The Expert’s Guide to Restaurants in Brick Lane & White Chapel, East London
Brick Lane is a street in London's East End. It was once a small back-street running from Bethnal Green to Whitechapel, but it now stretches for more than a mile. Brick Lane has become one of the best known streets in the world. This is due to the influx of people at the end of the 19th century and then again after World War II. There are over 100 restaurants serving authentic cuisine from all over India. That’s not all what Brick lane is famous for though, it’s a street which houses an extremely diverse range of ethnic backgrounds, spanning from Irish driven over by the potato famine, Jewish families escaping oppression and the most recent population of the Bangladeshi community.
Brick lane and Whitechapel became predominantly Bangladeshi with many Indian restaurants, cafes, markets and shops selling saris, shalwar kameezs, sarees and other goods from these countries. Today Brick Lane is most famous for being London's curry capital.
Sadly, the development of the area has led to many different opinions and disputes over what Brick Lane should be. A major part of this debate is whether or not Brick lane should be “gentrified”, or if it should stay as an authentic immigrant neighbourhood. A lot of the businesses that once inhabited this area have been replaced by chain stores, which has had a negative impact on small independent businesses. So here’s a light shining a list of the many restaurants which runs through this historic, legendary street and its surrounding area Whitechapel.
Beigel bake – Brick Lane Bakery
Known as the ‘white one’ this family run bakery was introduced in 1976. Beigels are the main point of this bakery, in fact they produce 7000 beigels a day! They sell a plethora of unique and tasty beigals, most that are under a fiver! It’s extremely affordable, which I really appreciate since it caters to people and its location, being a predominantly working class area. Even with the price, you don’t lose any of the quality at all as everything is made from the finest ingredients that are sourced from around the world. The menu also pays homage to their Jewish background, most of the recipes are inspired by generations of Jewish cuisine.
Location: 159 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB
Known as the ‘yellow one’, this beigel bakery and Beigal bake have a bit of a competition. Many people swear that one is greater than the other but in all honesty, both are just as great as each other! Beigel Shop has been open for a lot longer, in fact it’s one of the oldest shops that are still going strong in Brick lane. It is actually the first beigel bakery that opened in Britain over a century ago! They too are famous for their traditional Jewish beigels which they sell ranging from salted beef to smoked salmon. They are also extremely affordable, you can get a beigel for under a fiver, many are just over a pound or two! Beigel Shop became really well known for their rainbow beigels and croissants. Try this pioneer Beigal shop and you definitely won’t regret it.
Location: 155 Brick Lane, E1 6SB
Bengal village is an award winning restaurant which won numerous accolades by the evening standard, the guardian, the daily telegraph and more and was labelled as the best curry house in Brick Lane. It’s been around for two decades, making it one of the oldest Indian restaurants in Brick Lane. Not only does it cater Indian food but also has Bangladeshi recipes on offer too. The restaurant uses local produce ensuring the food tastes authentic and as fresh as possible. Although a lot of curries do feature meat and fish, there’s a vegetarian and even a vegan menu on offer, so everyone is welcome here. If you’re going all out, I can’t recommend choosing prawn based dishes enough, especially the prawn curries as it’s one of my favourite Bangladeshi curries.
Location: 75 Brick Ln, Spitalfields, London E1 6QL
Aladin (no not the one with the genie!), this restaurant is not short of awards too, winning many British curry awards it’s a top tier Indian restaurant. Aladin started its life in 1979 in Brick Lane, serving the Bangladeshi Migrant communities of the area. Now it’s grown so much that it’s spread over 4 floors, giving you ample space for not only a great time out but it’s a place where you can kick back and relax. They never fail to impress, with their diverse menu spanning from meats, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan dishes you’ll never get bored of any one thing. If you’re a meat eater, try their lamb bhuna, it’s an amazing thick curry, you’ll never go wrong with it. For the veggie eaters among us, they have an equally tasting vegetable masala curry, a wonderfully thick and creamy curry from the butter sauce. You’ll have to go without wine for this one I’m afraid because this restaurant stays true to authenticity. Why not go for their mango lassi instead?
When people think of Brick lane you’re probably thinking only curry and beigels right? Well you’d be wrong because not only do we have these amazing places, but we also have a great south Asian confectionery scene too. Not many people know about Indian / south Asian sweets and if you’re one of those people than boy are you missing out! If you have a particularly keen sweet tooth, then this place is going to be a paradise in a shop for you. Ambala is a well-known confectionary shop which sells one of the best south Asian desserts you can find. Jalebi, Gulab Jamun, Rasmalai, Rasgulla, Mishit Doi that comes in those clay pots and my personal favourite Barfi are all there and all are amazing. As with a lot of other shops like these, you don’t have to stick to just one dessert, you can get a selection box and choose the desserts you like. If you’ve never had south Asian desserts, do yourself a favour and come to this place, it’s a must.