Explore Brick Lane – the best things to do in Brick Lane

Street chess, Brick Lane, East London.

From curry houses to food markets, vintage clothing shops to street art, Brick Lane is the whole deal.

Hundreds of years in the making, East London’s Brick Lane is the epitome of everything that is great about our capital city. History pouring through its bricks, a famous street market, global cuisine, great nightlife, an iconic fashion scene and a constantly changing canvas of street art. 

Brick Lane originally gained popularity due to the cultural impact of its migrant history, with the Jewish, French Huguenots, Irish and Bangladeshi communities all casting their cultural marks on this diverse street. 

Known for its iconic fashion scene and cultural hub, you can find an assortment of world foods beyond its independent shops and vintage shopping joints.

Every inch of Brick Lane is brewing with a rich history that has crafted the famed East London street to what it is today. The road runs north to south linking Bethnal Green Road to Whitechapel High Street, drawing locals in from London and tourists from around the world.

From dawn til dusk, there’s always something interesting to do whether that’s browsing the Brick Lane markets inside the Old Truman Brewery, searching for the best curry among the Brick Lane restaurants, or searching for your perfect vintage outfit at Beyond Retro. As they say, if you’re bored of Brick Lane, you’re bored of life.

Famous foodie places on Brick Lane

Brick Lane’s food scene is a magnet to all the curious foodies in London. It has a multitude of layers, influenced by the global communities that have shaped the area.

From your world-food stalls at the Boiler House Food Hall to the best Indian restaurants in London, it is home to some of the world’s most desired flavours, as well as the latest inventions to surprise your tastebuds.

At Brick Lane’s Banglatown, the cultural hub of the British-Bangladeshi and Sylheti communities, you will find the famed curry houses ranging from City Spice’s tandoori specials, Standard Balti House’s tantalising balti dishes and Masala’s infusion of the Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine. 

On your hunt for the best Brick Lane curry, be sure to look out for the streetlights and gates decorated in traditional Bangladeshi regalia, marking the vibrant presence of Banglatown. 

Feel as though you’re in the mood for something different? Brick Lane caters to the diverse interests of food lovers. You can find Jewish bagel shops such as the popular Beigel Bake, plant-based restaurants such as Mooshies, and community-focused cafes such as Kahaila.

Visit Cafe 1001 (a Bohemian bar and restaurant) for their mouthwatering stacked patties, terraced BBQs and cocktail bar and events hub by night. For a more Mediterranean taste, visit Suvlaki restaurant, serving baked feta and spicy prawn wraps from the exquisite Greek cuisine.

Visit a weekend market

Initially famous for Brick Lane’s Sunday street market, you’ll find markets in the back of warehouses and car parks up and down the road including the Old Truman Brewery markets.  

Head to the Upmarket, found beneath the bustling activity of the street and into an indoor car park. Here, you will find almost everything from essentials to goodies. Explore the stalls showcasing world street foods, produce by artisanal food traders, and desserts by some of the capital’s most indulgent sweet food traders. For designer-makers, walk into Backyard Market to find rare gems handmade by the crafting community of the East End.

Dressmaking project? The waves of migrants have made Brick Lane a great destination for affordable fabrics. First, it was the French Huguenots (as merchants and silk weavers) and then the Jewish community who set up their garment shops. Since then, the Bengali community have taken this over – you’ll find fabric shops, sari shops and tailor groups around the southern section of Brick Lane and Osborn street. 

Vintage clothes shopping

For the thrifting enthusiasts and the recycling fashionistas, head on over to the Brick Lane Vintage Market, where you will find items from glam fur coats and chic accessories, dating from the 1920s to the 1990s. If that’s not enough to satisfy your thrifting dreams, head on over to some of London’s favourite vintage clothes shops, Beyond Retro (for 90s sportswear and 40s peacoat era) and Atika (one of the largest indoor stores, spanning two floors).

The Truman Brewery

The social hub of Brick Lane is Truman Brewery, connecting the southern and northern cultures of the road. Visiting the old Brewery is a whole day’s activity in itself, with its plethora of events, bars, clubs, restaurants, and markets available. 

What was once an array of vacant and derelict buildings evolved into active office spaces, retail shops, leisure centres and event spaces. 

Swinging to the sound of live jazz music at the Home to Ninety One Living Room venue will have you believing that you were tucked away inside a jazz bar in New Orleans. Enjoy the venue as a cafe by day and a cocktail bar and kitchen with events at night. 

Markets are in abundance at Brick Lane. With the Truman Brewery’s active markets in rotation, you can find recurring classics such as the Upyard Market and intermittent markets such as the Design and Craft fair, featuring some of the up and coming designer-makers of East London.

Must see shops

If you’ve made it over to Brick Lane for a day trip, there are a couple of must-see shops. 

For those who like to lose themselves in their imagination, visit the Brick Lane Bookshop, an independent bookshop established in 1978 that captures the spirit of East London. 

Take advantage of the Livable Streets scheme by stopping over at Brick Lane Bikes to browse through their selection of environmentally friendly rides. 

For the influencers-at-heart, visit the Dark Sugars Cocoa House for a picture of your Instagram worthy beverage. The hot chocolate cups are decorated with overflowing chocolate shavings, making it more than a drinking experience.

Architecture and street art

Architect-buffs will enjoy the Brick Lane Mosque (a Georgian architecture that used to be a French Protestant Church and a Synagogue before becoming a mosque), and the 17th century Truman Brewery architecture (soon to be turned into a luxury residential and shopping complex). 

Among the storefronts and warehouses dispersed along Brick Lane, the neighbouring area is home to some of London’s architectural gems. One of the adjoining streets is Fournier Street, comprised of 18th century Georgian houses that historically used to be occupied by old merchants. Artists George Passmore and Gilbert Proesch have lived on this street for over 50 years.

Just a stones throw away is the Grade I listed Christ Church in Spitalfields, designed by architect Nicholas Hawksmoor at the beginning of the 18th century. Residing on Commercial Street, it serves as a stunning backdrop to the bustling setting of Shoreditch. 

Brick Lane has served as an adaptable playground to the diverse cultures of the area. With its lingering transformation today, it continues to deliver to the everchanging tastes and preferences of multicultural London today. So what are you waiting for? Discover the capital’s illustrious street and submerge yourself within its eclectic atmosphere.