Located within a few minutes walk from Shoreditch Park and New North Road, these are some of the best hidden gems of Hoxton…

The Barge House

The Barge House is a great little waterside venue, a best kept secret of Hackney’s locals. Located on Regent’s Canal, about a fifteen minute walk from Broadway Market in the direction of Islington. Or ten minutes from New North Road in the direction of Victoria Park.

In the summer, the semi-open air feel is perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon – turn up for brunch and coffee and stay for a cocktail or two, all while watching the world go by along the canal – it feels just like being on holiday. Open for breakfast and lunch, the food is carefully sourced and expertly prepared, all chic takes on brunch classics including haddock and fennel fishcakes, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and bavette steak sandwiches.

But the real draw is The Barge House’s famous Breakfast in Bread. They take a freshly baked sough dough loaf and load it with your choice of breakfasty deliciousness, from bacon and eggs to roast veggies, chorizo and chilli mushrooms. Available Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 – 5pm. Booking essential.

Find out more and book a table on The Barge House website HERE

Waterhouse Restaurant

The Waterhouse Restaurant offers a fantastic (and very reasonably priced) breakfast and lunch menu alongside a great wine list. For fussy eaters and those of us on diets, you can also mix and match proteins (such as jerk chicken or teriyaki salmon) with sides such as sweet potato or salad.

The best thing about The Waterhouse Restaurant is that it isn’t just a restaurant, it’s a social enterprise. Set up by the Shoreditch Trust in 2008, the Waterhouse offer inclusive training opportunities to young people. They are dedicated to giving young adults opportunities and reducing social and economic disadvantage by working with people including care leavers, and others struggling under personal or financial circumstances. Staff can train for careers as chefs, or in other areas of hospitality, all while earning more than London Living Wage.

Make a booking on their website HERE

Draughts

Are you a fan of board games? Whether you’re into Catan, 7 Wonders, or if you prefer an oldie classic like Connect4 or Monopoly, you’ll find them all at Draughts, London’s first board game café.

Located just off the Kingsland Basin on Regent’s Canal (as well as another venue in Waterloo) you’ll find big social tables and super knowledgeable staff (great for shutting down that friend who likes to make up their own rules).

For food and drink the offer includes tasty nibbles such as Korean chicken and lobster mac and cheese bites, as well as great burgers. And true to form for Hackney you can expect a great selection of craft beers as well as wines and cocktails. Advance to Go!

Find out more and book a table on their website HERE

Arepa and Co

Try something different at Arepa & Co, the canal side restaurant that wants to convert London to Venezuelan cuisine. Think cornbread, black beans, fried plantain, avocado, cassava, shredded beef, pork loin and roasted vegetables.

Brunch has some dishes you might not have tried before, such as breakfast criollo (Venezuala’s fry up!), tajadas (crispy fried plantain with cheese and spring onion) and pastelitos (beef turnovers with salsa verde). And if you’re not feeling very adventurous you can opt for smashed avocado.

The interiors are chilled and stylish, with an industrial vibe and plenty of greenery.

Find out more and book a table on their website HERE

The Narrowboat

A great little bistro pub with canal side balcony seating. Top quality pub grub, including fantastic roasts on Sunday.

The interiors are bright ans spacious, great for a big family meal or a chilled out Sunday afternoon with friends.

They also host occasional classy events including wine tasting.

Located next to Regent’s Canal and a five minute walk from Shoreditch Park.

Take a look at the menus and book and table on their website HERE

It’s Pancake Day! The one day of the year when it’s basically the law to eat breakfast for dinner, in the form of piles of yummy pancakes. But if you’re flipping skills aren’t up to scratch, or you just don’t feel like messing up your kitchen… here are some of East London’s famous pancake spots…

The Breakfast Club, Hackney Wick

At The Breakfast Club, Pancake Day is a really big deal. They release a special menu packed with savory and sweet options (and heaps of vegan options too) running from 5th – 8th March.

If you’re feeling extra hungry, you could even take part in their annual pancake challenge – eat 12 pancakes in 12 minutes and they’re on the house. Don’t manage it and your bill will be donated to charity.

The Diner, Shoreditch

The Diner in Shoreditch is a classic American style eatery complete with booths and tall milkshakes straight out of the 1950s. So you might not be surprised to hear that they go big on Pancake Day too. Keep it simple with choc chip pancakes or go for something fruity or savoury… they also have an extensive vegan pancake menu. Yum!

Shane’s On Canalside, Hackney Wick

At Shane’s On Canalside you can munch through your stack of fluffy pancakes whilst watching the world go by along the pictureque River Lea. Their unique twist on brunch pancakes include goats cheese and butternut squash. If you’re feeling virtuous, you can work your meal off afterwards with a cycle or walk around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Trade, Spitalfields

Work up an appetite by doing some shopping around Spitalfields before heading to Trade. Expect all the classic pancake options including maple syrup, berries and mascarpone and bacon and egg.

