Finsbury Park

Home to the Emirates Stadium, Finsbury Park is a very important place for a certain section of North London – the red half, the Gooners, the Arsenal – but even if you’re not a football fan (or you support Spurs) there’s still plenty of fun things to do in Finsbury Park.

If you go to Finsbury Park for one thing, make sure it’s a trip to the infamous Rowan’s Bowling Alley. The old school 10 pin bowling alley is open till 2.30am with balls galore, karaoke and DJ’s. If you want to have a good feed beforehand, you could swing by Yard Sale Pizza or Vietnamese joint Salvation in Noodles both of which are close by.

Further up the hill things get even better, with great pubs and more food. The Faltering Fullback is one of London’s best pubs – making the most of the small outside space, the team transformed the beer garden into a multi-level jungle, completely taken over (especially in the summer) by plants. Not only does Max’s Sandwich Shop do some of the best sandwiches in London, as a ‘late-night sarnie shop you can get pissed in’, it’s somewhere to get the drinks in too.

Then there’s the park itself a big green space for chilling in the summer and also the site of many festivals and concerts, including Wireless, Peggy Gou’s Pleasure Gardens, the Arctic Monkeys and more. Here you can also start one of London’s best walks, the Parkland Walk, which runs along a disused railway track to Alexandra Palace. It’s an essential London experience.

TOLLINGTON'S

172 Tollington Park, London N4 3AJ

Ed McIlroy, one half of Four Legs, aka founders of The Plimsoll pub in Finsbury Park and creators of possibly the best burger in London, has expanded his presence in north London with a new seafood spot on Tollington Park. Tollington’s, which has opened on the site of an old chippie of the same name, is a homage to its former resident but with an Iberian twist. The old tiling, Formica and original chip fryers have stayed put but the new Tollington’s takes inspo from the Ed’s time spent in Spain and its relaxed dining culture. That means a regularly changing menu featuring dishes like devilled crab, pickled anchovies, pollock pil pil, chips bravas, prawns on the plancha, and pork neck & broad beans, plus Estrella, vermouth and wines all available by the glass.

DOTORI

This postage stamp-sized restaurant in Finsbury Park is a firm neighbourhood favourite – as a result, it can be hard to get a table. Dotori is all about authentic Japanese and Korean food, both of which they do very well. The menu here is extensive and covers all the classics, from Korean BBQ to Japanese curries, as well as an impressive amount of sushi. It’s all very affordable too, with a full dinner here setting you back less than £30, and the option to BYOB which’ll cost you a £15 corkage fee. They’re walk-in and cash only, so come prepared – it’ll be worth it.

ROWAN'S BOWLING

10 Stroud Green Rd, N4 2DF

Just cos you’re out late at night doesn’t mean you have to be sat in some dingy bar or sleazy club. No, you could be out polishing your balls and hitting the lanes at Rowan’s Bowling. The old school 10 pin bowling alley is open till 2.30am with balls galore, karaoke and DJ’s.

GIACCO'S

Named after owner Leonardo Leoncini’s grandpa, cafe and wine bar Giacco’s leans into his Italian heritage with wines, charcuterie and cheese from small producers in Italy on the menu, which are joined by filled focaccia and fresh pasta. Running as a cafe and bottle shop during the day, you can pop into Giacco’s for some Terrone & Co coffee; salads; Leo’s take on the Florentine classic schiacciata ripiena, aka stuffed focaccia; Italian charcuterie and cheese; and wines to take away. Come evening, small plates and fresh pasta dishes like crudo di pesce, pappardelle al ragu bianco, and pici cacio e pepe hit the menu, alongside a low-intervention wine list featuring bottles from suppliers like Tutto Wines, Les Caves De Pyrene, Vine Trai, Ancestral Wines and Gergovie Wines. The 20-cover spot also has nice little vinyl selection and some vintage Celestion Ditton speakers, so the soundtrack is on point too – what more could you want from a neighbourhood joint?

TOP CUVÉE

Top Cuvée, Blackstock Road, London

Top Cuvée, a wine bar and restaurant that recently opened in Finsbury Park, is pretty much the perfect neighbourhood restaurant. It’s got relatively simple but very well executed dishes at reasonable prices; it’s got an interesting wine list with some excellent natural, biodynamic wines; and it’s got very friendly service by genuinely welcoming people with not a hint of ego. The Top Cuvée team consists of Brodie Meah (who worked at Dinner by Heston when it moved to Melbourne) and Max and Noel Venning of Three Sheets cocktail bar, plus Dan Miller in the kitchen, who previously worked at Naughty Piglets. We can definitely recommend sharing a few dishes, beginning with the croquettes; hot crispy spheres stuffed with sweet potato and sage. The burrata with pickled carrots and hazelnuts is another winner but the must order of the smaller plates has to be the beef and smoked eel tartare with wild garlic – may not sound like an obvious combo but man does it work.

