Bella Vita. Its-getting-hot-date
There is limited terraced culture in London, but a great spot is Bella Vita, especially on a hot day. Perhaps you just came from the Lido after a swim, or you’re crawling into the park for a coffee because you're super hungover. Whatever the reason, a Caprese salad from Bella Vita is the perfect lunch date IMO. It's that unpretentious Italian that you deserve.
Top tip: hit pre 3pm for direct sun and be aware of Broadway market being very busy on weekends.
Beigel Bake. For 24 hours fix at a date
You've been clubbing with your date from Pure app, It's 4am and you're starving, where do you go? For Beigels ofc. Open 24 hours, I personally prefer cream cheese or peanut butter and gherkin (trust me) than the classic salt beef, and always recommend their cheesecake. But even just a sack of plain beigels to take and toast at home in the morning is a dream (only 30p a piece). You’ll come across interesting characters and the staff are notoriously (and IMO fabulously) rude — we love to see it. They even have an app for delivery if you can't head to the iconic space.
Top tip: avoid their rival Beigel Shop!
MAP maison. Secret date place
I can't quite believe I'm revealing this but Map Maison is my personal secret date place. It’s a strange location on an in-between part of kingsland road where there’s not much else about bar a tesco, Seventeen gallery and a few studios, but it's very close to Haggerston station (for accessibility). It has a Speakeasy vibe and is somewhere I know I wont bump into people, great for the privacy needed to getting to know someone new. Fancy and unique cocktails, and then if the date is going well then it's your place, or mine.
Top tip: get Caribbean pasties from next door for your walk home.
Towpath. Mini holiday date
I can't gush about this small, unique restaurant-come-cafe enough. It's truly Magical, open only a few of the summer months a year. Time dependant, expect there to be a que and slow service but that’s all part of the charm. There's a limited menu, usually toasts with toppings and good coffee (not to go! Slow down, sit!) but they do what they do very well.
Top tip: I recommend their cookbook endlessly.
De Beauvoir deli. Little treats date
A little expensive but if you find yourself trotting down the canal after Towpath (see above) I’d suggest heading up to try their delicious sandwiches, my personal being a simple chicken mayo baguette that keeps drawing me back. Pick up lovely treats too (I stress treats here though, price point is notable) from desserts, flowers, great coffee, cheeses, meats, breads — anything you need to take home with you. There's often a seasonal display, always a que out the door but never too overcrowded, and draws a very friendly crowd. When i'm feeling jaded, it's a place that makes me happy that I live in London.
Bao noodles. Every occasion date
My most versatile recommendation — my local noodle shop. Perfect for multitude of occasions from late night noodle cravings, solemn or welcomed solo dining, takeaway or karaoke night. I love finding solace in a bowl of beef noodles, sharing gossip over their fried tripe (for the adventurous), and indulging in their cocktails.
Also try: Salvation in noodles, Koya Ko, Song Que if this noodle bar is full.
Brat. Michelin Star date
Their Unassuming entrance will transport you into a memorable fine dining experience. I adore the oppressive wooden decor. One of the 71 Michelin stars in London. Their bread with whipped butter and onion powder is my favorite thing on the menu, which isn’t a negative comment on the rest of the food but rather a testament to how delicious their bread is; I dream about it.
Marksman Pub. Boozy date
This pub holds lots of memories for me, one of the first places I frequented when I moved here 5 years ago, and I feel lucky to be able to call it a local. A solid fave for a Sunday lunch Pure app date or evening in a proper east London boozer. I'm a bit of a Guinness snob and I know they pour a good one. Ask for a black velvet (Guinness and prosecco) to go with your beef and barley bun, share a pie on your date, and don't skip on their brown butter honey tart.
Campania. Pasta date
I'm always jealous of people who are eating here even if I've just eaten. It's also one of the few places in London where I get no signal, a true rarity for me, so I enjoy the solitude and tuck into my wine. Avoid on a Sunday when the flower market is on unless you love big crowds, live music on the street, and people watching. If you and your date are into that, then embrace the chaos.
Brawn. Romantic date
London is not known as a place to flaneur, but trust me when you slow down it shows you secrets. In lockdown Brawn was one of my saviors turning into a makeshift shop and whilst I actually do miss that format, I’m so glad to see them back to full service. Famous for their Tiramisu, a little on the pricer end but my most Romantic suggestion.
Top tip: take someone you really fancy here.
Jolene. Baked goods and coffee date
For when you're on a walking date, London has some great bakeries. My local is Jolene Redchurch but there’s a few dotted around east now, each with their own specific satellite speciality. I’m a bit of a Francophile and I adore their pastries, holding up to parisian standards (sinful comparison!)…
Also try: For Baguette or turmeric bun go to Pavilion, or for madeleines and donuts head to St John.
5 ideas for a wine date
Natural wine is an East London cliche that I completely subscribe to, and can be an ‘impressive’ bottle to bring to a date, and it's rumored to not give hangovers because of sulfates or something. I don't know, I'm not a scientist. It's tasty and I like a nice wine date. Renegade, Cave cuvée of top cuvee (watch out for that corkage fee if you stay in) Bottle Apostle, Funk and Noble Fine liquors are safe bets for groovy wines.
E.pellicci. True local date
The most entertaining and energetic staff, draws in lots of famous people and used to host the kray twins back in the day. This is the morning after the night before the date spot. Ask for a cockachino and if you don't get fried bread with your full english, they’ll call it a pussy-ole breakfast. It's fantastic.
Some notable mentions too:
- Black Axe Mangal;
- Rochelle canteen;
- Leila's Shop.
Photos: 1 – Bella Vita , 2 – Beigel Bake , 3 – MAP maison , 4 – Marcin Rogozinski / Alamy Stock Photo, 5 – De Beauvoir deli , 6 – Bao Noodles, 7 – Brat , 8 – Lawrence Head, 9 – Nicelocal, 10 – Yuki Sugiura , 11 – Liz Seabrook/The Guardian, 13 – Maggie Jones.