Everyone’s favourite meal, we explore the best brunch places our area has to offer.
Since the word was first coined in 1895, ‘brunch’ has taken the western world by storm. This strange mid-morning spread is less a meal than a symbol, signalling leisure, decadence, and freedom – if only briefly – from the rat race.
As Oxford University’s Dr Charles Spence notes, ‘the same food and drink in different circumstances tastes completely different.’ What makes brunch so special is the context: eaten in an atmospheric restaurant or café with friends, a standard mid-morning meal is transformed into something far more precious.
Our area has its fair share of brunch spots, with classic fry-ups, Sri Lankan egg curries and buttermilk pancakes all within walking distance of the Roman. Read on for our top picks.
Cafe East, 426 Roman Road, London E3 5LU
Storming ahead with your shoutouts on social media is Cafe East, run by the brilliant Mustafa. Full English breakfasts are served in huge frying pans filled with bacon rashers, sausage, beans and a fried egg. There is a halal version with turkey rashers and beef sausages.
They also pride themselves on their vegan fry up – think spicy falafel, avocado, red onion and rosemary vegan sausages, baked beans and hash browns. Mustafa notices the cycle of the weekend brunch crowd: first the early risers come from walking in the park ordering order something healthy (classic smashed avocado on toast), then as Saturday morning goes on, the lie-in lot arrive, who favour french toast with a great big coffee.
By midday, Mustafa is everyone’s favourite hangover doctor – fewer running trainers come through the door and more fry-up pans emerge from the kitchen. To top it off, Mustafa’s walls are covered in art, which is rotated monthly so you never get bored. Read our interview with Cafe East owner Mustafa here.
Cafe East is open for brunch on weekdays 8am-5pm and weekends 9am-5pm.
Breakhouse Café, Fish Island
Based on Fish Island, you have to weave your way through an old industrial estate to find Breakhouse Cafe. Here, brunch isn’t just a Saturday morning bolt-on: all-day breakfast is a cornerstone of the menu.
You’ll find the usual suspects – the classic fry-up or eggs on toast – alongside a vegan option that dishes out meat-free Lincolnshire sausage, smashed avocados and potato rosti. If the traditional breakfast’s not really your thing, check out their range of breakfast sandwiches.
For the environmentally conscious, this is a cafe geared towards sustainability. The owner, Chloe Bailey-Williams, sources food locally, using biodegradable packaging and upcycled, second-hand furniture and equipment.
A modern, airy space, the Breakhouse Cafe has a tiled bar, houseplants and warm lightbulbs hanging like pendants from the ceiling. The portions are generous and the crowd is friendly so it’s a winner as far as we’re concerned.
Open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, Saturday 9am-3pm.
Mae + Harvey, 414 Roman Road, London E3 2RZ
Owner, Natasha Mae, knows about brunch. She knows it so well that she can predict what people are going to order before they do. Mae + Harvey serves brunch every day of the week, using the finest quality ingredients.
Their most luxurious brunch is smoked salmon from a smokehouse in Hackney, avocado, cream cheese, chives and olive oil, on a homemade waffle – a dish you’ve been shouting about on social media.
Other brunch options include avocado and pickled radish toast with sesame and tamari dressing, or an oat milk porridge with fresh fruit and honey. And if it’s the morning after the night before, Natasha will knock you up a punchy Bloody Mary or a carrot, orange and ginger cold-pressed juice.
Mae + Harvey is a lovely place to bel: the cushions in the window seats are made by Natasha’s neighbour, their ingredients are colourful and their plates are pretty. During the week, the cafe is filled with locals, working in the wide window looking onto the high street. On the weekends, the music gets louder and the cafe gets buzzier. But it’s nothing that Natasha can’t handle.
Mae + Harvey serves brunch Monday-Friday 7.30am-4pm, Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.
PEARL, Hackney Wick
If you’re in Hackney Wick, PEARL’s the classic spot for brunch and coffee. A big fry-up includes sausages, bacon, black pudding and beans along with eggs cooked your way. There are vegetarian and vegan options too, plus Huevos Rancheros, a Mexican brunch classic.
For those on the booze, the brunch cocktail menu comprises frozen margaritas, mimosas, an Aperol Spritz option and vegan Bloody Marys. With a laid-back, casual vibe, this a cosy, intimate space to visit with a group of friends. Plantlife hangs from the ceilings and neon signs illuminate the walls. It’s all very Hackney Wick, if you know what we mean.
For those looking for something lighter, the Açai bowls are a good option, while for the more traditional among us, good sourdough toast and jam is on offer too. During this period, PEARL isn’t taking any bookings – just rock up and find yourself a table.
Open Mon-Fri 9am-11pm, weekends 10am-11pm.
The Pavilion Bakery, Victoria Park, Old Ford Road, London E9 7DE
Owner, Rob Green, has brought Sri Lankan flavours to Victoria Park’s lakeside. Green fell in love with South-East Asian flavours after travelling and volunteering there. Now, his Sri Lankan breakfasts are a firm east London favourite.
Plates include the Sri Lankan, which is an egg curry, dhal, string hoppers (rice flour noodles) and coconut sambal (hot sauce) – perfect to blow away any Sunday morning sleepiness. Another favourite is sourdough toast topped with a fried egg, mushrooms, avocado, halloumi, coconut kale and homemade beans.
