LONDONHOODS

ISLINGTON

Islington is still one of London’s most buzzing boroughs. It’s where north London officially begins and although its main drag, Upper Street, isn’t quite the cool hangout it once was, there’s still plenty going on. Islington is particularly good at pubs and you’ll find some of the best pubs in London on Islington’s quiet neighbourhood streets. There’s some excellent restaurants too, as well as one of the capital’s best cinemas, plus theatres, shops, and art galleries.

Having opened way back in 1913, Screen on the Green is one of the country’s oldest cinemas. Now owned by Everyman, the single-screen cinema shows a mix of new releases and classics, and often has directors come in for talks. Then there’s The Almeida, which began life as a lecture hall and reading rooms, before opening as a theatre in 1980. The programme focuses on the next generation of British artists and it often hosts award-winning plays that transfer to the West End, with past productions including Summer and Smoke, INK and Chimerica.

Feeling hungry? There’s a lot to choose from in Islington, from the New Orleans-inspired Plaquemine Lock to one of the best burgers in London at The Compton Arms.

We also love Oldroyd. Tom Oldroyd’s tiny Islington restaurant has been quietly knocking out simple Italian dishes for a couple of years now and it’s still one of our favourite places to come for a quick dinner or lunch. Menus change daily but there’s always a pasta dish and its always incredible – on a recent trip we had creamy crab tagliarini, thin freshly-made pasta, coated in a rich crab bisque sauce with chunks of crab meat. Other highlights included the roast monkfish, braised fennel & tapenade and the ripe peach and cow curd panzanella salad with broad beans & mint.

 

 

 

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EARL OF ESSEX

Earl of Essex, Danbury Street, London, UK

Tucked away on a residential Islington Street, the Earl of Essex is well worth seeking out if you’re serious about your beer. They have a changing selection of around 20 craft beers up on their hymn board and they’ve got their own brewery on-site too. And every dish on their menu comes with a beer recommendation. Obvs you can get other drinks here but why would you want to?

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THE ALBION

The Albion, Thornhill Road, Islington, London, UK

The Albion is another North London pub with an excellent beer garden. This one has got to be one of the prettiest though thanks to all the fruit trees and hanging wisteria. Thankfully the inside of the Georgian pub is just as good too with log fires for when it’s cold, a solid gastropub menu for when you’re hungry and a well stocked bar for, well you know.

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SEFTON

196 Upper St, London N1 1RQ, United Kingdom

Sefton bring together all the cool kids in their menswear boutique in Islington. Find everyone from Comme Des Garcons and Acne Studios to Wood Wood and Nike. They also stock their own line of Sefton essentials.

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TWENTY TWENTY ONE

274-275 Upper Street, London N1 2UA, United Kingdom

Set over two floors, the Upper Street store is packed full of design-led lighting, accessories and furniture. There’s a mix of classic styles from the twentieth century and more progressive pieces but everything in there is clean and elegant so it feels timeless.

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SUNDAY BARNSBURY

169 Hemingford Road, London, N1 1DA

Sunday Barnsbury does one of the best French toasts in town. It comes with creme fraiche and salted caramel and we recommend a side of bacon too, and the cornbread is also pretty on point with avo, halloumi and a poached egg. Portions are decent and this is proper neighbourhood cafe that you’ll wish you lived next to.

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PRAWN ON THE LAWN

Prawn on the Lawn, London, UK

Fishmonger by day, seafood restarant by night, Prawn on the Lawn is one of our favourite places in London. Now moved to bigger premises just around the corner from its original location, it can now offer a bigger range of dishes due to the fact that it actually has a kitchen this time around.

You can get whole fish from the fishmonger counter, great for bigger groups, plus a whole host of fishy small plates. Highlights include lightly seared tuna served with an Asian-inspired dip of soy, mirin, spring onion and chilli, and the brightly-coloured sea trout sashimi with tomato and red onion. Hot dishes are excellent too: try the whole prawns cooked in a spicy Szechuan seasoning, and the fillet of pollock, with salsa verde and capers.

