Frugl Local: Bethnal Green

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With a rough and ready past Bethnal Green has taken a while to be considered as cool as neighbouring Shoreditch and Hoxton, but over the past five years it has really discovered its own unique identity as the more unfussy cousin of those trendy hubs.  It offers a wonderful variety of restaurants providing high-end produce at a competitive price, as well buzzing cocktail bars, a legendary comedy club and one of London’s most unique uses of an art gallery.

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1. Backyard Comedy Club – Founded by much-loved geezer observational stand-up Lee Hurst, the Backyard is both a top-class comedy club and a great place to sink a couple of pints with some friends whilst playing a few rounds of fusball and table tennis.  Every Friday night some of the best and biggest names from the UK and international circuit grace the stage in the massive, purpose-built comedy room out at the back.  The atmosphere is often cracklingly raucous and good-natured, the jokes daring and hilarious and a brilliant night out can be had for under £15 each.  Opening Times: Monday – Friday 5pm – late Saturday/Sunday Noon – Late. 231 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 0EL

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2. Paradise Garage – Our new favourite restaurant, hands down.  The whole of Paradise Row has been renovated over the past few years, so the Garage is just one of many fantastic businesses that have opened up in the previously disused arches.  This is the chance to eat Masterchef standard food for Pizza Express standard prices.  The restaurant boasts a range of their own invented salumi’s, including punchy venison, juniper and beetroot and beef, beer and horseradish.  Once you’ve savoured those you can choose from a range of thoughtful salads, delicately cooked fish and inventively seasoned meat.  If choosing is beyond you then go with three other mates and get the rabbit picnic basket for £12 each: a whole rabbit cooked in a variety of different ways accompanied by sautéed chicory, capers, radish & artichoke piccalilli. Watership Yum! Opening Times: Tuesday 6pm – 10pm; Wednesday – Sunday Noon – 3pm; 6pm – 10pm. 254 Paradise Row, London, E2 9LE

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3. Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood – If you want to get your little ones to open their minds and cultivate their inquisitiveness then this is the perfect introduction to museums, since it’s all about them.  Combining exhibitions that contain much loved objects from childhoods across the centuries in the UK with esoteric tribal art and collections inspired by children themselves, it is a picture perfect 21st century museum.  Our favourite is the Imaginary Friend Collection – some of the world’s best model makers turning children’s imaginations into reality. Opening Times: Monday – Sunday 10am – 5:45pm. Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9PA

Columbia Road

4. Columbia Road Flower Market – If you’re in the mood to take Sunday on from the start, you’ll struggle to do better than heading down to Columbia Road for a burst of colour, smells, smiles and joy.  A market with a rich history, it was re-launched in the 1980s and hasn’t looked back since.  Whether you’re on the hunt for some delicate bedding plants or giant banana trees, you’ll find everything here in this little East End Garden of Eden. Opening Times: Sunday 8am – 3pm. Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG

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5. Resistance Gallery – Just another trendy East London gallery, right? Wrong!  As well as hosting some of the most talented and inspired designers, photographers and visual artists in the city, the Resistance Gallery also leads a double life.  For when the working day ends for the artists, some masked magicians come to play and the venue transforms into the London School of Lucha Libre.  Whether you were a fan of the The Rock and Stone Cold (not to mention Ray Mysterio) or you just fancy popping on a mask and pretending to beat the living daylights out of your best mate, this is an incredibly fun and stupid way to keep fit for just a tenner per class. Opening Times: Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm; Sunday 10am – 4pm (open late for special events – Lucha Libre Monday – Wednesday 7:30pm – 10:30pm) Poyser St, London, England E2 9RF

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6. Satan’s Whiskers – How can you resist a cocktail bar with a name as alluring as this one?  Step through the door and let Old St.Nick  thrill you with some of his finest concoctions.  The mixture of exposed brickwork, taxidermy-covered walls and thumping hip-hop make this a quintessential East London cocktail parlour.  Luckily it steers clear of cliché with the good humoured bar staff and inspired menu. Opening Times: Daily 5pm – Midnight. 343 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9RA

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7. Craft Cocktail – Another welcome addition to the renovated Paradise Row, this is a sharper, smarter and more modern alternative to Satan’s Whiskers.  Whereas SW is all about shabby chic, Craft Cocktail sticks its lab coat on, grabs a pipette and ensures to make your cocktails with the utmost of care, attention and scientific rigour.  The menu casts its net far and wide between stone cold classics and experimental newer inventions, with our particular favourite being the twisted Bloody Mary with the addition of hickory smoke.  Opening Times: Wednesday/Thursday 4pm – 11pm; Friday/Saturday 4pm – Midnight; Sunday 3pm – 10pm. Arch 253, Paradise Row, Bethnal Green, London E2 9LE

