Bethnal Green

What to do in London

It’s crazy that I write about so many places yet rarely talk about what to do in London…

I was born in East London (1983) but spent most of my growing years in Essex although as we got older, and discovered pubs and clubs, we ventured ‘into town’ most weekends to explore what London had to offer. I spent many years working and living in London and loved every minute of it, from Knightsbridge to Mayfair, Tottenham Court and Holborn but most importantly Shoreditch and Hackney, that’s my favourite spot by a city mile. It has absolutely everything you could possibly want from lovely open space, such as Victoria Park and London Fields, to the bustling streets of Brick lane and mysterious nightlife of Curtain Road.

Most weekends I would spend around the markets, saturday Broadwalk Market and sunday Brick Lane Market, and what more could you want, with great craft beers, great coffee, great photo opportunities, great street art, great street acts, great food, great bars, great pubs, great cocktails, great music venues and most importantly great pie and mash at F.Cooke which has been in Broadway for over 100 years and salt beef biegel’s in Brick lane 24/7.

As a ‘foodie’ I absolutely love it here as there is so much on offer from a quick, tasty snack like a Biegel (for those that don’t know what I’m talking about you may refer to it as a Bagel – but us Jews like to stick to Biegel’s) to tapas at Tamontana Brindisa or Laxiero or even better, a steak at The Hawksmoor, my favourite restaurant in London – maybe i’ll be able to make a tasty rib eye one day!

Another hidden little gem is Story deli which in my opinion is the best pizza in London, you pay for quality, and its such a great yet simple setting with good wine and good food – take a few good friends and you couldn’t ask for much more. Then there is also anther favourite spot of mine called Franze and Evans. which is located on Redchurch street. The coffee is lovely, so creamy and thick, yet smooth, the staff are all lovely, always smiling, and ready to help explain about all their wonderful food and what a display they have…you walk in and you are hit with three rows of lovely salads, which is a big statement coming from me who loves The Hawksmoor so much, a banquet of croissants with deep yellow italian eggs, pastries, cakes and different home-made dishes every day, you never know what to expect but I can assure you only good things!

After a morning stroll around the markets a good coffee at Brick Lane Coffee, or if you’re hung over go for the Banana Frappe, its then time for a little snack which is where Broadway comes into its own….sooooo many street stalls and so many flavours to suit everyone’s appetite. I prefer it to Portobello Road, as whilst it is becoming more and more popular, its not such a tourist trap and just feels like you’re surrounded by ‘real’ people and getting a good taste of East London. Again, if you’re nursing a hangover try The Cat and Mutton for an amazing Bloody Mary or a phenomenal sunday roast, I could keep going, in fact I will… check out my instagram for the Duck Confit Brioche which I would probably trade a kidney for and possibly trade the other for a Deeney’s Haggis toastie. After visiting Deeney’s with a sore head and furry tongue, probably from too many Jagers at The Gun or too many salt beef biegel’s, I was greeted with a big smile and a quote that changed every hangover I have ever had since – ‘this will change your life’ – and I’m pretty sure it did.

So now you’ve had your coffee, you’ve lined your stomach so its time for another cheeky cocktail and what better way to go then an Espresso Martini at The Boundary or if you’re really struggling and want to chill out with a film then there’s only one place, Aubin cinema, and you can still have a cheeky Espresso Martini.

I’ve not even touched the surface of what to do in London and I’m heavily biased towards the East but there is also so many other places to explore and so many things to do from watching The Killers at Wembley, Monsters of Men at Somerset House, Picnic’s in the Regents Park, Ice Skating in Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and enjoying hearing stories about homeless guys who became street artists after sketching their dog to get a night in a shelter. So get out there, enjoy it, explore and discover for yourself what to do in London!

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  1. Tharik

    Hey Brad, I can totally relate to this article as an East Londoner who grew up in and around Brick Lane/Shoreditch. It really is such a cool area to hang out.

    I recently published an article in a magazine about one of my (and yours apparently) favourite spots, The Broadway Market area, which I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading. I wrote it for a middle eastern magazine so it’s all very positive and ‘nice’.

    I would love to have written it with a slight edge and offered a more contextual picture of its development, having grown up hanging out around there with one of my ‘best’ friends (do you remember when you still split your mates up like that!? Hilarious) who lived behind it.

    It would’ve been great to have discussed how back then we’d spend days fishing trolleys out of the stagnant Regents Canal just so we could take a run up along the battered, pothole-ridden towpath to launch them straight back in! How we only felt safe in the area cos my mate knew each and every one of the locals, who were none too friendly, to put it mildly – but somehow, the editor wasn’t too keen on that one in the Middle East – he felt t didn’t really sell London to his readers!

    I will write it one day though and include a snapshot of 80s/90s Brick Lane in there as well.

