Because the best things to tick off your bucket list are the ones that might legitimately bring you closer to that bucket, every Londoner at some point needs to get a curry on Brick Lane. The only problem: it's absurdly difficult to tell the good curry houses from the bad, unless you're already a regular... that is, until now. With a callous -- in fact, borderline foolish -- disregard for our tastebuds’ heat tolerance, we went and rated all of them from worst to best.
Note: to keep things vaguely manageable, we restricted ourselves to the curry house epicenter that starts on the corner of Woodseer St, and extends all the way down to Fashion St.
120 Brick Ln
The vibe: Sister restaurant to Prithi. Although it’s significantly bigger, Preem's staff goes that extra mile to hustle you into ordering more than you actually want, and you can be sure their recommendations won’t be the cheaper options.
What to get: Well, you can get a table... guess that’s something?
Anything to avoid? Do yourself a favor and just skip this whole shebang.
Rating:2 (out of 10)
53 Brick Ln
The vibe: If you like the 1970s, you'll love this joint's interior. The staff is generally friendly enough, though they will try to up-sell the hell out of your meal.
What to get: It specializes in Bangladeshi cuisine, so definitely order a curry.
Anything to avoid? When they offer a free beer with your meal, don’t get too excited -- those are ⅓ pints.
124 Brick Ln
The vibe: It’s cheap and easy, with a fondness for British cultural decorations... which frequently brings in large groups of traveling students taking a million selfies.
What to get: The naan is where it’s at.
Anything to avoid? The staff may be plentiful, but that doesn't mean the service is excellent.
23. City Spice
138 Brick Ln
The vibe: This is the first spot you hit once you cross the curry divide of Brick Ln, and man, do they try to get your business. You can wheel and deal them to some crazy low prices, but just remember to make sure they hold up their end of the deal.
What to get: It’s all OK, but a little bland.
Anything to avoid? Walking in and expecting a palatial amount of room -- they really like to squeeze you in.
90 Brick Ln
The vibe: They might be smiling and nice while offering the usual 20% off standing outside, but the waiters inside frequently have no clue. Good thing the food is generally on the alright side.
What to get: The chicken jaipuri is pretty solid.
Anything to avoid? The service is notoriously terrible, even for Brick Ln.
88 Brick Ln
The vibe: You might think the upstairs “mezzanine” might mean it's a touch classier than the average Brick Ln joint, but you would be sadly mistaken.
What to get: The butter chicken can be delicious.
Anything to avoid? Papadoms can be amazing... but not here.
79 Brick Ln
The vibe: Big and bright, with lots of windows, it still manages to cram in a million tables, so be ready to hear everything about your neighbor's life. The food is pretty inconsistent, and it feels like they're kind of making it up as they go.
What to get: The heat on the chicken chili masala is just enough to get your blood pumping.
Anything to avoid? They haven’t really figured out the whole presentation thing yet, so don't expect works of art.
19. Bengal Village
75 Brick Ln
The vibe: Although these guys seem to think that if they decorate with strange rainbow lights and fancy folded napkins, they aren’t the same as every other Brick Lane spot, the service here is borderline not terrible.
What to get: The lamb Rogan josh gets high marks, if that's your fancy.
Anything to avoid? The mixed grill is lackluster.
104 Brick Ln
The vibe: There’s a lot more space here than you'd imagine, so if you plan ahead, you can get a big group booking easily.
What to get: The mixed grill is the way to go.
Anything to avoid? The service borders on slow, with a side of rudeness, and the portions are smallish.
132 Brick Ln
The vibe: While this place has better service than some around, it keeps things pretty straightforward, with minimal decor and even more of the strange multicolored lights.
What to get: The papadums are amazing.
Anything to avoid? If you like sweet food, it’s your lucky day. Most of the dishes are notoriously sweet and syrupy.
130 Brick Ln
The vibe: Some people have fond memories of this place from as far back as the ‘50s. But these days, both the food and the service seem to yo-yo between great and horrendous; Russian (or Indian, rather) roulette at its finest.
What to get: The curry, although sometimes it's a bit bland.
Anything to avoid? Unless you like the thrill of uncertainly, the whole place in general.
15. The Monsoon
78 Brick Ln
The vibe: The neon sign outside shines like an epic beacon, drawing in drunk wanderers like moths to a flame, except that the food isn’t nearly as hot or dangerous. Big plus: it fully supports BYO, and there's an off-license 50m away, so go prepared.
What to get: The saag aloo hits the spot.
Anything to avoid? The staff are either super on it, or forget you exist. But hey, you’ve got booze already with you, so that’s half the battle.
94 Brick Ln
The vibe: One of the newer additions to curry lane, it's still finding its footing a bit, but the food is pretty consistent.
