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Best seafood restaurants in London: Prawns, cuttlefish, and natural wine at Westerns Laundry, one of the best restaurants in Islington Patricia Niven

All the Best Restaurants in Islington

Deep, rich laksas, modern seafood cooking, hand-pulled Xi’an Chinese noodles, and more

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The Upper Street Byron Burger is now a Gordon Ramsay Street Burger – a reminder that the forces that propelled Islington’s dizzying rise and slow-motion culinary disintegration did not take a few months off during the pandemic. Or, as Chef Ramsay might put it, plus ça fucking change. That said, there are still plenty of reasons to get off the tube at Angel or Highbury and Islington: restaurants, bars and cafes that have emerged in defiance of the dominant casual dining model, and which offer a taste of an area often misleadingly (but not altogether unfairly) characterised as a boneyard of chain restaurant mediocrity.

In truth, Islington is London’s restaurant scene in miniature: a blend of prime high street real estate mired in chain mediocrity; achingly cool indie darlings setting up shop where rents and rates are a little more affordable; world-class immigrant-led assimilation food; and proper, grown-up places, where discerning adults can while away most of an afternoon or evening. All this, plus brunch.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tanakatsu

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10 Wakley St
London EC1V 7LT, UK

It’s not often that a breaded, fried pork cutlet plays second fiddle to a side salad, but this is the genius of local hero Tanakatsu — its secret-formula Mighty Salad Dressing™ is so beloved it is even possible to order bottles of the stuff direct on Deliveroo. The menu contains plenty of sushi and snacks for larger, hungrier groups; for the solo diner the correct move is one of the katsu sets, which feature impeccably fried pork or chicken, with a bonus prawn katsu and pumpkin croquette thrown in for good measure, along with rice, pickles and a bottomless cabbage salad. And, of course, that dressing: a zippy, assertive presence that cuts through the richness of fried food and kewpie mayonnaise like a surgeon’s scalpel. At £13.95 per set it’s perhaps Islington’s most complete, and most completely unimprovable, meal.

2. Delhi Grill

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21 Chapel Market
London N1 9EZ, UK

A stalwart across multiple editions of Eater London’s essential 38 restaurants, Delhi Grill knocks out affordable, (largely) Northern Indian in which the flavours are every bit as arresting as the dining room plastered in pastels and Bollywood posters. Anything from the tandoor is sure to be a success — sheekh kebabs and tandoori paneer are especially strong — while dhaba (roadside food stall) classics like railway lamb and butter chicken are just the ticket for anyone on the hunt for a more conventional Great British Curry. At lunchtime, heaping thalis give even Indian Veg a run for its money in the affordability stakes. It may not be fancy, but so few truly essential things are.

3. The Drapers Arms

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44 Barnsbury St
London N1 1ER, UK

The Drapers actually fails The Beetroot Test (like the Bechdel Test, but for gastropubs: does the menu feature a goat’s cheese and beetroot salad?) but this is perhaps the only misstep in a venue that otherwise cherry-picks the best of recent British culinary history. It’s easy to look at lamb sweetbreads with bacon, steak tartare with bone marrow and a hulking suet-crust pie and diagnose another Modern British boozer in the vein of the Anchor and Hope, which of course is not bad thing in itself. But in a dish like the duck heart and liver vol-au-vent with a watercress and mustard sauce, the influence of the House of Henderson meets with a strain of French classicism also present in magret de canard with bacon sauce and the beef fillet with pommes salardises and peppercorn sauce. All this is evidence, along the with cult favourite cheese spring rolls on the bar menu and one of London’s most interesting wine lists, that the Drapers does things slightly differently. Sunday lunches book out weeks in advance, with good reason: a long boozy sesh in the high-ceilinged first floor dining room is what chilly winter weekends were made for.

4. Llerena

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167 Upper St
London N1 1US, UK

London has never quite got tapas right. Of course, the capital’s Spanish restaurants are frequently fantastic, but the more common method of enjoying them is to bed into a single location for a whole afternoon or evening, blitzing through pretty much the entire menu. Llerena is an advertisement for the more quintessentially Iberian practice of stopping in for a couple of really good things at a place that does them really well, then moving on elsewhere for a couple of other really good things, and so on. The stuff to go for here is simple: a range of cured meats, cheeses, and caldos (stews) that make the best possible use of prime-grade Extremadura produce. Perhaps skip the tortilla, and definitely tuck into more than a couple of pint-sized G&Ts, then toddle off elsewhere.

5. Sunday

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169 Hemingford Rd, London
Islington N1 1, UK
020 7607 3868

Pro tip: Sunday takes reservations (via phone) on weekdays, so anyone working from home from Tuesday through Friday can lock in a leisurely brunch slot without having to endure what is one of the area’s most reliably lengthy queues. Once inside, there’s not really any way to get an order wrong, although an especially savvy one will include the smoked haddock rarebit, banana bread and a half-portion of pancakes “for the table”. Don’t overlook the salads, either: judicious use of crunch, spice and acidity makes them far more than a mere afterthought, more evidence of a kitchen that knows exactly what its customers want, and exactly how to give it to them. Pro parent tip: don’t bring a big buggy.