    Anyway, great stuff, and do pass by and have a look at my Broadway piece:


  2. William @NomadHeadTravel

    Always so great to have a locals knowledge of a city! Seeing the Killers – or any band – at Wembley would be unreal! Not sure I dig all flags blocking the view though. The food also looks delicious. You’ll have to visit #RestaurantAustralia to see how we go at cooking up a dish!
    NomadHead – Your Guide to Gap Year Travel
    Get the magazine here –>

  3. Dave Cole

    Great post, Brad! I still haven’t explored London, but those food stalls sound perfect. Really want to try out Brick Lane Coffee when I make it there.

  4. Emily

    You’ve actually made me a little homesick with this post – difficult considering I’m in incredible Argentina right now! We lived in East London when we first moved to London, right by Aldgate East station, and I love, love, love Brick Lane Market on a Sunday. Especially that guy that’s always dancing next to his stall (I think it’s fried chicken or something). And it’s the best place to pick up good second hand books – found myself some great treats at the book stall :)

  5. Karen Warren

    Great description of East London. I reckon that over the course of a lifetime I’ve probably spent more time in London than in any other place in the world yet I still find new things every time I visit and it’s still just about my favourite place ever!

  6. Laura

    Wow you make London look great! I have a bit of a hate love relationship with it, I come from the South West so any trip to London was always like ‘a big deal’. Sometimes London was in a good mood and sometimes not. Love all the London secrets in this post :)

    • Brad Frankel

      There are so many hidden communities and its difficult when you dont live there to find them, so i was luck i lived there for 2 years as got to see everything that went on, little pop ups, new restaurants, hidden bars and doorways, so you need to get stuck in or just head to these places, as i’ve done the research for you 😉

  7. Surya Bhattacharya

    Ah! Once upon a time (less than 2 years ago actually) London was a dream destination for me… Recently I’ve visited a few times and almost got ‘bored’ of it, because I kept walking into overpriced tourist traps. I’m bookmarking this for the next time I visit (hopefully, soon!). I’m a big, BIG fan of coffee, Franze and Evans seems super appealing!

    • Brad Frankel

      If you like coffee, then you have to head east…all the best coffee spots, and you have to get away from the tourist traps. Next time you visit let me know what you would like to do and i’ll send you some recommendations. I’m doing a new post soon for Franze and Evans as had a lovely meal there last Thursday, that i have to share, so should hopefully be up by next week #staytuned 😉

    • Tharik

      Hi surya I can totally see why that might happen, and it does happen so often to so many tourists. You really should make sure you get in touch with either Brad or myself. We’re through and through East Londoners and you can’t put a price on local knowledge. I know the areas described here like the back of my hand and it’s amazing the reaction of my friends when they see London with me rather than by themselves. Good luck on your next trip!

  8. Rachel

    I’ve been to London many times, but never yet explored East London. Now I certainly will! Could you please do some more specific posts on each section you mentioned in this one, and with more details? That would be great!

  9. Bianca @itsallbee

    Great post! I love East London and there are plenty favourite spots over there. Like you I am trying to post more about London as plenty of people who read my blog are from around the world and hope to visit London some day. Me sharing about this great city is very similar to me reading about other places that blogs travel to that I would like to visit someday. Keep’em coming and hopefully I will find spots that you have visited that I havent been to in London.

  10. Bob R

    I’ve been to London a half dozen times but always on work-related trips so had little time to explore. I also worked the London 2012 Games but that allowed even less free time. Next time I go I will make a point of tracking down that ‘Honest Burger’. :)

  11. Maria

    London is on my Bucket List so this post is on my top 3 to read again when I’m headed there! It’s so amazing to discover the city when you have all the local views and ideas! :)

  12. Marie-Carmen

    Shame I’ve only been to London with school when I was a kid and for work later on, you can imagine the visits were very limited.
    Will keep your tips in mind when I’ll come back in the UK!

  13. Christine

    Thanks for sharing these recommendations! Don’t know when we’ll get to London as it’s a bit expensive for us, but when we do I’ll remember this post and use your tips. Loving the pics too!

  14. Ashley and Alex

    Great list of places to visit! I have spent some time in London but not East London. I would love to go to the cinema however and have a martini. For some reason movie theaters here don’t serve alcohol which I always found disappointing. Guess I better leave California and head to London!

  15. The Wandering Wanderluster

    Ahh you’ve summed up everything I love about London in one! I miss it! I lived in East London too but in the posh Canary Wharf bit! 😉 However I loved venturing into Shoreditch and Brick Lane for querky nights out. I worked in Mayfair so I spent my lunch breaks in Hyde Park and had the benefit of being in the centre so I could go out a lot after work. Farringdon area is nice too! Spent lots of time there! So expensive though!!

    • Brad Frankel

      Sounds like you saw all the best spots 😉 Unfortunately the price tag does come with it and a quick coffee soon becomes dinner and cocktails and a £100 later but i still love it. One of the best places in the world when the sun is out on a Friday afternoon…fingers crossed tomorrow is a nice day as I’m having my leaving drinks, so nice to leave London at its best 😉

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