Mission is from the guys behind Sager & Wilde, a hackney wine bar that is generally raved about. Mission is cut from the same cloth. You know its got to be super trendy ‘cos it’s based in a Bethnal Green railway arch. And there are palm trees. Indoors. But, and this is important, it might be hipster, but it’s not pretentious. It’s actually a really nice place to go and drink a great selection of Californian wines and well-priced and eat some pretty good food designed for the drinks. There’s a neat little outdoor area with artfully-distressed chairs and tables for when the weather allows, which is an added bonus. Mother Kelly’s, the craft beer shop next door also makes for a great spot to wait out a queue for a table, though this place takes reservations (hallelujah), so in theory you shouldn’t ever have to wait.
This dinky little pizzeria has recently moved house to Bethnal Green, but it’s still serving up drool-inducing, serious, grown-up pizzas. The super thin crust is almost flaky and crisp-bread-like, piled high with mouth-watering, all-organic toppings. This could be how they justify the grown-up price tag – £16 for a pizza took our breath away too. OK, so this won’t be your traditional cheap and cheerful pizza experience, but part of what makes it so good is that it’s something different. More to the point, they give you your own pizza cutter – this alone makes it worth a visit (we never said we were all that grown up).
This family-run caf opened in 1900 and is now something of a landmark, serving greasy spoon food on formica and surrounded by lush, wood-panelled walls. Brimful of atmosphere, it takes the bog standard and does it with style. It’s steeped in history too. Now full of students, regulars and hipsters, it once played host to the infamous East End Kray Gang. The tiny time-capsule got a well-deserved grade II listing in 2005 but it’s the warm welcome from the family team that keeps the regulars coming back. The food is deliberately every-day – this is a caf, after all. All the staples are there; the fry up, milky teas, home-made pies and fish’n’chip Fridays. Embrace the grease, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy.
Bethnal Green of all places plays host to this laid back, low key locale in the quirky, boutiquey Town Hall Hotel. Super fancy Mich-starred Viajante is just downstairs, but get similarly audacious dishes from El Bulli graduate Nuno Mendes in this uber cool niche sans fuss and at a fraction of the price. Exotic flavours reflect Portuguese and Asian influences. The menu changes regularly, but get anything with the Portuguese bread pudding – it will change your life! Bookings are available at lunch, but be prepared to settle in for a long wait at the bar if you want a dinner spot – no hardship to sample the long and unusual cocktail list though.