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You've Got To Eat At This One Place In Whitechapel

Tayyabs is the sizzling heart of Whitechapel.

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Tayyabs comes from humble beginnings.

Flickr: mjhbixby6 / Via Creative Commons

In 1972 a small grillhouse opened in an old greasy spoon cafe on Fieldgate St, serving homestyle Punjabi cooking to the Pakistani immigrants of Whitechapel. It wasn't long before the rumours of the excellent food spread first to the junior doctors of the nearby Royal London Hospital, and then the wider city.

An old newsagents and a pub were swallowed up over the years to house hungry diners. More recently, a basement was excavated, then another floor upstairs, then yet another vast space out back. And yet like road traffic on a new motorway, the increased room has just created increased demand. Thousands of people now pass under that famous blue neon sign every day.

But it's all about the chops.

Instagram: @supernoodlerach

And if you have to ask why it's in such demand, then you haven't eaten there. Signature dish and jewel in the Tayyabs crown are the lamb chops, smoky and sizzling from the coals. Drenched in impossibly rich and complex spicing, they are bedrock for Tayyab's vast influence and reputation in the city, and are unmatched anywhere else.

And don't stop there.

Instagram: @sarahatickle

The lamb chops, part of the mixed grill which also includes punchy chunks of chicken tikka and spicy seekh kebabs, are of course a must order. But the rest of the menu contains some equally astonishing dishes. Try the Dry Meat, a bowl of thick, sticky reduced beef stew, salty and intense, and the Tinda Masala, a vegetarian dish of baby pumpkins in a tomato-chilli sauce.

Don't forget the sides.

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Thanks to the huge turnover and hordes of eager customers night and day, none of the food is lying around for more than a few seconds and most is cooked to order. So the bread is always fluffy and fresh, shiny with ghee and addictively moreish, and the crisp roti are always piping hot.


Want expert tips? Here's what you need to know.

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As you might imagine, you won't be the only person at any given time wanting to get stuck into the chops at Tayyabs, and though the new seating areas mean the waits for a table are smaller these days, the sheer numbers of people (combined with the often, er, "assertive" service) mean finding a spot can still be a bit of a scrum.

My advice is to ask for the ground floor, where the noise levels are a bit more manageable and tap water is provided in jugs on each table. Oh, and remember to BYO – there's a Tesco on Whitechapel High St but you'll do better if you prepare a bit in advance.

What's the damage?

Instagram: @wiselyyue

Prices may have crept up a bit since 1972 but the BYO policy and huge turnovers mean dinner at unquestionably one of London's most exciting restaurants is rarely over £20/head, still a bargain in my book. There are, in short, just as many reasons to fall in love with Tayyabs in 2016 as there have ever been.

Every week we’ll recommend a new place to eat in London. Let us know in the comments where you think we should feature next!

Rebecca Hendin/BuzzFeed

Previously featured:

Apollo Banana Leaf, Tooting

Silk Road, Camberwell

MeatLiquor, Soho