What to get: The paneer gets flying colours.
Anything to avoid? Be wary when ordering the balti.
76 Brick Ln
The vibe: Super-friendly staff, but the food is just OK.
What to get: They’ve got the spices for the masala down.
Anything to avoid? Ditch the lamb tikka... at least, they say it’s lamb….
12. Gram Bangla
68 Brick Ln
The vibe: This tiny Bangladeshi cafe doesn’t deal with airs and graces, but the food is consistently good, as long as you like home-style cooking.
What to get: Talk to the owners about their fish curries, they’re outstanding.
Anything to avoid? Desserts aren’t really their specialty.
63a Brick Ln
The vibe: Looks are deceiving here -- while this place feels like a doctor's office, it's actually a pretty decent Indian spot... with a habit of playing epic Bollywood flicks at the bar at full volume.
What to get: Go for the balti prawn.
Anything to avoid? Don’t bother with the saag paneer.
128 Brick Ln
The vibe: Until very recently, this exact same spot was called Cafe Bangla. Known as one of the more solid joints on Brick Ln, it took a slight turn for the worse, then slapped on a new name to try and drum up new business. The kitchen is now pumping out relatively trustworthy meals, so yay. Luckily the, um, artistic (read: borderline softcore) murals, including a massive one of Lady Di, are still in place... so be sure to give those a once-over.
What to get: The chicken tikka masala remains a solid choice.
Anything to avoid? Their beer tastes on the light side.
9. Moo Cantina
60-62 Brick Ln
The vibe: Lots of reclaimed wood, crazy-colored chairs and... Argentina steak? Wait, are we still on Brick Lane?
What to get: Embrace your inner carnivore and get your cow on.
Anything to avoid? The chips are sadly underwhelming.
77 Brick Ln
The vibe: Very basic decor, but hey! They’ve got WiFi! Service is the usual hit-or-miss routine, but sometimes they really get it right.
What to get: Mixed grill and naan are the way here.
Anything to avoid? Don’t bother with their watered-down lassis.
73 Brick Ln
The vibe: Despite the garish yellow front, the interior is pleasantly ornate: layered tablecloths, proper wine glasses, fancy moulded ceiling tiles. Maybe they have a little extra to spend on decor, as they seem to be consistently on the better side... even if they do tend to rush you through.
What to get: The vegetable curry is good enough that even meat eaters will be pleased.
Anything to avoid? The popadoms are a bit (unnecessarily) pricey.
136 Brick Ln
The vibe: One of the older spots on Brick Ln, Sheba has been around since 1974. Their no-frills approach might rub some people the wrong way, but their food is why more people make the trek.
What to get: They won Best UK Curry House in the Cobra Good Curry Guide 2013, so if logic follows, get the curry.
Anything to avoid? Although they’ll tell you otherwise, there are numerous claims that their wine is watered down...
71 Brick Ln
The vibe: Although slightly on the gaudy side of things, they mean well here with attentive staff and solid menu options.
What to get: When onion bhaji are fresh, they are amazing... and these are straight out of the frier.
Anything to avoid? The chicken balti tends to be fairly tough.
134 Brick Ln
The vibe: With white table cloths and folded red napkins, this place is trying to bring it up a notch. But if you pop downstairs, the lights are dim, with a strange rainbow light thing going on. Party time?
What to get: If you’re looking to plan ahead a little, these guys are actually pretty good at large groups on the the cheap. Plus BYO!
Anything to avoid? One of the more consistently slightly-better-than-average spots, actually.
67 Brick Ln
The vibe: In this part of town, you get what you pay for, so do yourself a favour and pay the slightly high prices. It’s totally worth it. Just put your haggling hat on and make them work for it.
What to get: The garlic chili balti with prawn will have you sweating in all the right ways.
Anything to avoid? Try to go on the quieter nights. Rumour has it they sometimes cut corners when it gets too busy.
2. La Cucina
96 Brick Ln
The vibe: Standing out like a hot red-headed step child, this Italian pizzeria is absolutely killing it. Ditching the whole curry thing for the other kids to quibble over, it serves wood oven-fired pies, massive classic mains, and easy pasta.
What to get: You really can’t go wrong with their fresh pizzas.
Anything to avoid? The chicken escalope sometimes becomes a little more like road kill: super flat.
1. Chez Elles
45 Brick Ln
The vibe: Skip the Eurostar and just visit this cute French spot tucked away at the end of Brick Ln. It’ll transport you to the countryside and blow your mind.
What to get: Everything. This place can seriously do no wrong.
Anything to avoid? Nothing. Those curry shops could seriously learn a thing or two.
Sign up here for our daily London email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the capital.