Although we loved the charm of the original Prawn on the Lawn, even with all its limitations, the new incarnation is the restaurant it was meant to be. And we’re still big fans.

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THE COMPTON ARMS

4 Compton Terrace, London N1 2XD, UK

The Compton Arms has had a refurb and the makeover extends to the kitchen where Four Legs has taken up residence. The pub was one of George Orwell’s favourite haunts, hence the name ‘Four Legs’ taken from his novel Animal Farm: “Four Legs good, two legs bad!”. The chef duo of Jamie Allan (ex-Hill & Szrok) and Ed McIlroy (ex-Bao) are in the kitchen serving up a seasonal British menu with European and Asian influences, with a focus on local produce. They switch up the menu a fair bit but there’s a few thing always on there including something that’s worth heading down for alone: the cheeseburger. That may not sound so exciting but trust us, this is definitely one of the best burgers in London.

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LAKI KANE

144-145 Upper St, London N1 1QY, UK

The cocktail menu at Laki Kane is heavy on the rums, sugar cane syrups and exotic ingredients – the signature Laki Kane is made of Bacardi Cuatro Dark Rum, Mozart Dry Chocolate Vodka, soursop tea, cupuacu, guanabana and sugar cane juice – with a food menu to match. Rum masterclasses will also be held in the upstairs Spiced Dry Rum Club bar, where you’ll learn about the history of the spirit, experiment with tastings and even re-distill your own rum, which you can even re-order in the future.

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1251

107 Upper Street, London N1 1QN, UK

Great British Menu champ and Yes Chef star James Cochran is the man behind 1251. The menu is modern British, with a particular focus on produce from Kent (James was raised in Whitstable) as well as West Indian and Scottish influences in reflection of his heritage. As well as a tasting menu option, there’ll also be an a la carte offering of small plates and an epic sharing roast featuring multiple cuts of the same meat with all the trimmings.

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TANAKATSU

10 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7LT, UK

Tanakatsu specialises in katsu (here you can get pork, chicken and prawns) and teriyaki as well as offering sushi and a few other sides – the tuna tataki with a truffle ponzu sauce is particularly great. The main event has to be that katsu though; both the pork katsu on rice with shredded cabbage and pickles, and the chicken katsu curry are spot on.

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VALDERRAMA'S

163 Upper St, London N1 1US, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 5:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 5:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 5:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Thursday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Friday: 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
  • Saturday: 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
  • Sunday: 12:00 – 10:30 PM

James Cochran, of Islington restaurant 12:51 and Great British Menu fame, has turned his fried chicken lockdown biz Around The Cluck into a perm sports bar spot. Valderrama’s, named after the Colombian footballer Carlos Valderrama, takes inspo from the player’s quirky style with retro interiors featuring lots of 90’s nostalgia, and specially commissioned murals on the walls (including one made from a vintage kit), and there are plenty of screens so everyone can catch the sporting action no matter where you’re sat. The menu features James’ superb fried chicken in burgers including The Original featuring whipped blue cheese mousse, bacon scratchings & Sauce Shop x 12:51 scotch bonnet jam; Spice Up Your Life made with mango chutney, pickled cucumber, curry sauce, Bombay mix & poppadoms; and The Veganator topped with gochujang, Asian slaw and peanuts. You can also get the golden crispy chicken as individual thighs with various toppings – we love the chip shop curry sauce one – and you defo don’t want to miss out on a side of hash browns with jerk spice either. This is Islington so don’t be expecting bargain bucket prices but these birds are worth coming in for even when there’s not a game on.

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HUMBLE GRAPE

11-13 Theberton St, London N1 0QY, UK

Humble Grape is the perfect neighbourhood wine bar: relaxed and with great food and drinks. You can browse the shelves for bottles to take away or sit down and choose from a constantly rotating selection of wines by the glass. If you’re eating there, leave yourselves in the very capable hands of the waiters who can suggest wine flights to accompany the dishes. On the food front, it’s simple, high quality ingredients and cooking all the way – think plates like chorizo croquetas with green aioli, mussels, hake with samphire and white Dorset crab, and a pork chop in anchovy butter.

