I love Islington!
Finally, FINALLY, I’ve got my act together and compiled a list of my absolute favourite foodie hang-outs in this vibrant part of London I now call home. When I’m not cooking up a storm, these are the places I can’t help returning to again and again. If I’m not going back, it won’t make the cut.
Places to impress a date, places to take your mum for coffee, places to have supper with friends – it’s all here. And if you know me (in any of those guises!), chances are I’ve already taken you to at least one of these places. Come visit and stay a while – my guess is you’ll struggle to leave once you’re here…
So here we are, my Islington haunts (I’ll keep adding to the list as I go). If we bump into each other, don’t forget to say hi – and if you have any suggestions for my list, please drop me a line!
Highbury, Barnsbury & Canonbury
Not really a restaurant but a hole-in-the-wall with a massive wood-fired pizza oven, stone-baking takeaway thin-crust pizza for the hungry masses. Top-notch ingredients make for top-notch pizza. Fab gluten-free bases available. Sometimes eating in is even better than eating out.
Neighbourhood restaurant lauded for its rotisserie chicken and tatties. Simple, mouth-watering and weekly menu served up in an informal setting. You’ll never accuse chicken of being boring again. Great for groups. Killer chicken stock available to take away.
Prawn on the Lawn
Fishmongers and quirky, cosy restaurant serving up small plates of fresher-than-fresh fish and seafood. Think scallop ceviche, seared tuna with chilli, and impressive seafood platters. Pop to The Alwyne Castle across the road for a half whilst you’re waiting for a table…
Neighbourhood restaurant a little off the beaten track but worth the detour. Serving small plates from a short, well-curated menu that changes daily. Informal, communal dining space in an old motor garage. Worth going for the offbeat wine list alone.
Impossibly good gastro-pub bringing Islington the best smoked and grilled meat in town. Impressive beer selection and lovely outdoor area. I fell in love the moment they served me foie gras with a fried egg and apple pie. Seriously tasty.
Hidden gem on Newington Green with a proper Italian deli and a bright and welcoming cafe cum restaurant. Excellent homemade offering including cakes and pizza (the gluten-free bases are excellent). Sinfully good melanzane parmigiana.
The critics’ darling. Simple, Italian-inspired menu that keeps us coming back time and time again. Standout handmade pappardelle with beef shin ragu (there was a riot when they trialled taking it off the menu). Head downstairs for sultry mood-lighting.
Best brunch place for miles. Creative, killer menu and great coffee in a charming shabby-chic setting. Warning: the pancakes, bacon, honeycomb butter and maple syrup will take you out. Be prepared to queue.
The Alwyne Castle
A neighbourhood institution, this pub boasts one of the best beer gardens around. Great atmosphere, wide selection of booze and a proper gastro food offering. Never lets you down.
The Snooty Fox
Great selection of beers, tasty food offering, retro decor and cosy enough to while away an afternoon – what more could you ask for? My beloved local.
An oasis of calm on bustling Highbury Corner, this charming cafe is serious about its coffee. Perfect for a pitstop and a slice of cake. Cool, quirky artwork adorns the walls.
Step off St Paul’s Road and into the ’70s. Light, tranquil space perfect for reading a good book or watching the world go by. Short, simple offering of daily salads and sandwiches and excellent coffee. Pretty sure my Grandma had the exact same china.
Intoxicating array of top-notch cheese with bijou deli & cafe offering to boot. Not cheap but worth it for the quality. Warning: queues stretch out the door on Christmas Eve!
Authentic Italian deli with beautiful produce. Think unparalleled pesto, panettone and panini. Step off Upper Street and into Rome.
Newington Green Fruit & Vegetables
109 Newington Green Rd, London N1 4QY
Mesmerising selection of fresh fruit and veg on offer at surprisingly reasonable prices. Pop in for some salad and leave laden with exotic delights. You’ll see me in here most days.
New kid on the block (opened July 2015) from Tom Oldroyd of Polpo fame, this tiny restaurant has everything going for it. Great food, great wine, great value too in fact. Serving small plates that shout “seasonal British produce” from the rooftops. Menu changes daily.
This needs little by way of introduction – deli and communal-dining restaurant serving indulgent, fusion salads like nowhere else. Good-looking cakes in the window display are near-impossible to resist.
The Pig & Butcher
Sister pub to the Smokehouse and stonking in its own right. Inspired by farmhouse dishes, the attention is on rare breed meats and fresh-off-the-boat fish. Simple and excellently executed. Craft beers abound.
Fantastic pub that’s light, bright and relaxed by day and buzzing by night. Impressive British seasonal food menu and fresh juice bar too. Boyfriend’s pick for our first date – good call!
69 Colebrooke Row
Low-lit and intimate with a speakeasy feel, this teeny oh-so-grown-up cocktail bar is renowned for serving up some of the hottest cocktails in town. Dangerously tasty.
London Cocktail Club
A new addition to the LCC collection, this speakeasy-style cocktail bar with an apothecary frontage brings fun, raucous delight in the form of a wildly creative cocktail list, pumping music and an infectious party vibe. Pop in for a night-cap, stay till last orders.
Tucked away in the petite courtyard of Smug lifestyle store, this is the place to surround yourself with beautiful things and get away from it all. Coffee and sweet and savoury snacks available whilst you Instagram everything.
Paul A Young Fine Chocolates
Award-winning chocolate shop offering some daring yet irresistible flavour combinations (port & Stilton or Marmite anyone?). Not easy on the wallet so for special occasions only! Cockle-warming Aztec hot chocolate to take away worth the visit alone.
Not really Islington but near enough…
This had to make the cut because I got so excited when I heard it was opening. It’s Foxlow’s second site, in Stoke Newington, and the focus remains on stupendously good meat dishes. Delectable cocktail list and great atmosphere to boot.
Source: Words and photos by pip & little blue.