Haley Forest is a food & drinks writer who generally avoids Brick Ln like the plague, except for bagels in the morning and Chez Elles in the evening. Follow her at @HCForest.
1. Preem Restaurant & Balti House118 Brick Lane, London
2. Saffron Restaurant53 Brick Ln., London
3. Prithi Bar & Restaurant124 Brick Lane, London
4. City Spice138 Brick Ln, London
5. Mango90 Brick Ln, London
6. Masala88 Brick Lane, London
7. The Shampan79 Brick Ln, London
8. Bengal Village75 Brick Ln, Bethnal Green
9. Bricklane Clipper104 Brick Ln., London
10. Aladin132 Brick Lane, London
11. The Nazrul130 Brick Ln., London
12. The Monsoon78 Brick Ln, London
13. Gandhi's Restaurant94 Brick Lane, London
14. Chillies76 Brick Lane, London
15. Gram Bangla68 Brick Ln, London
16. Eastern Eye Balti House63a Brick Ln, London
17. Jasmine128 Brick Ln, London
18. Moo Cantina60 - 62 Brick Ln, London
19. The Famous Curry Bazaar77 Brick Lane, London
20. Muhib Indian Restaurant73 Brick Lane, London
21. Sheba136 Brick Lane, Shoreditch
22. Standard Balti House71 Brick Ln, London
23. Cinnamon134 Brick Ln., London
24. Brick Lane Brasserie67 Brick Ln., Shoreditch
25. La Cucina96 Brick Lane, London
26. Chez Elles Bistroquet45 Brick Ln, London
This large sister restaurant to Prithi serves classic Indian cuisine, from spicy Vindaloos to a wide selection of vegetarian food. They can cater events for up to 200 people, so waiting for a table usually isn't an issue here. The space is starkly decorated yet modern, and the food is consistent and authentic.
Saffron specializes in Bangladeshi cuisine, meaning you'll definitely want to order a curry. It's popular with the late night East End crowd, likely because it stays open until 1am. You'll always find an eclectic array of people in this no-frills restaurant, so order yourself a nightcap and a side of samosas to get some quality people watching in.
Prithi is a casual Indian restaurant on Curry Lane, specializing in North Indian cuisine. The space is decked out in British cultural decorations which attract a lot of tourists, but the prices aren't a ripoff like most traps tend to be. Prithi offers particularly good lunch specials, but no matter when you go be sure to order the naan.
This is the first spot you hit once crossing the curry divide of Brick Lane. It's a cozy Bengali spot that lures in customers by offering free drinks and deep discounts on their tasty Indian fare. Dine in for access to a sweet BYOB policy and killer happy hour deals. Paneer, masala and chicken tikka are all on the menu.
Located in the heart of Brick Ln, head to this Indian spot of you're looking for some seriously spicy (and authentic) Indian-style lamb dishes. The Bollywood Blast with spicy lamb and nagga chill is a customer fave. Diners routinely score up to 20% off their meal from the restaurant's eager street-side greeters.
Situated in the heart of East London's Brick Lane, Masala is a spacious restaurant specializing in Bangladeshi and Indian cuisine. In addition to offering standard, curry house dishes -- like tandoori chicken wings, and lamb and paneer tikka -- Masala is known for its shareable platters, which highlight the restaurant's most popular starters. Guests can try chana puree, onion bhajee, pankoras, and a number of tikka varieties at half the price of an entree.
Big and bright with lots of windows, The Shampan still manages to seat about a million people at once, so you don't need to prepare for a wait at this Brick Lane spot. In addition to curry favorites, it serves lesser-known regional dishes from North India and Bangladesh. The restaurant is BYOB with no corkage fee, so be sure to stock up on wine or beer before arriving. The best part? No one's heckling outside to get you to come inside like other Indian spots on the street, creating a more laid back vibe from the moment you walk in.
Bengal Village has been serving authentic Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine for two decades, utilizing local ingredients to ensure optimum freshness. The space feels modern and lively, but there are no sacrifices made in preserving the tradition rooted in the recipes. The menu is extensive, but categorization and brief descriptions help guide patrons, often encouraging them to try something new.
Boasting a menu that utilizes ingredients from all corners of India, Bricklane Clipper is one of East London's premier spots for authentic, South Asian cuisine. Menu highlights include a fresh vegetable biryani, Hyderabadi lamb, and an almost overwhelming supply of tandoori, seafood, and curry specialties. That, coupled with Clipper's friendly staff and spacious digs, creates an atmosphere unlike any other on Brick Lane.
With a number of a compliments under its belt -- from The Telegraph, BBC, and celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott -- it's no wonder this bustling Indian BYOB has been a Brick Lane favorite since it's opening in 1979. Aladin offers a plethora of curries (with gluten-free options), incredible papadums, and, most important, no corkage fee.
