Situated in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Bethnal Green has, in recent years, become something of a cultural hub for the young and arty.
Conveniently situated within Zone 2 on the Central Line, the area has blossomed, yet still managed to retain its original East End charm as jellied eels and traditional boozers provide a throwback to the area’s rich history. Neighbouring Hackney and Shoreditch means there’s certainly no shortage of local nightspots and restaurants that contribute to a thriving social scene that has something for everyone. With great access to schools, areas like Victoria Park village are particularly popular with young families looking to relocate to E2.
‘What else is there?’ I hear you ask!
‘Vicky Park’ is an East End treasure and host to a couple of the capital’s most popular annual festivals, Field Day and Lovebox. In between festivals, Victoria Park is the perfect place to relax on a warm summer’s day. At almost 90 hectares, the park boasts two lakes, a skate park, two playgrounds for the kids and a couple of cafes too. Oh and don’t forget to visit the Chinese pagoda!
Bethnal Green has no shortage of great pubs and The Old George on Bethnal Green road is definitely one to mention. In business since the 1700s, the popularity of this beautifully restored pub continues due to its large pub garden, authentic décor and friendly atmosphere – not forgetting Patches the pub cat, either! Reasonably priced and packing a wide selection of cask ales, beers, wine and spirits, The Old George has a tipple for every drinker. If you’re peckish, expect a great bar menu with sumptuous sharing snacks, or for somewhere a bit quieter, there’s a recently opened first-floor restaurant too!
It would be hard to review Bethnal Green without a mention of iconic café Pellicci’s on Bethnal Green Road. Now a listed building, this traditional ‘caff’ has been going since 1900 and is still run by the same family. With a mix of hearty Italian specials and a classic fry up on offer, it’s an East London gem that is a serious must visit. Sadly passing away in 2008, the previous owner Nevio Pellicci enjoyed dishing out his food with a side of East End charm and personality that helped to seal E. Pellicci’s reputation as one of the best café’s in London. Today, the café and his legacy live on through his namesake and son, ‘Nev’.
Columbia Road Flower Market
Every Sunday, Columbia Road comes alive when it seems the majority of London descends upon the flower market. It’s certainly difficult to miss as Bethnal Green is overrun by swathes of people abloom with colourful flowers and exotic plants. This usually quaint road – dotted with cafes, boutiques and pubs – becomes abuzz with those looking for bargain bouquets. But whether you’re a flower fan or not, the atmosphere itself is worth the visit.
If you’re in the mood for a classy evening out, then under the arches on Paradise Row you’ll find the popular restaurant, Mission. With an array of reasonably priced, quality wines and a fantastic, ever-changing menu, Mission offers refined décor juxtaposed against the relaxing ambience Bethnal Green has become renowned for.
Based at the top end of Bethnal Green Road and running across to Whitechapel, Brick Lane is famed for its multitude of curry houses and is the ‘go to’ area in East London for a ‘Ruby Murray’ – that’s cockney for curry, in case you were wondering! The area has become associated with the fashion crowd in recent years due to its vintage boutiques, independent labels and alternative offerings… cereal café anyone? Whilst you’re there you must also pay a visit to the two bagel shops situated on the Bethnal Green end that offer the most incredible bagels 24 hours a day. Situated right next to one another you’ll have to try both to pick a favourite!
You can’t really hang out in the East End and not indulge in a bit of traditional pie and mash with liquor! G Kelly’s on Bethnal Green Road offers just that, as well as ‘love ‘em or hate ‘em’ eels! Traditional, tasty food that will make you feel like you’re a born and bred cockney.
So if you’re looking for somewhere with a friendly community feel that has an abundance of pubs, cafés and boutiques but still retains a bit of gritty, East London charm, then Bethnal Green could be your match. Jellied eels optional.