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KANADA-YA

35 Upper Street, London N1 0PN, UK

At Kanada-Ya’s first site outside of central, you can find all their famous ramens plus a handful of small plates, rice dishes and an extended sake list. And you’ll be able to catch all the action thanks to the open kitchen.

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69 COLEBROOKE ROW

69 Colebrooke Row, London N1 8AA, United Kingdom

69 Colebrooke Row is a tiny speakeasy hidden away in Islington. Expect experimental cocktails with some odd ingredients – think Pagan incense and clay – but it’s not all weird and less adventurous cocktail drinkers will be happy too. Inside it’s all about the jazz-age, so expect live music and first class service.

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PLAQUEMINE LOCK

££
139 Graham St, London N1 8LB, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 5:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 5:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 5:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Thursday: 5:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Friday: 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
  • Saturday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
  • Sunday: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Islington is blessed with many great pubs but there’s one that sticks out, in a good way, and that’s Plaquemine Lock. Run by Jacob Kenedy of Bocca di Lupo, it’s bringing the bayou to the Regent’s Canal. Kenedy may have made his name doing excellent regional Italian food but here it’s all about the cajun and creole food of Louisiana. There’s a family connection to the state and it’s reflected in the pub – Jacob’s great-grandparents built a lock in the town of Plaquemine in Louisiana (hence the name) and the murals in the space, one of which depicts the family steamer boat that first passed through the lock gates, were done by his mother Haidee Becker. The menu is packed full of cajun and creole delights that you don’t often see in London restaurants, like sugar bacon beignet sandwiches, oysters rockefeller, duck & sausage jambalaya, shrimp & grits, and fried green tomatoes. The bar shakes up an excellent margarita and there’s live blues and jazz nights too, so it’s worth a trip to North London for a taste of the Deep South.

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DELHI GRILL

21 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ, UK

For generous portions of Punjabi food at very reasonable prices, Delhi Grill is the one. The dhaba (an informal canteen) serves up street food snacks, tandoor grills and slow-cooked curries. It’s relaxed yet lively (with options for veggies and vegans) so it’s the perfect place to order a load of dishes and just get stuck in.

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VICTORIA MIRO

16 Wharf Rd, Hoxton, London N1 7RW, UK

Victoria Miro is a contemporary art gallery that showcases a mix of established and emerging artists, although it’s probably best known for showing Yayoi Kusama’s spotted pumpkins and infinity mirror rooms (you can tell when there’s a Kusama show on as there’ll be queues snaking out the door). The Islington space even has its own garden, which is often used to host installations.

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ALMEIDA THEATRE

Almeida St, London N1 1TA, UK

The Almeida began life as a lecture hall and reading rooms, opening as a theatre in 1980. The programme focuses on the next generation of British artists and it often hosts award-winning plays that transfer to the West End, with past productions including Summer and Smoke, INK and Chimerica.

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TRULLO

300-302 St Paul's Rd, London N1 2LH, UK

Even though Padella is the spin-off restaurant, it’s arguably more famous than its big sis Trullo (low prices and long queues will always attract attention). Not only can you get the very same pasta (admittedly the selection is smaller) including the famous beef shin pappardelle and the pici cacio e pepe, but at Trullo you’ve got some knockout seasonal Italian dishes on offer too, from rustic antipasti to fish and meat cooked over charcoal.

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SCREEN ON THE GREEN

83 Upper St, London N1 0NP, UK

Having opened way back in 1913, Screen on the Green is one of the country’s oldest cinemas. Now owned by Everyman, the singe-screen cinema shows a mix of new releases and classics, and often has directors come in for talks.

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BARRECORE

90-92 Upper St, London N1 0NP, UK

Barrecore is probably the premier barre studio in town, thanks to its signature method of interval training applied to each major muscle group. As well as a warm up and stretching throughout, the classes have sections for the thighs, the seat and the abs – it’s like legs, bums and tums on steroids.

