Establishment neighborhood
2 Hearn St., Shoreditch
More than a gym, Blok is a full fitness complex in Shoreditch, a few steps from Liverpool Street station. There are thirty-two different types of classes spanning yoga, Pilates, boxing, barre, and Blok’s own custom classes. The place is beautiful in a stark, modern way—the studios are all glass, brushed concrete, and textural woods with corridors illuminated by soft lights. The café is an ideal post- or pre-workout spot to fuel up with coffee, protein shakes, and plant-based bites that arrive in the prettiest sculptural wooden bowls. Blok’s store, meanwhile, is filled with natural beauty products and workout gear.
4 Redchurch St., Shoreditch
Brat is Welsh slang for turbot, so it follows that that’s the thing to order here. It’s a perfectly-cooked whole fish, grilled over a fire, and meant for sharing. It’s a technique they use for many menu items, including the bread (always a reliable indicator of the dishes to come), which is almost a satisfying meal in itself, grilled and made of flour from one of last standing stoneground mills in the UK. Even the cheesecake is smoked and accompanied by brown bread ice cream, a familiar treat in the UK and Ireland but rarely seen stateside. Once you have a bite you’ll wonder why.
45 Charlotte Rd., Shoreditch
This is how we imagine people will be practicing yoga when humans live in space. Inspired by the work of James Turrell, Carlos Cruz-Diez, and Veronica Ann Janssens, Nina Ryner’s studio uses color, sound, and aromatherapy to enhance asana and meditation. (It’s also kind of like doing yoga inside the set from Drake’s “Hotline Bling” video.) Select the type of class you want—restorative, energizing, detoxifying—and there’s a corresponding light and scent experience to accompany each fifty-minute session. The Chromatic class, which cycles through different colors to encourage the body’s natural circadian rhythm (it ends with a burst of energizing blue light in the morning and relaxing red in the evening), is especially cool.
Shoreditch Grind
213 Old St., Shoreditch
In a city of a million coffee shops, Shoreditch Grind, the original of what is now a few locations around the city, gets it just right. Perched on the highly trafficked Old Street roundabout, it’s pounded daily by commuters, bankers, and start-up employees—and the menu appeals to all of them. The coffee is roasted at the Shoreditch Grind roaster around the corner, and the interior is industrial-cool with subway-tiled walls and big windows overlooking the hustle. The breakfast is good—acai bowls, scrambled eggs, and smoked salmon, but the lattes (matcha, turmeric, good old coffee) are even better.
Nuala (Closed)
70-74 City Rd., Shoreditch
Nuala is named for chef Niall Davidson’s little sister, and every detail of the restaurant speaks to the deep thought Davidson has put into it. The staff is friendly, the room is warm (thanks to the fire pit), and the food tastes like home—if you grew up in a remarkably talented culinary Irish family. The sour sourdough comes grilled with a good heaping of salted butter, made saltier by the dulse seaweed whipped into it (the Irish are big on seaweed). The beef tartare (a small mound of aggressively seasoned raw beef topped with a cured egg yolk and drizzled in a Guinness-infused sauce, with a few thick-cut fries on the side) is the best we’ve ever had. The wine list is the work of sommelier Honey Spencer (who cut her teeth at Noma Mexico) and emphasizes organic and biodynamic wines, playfully under the “wild things” section. It’s a good descriptor for Nuala in general: The food is earthy, and the interior resembles the modernist cabin—firewood included—we all wish we could escape to. A solid attempt at representing a slice of Ireland in London.
Rochelle Canteen
Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, Shoreditch
Margot Henderson knows a thing or two about cooking—her husband, Fergus, owns London nose-to-tail staple St. John Bread and Wine. But, Rochelle Canteen is about much more than food. This is the place you go to hang out, especially in the summer. At the sunny tables in the pretty courtyard, one glass of wine turns to two (or three?) as the afternoon passes by in a pleasant haze of good food and great people-watching. The food is traditional, almost retro, but there’s a reason the British spent most of the twentieth century tucking into mustardy Welsh rarebit and flaky, pastry-topped leek and chicken pies. It’s mouthwatering comfort food that makes us feel happy, full, and deeply understood. Subtle details like the Aalvar Alto tables and the line of straw hats hung along the walls make for restrained, chic decoration in the whitewashed-brick room. The light streaming through the floor-to-ceiling window is the main decoration. (For a dose of Henderson’s fare that doesn’t require a trip east, stop by Rochelle Canteen’s second location at the ICA on the strand.)
Nude Coffee Roasters
25 Hanbury St., Shoreditch
The espresso here is serious: smooth, heady, and perfect on its own, which gives reason why this café is always packed. Back in 2008, Nude's founders created their first café tucked along Brick Lane, where they served ethically sourced, artisanal coffee. Word spread quickly and the team moved to its current location on Hanbury Street that also hosts a state-of-the-art roastery. Every cup served comes from beans roasted on-site by the industry's most ecologically friendly roaster. You'll find here locals who are in to their coffee, from where's grown to how it's sourced. There's also a sister café on Bell Lane.
15 Micawber St., Shoreditch
As refreshingly untrendy as it gets, there's no need to share small plates or take a picture of your food at this Southern French restaurant tucked away at the back of a gallery. Here, the homestyle cuisine is just plain good and features old school Provençal dishes like lamb a la ficelle, grilled sardines, and a wonderful, warming Rum Baba without any extra frills. This is all the doing of young, self-taught chef, Alex Jackson, a protegé of Stevie Parle's (of Craft and Dock Kitchen Fame). Also refreshing are the prices, which are manageable for its young crowd, and the wine list, which features Viognier on tap along with a good selection of other cheap and cheerful picks.
49 Columbia Rd., Shoreditch
Catering to East London's hardcore foodie scene since 2010, Brawn serves up seasonal cuisine with an emphasis on provenance. Their cheese is from the venerable Androuet, their bread is from the one and only E5 Bakehouse, and their wine list features a good number of natural wines. And then there's the meat: This is nose-to-tail eating at its best—their house-made black pudding alone is worth the trip. A meal in their delightfully bare-bones dining room any day is a treat but their Sunday roast is what they're best known for.