Hackney Wick, bordered by Bow, Mile End and Homerton, has seen much in the way of regeneration since the 2012 Olympic Games and now hosts a rich mix of gastronomic destinations. Innovative independents, attracted by the raw industrialism and low rents of the area, dominate the scene with trendy cafes and restaurants dotted amidst the canal-side warehouses. Such is its growing popularity that certain big-name chefs and brands have also hopped on the bandwagon. Here’s our pick of where to drink, dance and dine in Hackney Wick.
Where to eat breakfast in Hackney Wick
For an authentic taste of the East End, head to The Wick Café on Felstead Street, a properly old school greasy spoon caff that opens from 6am to serve hungry builders, artists and creative types with their all day breakfasts. Portions are huge, prices are low and staff are cheery.
If that's not your thing, head over to The Breakfast Club on the edge of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This popular chain charms stomachs across London with an all-American range of brekkies like banana and salted caramel pancakes, breakfast burritos and morning mimosas. Bonus points for its location next to the River Lea.
Although it serves dinner and cocktails in the evenings, PEARL is first and foremost a brunch spot. Pop by this local cafe from 10am and you'll be rewarded with breakfast baps, huevos rancheros, eggs every which way and fry-ups for vegans, veggies and meat-eaters alike. You can bring your pooch here too.
Lunchtime inspiration in Hackney Wick
Mother's canal-side cafe has three simple claims: organic food, vegan food, yummy food. And it delivers on all counts, keeping its menu simple with salads, soups and sandwiches for lunch — all crammed with seasonal ingredients and hearty as heck. Grab a jam-packed salad bowl and enjoy it overlooking the surrounding Olympic Park. Slightly less virtuous but just as tasty, Natura Cafe & Pizzeria bring the best of Italy to Hackney thanks to its 20-strong list of oh-so-crispy stone baked pizzas.
The Grade II-listed building that formerly housed Gainsborough Road Public Baths is now dedicated to serving the local community. The beautiful art deco hub, alongside housing a creative studio and community garden, is also home to the charming Old Baths Cafe. Pop by for Greek-inspired, plant-based lunch with organic ingredients fresh from the garden.
Wednesday through to Sunday, Grow serves up seasonal fare within a lovely, community-focused cafe and bar. The menu regularly changes, but sharing plates loaded with local ingredients tend to take centre stage. Mezze platters for two throw up freshly-made pickles and and salads, while loaded potatoes with feta sauce and crispy onions are pure comfort food fantastic. The Breakfast Club serves great lunch dishes too of course.
Coffee shops in Hackney Wick
Dedicated coffee shops are surprisingly thin on the ground in Hackney Wick. However, The Roasting Shed in Queen's Yard take their beans very seriously indeed and are a saviour for any caffeine-craving locals in need of a serious cuppa java. Easy to miss but awesome to find, Thingy Cafe is a delightful little hideout on Trowbridge Road that's part coffee shop, part music studio, part garden cafe. Great variety of non-dairy milks too.
A number of nearby cafes also serve up a decent cup. PEARL boasts coffee from famed London roasters Allpress, hand-roasted beans from Union Coffee are on offer at Grow, while The Old Baths Cafe keeps their coffee as local as possible by sourcing from their neighbours at The Roasting Shed. Also, uber trendy co-working space HWK right next to Hackney Wick station whips up a mean coffee at its in-house coffee bar, open to all.
Pubs and late night bars in Hackney Wick
Number 90 Bar is a cool, airy bar with an impeccably curated drinks list — perfect for craft beers and mojitos on the canal-side terrace. Another water-side watering hole is the arty, easygoing White Post. With a pie 'n' mash menu throughout the day it's not strictly a bar alone, but regular live music events and a stonkingly good happy hour make it a favourite after-work hangout.
However, if you prefer pints to pina coladas there are a number of breweries in Hackney Wick to tempt you. Crate Brewery is arguably the big daddy of the bunch, home to The Brewshed and adjoining Taproom. The former offers tours so you can watch the creation of their craft beers, while the latter is the place to plonk down, glass in hand, and taste your way through all manner of home-brewed and guest beers.
Just next door in Queen's Yard you'll find Howling Hops, where stripped back decor and endless rows of tables create an affable atmosphere ideal for beer guzzling. They also deserve bonus points for letting you buy a third of a pint so you can work your way through even more of their unfiltered beers. And then you have Beer Merchants Tap — home to 20 kegs, two cask pumps and over 500 bottled beers from around the world. Oh, and cheese toasties. Winner.
