With a heritage rooted in arts and music, Forest Gate is now predominantly a residential area, and its proximity to Wanstead Flats and the Olympic Park means it is gaining in popularity with Londoners. Great places to eat and drink from a selection of independents have all enriched the neighbourhood with interesting, original menus that are all well worth a look.Read More
Where to Eat in Forest Gate
A globetrotting archway kitchen, a pillar of the Gujarati community, fragrant cinnamon buns, and more
1. J B Sweet & Savoury
This little shop and take away has been a pillar of the Gujarati community since the 1950s. A temple for every kind of south Asian snack — fried, fresh, frozen or made to order — which all jostle for attention on the crowded shelves. Fresh, crisp cassava chips and potato bhajias are piping hot, moreish and salty, a perfect homage to the founder’s memories of growing up in Uganda. Khandvi, spirals of pasta-like gram flour and yoghurt, are soft and creamy, fragrant with coriander and popping mustard seeds, while the verdant texture and flavour of patra — seasoned rolls of colocassia leaves — is rich and satisfying. Sweets too, are exceptional; fat buttery ladoos are generous on the jaggery, and pastel-coloured pendas melt in the mouth. Chevdos and gathias easily improve any budding Bombay mix.
2. Arch Rivals
London E7 0AQ, UK
A real hidden gem, tucked inside one of the neighbourhood’s myriad repurposed archways, Arch Rivals is a favourite with locals and is a serious destination for exciting cooking. A frequently changing menu of well executed dishes that aren’t afraid to globetrot for influence, original cocktails, and great wines make Arch Rivals a must try for anyone in the area. It’s also an excellent excuse to visit Forest Gate in the first place.
3. Masala Chai Nashta
London E7 9LW, UK
A brilliant breakfast stop for a south Asian food fix, options include desi takes on the fry up such as masala omelettes — served with parathas or roti — with chai to drink and perhaps lamb or chicken keema on the side. The chole bhatura, spiced chickpea, served with fluffy puri is excellent, while on Fridays, after 2p.m., catch the daal gosht chawal special, a warming stew of lentils and mutton, simmered to perfection.
4. Fred’s Cafe
London E7 0NQ, UK
This outpost of the popular Brockley institution is loved by residents for breakfasts and brunches. It serves quality coffee, as well as fresh cakes, pastries and flatbreads — all made from scratch, with high quality, locally sourced ingredients. The banana bread, decked with peanut butter and slices of fruit and the pastrami flatbread, rich with emmental and tangy sauerkraut are particularly good.
5. Restaurant Zaraza
Traditional Romanian food is served from 3p.m. on weekdays and 1p.m. on weekends at this restaurant, which also has a garden for outdoor dining. Rich stews come with soft polenta and sour cream, while the grill section of the menu showcases a selection of tasty homemade sausages and different meats. Soups, including bean and smoked ham hock; and creamy tripe with garlic, are also worth a try.
6. Wild Goose Bakery - Forest Gate Arches
Surrounded by the delicious aromas of the bakery kitchen, which serves both this site and its larger Leytonstone sister, the adjoining café is a pleasant place for a coffee and a snack. The whitewashed walls of the railway arch are decorated with beautiful breads, pastries and delicate origami geese which dangle ethereally from the walls. Local produce and South African-inspired recipes are just two good reasons to order from an expansive menu.
7. Tromsø E7
London E7 0LB, UK
It’s more likely that visitors will smell Tromsø before they actually see it. The waves of tantalising cinnamon perfume that dance on the wind promise nostalgia, joy, and comfort. All manner of cakes and buns are found at this Scandinavian bakery but it is equally good for a lovely lunch. The Norwegian waffles are a must try; spongey and slightly sweet, they are a delightful cushion for smoky sausage and crispy onion. An open mackerel sandwich on dense, dark bread is lifted by pickled radish and fresh cucumber, and warm cinnamon buns, twisted into soft and delicate knots, are an entirely expected highlight — best paired with homemade blueberry fizz.
8. Cups & Jars
London E7 0EW, UK
Not only one of the best places in the vicinity to drink coffee or grab a delicious salad, Cups and Jars — Forest Gate’s first organic bulk store — also serves as a zero-waste grocers, where fresh fruit and vegetables lie side by side with beans, pulses and pastas. Pay particular attention to the seasonal specials which are always changing. Other items, such as natural shampoos, soaps and washing detergents can also be decanted and taken home.
9. Familia Cafe
A well-liked neighbourhood meeting spot, Familia serves a wonderful selection of cakes and sandwiches. The Guinness cake and gluten-free orange and polenta are both excellent. The serrano, goats cheese and tomato sandwich is also a strong lunch option, while rocket adds a nice peppery kick to smoked salmon and cream cheese.
10. Forest Tavern
Seasonal British food, craft ales and an easygoing vibe can be found at this gastropub. It is the perfect place to get a Sunday roast, set to a soundtrack of live jazz, after a walk across Wanstead Flats, or midweek, the delicate smoked haddock fishcakes and Volden-beer-battered cod and chips are also solid. A selection of hot and cold small plates, such as halloumi fries, pork belly tacos and pitta with aubergine dip and pomegranate, hazelnut and sesame dukkah make for brilliant sharing food.
London E7 0JN, UK
Pretty Decent Beer Co, Ransom Note and Fin Curran’s collaboration is a lively and fun mix of music, cocktails and good food. Alongside an impressive collection of vinyl, a DJ booth and listening booths, diners can feast on a rotating menu of dishes including jackfruit chilli and griddled artichokes for vegans — with plenty of meat-lover options too. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays, along with two types of Bloody ‘Marylands’ and a range of other cocktails to keep the party going all weekend.
12. Burgess & Hall Wines
A specialist wine shop and bar which focuses on organic, biodynamic and natural wines, Burgess Hall is an essential for newcomers to the drink or enthusiasts looking to expand their knowledge of this thriving subsection of the industry. Friendly staff are passionate about what they do and more than happy to talk about all things grape-related, with a roster of small producers ensuring a consistently exciting offering. Frequent restaurant pop-ups and jazz on the first Thursday of every month add another dimension to this brilliant little space.