East London is truly an entire world unto itself, complete with cuisines spanning the globe, a stunning array of expertly crafted beverages, and some of the most atmospheric spots for romancing in all of the capital. Whether you and your date are in the mood for chowing down on some of London’s finest curries courtesy of Bangladesh’s top chefs on Brick Lane, pairing your waffle stacks with bottomless bubbles or sharing fine plates of meze for your delectation, you’re sure to find the date location that hits the spot! With so many unique dining experiences, delicious hotspots and popup supperclubs on offer, it can be hard to know where to start—but never fear. We’ve gone ahead and compiled our top 5 first date venues in East London for your delectation!
1. El Vino Masons Avenue
12–14 Masons Ave, EC2V 5BT
Kicking us off in the heart of the City is El Vino Masons Avenue, a swanky bar and restaurant lovingly influenced by the culture, history and cuisine of Spain—although its extensive wine menu spans France, Italy, Portugal and South America, too. Think mouthwatering tapas sharing plates, lavish riojas and rich paellas—and all just minutes from St Paul’s! With a contemporary feel and set over two splendid storeys, El Vino Masons Avenue is the perfect choice if you’re after an intimate, atmospherically lit establishment where you can settle in for hours and forget about everything except each other.
2. Jones & Sons
Stamford Works, 3 Gillett St N16 8JH
Jones & Sons could just be one of the coolest restaurants in all of East London. This trendy Dalston eatery takes full advantage of its old Victorian textile factory setting: it’s an understated space, and it’s all about detail. The decor is second to none: industrially themed and incorporating commercial maritime salvage, Jones & Sons dishes up a wonderful selection of freshly prepared quality dishes, a delectable bottomless brunch and a hearty Sunday roast amid rooms bursting with post-war Danish designs. Out back is the bright open-plan kitchen with its magnificent chargrill centrepiece, and the main restaurant’s enormous marble-topped oak table is the ideal complement to mid-century Scandi furnishings. And if you and your hot date are still there near closing time, never fear—Jones & Sons whip up some of the finest espressos in town, courtesy of a vintage Faema machine! We also highly recommend the unbelievably refreshing virgin elderflower spritz—no matter whether you or your date are teetotal, you simply can’t beat it on a warm summer’s day!
Rumour has it that the legendary bottomless brunch at Jones & Sons won’t be around forever. So while we don’t recommend going for food on one of your first few dates, don’t hang about too long, and keep it in mind for the relationship further down the line…!
22–25 Finsbury Sq, EC2A 1DX
Loved-up Londoners far and wide flock to Aviary, delicately perched atop the Montcalm Hotel in Finsbury Square, nestled snugly between Shoreditch and the City. Ten storeys up, this spacious and stylish rooftop terrace boasts unbeatable views of the capital’s skyline, and its excellent British fare takes sky-high dining to a whole new level.
Aviary source all their meat from small livestock farmers who use only the best of British heritage breeds, and cook their prime cuts over charcoal at up to 550°C in the restaurant’s cast iron Bertha oven to ensure the most intense possible flavour!
Aviary’s impressive central bar elegantly divides the opulent restaurant from the chic bar and lounge, and the whole place is generously adorned in planters hung beside plush seating, casual banquettes and golden drinks cases. Aviary is bright and vibrant yet ambient and discreet enough to ensure the romance swells thick and fast between you and your date—all while enjoying spectacular views of one of London’s most iconic vistas on the heated terrace and sipping botanically themed cocktails displaying remarkable mixological prowess.
4) The Sterling
30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8BF
At the base of the Gherkin is The Sterling, a sophisticated bar and restaurant serving up irresistible wines and fabulous cocktails created using only the highest-quality ingredients. The chefs focus on simple fare that’s big in flavour. Begin with some light nibbles (of the sharing plates, not each other) before moving on to something more robust—quintesentially British fare like fish and chips or bangers and red onion–caramelised gravy, perchance—while enjoying the plentiful natural light streaming onto the fine furniture and contemporary designs through the great windows. Head onto the expansive terrace for breathtaking views of the Gherkin with that next cocktail, or head up to the astonishing mezzanine to squirrel yourselves away in a corner tailor-made for the two of you.
5) Daffodil Mulligan
70–74 City Rd, EC1Y 2BJ
Slap-bang in the middle of City Road in Old Street is the marvellously named Daffodil Mulligan, owned and run by celebrity chef Richard Corrigan, whose Irish flair manifests in a menu of epic seafood and sharing plates served piping-hot from the wood-fired oven. The awesome interiors encapsulate the restaurant’s namesake: Daffodil Mulligan was the daughter of a legendary Dublin street vendor. The eatery is imbued with that same earthy spirit, brimming with passion, humour and soul. Effortlessly characterful, Daffodil Mulligan guarantees you a first date like no other!
Now—we did say these were the top 5 restaurants for a date in East London, but no list would be complete without a big shoutout to Boundary Shoreditch! So now it’s top 6—but you’ll understand why when you get there. Boundary is legendary for all the right reasons.
Boundary Shoreditch offers unparallelled views, high-class service and a wine list of wonders. Book ahead though—this secret got out a long time ago!
Designed and formerly owned by the late great Terence Conran, this rooftop venue provides everything you could ever want for a romantic date in the heart of hipster heaven. With warm fires, small sofas and cosy blankets just perfect for two, Boundary is the ideal place to enjoy the sophisticated side of Shoreditch.
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