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.

If you’re after a bit of culture, you’re well covered in Islington. The O2 Academy Islington always has a stacked programme of gigs and hosts many emerging artists, so you could see the next big thing playing here. 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.

Feeling hungry? There’s a lot to choose from in Islington, from the New Orleans-inspired Plaquemine Lock to gastropub grub at The Baring to exceptional Indian food at The Tamil Prince. In fact, many of the best restaurants in Islington are also pubs, which tells you just how strong the area’s pub game is. Whether you want a pint in the sun in The Albion’s beer garden, an epic Sunday roast at the Drapers Arms or the choice of the best craft beer going at the Earl of Essex, you’ll find it all in Islington’s pubs.


The Tamil Prince sits on a quiet street in a residential part of Islington, having taken over a whitewashed corner pub building that was previously called the Cuckoo. Despite the sleepy surroundings, this pub really packs a punch. It was completely reinvented by ex-Roti King duo Prince Durairaj and Glen Leeson and now serves up an acclaimed menu inspired by Prince’s childhood home of Tamil Nadu in southern India. Start off with small plates such as okra fries, onion bhaji with mint chutney and spiced chicken lollipops with sweet chilli chutney, followed by an exceptional king prawn & curry leaf varuval, or maybe the masala-marinated tawa whole sea bream. If you’re in the mood for dessert, don’t miss the gulab jamun (sweet, fragrant fried dumplings) and you’ll wanna have at *least* one of their signature cocktails (the Tamil Negroni is killer). Whatever you end up picking, we’re confident you won’t be disappointed.


Earl of Essex, Danbury Street, London

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?


Having become a local fave with Fink’s, Mat Appleton and Jess Blackstone have expanded beyond their cafes (but remained in North London) with new restaurant Saltine. It’s a beautiful space, with a back dining room flooded with light from the huge glass roof and textured walls and exposed brick and plaster contrasting with 1970s dining chairs and fun artwork by London artist Paul Kindersley. Phil Wood (ex-Spring and St. JOHN Marylebone) heads up the kitchen at Saltine and he’s knocking out some very smart seasonal dishes. The menu changes often but you can expect dishes like crispy lamb with aioli, fresh crab with fennel and pomelo, persimmon and stracciatella with rye crumb, fish stew, and some exceptional chips. The standout dish though has to be the sticky toffee apple cake, so make sure you save room for pud. Saltine is superb neighbourhood spot and with the promise of new dishes on the regs, it’s one to keep coming back to.


406 St John St, London EC1V 4ND

Glaswegian Gregg Boyd, the man behind Auld Hag, has been flying the flag for Scottish food in the capital for the past few years, and now he’s opened London’s very first Scottish deli. The Shoap (from the Scottish slang for ‘shop’) is stocked with the best produce from across Scotland, including Glasgow’s Bare Bones Chocolate; charcuterie from East Coast Cured in Leith; preserves from the Isle of Arran; and a range of cheeses salts, cakes, biscuits, Mackie’s crisps, haggis, square sausage, Stornoway black pudding, and Scottish beers. The counter is filled with Dundee cake, Ecclefechan tarts, shortbread and tablet for all your sweet treat needs. And if you’re eating in, you can choose from Glasgow morning rolls with square sausage, tattie scones, macaroni pies, and toasties in the daytime, with small plates on in the evenings. Basically it’s your one-stop-shoap for all things Scottish.


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..


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).


The Baring, on a quiet Islington 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, with Adam rocking up stints at 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.


The Albion, Thornhill Road, Islington, London

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.


196 Upper St, London N1 1RQ

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.


274-275 Upper Street, London N1 2UA

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.


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, London

Fishmonger by day, seafood restaurant 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 is one of Islington’s most beloved pubs; it has been in the area since the 16th century and is said to be one of the inspirations for George Orwell’s essay The Moon Under Water. It’s a classic boozer with sport on the telly, great beer on the bar and some of the best chef residences in London – Four Legs, purveyors of the city’s best burger, were cooking here before they went on to open their own pub The Plimsoll, and Dara Klein is currently heading up the kitchen with Tiella.


144-145 Upper St, London N1 1QY

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.


107 Upper Street, London N1 1QN

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.


10 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7LT

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.


11-13 Theberton St, London N1 0QY

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.


35 Upper Street, London N1 0PN

Kanada-Ya, one of our fave ramen joints, has grown from a small central London shop to five locations across the city. Many of them feature open kitchens, allowing you to catch all the action, and they all serve up the signature tonkotsu ramen alongside bowls like gekikara (with pork & corn fed chicken bone broth, beansprouts, chashu pork belly, spicy ‘tan-tan’ minced pork, spring onion, wood ear fungus and yuzu-shoyu) and truffle (with pork & corn fed chicken bone broth, chashu pork loin, spring onion, porcini truffle paste, white truffle oil and yuzu-shoyu). You can supplement your ramen with small plates or swap it completely for dishes like katsu curry, but really, the noodles are where it’s at.


110 Islington High Street, London N1 8EG

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.


69 Colebrooke Row, London N1 8AA

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.


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.


21 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ

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.


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.


16 Wharf Rd, Hoxton, London N1 7RW

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.


Almeida St, London N1 1TA

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.


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

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.


167 Holloway Road, London N7 8LX

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.


83 Upper St, London N1 0NP

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.


90-92 Upper St, London N1 0NP

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.


La Fromagerie, 30 Highbury Park, London N5 2AA

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?


Pistachio & Pickle Dairy, 6 Camden Passage, London N1 8ED

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.


This Islington pub boasts one of the best Sunday roasts in London but there’s lots to enjoy at The Drapers Arms for the other six days of the week. The bar is stocked with craft ales and lagers, there’s an excellent wine list with a heavy focus on European bottles, and the daily changing menu is filled with great gastropub dishes, such as red prawns, fennel & bisque, Toulouse sausages with lentils & mustard dressing, whole megrim sole with brown butter & brown shrimps, and mixed berry fool with raspberry coulis & shortbread. The smart dining room is the perfect place for a long lunch and if the sun is shining, you can’t beat a pint or two out in the garden.