Brick Lane Top Ten

After many, many mentions of the lively and eclectic Brick Lane, I decided to give you a bit more of an in-depth look at everything this tiny area of East London has to offer. Of course this is by no means a definitive list, and I encourage exploration! London is amazing and you should just get into it, right now, and like, roll around, or something. Right, Brick Lane. This mini-guide is designed to take you down Brick Lane from the Aldgate East/ Whitechapel Gallery end (No. 1 Brick Lane) right to the other end, near the Shoreditch High Street Tube Station. Obviously feel free to dip in and out as you wish, and wander about however you like. 1) First up is the gorgeous Chez Elles café at no. 45. Its shabby chic interior is a great place to relax with a coffee, and the owner is a lovely french lady, who served me my Cappuccino and then chatted away in French to a couple of her other patrons, giving me rather romantic notions of being tucked away in a little café in France. The coffee is reasonably priced (£2.2o for a Cappuccino or Latté) and although I have a feeling it wouldn’t stand up to the more scrupulous palette of a real coffee lover, it was just right for me. They also serve light lunches and have a great selection of magazines and cozy nooks in which to read them! IMG_2046 IMG_2077IMG_2051 IMG_1730 2) Hanbury Street, not strictly Brick Lane, but just off the main concourse, is a little graffiti hot spot with some amazing art. It’s always worth a look, and is almost always being thoroughly photographed by tourists (and by me). IMG_2083 IMG_2085 IMG_2089 IMG_2088   3) Just past the huge heron is the Blitz Vintage Clothes Store, my favourite on Brick Lane for price and selection. It is a little wonderland of vintage clothes and accessories, with a little café (not too pricey) with cakes and coffee. They have a changing room and a large selection of men’s as well as women’s clothes, and a small ‘Bric-a-brac’ section which is actually a collection of really gorgeous vintage pieces, with hefty price tags to match! Make sure to pick up a Blitz Vintage flyer (which are normally being distributed on the Brick Lane/Hanbury Street corner) for 10% off your purchase. IMG_2092 IMG_2093 IMG_2102 IMG_2100 IMG_2094 IMG_2104 IMG_2105 IMG_2106 IMG_2112 IMG_2110   4) On the same corner stands the Truman Brewery, which on Sundays transforms into the most amazing pop up world food market, with a small vintage fair, seating areas and market stalls. This place is the best place to eat on Brick Lane if you can get down there on a Sunday, and the cheap eats are amazing. #omnomnom IMG_2117 IMG_2119 IMG_2124IMG_2121     5) Turn left under the bridge for Rough Trade Records and another coffee break (unless you, like me, decided to test every coffee shop on Brick lane in one day and by this point have a serious case of the shakes and feel like actually you would quite like a lie down. Ooops #drinkresponsibly) This little place is fantastic for niche music, LPs, CDs and the occasional live gig, but, queen of the selfie, I visit mainly for the photo booth. Ask at the counter for a token and for £3 a go you can have the ultimate, flattering, black and white selfie. (Or, you know, a picture of your friends, if you’re prepared to share the spotlight ;)) If you register on the Rough Trade website you can download a copy of your photos for easy sharing (because let’s face it, we always say we’ll scan the photo and email a copy, but who knows where to find a scanner these days?) IMG_2132 IMG_2131 IMG_2144 IMG_2139 13953236781394385782   6) Just so y’all know, we are getting excitingly close to Brick Lane Bagels, the home of delicious O-shaped goodness, but hold on, we still have a couple of stops. (Or you can jump right ahead and get that bagel now – you know you want to, and after all that coffee you had, some food is probably a good idea, might stop those shakes you crazy over-caffeinated maniac…) Brick Lane Bookshop is a tiny, well curated collection of books and greetings cards. The staff are friendly and I couldn’t resist a few of their cards. They have a great collection of London themed ones which are perfect for when I sort of want to grab people and say “This is where I live! It’s amazing and you should be jealous, or, like move here right away, LOOK AT IT.” A friendly greetings card is a way of doing that without seriously alarming people. Win win. IMG_2156 IMG_2163IMG_2159IMG_2150   Just opposite the bookshop is a strange little junk shop (I’m pretty sure it’s somebody’s garage) filled with old furniture, lots of old books and a few bits of dodgy looking Bric-a-brac. I was excited to look around but even I didn’t find anything that I wanted to take home. The crazy little man that presides over the strange collection was super friendly and when I asked him if I could take a picture of his shop (not strictly a shop, but “can I please photograph your mountain of crap?” seemed a little rude) he replied ‘do you want me to keep my clothes on for the photo?’ I most certainly did. 7) Just past the junk-man, a teeny tiny little shop (pictured above in the bottom photo) sells gorgeous and reasonably priced gold jewellery from the brand Gogo Philip (pronounced ‘Phillipe’) It reminded me of the gorgeous circle necklace I’ve been crushing on (and which I featured in my January favourites, here) Definitely worth a look, it’s so tiny and magical (but that might just be me hopelessly romanticising everything) 8) I know you don’t think you can drink another coffee, but you can. Power on through. No I’m just kidding, you can have an apple juice, but I would personally recommend the milkshakes because Kahaila, a lovely airy and light café, have an amazing selection. The drinks are a little pricier, but the atmosphere is friendly, and the huge wooden tables encourage companionable sharing with strangers. They have free wifi, serve delicious cakes, and also have a fantastic gluten-free menu. I sat across from two lovely girls who were planning a trip, and got to hear all about Hannah’s recent backpacking trip to Croatia (it sounds lovely!). Kahaila is a registered charity and a ‘café with a conscience’, as well as transforming into a church every Wednesday evening from 7.30-9.30. IMG_2191 IMG_2194   9) Bagels! Baaagellls! Awwww Yeah. Brick Lane Beigels (not to be confused with the other bagel shop right next door to it) is open twenty four hours a day, seven days a week (forever grateful that I live in a city where I know I can always get my hands around a bagel). There is always a queue, but those bagels are so worth waiting for. Cooked fresh, with batches of bagels being continuously brought out from the huge ovens, their bagels are soft and delicious, and can be filled with a huge variety of delicious fillings. I go for the classic smoked salmon and cream cheese, and not only do you get a bagel which is really stuffed to the brim with fillings (none of this stingy scrapings of cream cheese and teeny flakes of salmon…) it’s also yours for the excessively reasonable price of £1.60, and this is the most expensive bagel on the menu (apart from the amazing Hot Salt Beef, which is tender, juicy and worth the extra couple of squid). It’s difficult for me to tell you how much I love this bagel shop. They also sell cake, and you can buy plain bagels for 25p so it’s worth picking up a couple to save for breakfast the next day. Or to eat on the bus on the way home, shhhhhh. They only take cash so go prepared unless you want to pay £1.65 to withdraw money from the ATM at the convenience store across the street. IMG_2190 IMG_2188 10) After  your delicious bagel, you should be ready for another coffee (but seriously, don’t visit all the coffee shops I’ve mentioned in one day, that would be silly). Brick Lane Coffee is right next door to the bagel place and is a super trendy little café with a great menu, friendly staff and loads of armchairs and tables. The coffee is reasonably priced and freshly brewed, or you can opt for a small tea for just £1 if you, hypothetically, spent all your cash on a massive bag of bagels, and you can also buy light snacks and sandwiches. The bathroom is covered in Miley Cyrus posters (both pre- and post- the naked on a wrecking ball phase) and they will let you use it if you a) buy coffee or b) are desperate and ask nicely. They also have wifi and plug sockets so you will never have to leave this café if you don’t want to. IMG_2173 IMG_2174 IMG_2185 IMG_2178 Finally, I want to give a shoutout to Z. Butt Textiles (hehe, Butt) at no. 24 and Epra Fabrics at no. 54 Brick Lane. Both are great for haberdashery supplies (if that’s your thing), Epra is a huge warehouse full of fabric and Z.Butt is run by a friendly couple who will help you find all manner of sewing necessities including ribbons, needles, cotton, decorative accessories and a huge range of fabrics. IMG_2037 IMG_2039IMG_2042 IMG_2041   That’s it for my Brick Lane Top Ten! I really hope you go give some of these places a try, let me know how you found them, and if  you find any more hidden gems! Big Love, PV x IMG_2241 IMG_2013   (puggy says that he’s a fan of selfies too)

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