eIF4E-binding proteins (4E-BPs) are a widespread class of translational regulators that share a canonical (C) eIF4E-binding motif (4E-BM) with eIF4G. Consequently, 4E-BPs compete with eIF4G for binding to the dorsal surface on eIF4E to inhibit translation initiation. Some 4E-BPs contain non-canonical 4E-BMs (NC 4E-BMs), but the contribution of these motifs to the repressive mechanism-and whether these motifs are present in all 4E-BPs-remains unknown. Here, we show that the three annotated Drosophila melanogaster 4E-BPs contain NC 4E-BMs. These motifs bind to a lateral surface on eIF4E that is not used by eIF4G. This distinct molecular recognition mode is exploited by 4E-BPs to dock onto eIF4E-eIF4G complexes and effectively displace eIF4G from the dorsal surface of eIF4E. Our data reveal a hitherto unrecognized role for the NC4E-BMs and the lateral surface of eIF4E in 4E-BP-mediated translational repression, and suggest that bipartite 4E-BP mimics might represent efficient therapeutic tools to dampen translation during oncogenic transformation.