken… even a few boozy brunches (because, obviously). Here are our favourites…
1. The Culpeper
The Culpeper is a gorgeous pub right next to Petticoat Lane Market. It’s set across 4 levels: the ground floor is for all the boozing, the first floor is for fancy scoffing, the third floor is for sleepovers and, up on the roof, there’s a lovely little rooftop garden.
40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP
If you’re into Mexican food and you’re yet to try Lupita then boy, you’re in for a treat. Only proper, authentic dishes will be found on the menu, so it’s not just your bog standard burrito affair (although they’ve snuck in there too, of course). Start off with a big lot of guac prepared at your table, or opt for their signature Chicharron de Queso y Guacamole, which is essentially crispy rolled cheese served with fresh guacamole (aka. the king of all the nibbles). For the main event, we decided to steer clear of the classic taco/burritos and go for a couple of their Platos Fuertes, i.e. what Lupita are famous for. The Panuchos de Cochinita Pibil, a traditional slow-roasted pork dish marinated in achiote paste, orange juice and lime was an excellent choice. The Enmoladas, as we were warned, took us on an incredibly bizarre journey of taste, with notes of bitter dark chocolate alongside chilli and tomatoey chicken (still can’t decide if we liked it or absolutely hated it). Oh and, of course, it all goes down marvellously with plenty of tequila – their Margaritas are majestic!
60-61 Commercial Street, E1 6LT
3. som saa
Consistently voted one of the best restaurants in London, som saa serve up some serious Thai grub. Pop along for brunch, lunch, dinner or just to enjoy one (or two, or five) of their unique and beautifully created cocktails. som saa was once a humble little pop-up but, as they launched a crowd-funding campaign, the fans went MAD. They smashed their target in less than a few days and used the cash to open up shop on Commercial Street last April. In typical London fashion, you can’t book a table for any less than 4 people. So we suggest saving this one for a group meal, or that filthy D word. The, ahem, Double Date.
43A Commercial Street, E1 6BD
HotBox is a pretty Hot Spot for a boozy brunch. Bacon and Bloody Mary’s, pancakes and prosecco, meat and mimosas — they have it all, and they do it oh-so well. As you make your way down the list of Bloody Marys, you’ll find a few surprises; Pork Jus, whiskey, jalapeños… they’re certainly an acquired taste. But for those of you who can’t handle the heat (or the meat), there’s plenty of prosecco and mimosas to go round. As for the food, you really can’t go wrong. There’s burgers, tacos, waffles, ribs… you name it. You’ll come out of there feeling happily stuffed and suitably tipsy. That’s a promise.
46-48 Commercial St, E1 6LT
5. Absurd Bird
Fried chicken from the American South. Otherwise known as comfort food at its finest. Burgers, wraps, waffles, wings, wing challenges… It’s an almighty hangover cure if ever we heard one. All of their chicken is free-range and brined for a minimum of 12 hours to make sure it’s finger lickin’ good (and absolutely not to be confused with the owners of this catchphrase). We recommend having it alongside the Absurd Mac & Cheese, which comes with an aptly absurd mix of smoked chicken, crispy bacon and jalapeños. B b b bird bird bird…
54 Commercial Street, E1 6LT
6. Delamina East (formerly Strut & Cluck)
It’s turkey, but not as we know it. Delamina East’s menu is full of healthy, hearty Eastern Mediterranean dishes that are just made for the gram. Despite the name focusing on its signature turkey, they also have an amazing selection of veggie dishes. The Charred Cauliflower with lemon zest infused creme fraiche and pomegranate will exceed so many of your expectations (who knew cauliflower could taste so damn good?) and the Manchego, Mint and Quinoa Fritters are out of this world. If you want a visual taste of what’s to come, have a little scroll through their Instagram. You won’t be able to resist…
151 Commercial Street, E1 6BJ
As the long-reigning Kings of Steak, Hawksmoor is the best place to go if you’re a raging carnivore. Of course you could go for something off their teeny tiny menu titled ‘The Rest’ but, unless you have a bloody good excuse, you’d frankly be wrong to pass on the beef.
157A Commercial Street, E1 6BJ
8. Commercial Tavern
A staff favourite here at Secret London (discovered in a strong and totally unbiased vote cast by the only person who has actually been here and is writing this article), the Commercial Tavern is a beautiful pub with even more beautiful gin and tonics. There’s so much to marvel at on the walls and ceilings, and there are even two resident Frenchies who are likely to come and say hello. No need to go elsewhere for dinner (although there are clearly quite a few places nearby) – pair a G&T with one of their super cheap, super tasty sourdough pizzas. The spiced lamb with harissa, green olives, feta and radicchio is a bloody revelation.
142-144 Commercial Street, E1 6NU
9. Brooklyn Coffee
The epitome of hipster coffee shop, except this one also sells wine (although their edgy wall mural says ‘don’t wine’, so we’re a little bit confused about that). Got to give it to them though, they do a cracking cup o’ caffeine.
139 Commercial Street, E1 6EB
10. The Ten Bells
Famously known as the pub that Jack the Ripper frequented (although the owners aren’t keen on that claim), the Ten Bells is your typical east end boozer but with a nice, chilled bar area upstairs if you fancy something a little more sophisticated.
84 Commercial Street, E1 6LY
11. Yuu Kitchen
Pan Asian cuisine served sharing styley. Get stuck into some Taiwanese Bao buns, some beetroot cured salmon or some grilled duck hearts (nicer than they sound… there’s BBQ sauce). Plus, at the weekends they do a TEN COURSE BRUNCH with BOTTOMLESS BUBBLES and, if that’s not enough to get your attention, we don’t know what is… (See more bottomless brunches here.)
29 Commercial Street, E1 6NE
12. Chuck Burgers
Sometimes you just need a good old beefy, carbalicious burger. Mostly on hungover Sundays, but often it’ll just be a casual, unassuming Tuesday and you’ll be sat at work thinking “Phwoar, I could murder a patty”. We’ve all been there. Head down to Chuck’s, he’ll sort you out. Their classic Bacon N’ Cheese number is a winner, but you’re pretty safe with any choice you make… Is anyone else feeling ravenous right about now?
4 Commercial Street, E1 7PT
13. Gul and Sepoy
Gul and Sepoy comes from the team behind Gunpowder, so if that’s anything to go by, you know you’re in for a treat. It operates on an Upstairs Downstairs basis, splitting the menu into two and celebrating two sides of Indian cooking. The first half, Gul, focuses on royal cuisine, with dishes inspired by the banquets of the Raj palaces. The second half, Sepoy, is a lot more rustic, based on recipes from old Indian army soldiers. The dishes are all designed to share and each side of the menu compliments each other nicely.
65 Commercial Street, E1 6BD
Also published on Medium.