MAX'S SANDWICH SHOP

19 Crouch Hill, London N4 4AP

Max’s Sandwich Shop, the late night sarnie shop you can get pissed in, might not serve up the cheapest sandwiches in London, but for the comedy value and the fact you probably won’t be able to move after noshing down it’s so worth the money. Expect quirky names and filthy creations. You can’t go wrong with the classic ham, egg ‘n’ chips but we also love The Original Gangster, a braised beef, sauerkraut and “incredibly slutty gravy mayo” creation and don’t miss the crispy potatoes coated in crack-like rose harissa yoghurt either.

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THE FALTERING FULLBACK

The Faltering Fullback, Perth Road, London

Arguably the biggest attraction to The Faltering Fullback, just up from Finsbury Park tube, is the multi-level beer garden…staircase, beer garden staircase….it’s like a bloody maze. Admittedly weather depending, the garden offers secluded pockets of seating where you can chat into the early hours. The pub itself is a traditional one, except it does Thai food, which isn’t traditional at all, but you’ll find all your usual friends behind the bar. Great pub.

GILLESPIE PARK AND ECOLOGY CENTRE

191 Drayton Park, N5 1PH

Voted London’s Best Conservation Area in 2015, this 2.8 hectare nature reserve is home to 244 species of plants, 94 species of birds and 24 types of butterflies. Offering education on sustainable living, gardening and wildlife, there is something for everything to learn.

PARKLAND WALK

Florence Road, N4 3EY

This 4.5 mile stretch between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace is a local nature reserve and passes through some of the greenest areas in London. It follows the route of an old railway line, which is mostly demolished save for a few parts that can be seen through the trees. Now overgrown with plant life, the walk is great way to spend an afternoon!

HARRINGAY LOCAL STORE

581c Green Lanes, N8 0RG

Tesco Express this is not. Harringay Local Store is a proper good shop that sells a selection of locally sourced, organic and fair trade products. Bread, beer, meat, veg, vegan food… you name it, they’ve got it. Oh, and they also have a old and vintage vinyl records corner. Because why not.

PARK THEATRE

Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP

Converted in 2013 from a miserable office block into a state-of-the-art performing space, the Park Theatre is more than just your average neighbourhood theatre. With support and endorsement from huge-name actors such as Sir Ian Mckellen and the late Alan Rickman, it aims to take on the world by providing affordable quality theatre for everyone. It also offers several courses, designed to engage the diverse local community and include those of any age or ability.

SHOP CUVÈE

Top Cuvèe absolutely bossed the first UK lockdown in 2020 by launching their own store Shop Cuvèe whilst the restaurant was shut. What first began as a takeaway operation selling store cupboard goods, natural wines and bottled cocktails soon expanded into local delivery via bike and then on to nationwide postal delivery. The demand for bottles didn’t go away so co-founders Brodie Meah and Max Venning turned Shop Cuvèe into its own bricks-and-mortar site, just 100 yards up on Blackstock Road. As well as being stocked with hundreds of bottles of natural wine, there’s also cheese, charcuterie and pantry staples for sale.

FINSBURY PARK PICTUREHOUSE

This North London branch of Picturehouse is handily located behind Finsbury Park station and just over the road from Rowan’s – ideal for cinema-bowling combo day. It boasts a large mural from British artist Dale Lewis in the lobby; a kitchen; a members’ bar, which shows trailers and shorts on the wall; and seven screens, each with a 4K projector, state-of-the-art sound system and reclining chairs, so you can kick back with extra legroom, whether you’re watching the latest blockbuster or a special season showing.

FINSBURY PARK

Harringay, London

Finsbury Park might not be an obvious choice of where to spend a Sunday afternoon but this park offers more than just grass. There’s a free-to-use outdoor gym that’ll put you through your paces with 20 exercise stations – plus, there’s an abandoned railway line too. Once you’re done exploring, find a spot and open up that picnic.

YARD SALE PIZZA

54 Blackstock Road, London N4 2DW

A Yard Sale Pizza is kneaded in everyone’s life. Yard Sale set the standards high by leaving their dough to prove for 24 hours and cooking out their tomato sauce on the pizza to deepen the flavour. Whether you wanna dine in or take out these handmade beauties are available as 18-inch sharers or 12-inch pizzas. From the regulars to the guest pizzas, whether you’re holy over your pepperoni or all over the squash, Yard Sale is where to get a pizz’a the action.

SALVATION IN NOODLES

2 Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park, N4 2DL

Popular Vietnamese joint Salvation in Noodles’ second site features a similar menu to the Dalston joint only with some additional dishes to boot. But you gotta go for the crispy Phu Quoc chicken wings coated in a sticky fish sauce, the tasty Vietnamese dumplings, a HUGE bowl of spicy and sour Bun Bo Hue and our fave dish, the Bun Nem Nuong with soft pork patties. For a fast, fresh and tasty dinner Salvation in Noodles is always a winner.

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BLIGHTY CAFE

Blighty Cafe is all about the community and don’t just do coffee and brunch. Oh no, these guys host life drawing classes, yoga lessons, table tennis and much much more. And if you just wanna enjoy your full English and coffee in peace, you can always chill out in their sunny garden.

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