Classic Cafes: Pubali #1 Commercial Rd E14

Enclaves of the '50s & 60s


The Pubali Cafe is near the junction of Burdett Rd and Commercial Rd (opp. the handsome church.) Built partly into an 18C Inn, it's one of the few London caffs protected by English Heritage. The Pubali's frontage apparently can't be altered since it's technically part of the protected building next door. Looked at from the traffic-island opposite the entire elevation is very impressive. Look closely again and you'll see the three large old gas lamps which sit in front of the buildings. The space has the air of a deserted 1940s parlour: dusty plants; classic faded formica tables; sturdy brown leatherette chairs; big solitary mirrors; mismatched paintings, ungainly coathangers lathered with brown paint; heavily textured wallpaper and a beige/lime colour scheme that really brings out the drab ambience of the place. Mr Ali's run the Pubali since 1972, standing behind a massive rumbling tea-urn, telling tales of Limehouse's old criminal underworld and of bodies fished out of the Thames. Open every day from around 12.00 till late - closed all day Tuesday. Discovered by Classic Cafes fan Mark Gould, who remembers the place from the 70s.

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