12 Places to Check Out in East London While Getting Your Tattoo

A lot of tourists come to London and stay within the city centre, hitting up the London Tower, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and other city-centre highlights. But if you’re looking for something new and off the beaten track, we’d like to add East London to your list of places to check out!

East London, or the East End, historically has been one of the poorest areas of the city, with an unfortunate reputation for crime and danger. In reality, it’s a vibrant part of the city and has been the economic engine of the city for centuries! It is now home to people from all over the world that add to the diversity of this amazing city.

While you’re in London to get a tattoo, we definitely recommend exploring the East End! Here are some of our top places to visit in East London:

Where to Eat

The multicultural demographic of the East End is reflected in the food and restaurants, with so many different types of cuisine available! You’ll have no trouble finding somewhere amazing to eat, but here are our top picks:

  1. Dishoom – This restaurant’s tagline is ‘from Bombay with love,’ and you will certainly feel the love here! Dishoom is a nod to the old Irani cafés that popped up throughout Bombay by Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran. They were designed to welcome people from all walks of life with a chai and food to eat – curries, Roomali Roti rolls, grilled dishes, and so much more! Though they have dwindled in Bombay, you can experience it right here in East London! They have a few locations around the city, with the East London location within a quick walk from Shoreditch High Street tube station.
  2. Dom’s Subs – What is better than a classic sub sandwich after a day out exploring the city? Dom’s Subs make the absolute best sandwiches in the area – just try choosing between their Roast Pork, Doms Club or Spicy D sandwiches. Bring a big appetite because they definitely do not skimp on the sizes here. Dom’s exclusively does delivery and pick-up, so place your order, grab your sandwich and head to the local Haggerston Park to enjoy a picnic. The closest tube station is Hoxton.
  3. Gloria – If you are looking for a new twist on some Italian classics, Gloria is the place to go. They serve fresh, handmade food with products direct from Italy (from over 180 small producers, to be exact!) Beyond their delicious food, they have an amazing cocktail menu – from the Basic B*tch to a classic Italian Negroni – and a fun, cosy atmosphere with music and plush décor. Gloria is located just a few blocks from Shoreditch High Street tube station.

Where to Drink

East London has grown in popularity over the year, becoming trendier with lots of different shops, bars, pubs, and clubs opening up. Despite all this, we know that most people are looking for something simple: good drinks and a good atmosphere. Here are our top three locations that fit the bill:

  1. The Barley Mow – This classic British is an establishment in the area, serving locals and visitors alike for the last 20+ years. It has a chill vibe, with wood seating and décor and tons of outside seating. It’s perfect for hanging out with friends – or making new ones! – and grabbing a pint or two. They always have something new on tap, so make sure to try out something new. The Barley Mow is located near the Old Street tube station.
  2. Hackney Church Brew Co. – This local stop is about more than just beer and food! They’re interested in connecting with the community and providing a space to meet with your neighbours. While affiliated with Hackney Church, they have open doors to everyone and believe that ‘good beer can make a difference.’ With vaulted ceilings and wood pew benches, it’s just like going to church… If church had amazing beer, of course! They also serve great food, with everything sourced within walking distance from the brewery when possible. Hackney Church Brew Co. is located near Hackney Central tube station.
  3. The Shakespeare – You might know of one famous Shakespeare, but this is The Shakespeare and you’ve got to check it out. It’s a comfortable, local pub with TVs for football games, a jukebox to play some nostalgic tunes, tons of outdoor drinking space, and an open fire to sit around. It’s got décor from back in the day, complete with unique murals and statues. You’ll love the relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a pint or two. The closest tube station is Dalston Kingsland.

Stuff to Do

The East End is packed with fun and unique things to do. Here are our top recommendations:

  1. Rio Cinema – The Rio is a cinema like no other. It is located in a converted auctioneer’s shop, dating back to 1909 as one of the first cinemas in London. It’s survived a lot, having been almost taken out by WW2 bombs, and more recently, a financial crisis that almost forced them to close down. However, the community rallied together to keep it going and today offers a unique array of films and movies, from international films to artistic shorts and indie documentaries. It costs £11.50 to catch a flick, and is located within a quick walk from Dalston Kingsland tube station.
  2. The Castle Climbing Centre – As the name suggests, this climbing centre is located in a castle! It’s located in an old water pumping station, built back in the mid-19th century, and looks exactly like a castle! Since it’s already got the tall turrets, why not just use it as a climbing gym? Here you can either go bouldering (shorter walls with no ropes) or roped climbing (taller walls, belayed with ropes). They have lots of options for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Cost is £13 for a drop-in climb and they are located near the Manor House tube station.
  3. Fightzone Gym – This martial arts gym was established in 2012 by two friends who were eager to share their love for JiuJitsu with the community. Fight zone welcomes people of all levels – from beginners to world class competitive fighters – to try out classes and workshops in JiuJitsu, Muay Thai, boxing, MMA, wrestling, HITT and yoga. They’re committed to a family friendly environment with helpful and encouraging coaching. Newcomers can go for a trial class to try things out, too!

Where to Shop

The East End is full of small, boutique shops and stores, each with their own personality and charm. Here are some of our favourite places to go and get something new:

  1. Brokedown Palace – This shop was created in 2012 out of a love for London and a love for the outdoors, inspired by the Lee Valley, a ‘wild place in the heart of the city.’ Since their start in a wooden cabin alongside the banks of River Lea, The Brokedown Place has now grown and evolved to the go-to outdoors store in Shoreditch. They carry popular brands like Patagonia, Fjallraven, Teva, and Arc’teryx and are stocked with gear for any outdoor adventure, whether it’s hiking, camping, climbing or kayaking! They are committed to environmental stewardship, marked by the “We The Power” campaign that supports renewable energygoals. The Brokedown Palace is located near ShoreditchHigh Street tube station.
  2. Goodhood – If you’re looking for a unique item to add to your closet, Goodhood got your back. They hold a raffle system for the latest launches of sneakers, and clothing. This system gives everyone a fair chance to score some Yeezy’s, Nikes or Doc Martens! Besides newly-launched footwear, Goodhood has a wide selection of men and women’s clothing. The store is located in between Shoreditch High Street and Hoxton tube stations.
  3. Spitalfelds Market – You are guaranteed to find something unique at Spitalfields! As a trader’s market, they’re committed to providing a variety of independent stall holders that have hand-crafted, unique, and memorable items. There are up to 110 stalls selling everything from vintage fashion, jewellery, home interiors, and artwork. There is also an array of food trucks and restaurants on-site to help you fuel up for your continued shopping! Spitalfields is close to Liverpool Street tube station.

The East End is an awesome neighbourhood to visit, and everyone should make an effort to spend some time here on their trip to London. This list has been carefully curated with the best of the best places to eat, drink, visit, and shop. We hope you check out some of these places while you’re in town and enjoy them as much as we do!