A few months ago, the Pavilion decided to cut back on meat sales for environmental reasons. Despite a couple of rashers of bacon making it onto their menu, it is largely vegetarian. All bread is made in-house and lined up every morning like dominos. The Pavilion sits proudly on the edge of the lake, with high stools looking out onto the water and benches under the trees. It’s bloody lovely.
The Pavilion serves brunch Monday-Friday between 8am and 4pm, and on the weekends between 8am-5pm.
Recharge, 140 Roman Road London E2 0RY
We’re not sure whether we want to tell you this, but Recharge is Roman Road’s best kept brunch secret. The produce is fresh and delicious, and the menu hits the spot. Expect perfectly seasoned avocado on toast with a colourful side of papaya, classic fry-ups with decent sausages and black pudding, and healthier shakshuka.
Sit in the window seat with one of their delicious coffees and it’s very likely you’ll strike up a conversation with the person next to you. A peaceful spot with good food, this is a favourite with the in the know locals.
If you’re after a vegetarian option, why not try the garlic roasted butternut squash on sourdough with sunflower seeds and feta. They’re known in the community for their amazing value, friendly service and quality produce. Don’t tell anyone.
Recharge serves brunch Monday to Friday between 8am-5pm and on Saturday from 9am-4pm.
The Larder, 241-243 Globe Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 0JD
Walking further down towards Bethnal Green, you’ll come across The Larder, well known for its hearty vegetarian and vegan brunches. The Larder Special (which can be veganised) is served with fried eggs, roasted mushroom, tomatoes, homemade baked beans and polenta chips.
Spicing things up is the Mexican breakfast, which is a mixture of beans and avocado on sourdough toast, with fresh spinach and tomato salsa. Inside, people sit on deep, comfy sofas or work by the window. Out the back is a garden to catch the morning sun, stuffed with pot plants and covered with climbing vines. Cure your hangover with a Veggie Cleanser smoothie – avocado, spinach, coriander, ginger, cucumber and apple juice.
The Larder serves brunch all week from 9am-3pm.
Ethical Bean Company, Dace Road
A small family-run business based on Dace Road, the entrance to Ethical Bean Co is hard to miss: a giant mural by the award-winning artist Luke Gray covers the building’s frontage.
Walk through the double doors and you’ll find yourself in a cosy, no-nonsense space where brunch is served every day of the week. With no meat on the menu, the full breakfast gets you two vegan sausages, hashbrowns, mushrooms, beans, kale and toast. For those who don’t fancy the full monty, the cafe offers a range of bagels.
As the name suggests, Ethical Bean specialises in ethically sourced, fairtrade coffee. Every cup is made using a four origin blend, with beans from Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Sumatra. Iced coffee’s also available alongside a range of teas.
Open every day 7am-6pm.
View Tube Cafe, The Greenway, Marshgate Lane, London E15 2PJ
The View Tube has been in the brunch camp for years, first serving the meal in 2009. Their hardy full English is a crowd favourite, but they also serve things with more of a twist: we love their burritos and Cubanos sandwiches too.
The cafe is a little oasis by the Greenway path, surrounded by vegetation, with great views of the Olympic orbit installation. During the week it’s a perfect place to get comfortable with your laptop, or bring your dogs and kids on the weekends. Drinks get adventurous – try their Maca-cino, a coffee based on a Peruvian root that helps boost energy. You’ll be hurdling over the benches in no time.
View Tube Cafe serves brunch Monday to Sunday, between 9am-4pm.
The Hub, Victoria Park
A high-ceilinged space with vast windows looking out over Victoria Park, The Hub’s a scenic spot for brunch. Breakfast is served all day here – choose from muesli, sourdough toast or cooked breakfast. Wherever possible, the food is sourced locally.
A dog-friendly cafe, this a great spot to pause after a long walk through the park. If it’s been a long week at the office, heading out to The Hub on a Saturday morning is a great way to re-immerse yourself in nature. Right next to the children’s playground, it also caters to kids – after all, the cafe is run by two local mums. Head this way for good food and wholesome vibes.
Open every day, 9am-5pm.
Greedy Cow, Grove Road
This Mile End restaurant may be known for its burgers and steaks, but the Greedy Cow has an impressive weekend brunch menu too.
Here you’ll find everything from eggs benedict to a hearty full fry-up. For those with a sweet tooth, there are also freshly baked croissants and buttermilk pancakes on offer.
Along with fresh juices, those celebrating will be pleased to find a range of breakfast cocktails available from 11 am, where the Bloody Mary is joined by a Breakfast Martini and a ‘Greedy’ Mimosa. Pop down any weekend day, but remember Sunday afternoons are reserved for a good ol’ traditional roast.
Weekend opening hours are 9am-11pm.
Other notable local cafes with brunch menus include:
Big shout-outs from Sally on social media about their bacon, and avocado Rinkoff rolls. Find them at 467 Roman Road.
For a famous full English fry-up head to The Full Monty, a favourite with cabbies, policeman and locals. Find them at 245 Globe Road.
Magus and the Fool is perfect for sitting outside in the sun. Simple and delicious cafe food. Find them at 357 Roman Road.
Jack on Facebook recommends the Menemen at Semz Cafe, a local Turkish cafe. Find them at 483 Roman Road.
If you fancy brunch with an Italian twist, head to Symposium, where they serve up a mean Eggs Benedict with Italian pancetta or a potato gnocchi. Find them at 363 Roman Road.
If you liked this article, read about our favourite pubs near Roman Road.
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