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LA FROMAGERIE

£££
La Fromagerie, 30 Highbury Park, London N5 2AA, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

French food is practically synonymous with cheese (the smellier the better) and this clutch of three boujie cheese shops is a celebration of all things français. Yes, it all started with the cheese, but the sites are also deli and café all-rounders, selling all the classic charcuterie, gourmet tinned goods (hello Ortiz anchovies), wine and beautiful tableware your little heart could dream of. What’s more, each location – Highbury, Bloomsbury, Marylebone – runs tasting events and one-off dinners. The focus was originally French, but they all sell produce from British and further afield – the only thing you need to know is that if it’s sold at La Fromagerie, it’ll be absolutely delicious. And while you’re there it would be rude to visit without a little glass of French vin, non?

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PROVISIONS WINE & CHEESE

167 Holloway Road, London N7 8LX, UK

Holloway Road is an unsuspecting location for an under-the-radar clutch of cool restaurants and shops, and Provisions in the jewel in its crown. This independent wine shop and deli is ideal for both perusing and partaking – you can stop in to buy a bottle, or a hunk (or even a wheel) of cheese, and in the evening you can pitch up with a date or a mate. A central table makes the ideal gathering spot for an evening of sipping and snacking, whether you fancy wine, craft beer, cheese or charcuterie, most of which is sourced from small growers in lesser-known regions in France and Italy. And this is a place that seriously cares about what it serves; the owners frequently visit the growers and producers it works with, which is always good news in our books. And even better news, if you buy a bottle from the shelves to enjoy in-store, you can get it at a wholesale price with a small corkage fee.

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PISTACHIO AND PICKLE DAIRY

Pistachio & Pickle Dairy, 6 Camden Passage, London N1 8ED, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Camden Passage: an unsung hero of North London, home to a slew of independent shops, cafés and restaurants just begging for an afternoon of meandering. A vital stop on the strip is Pistachio and Pickle, where you’ll find British artisan cheese, crackers, chutneys and, yes, pickles – although we’re not sure whether you’ll actually get any pistachios here. During the week it’s a shop – or you can get a melty cheese-packed toastie – while at the weekends it’s the place to enjoy a cheeseboard and a glass of wine or five. Come with a mate, come with a date, or simply come on your own. If you’re after more of a coffee shop vibe, it has a sister cafe on Liverpool Road, serving Monmouth coffee, pastries, cakes and brunch.

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LE COQ EPICER

1 Camden Psge, London N1 8EA, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Thursday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Friday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Saturday: 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

For French goodies, head straight to this deli in Angel. It’s full of high-quality, artisanal products fresh from France. If you’re fond of wine, cheese, pate and bread then you’ll want to stock up, and don’t forget the sweet stuff either – they’ve got macarons, chocs, pastries and more.

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MOXON'S

110 Islington High Street, London N1 8EG, UK

This London-based fishmongers has plenty of fish for sale, coming in fresh from Cornwall, Devon, Scotland and Sussex. And with over 25 years of experience, it’s not just fresh fish they sell but award-winning pies, fishcakes and sauces too. They’ve also developed their own range of smoked fish featuring salmon, cod, haddock and mackerel from their Wimbledon Smokehouse.

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FORMERLY KNOWN AS BLACK AXE MANGAL

156 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2UP, UK

After building a cult following as Black Axe Mangal, chef Lee Tiernan did a Prince and rebranded his Islington spot to Formerly Known As Black Axe Mangal, or FKABAM for short, following the restaurant’s hibernation during the pandemic. The name may be different but the spirit is still the same – a mash-up of bistro and Turkish mangal grill houses, heavy metal music, tattooed chefs and some banging dishes. He’s dispensed with the a la carte menu and opted for a fixed price menu that changes weekly, so you can expect dishes like the fully-loaded fkabam Ruben flatbread and deep-fried apple pie with boozy cream topped with 100s & 1000s. As it has got quite the rep around town we recommend booking a table, although if you are caught queuing we can guarantee it’s worth the wait..

