Not sure where to eat out in Whitechapel? We’ve picked out the best Whitechapel curry houses for you to choose from.
London’s South Asian food scene has turned trendy in recent years, with restaurants like Dishoom and the Tamil Prince hogging the limelight. But take a trip back to where it all started at one of our favourite Whitechapel curry houses.
We’ve picked out a selection of Whitechapel curry houses that cater to everyone’s needs and that highlight the diversity of South Asian food and Whitechapel’s community. Pick from Pakistani and Bangladeshi to Indian and Afghani, from a place for a lively meal with friends to a special occasion with family. We’ve even got a place for vegans.
Best for: a London institution
There is no Whitechapel curry house more famous than Tayyabs. Londoners have visited in droves since it was founded in 1979. The electric blue neon sign draws you in like a moth to a lamp.
The lamb chops are the star of the show. They are marinated in plenty of spice and are served still sizzling from the grill. Recent reviews suggest that the food has slightly declined. We still think it lives up to the hype and offers great bang for your buck.
Don’t expect a relaxed visit, Tayyabs is loud and massive, with 500 seats. One reviewer called it a ‘manic’ place. But that is all part of the authentic Tayyabs experience.
The renowned queue has long been part of the experience, building up your appetite for the feast to come. It can take up to an hour to get a table if you queue on a busy Friday night. However, insiders will know that Tayyabs recently started taking bookings, so we recommend you skip the line and book ahead.
Guests have included celebrities like Pedro Pascal, Jon Favreau, Humayun Saeed and the late Sidhu Moosewala (amongst many more).
83-89 Fieldgate Street, E1 1JU, just down the road from the East London Mosque.
Lahore Kebab House
Best for: dinner with friends
I am biased when it comes to this Whitechapel curry house. I have dear memories of visiting with my late father. We would come to share a curry, take in the atmosphere and watch cricket on one of the restaurant’s many TV screens.
Lahore Kebab House is another London institution serving authentic Pakistani food. It’s just down the road from Tayyabs, but feels very different. More like a canteen, it is much more friendly to big groups of friends or family. At Lahore, city boys out for a BYO drink and some excellent food mix with locals out for a family dinner.
The food comes quickly and is delicious. The lamb chops are spicy and succulent, and come piled high. I would also highly recommend the onion bhajis, which are light, crispy, and not festooned with oil like most. The open kitchen is also a sight to behold, and certainly worth a peek when you visit.
2-10 Umberston Street, E1 1PY, the entrance is slightly hidden just off Commercial Road.
Best for: a restaurant with a real history
The Halal Restaurant stakes a claim on being the oldest Whitechapel curry house. Originally founded for lascars (South Asian sailors) in 1939, the restaurant now caters more for city workers given its location in Aldgate. Halal Restaurant is a bit posher than other Whitechapel curry houses – think white tablecloths and food served in lidded pots.
Halal Restaurant has a strong and loyal following. Some customers have been visiting for almost 50 years. Their loyalty was illustrated during lockdown when owner Mahaboob Narangoli’s daughter tweeted an appeal for support as the restaurant faced serious financial difficulties.
The appeal led to an outpouring of support. Even the people behind Dishoom responded, saying ‘An East London institution! I have hazy recollections of this place…’ The Sunday Times’s restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin included the rogan josh, shish kebabs and mutton mince biryani in her highlights at this Whitechapel curry house.
2 St Mark Street, E1 8DJ.
Best for: a meal with family
Dilpasand is a great place for a special family occasion, with a more glam feel than some of the other Whitechapel curry houses on this list. One reviewer described the restaurant as feeling like ‘you’re at a wedding’.
Dilpasand serves Karachi-style food, along with a range of Afghani and Indian dishes. Highlights include the lamb nihari, a rich stew with melt-in-the-mouth lamb shanks. The traditional Karachi dish golab kababa with lacha partha is also a must-order. The team at Dilpasand put a lot of effort into presentation. And the food looks stunning.
111-113 Commercial Road, E1 1RD.
Best for: vegan food
This wouldn’t be a complete Whitechapel curry house list without including somewhere on Brick Lane. And City Spice is the place to go. The twenty-two-year-old Executive Chef Niaz Caan has created something exceptional on one of London’s most famous streets.
We aren’t the only ones to have noticed. The restaurant won OpenTable’s Diner’s Choice award for Best Restaurant in London in 2022. It is also a favourite of The Crown star Matt Smith.
Highlights include Caan’s favourite black pepper lamb and mushroom, a dish which mixes traditional English and Indian flavours. There is also an extensive and award-winning vegan menu designed in partnership with Michelin Star chef Rupert Rowley.
Caan has big ambitions and has recently opened a new restaurant in Covent Garden. Don’t miss Brick Lane’s superstar chef, we will be seeing much more of him.
138 Brick Lane, E1 6RU, halfway down Brick Lane.
Best for: Cheap eats and authentic Bangladeshi food
If the final Whitechapel curry house on our list is fit for the King (yes, the actual King), then it is probably good enough for us. When King Charles III and Queen Camilla visited Brick Lane in February 2023 to celebrate the British-Bangladeshi community, they popped into Graam Bangla to pick up a takeaway.
Who can blame them? This Whitechapel curry house’s menu was designed by celebrity chef Atik Rahman, winner of the British Chef of the Year award in 2008.
The menu is authentic ‘village style’ Bangladeshi food. Fish is a big part of Bangladeshi cuisine, and Rahman’s favourite dish at Graam Bangla is the Magur Macher, a traditional catfish curry.
Graam Bangla offers a more casual experience than other curry houses on this list. Food is ordered at the counter and is a bit cheaper than elsewhere. It is a great place to pick up a takeaway or stop by for an authentic Bangladeshi lunch.
68 Brick Lane, E1 6RL.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy our photo essay celebrating the unsung beauty of Whitechapel Market.
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