If a little bit of everything is more up your street, The Four Quarters might just be the Hackney bar for you. There's wine, there's beer, there are a handful of cocktails and — the ace up their sleeve — a host of retro video games and arcade machines. No frills, no pretentiousness. Just you, your bevvy of choice, and Street Fighter II.
Restaurants for dinner in Hackney Wick
In the Here East media complex there's Gotto Trattoria with a smart daily changing Italian menu from the people who brought us Soho's Mele e Pere. The sharing plates are exceptional, and when the sun's shining they fling open the glass doors to reveal a lovely outside space where you can pretend you're on holiday.
Street food regular Randy's Wing Bar has also found a permanent home at Here East, which is excellent news for those of you hunting for the perfect chicken wing. There are five varieties on offer for you to wrap your mouth around — from sticky'n'sweet Korean-style to classic crispy American wings slathered in cheddar sauce and gravy. Whether any of them deserve the perfect title or not it up to you, but it's damn fun trying them all out. Wash it all down with a chilled glass of bourbon or sugar-laced cocktail.
Next door, Shane's on Canalside is all about foraged seasonal produce. Sourcing ingredients from the wild means there are always a few surprises on the menu, but you can expect the likes of grilled goats' cheese with grilled lemon and pea shoots, or Scottish mussels steeped in wild garlic and white wine. Prices are surprisingly reasonable, and there's a pizza and burger-heavy bar menu for those in need of a quick gobble and go.
Speaking of good food and great value, Scoffs Grill on Wick Road is your go-to for super traditional, super delicious Turkish food at a cracking price. Always abuzz with locals, the friendly staff can't do enough for you and the baba ghanoush is out of this world.
Right on the Queen's Yard canal you'll find Crate Brewery's White Building, which houses their Taproom and Pizzeria, and is reliably packed to the rafters at the first glimpse of sunshine. There is some very inventive pizza to be had alongside your fresh brewhouse beers, like the Kashmiri Dahl (mozzarella, spinach, dahl, chilli, crispy shallots, mango chutney, yoghurt and... banana), all on a signature crispy base.
Something special in Hackney Wick
Straddling the space between 'regular dinner date' and 'something special', Cornerstone manages to serve up exquisite sharing plates of seafood without any pretension whatsoever. In reality, it is special. Very special. Run by celebrated chef, Tom Brown, simplicity and sophistication combine with the likes of pickled oysters, crab rarebit crumpet and melt-in-the-mouth scallops served with coral butter. But the relaxed service and modern decor mean it's not a place where you need to worry about your airs and graces.
For a dinner with a difference in Hackney Wick, hop on board Barge East, the floating dining room moored on the River Lea. It's a total charmer, a 114-year old Dutch barge, cosy as you like, with a penchant for seasonal fare like creamy London burrata, lemon sole with rhubarb and spiced Szechuan aubergine. And that's not the only floating dining experience you'll find in Hackney Wick. Docked outside Crate Brewery is Alfred Le Roy, a restaurant-on-a-boat (technically a wide beam canal boat) that makes trips along the Lea on the weekends. Hire it in its entirety for a special occasion or sign up for one of their regular food and drink cruises and enjoy Neal's Yard cheese sharing platters and charcuterie boards on the high Hackney seas.
Crate Brewery's White Building also boasts Silo, a zero-waste restaurant where the food is as impressive as the ethos. Understated furniture (from up-cycled and recycled materials, of course) and arched ceilings give a sense of grandeur to what is, essentially, an admirably simple concept. Dishes like radish cannelloni, braised beef with peppercorn and parsnip, and pumpkin ice cream are served with honour for local ingredients, while backstage initiatives like direct trade with farmers, reusable vessels and composting leftovers means sustainability is front and centre.
On the slightly fancier side of Hackney Wick is Forman's Restaurant, a celebration of London Cure smoked salmon from one of the oldest — and best — producers in the country. Serving modern British fare with an emphasis on salmon (durr) and seafood, there’s an unrivalled view of the Olympic Stadium, so you can get stuck into your picture-perfect smoked salmon blinis and poached turbot with clams while overlooking a slice of London history.
Based on original content by Joanne Gould. Updated by Ruth Hargreaves.