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JIJI

6g Esther Anne Pl, London N1 1WL, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Thursday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Friday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Saturday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Sunday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM

Israel and Japan don’t seem like obvious partners food-wise but restaurateur and Sumosan founder Janina Wolkow, Executive Chef Buber Belkhit and Head Chef Jeremy Borrow are here proving that the two belong together with their restaurant Jiji, just off Upper Street in the Islington Square development. It’s all very luxe with a shiny open kitchen in the corner, marble tables and jewel-tone velvet seating. In reality, the menuat Jiji is a mix of distinct Japanese and Middle Eastern dishes rather than the fusion of two on one plate, so you get things like scallop nigiri with unagi sauce, onglet with smoked aubergine cream, sando schnitzel, and roast cauliflower with ezme salad. You won’t find many menus that take you from spicy tuna rolls to aubergine with Israeli salad and feta but if you like the flavours of Tokyo and Tel Aviv, you’ll find a lot to love at Jiji.

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NOCI

4-6 Islington Grn, London N1 2XA, UK
OPENING HOURS
  • Monday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Thursday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Friday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Saturday: 12:00 – 11:00 PM
  • Sunday: 12:00 – 10:00 PM

Having worked at Locanda Locatelli and opened Bancone, Louis Korovilas certainly knows a thing or two about pasta and he’s showing it off at his new spot Noci (owned by the peeps behind Tavolino) in Islington. The menu takes inspo from Louis’ travels across Italy and the country’s regional specialties, starting with a short selection of small plates including fluffy foccacia with datterini tomato and caramelised onion, saffron & nduja arancini, and bresaola with star anise-dressed celeriac. Pasta is the star of the show though and there’s plenty of variety from veal & pork Genovese ragu with paccheri to wild mushroom silk handkerchiefs with confit egg yolk. Not only is the food at Noci genuinely great, it’s reasonably priced too – the house peach spritz is a fiver, negronis are six quid and the pasta plates are affordable, (they even offer ziti with pesto, tomato or parmesan & butter sauce for £7.50).

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LOTI EATS | THE BARING

If there’s one thing Islington isn’t lacking, it’s great boozers but there’s a new kid on the block and it’s already established itself as one of the best gastropubs in the whole of the city. The Baring, on a quiet backstreet just off Regent’s Canal, looks understated with dark green paint and dried flowers lifting the otherwise sparingly decorated room, but there’s some serious pedigree making the place run.

Adam Symonds and chef Rob Tecwyn met at The Bull and Last in Highgate 10 years ago, and since then Rob has been head chef at the likes of Dabbous and The Henrietta Hotel, as well as stints at Moro, Morito and Kerridge’s Bar and Grill. Adam, meanwhile, spent five years at the helm at the Bull and Last, before moving on to the celebrated Notting Hill restaurants Orasay and Six Portland Road.

The Baring definitely leans more towards the gastro rather than the pub, though there are stools at the bar where you can perch with a pint from some of the UK’s best small breweries or a bottle from the low-intervention wine list. Sustainability, seasonality and provenance are central to the operation here for both the drinks and the food and it’s a superb menu that goes beyond standard gastropub fare by effortlessly incorporating different cultural influences into the dishes. 

We started with grilled leeks smothered in a creamy gribiche, studded with hazelnuts for crunch, and a lovely piece of charred mackerel sat on salmorejo, a thicker, richer, gazpacho style soup, with the black skin of the fish contrasting pleasingly with the vivid red of the sauce.

The kitchen showed they can do hearty with the suckling pig loin with its soft meat and thinnest crackling crust, with a generous helping of white beans and spring greens but the salt marsh lamb dish highlighted they can do flavour – tender slices of rump, a moreish spiced kofte, smoked aubergine puree, another sprinkling of nuts, and friggitelli peppers. And the chips, served with a proper garlic mayo, are some of the best you’ll find anywhere in London. A hefty spoonful of chocolate ganache, finished with olive oil, sea salt and macadamia nuts disappeared without a trace too. 

The Baring is the very definition of a neighbourhood gem and locals are lucky indeed to have this on their doorsteps. 

55 Baring St, London N1 3DS
@thebaring

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