Rastro, a brand-new East London cafe is hard to miss with its terracotta seating and candy-striped counter. This Mediterranean-inspired cafe is becoming a fast favourite amongst locals having quickly established a roster of regulars.
The cafe, run by three friends and business partners located in the beating heart of Bethnal Green is becoming a booming business, despite opening just over a month ago in the Cost of Living crisis.
Rastro is a lifelong dream of Carlos del Barrio, Barbara Abelleira and Rodrigo Jerez, who learned the ropes of the hospitality industry over nine years. However, once covid hit, they found their opportunity to make it a reality.
“It had to be East London”, said Carlos del Barrio, 26, frontman of the team. “I’ve lived here for over six years and for me, it’s the best part of London.”
“The attractive thing about opening up in London is it’s a challenge: if it goes well, it goes really well, but if it fails, it can be catastrophic.”
Their Instagrammable shop front has an atmosphere to match, with a laid-back buzz and high footfall from young creatives, as Carlos tells me. And it's been paying off: they currently have five out of five stars out of 36 total on Google Reviews at the time of writing.
“The food draws from all corners of the Mediterranean”. Turkish, Italian, Spanish and Lebanese influences are all at home in Rastro’s array of sandwiches, pastries and drinks.
With homemade tiramisu, trays of freshly baked pastries and a carefully curated artisan coffee menu, Rastro offers well-loved classics to more unusual numbers like pistachio cheese and black truffle crisps.
Their beautifully packaged focaccia or brioche sandwich, a drink or coffee and a pack of the trending Torres crisps comes to £12 meal deal, and most customers seem to be meandering in for this deal for their Friday work-from-home lunch.
Barbara, 27 - who is in a relationship with Carlos - brainstormed the eye-catching aesthetic of this shiny new hot-spot, and their striking look certainly stands out after leaving the shady tunnel next to Bethnal Green Tube station.
She said: “London is a dark city and we wanted to be seen”, and they’ve certainly achieved this. With minimalist decor and retro fittings it’s worth going just for the transportive experience of sitting inside, pretending you are somewhere in the middle of Europe.
Barbara’s pops of terracotta that pepper the space are inspired by the rich red-coloured rooftops from their home, Madrid.
“The dream would be to expand”, Carlos says when I ask him. “I can see Rastro having a sister bar or restaurant, if not I would love to create a chain that can run across East London”.
“Our motto is everyone will leave here happy.”
You can find Rastro at 475 Bethnal Grn Rd, London E2 9QH.