Pavilion Cafe, Victoria Park

Pavilion in Victoria Park is the local’s favourite brunch spot and it’s not hard to see why… with tonnes of outdoor seating beside the park’s boating lake, you can relax with their famous banana, syrup and mascarpone buttermilk pancakes. Delish!

It’s half way through half term… entertaining your youngsters might be starting to feel like a challenge. But don’t worry! East London is packed with fun (and free!) things to do for all the family. Here are some ideas for great days out that won’t break the bank…

The Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

Part of the V&A, the Museum of Childhood, a few minutes walk from Bethnal Green station, is difficult to miss. A huge red brick 19th Century building, you’ll recognise it instantly for it’s imposing structure and enormous arched windows.

The Museum is the largest collection of childhood artifacts in the world, from retro games that Mum and Dad will remember to Victorian tin toys and puppets, old games, and the largest collection of dolls in the UK.

As you’d expect, the Museum isn’t just about display cases, it’s very much set up with children in mind, with loads of interactive and hands on exhibits. They also run regular competitions for children.

On a sunny day, you can enjoy a picnic and let the kids run around in the Museum’s spacious and enclosed grounds.

Eastern Curve Garden, Dalston

Behind a small door just off Dalston Lane, a secret green oasis awaits.

Dalston Curve Garden, which was created in 2010, is a free community garden packed with wildlife friendly plants and trees, including butterfly bushes and raised beds for growing food.

There’s hot and cold drinks and cakes for sale, you can sit in the open air or stay cosy in one of the snug glass houses (where there are loads of creative materials and activities for kids).

They also host regular events and welcome volunteers for gardening.

Hackney and Stepney City Farms

Meet donkeys, sheep, pigs and chickens at the city farms in Hackney and Stepney. Both farms want to teach children and adults about how a working farm operates, where our food comes from, and encourage people to learn new skills from arts and crafts to growing vegetables.

Both farms are open all year round (excluding Bank Holidays) and host regular events and workshops.

Victoria Park, Hackney

Green Flag Award winning Victoria Park is a great place to spend a sunny day in East London. Hunt for frogs and newts in the ponds, feed ducks, stroll around the Victorian pagoda, see canal boats on Regent’s Canal, or set the kids free at the skate park. For smaller children, there are two large playgrounds with swings, climbing frames and slides.

On Sundays from 10 – 4 you can also enjoy tasty treats at the street food market. There are also two permanent cafes (both dog friendly) and fantastic pubs on every corner.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford

There’s loads to do at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, from cycling around the wild gardens and wetlands, to splashing in the computer-controlled fountains, tacking the outdoor climbing walls, and exploring wildlife with a free trail tour.

Refresh with a hot drink and a sandwich at the Timber Lodge or venture along the canal to Here East where you’ll find a water-side row of excellent restaurants and cafes serving up everything from burgers to Italian food and Sunday roasts.

The Ragged School Museum, Bow

Give your little ones a taste of history at the Ragged School Museum. This interactive museum is dedicated to teaching visitors about the history of the East End and giving an insight into what a Victorian school was really like. The original building once housed the largest free (or “ragged”) school in London, set up in 1867 by Thomas Barnardo.

Between 2:15 and 3:30 on the first Sunday of each month, you can experience a Victorian class, led by an actor in full costume (ticketed on a first come first served basis daily). They also run regular talks and free arts and crafts activities.

So it’s the New Year again. Whether your resolution is to pull off a dry January, to try veganism, to lose some weight, or just to eat a little bit better, we’ve found the best healthy places to grab a bite (and a drink) across East London…

The Hive, Cambridge Heath Road

(pic credit: The Hive)

Specialising in organic nourishing foods and cold pressed juices, The Hive on Cambridge Heath Road is the ideal location for your New Year detox. And if you’re not doing dry January, they also have a curated selection of fantastic wines and craft beers (also available to take away).

MOTHER Works, Here East, Stratford

(pic credit: Mother.works)

At MOTHER Works it’s all about plant-based organic produce that’s sustainable, nourishing and delicious. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the smoothie menu is the real hook – with a huge selection of tasty healthy treats including vegan Cookie Dough and Mint Choc Chip smoothies and fruity creations like the Berry Blast Off and the Galactic Detox.

Apres Food Co, Clerkenwell

(pic credit: Apres Food)

We all get those comfort food cravings, especially when we’re trying to eat right. At Apres Food, they want to prove that eating tasty, filling and comforting meals doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Top quality cooked breakfasts, and yummy cereals, alongside cold pressed juices and brilliant cakes – you can treat yourself without wrecking your diet!

Cub, Hoxton

(pic credit: Cub)

At Cub in Hoxton they focus on sustainability, so you can rest assured that you’re doing good while you’re eating good stuff. Their menu is creatively different, with the set menu offering a mix of food and drinks (and some courses that are both at once!) with tasty booze-free options also available.

 

Find more local tips for great restaurants, bars and boutiques on our blog