This long-standing Indian restaurant has been around since the late 50s and still serves the same authentic regional cuisine that it did several decades ago. The restaurant spans two floors and features colored lighting and plush seating in addition to Indian music videos playing on the walls. The restaurant is BYOB, and if you go into Nazrul first you can get a 10% Off coupon for a wine shop around the corner.
The neon sign outside may bring back memories of Brick Lane's wilder days, but inside this quaint Bangladeshi spot, it's almost cozy -- and not in a "small and cramped” kind of way. If that we're enough to entice you, Monsoon has a chill BYO policy and offers a quality chicken korma dish that you shouldn't pass up, either.
Classic and contemporary Indian cuisine is merged at this Brick Lane spot, allowing for both familiar and experimental flavors. Memorable entrees -- like bhuna chicken, dopiaza lamb, and Thalia and Balti specials, come second only to Gandhi's platters, which highlight five of the restaurant's most popular starters. Intimate lighting and plenty of space make Gandhi's perfect for casual dates and large groups.
This pint-sized curry shop offers modern interpretations of classic Indian and Bangladeshi fare inside a neon bedecked interior. A solid choice for a quick meal, come in and try the spicy chicken masala which nicely compliments the house special sweet coconut rice. The relaxed BYO policy is also a good mark in Chillie's favor.
This totally unassuming cafe on Brick Lane offers spot-on Bangladeshi home-style cooking. The menu may not offer anything fancy (fish curry, tikka masala, kufta) but is cheap and cheerful with its bright yellow walls and affordable, humble fare.
Although it may look like a doctor's office from the outside, this restaurant is actually a tasty Indian spot, and the food on the whole is pretty solid. Balti Prawn, tikka, and lamb kurma are all spot on and go perfectly with the Cobra brews you'll be offered on discount at the door. The authentic Indian interior features Bollywood classics playing in the background of your meal.
A pint sized neighborhood curry shop on Brick Lane, Jasmine offers reliable, quality Indian fare. Formerly known as Cafe Bangla, new owners have brought slight changes to the restaurant's menu (the Lady Di mural though does remain), but most of its dishes remain the same: creamy chicken tandoori, spicy prawns, and sweet masala.
This London mini-chain serves Argentine fare (cow, cow, and more cow) in a colorful, modern space. Spicy steak empanadas and lomitos (stuffed sandwiches) are affordable and generously portioned; the menu also includes a variety of tasty sides like chips, sweet potato fries, and roasted veggies, plus a nice selection of cocktails and South American wine.
This Bangladeshi restaurant stands out for its solid service and delicious mixed grill options. Their curry, which can be made with mild to no spice, spicy, or extra hot, is a good choice for the curry virgin looking to try the Brick Lane famous dish to the curry expert who needs that extra kick of heat. The interior is basic but the menu is extensive.
This old school curry house might strike some as over the top in its ornate decor (chandeliers, layered table cloths), but that's part of its charm. The candlelit interior is the perfect setting for enjoying classic Indian fare: tangy, rich curries (we especially love the veggie), sweet chicken masala, and spicy balti dishes.
This slightly upscale neighborhood curry house serves a solid lamb curry dish in addition to other great items of Indian fare (its naan is truly on point). Open since 1974, this family run spot has repeatedly been named one of the best curry restaurants on all of Brick Lane by the Cobra Good Curry Guide, which definitely means its worth a visit. Dine in and take advantage of their BYO policy.
This curry house on Brick Lane is a solid option with its attentive service and extensive menu. The space offers plenty of room for large groups, but is also a chill place to go for a solo dinner. Order a dish of onion bhaji "for the table" and prepare to be wowed-- they are amazing when they come out, piping out, straight out of the fryer.
BYO at this Brick Lane restaurant that's great for large groups. Friendly service and a reasonable price point are an added draw to this spot that features a solid mixed grill set dinner option, plenty of tandoori, and great onion bhaji. The neon, club like interior may seem a bit off but it adds to Cinnamon's charm.
This is one of the best curry spots on Brick Lane in Shoreditch. The interior is modern, airy and bright, but the menu features the reliable, authentic Indian fare that's sadly sometimes found few and far between. Tandoori, chili baltis, and fish dishes are what's on order here; friendly and helpful service make this spot worth a visit.
Italian food is what's on the menu this cozy Brick Lane resto. Comfortable, home-style cooking shines across the board. This is the place to go when you're in the area but not feeling in a curry mood, because, really, when are you ever not down for a fresh pizza or bowl of bolognese?
On a street that's known more for dodgy curry is a secret portal to the French countryside. Full of easy French charm, Chez Elles' food is simple and perfect; its also loaded with flavor while keeping maintaining an affordable price point.