I took a brief walk on Sunday last, along Brick Lane in the East End of London, an street I had not visited for several years. This area has been transformed from a poverty-stricken Bangladeshi ghetto in the 70s to what it is now, a vibrant area of trendy boutiques, retro-warehouses, street foodstalls, open market place, and lots of watering holes for the thirsty tourists that flock here over the weekends. It has a vibe that certainly matches Camden market or Portobello Road. And it has some of the best curry houses in this part of London, some say. I came here, not to sample the curries, (as I have reserved my spicy palate for Tooting where I am promised of fiery southern Indian dishes) but the famous Beigel Bakery, a 24 hour greasy joint where the salt beef stuffed beigels are to die for.
If you are into retro styles of anything- t-shirts, leather jackets, vinyl, funk and rock music, large sunglasses and frilly scarves, grunge accessories, hip ’60s furniture and mirrors, AND you like world food, like sushi, tortillas, Korean, Morroccan, Thai, paella, crepes, Colombian, and much more, then this street is for you. Plus the many curry houses with their less than persuasive touts shouting out for your custom.
I found the side streets more interesting, and less crowded, with a variety of newish boutique gift shops, galleries and designer outlets. There’s much to photograph here, the fashionable visitors with their retro clothes, the much-talked about graffiti and the open street markets selling junk. Yes, junk. You can find tons of junk for sale too.
By the way, the salt beef beigel was fantastic.