Sager and Wilde

8. Sager and Wilde – Another part of the Paradise Row gang, Sager and Wilde is as tasty as it is affordable.  You can have a spectacular modern dining experience for under twenty quid, with seasonally sourced produce and an outstanding wine and cocktail list.  If you want to spoil yourself or get an inventive birthday present they also offer wine tasting sessions and cocktail making classes. Opening Times: Monday – Friday 5pm – Midnight; Saturday/ Sunday 2pm – Midnight 193 Hackney Rd, London E2 8JL

The ALbion

9. The Albion – Unquestionably the best place in London to watch the match. Any match.  A proud West Bromwich Albion pub in the heart of East London makes the Albion a perfect neutral ground for you and your friends to play out your footballing rivalries.  There are screens absolutely everywhere – even in the walls on the outside terracing – and the pub is stuffed full of footballing paraphernalia. Opening Times: Monday – Wednesday: Noon – 11pm; Thursday – Saturday Noon – Midnight; Sunday Noon – 10:30pm. 94 Goldsmiths Row, London E2 8QY

G and t

10. G & T – A temple to all things deliciously organic, G & T is a cracking quick stop-off to grab a snack that your body won’t make you feel guilty about eating.  Mixing their own produce with cakes and coffee brought in from other purveyors of healthy food, G & T provides a range of great snacks for breakfast, lunch and tea. Opening Times: Monday – Friday 8am – 4pm; Saturday/Sunday 9am – 4pm. 204 Cambridge Heath Rd, E2 9NQ

Hurwundeki

11. Hurwundeki – We know, not another Korean restaurant/coffe shop/hair salon cross-over.  Luckily this unique venue is not just a hair-brained fusion with no end product.  Whether your popping in for a quick pastry and coffee or going for the full cut and Korean, the standards unfailingly high across the board and you’ll leave looking swish and with a belly full of excellent modern Eastern cookery.   Opening Times: Monday – Saturday 8am – 10pm. 298-299 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9HA

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12. Star of Bethnal Green – It might look like any old boozer on the outside, but the Star has got a cheeky secret out back.  As well as providing some quite staggering burgers (the 45 day aged Holy Shitake is breathtakingly tasty) and brilliant Friday/Saturday night DJs, the Star also has its own dedicated karaoke room, which is a steel on Sundays-Thursday at only £29/hour – much cheaper than alternatives in the City or Soho.  Grab a couple of mates, sink some Jaeger’s and blast out your go to tune.  Opening Times: Monday – Thursday 4pm – Midnight; Friday 4pm – 2am; Saturday 10am – 2am; Sunday 10am – Midnight. 359 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 6LG

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13. Story deli – Simply the best pizzas in East London.  The prices are not so frugal at £18 a pop, but you’ll know exactly where that money has gone, as each individual topping on its own sings.  Together the talented chefs mix together exciting new combinations including goat’s cheese, fig & olive tapenade, roasted fennel, fresh red onion and capers and super deluxe meat feasts.  All the food is organically sourced and tastes of sunny Italian happiness.  Opening Times: Daily Noon – 10:30pm. 123 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 7DG

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14. Ink – A little slice of Stockholm in E2, Ink provides tasteful, inventive, locally-sourced organic food and cocktails in a delicate minimalist setting.  This is a venue for the foodies amongst you who like your dinner to be carefully assembled by chefs wielding tweezers.  If you enjoy thinly sliced meat and fish that has been lovingly cured, smoked and pickled, then stick on your Nordic beard and head over to Ink. Opening Times: Tuesday – Friday 6pm – 11pm; Saturday Noon – 11pm; Sunday Noon – 9pm. 44 Palmers Rd, Suttons Wharf South, London E2 0TA

Back in 5

15. Back in 5 Minutes – Bethnal Green has become home to a number of different dining experiences, none more unusual than this restaurant run by the Disappearing Dining Club.  Normally masters of pop-up venues, this is the nearest they’ve come to a permanent residence, hidden away inside a clothes shop.  The menu changes every single day and the convivial atmosphere is helped along by the fact that you’ll almost certainly be sharing a table with other guests in the cosy venue.  Opening Times: Tuesday – Thursday 6.30pm – midnight; Friday/Saturday 5.30pm – 1am. 224 Brick Lane, E1 6SA