6. Black Axe Mangal

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156 Canonbury Rd
London N1 2UP, UK

After a nervous wait that dragged on for so long it seemed that the unthinkable might actually have happened, it’s official: BAM is back, baby. Back, but not quite the same: a £45 set menu now greets hungry customers: an economic necessity for a space with Black Axe’s quirky floorplan, but one which also allows visitors to sample some of the restaurant’s all-time classics like the squid ink flatbread with cod’s roe whilst Lee Tiernan and team mix things up on the specials board. The argument that this most chaotic good of restaurants may be settling down into a more sedate middle age may gain some credibility from the presence, for the first time, of a reservations policy and a growing wine list; then again, the enduringly loud playlist acts as a reassuring reminder that BAM will only ever age disgracefully.

7. Trullo

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

Countless others have come and gone, but still Trullo endures. Then again, it’s not hard to understand the secrets to Trullo’s success: the pasta is exemplary, the puddings to die for, the wine list an intriguing meander through the next generation of Italian superstars. Add in the smart, sophisticated room and occasional setpiece dishes like the legendary T-bone with gorgonzola fonduta, polenta chips and Marsala gravy and it’s easy to understand why it remains a neighbourhood favourite, as perfect for Sunday lunch with the in-laws as it is for a Friday night carouse with friends. Like the robust Apulian structures from which it takes its name, built to last.

8. Zia Lucia

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157 Holloway Rd
London N7 8LX, UK

A North London derby to put the Arsenal-Tottenham rivalry to shame is brewing. In the rosso corner, the newly arrived Santa Maria: the latest branch of a critically acclaimed mini-chain with a savvy social media presence and some truly excellent meatballs. In the bianco corner, Zia Lucia, the original branch of a critically acclaimed mini-chain with a brand personality that feels like every cliché about the Italian temperament all rolled into one. In a move that may appal carbohydrate monogamists, Zia Lucia has also changed its format recently to incorporate its pasta concept Berto next door, making an already busy menu (four different doughs to choose from!) even more of a Rubik’s cube; it might be easier to pick a favourite if the core offering wasn’t so damn good and genuinely affordable in both venues. Perhaps it’s best just to call it a win-win for all involved. [Editor’s note: North London is red.]

9. Sambal Shiok Laksa Bar

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171 Holloway Rd
London N7 8LX, UK

Once, Islington’s main thoroughfare was so full of popular restaurants that some in the press renamed it Supper Street. These days, all the good stuff is happening at right angles to Upper Street – on St Paul’s road on one side of Highbury Corner, and on Holloway Road on the other. Mandy Yin’s Sambal Shiok is unmistakably one of the driving forces behind this change – a focal point for any Malaysians in the area who miss the flavours of home, and a no-brainer for anyone else with a taste for punchy laksas, excellent nasi lemak and some of the best fried chicken in town. Next door, Sambal To Go emerged out of the unfortunate demise of Nasi (which never really got a fair shake during the pandemic) and now offers a tantalising selection from both menus, curry puffs mandatory.

10. Westerns Laundry

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34 Drayton Park, Highbury East
London N5 1PB, UK

There are better things in life, conceivably, than sipping a Picon bière and eating some fried fish while awaiting a parade of perfect small plates, but it’s pretty hard to think of many. A dining room that elicits an audible ‘whoa’ from first-timers, a blackboard menu replete with no-holds-barred bangers, a drinks menu that pairs low-intervention wines with some of the best post-prandials to be had in London: Westerns holds all the aces. And, only its slightly out-of-the-way location can explain why it isn’t fully booked for every available service. If this was on Upper Street, it would be full from now until kingdom come — then again, if this was on Upper Street, it wouldn’t be the impossibly alluring Westerns that so many locals know and love.

11. Xi'an Impression London

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117 Benwell Rd
London N7 7BW, UK

The best thing to have happened in the vicinity of the Emirates Stadium for about as long as there has been an Emirates Stadium, Wei Guirong’s tiny and unadorned restaurant may lack the scale and bombast of later jewels in her crown, but it remains an essential fixture for anyone interested in the best Islington has to offer. The world has changed since Xi’an Impression opened halfway through the last decade — the house cucumber salad was immortalised in Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage’s recent book Flavour; lockdown last year bore witness to carb enthusiasts making their own biang biang noodles at home — but that doesn’t mean the repertoire here has lost any of its ability to hit home. There isn’t a winter day in history that could stand up to the Xinjiang stir fried chicken with hand-pulled noodles; there isn’t a hipster burger in town that is fit to thrown down buns with the house rou jia mo. Also available on Deliveroo for the lazy and / or hungover.

12. Jolene Colebrooke Row

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16 Essex Rd
London N1 8LN, UK

The decision to open a bakery and chocolatier practically equidistant between a celebrated bakery (Popham’s) and a celebrated chocolatier (Paul A Young) is one that bespeaks a certain confidence on the part of the overlords behind the extended Primeur / Westerns / Jolene / Big Jo universe. But as pastry chefs know all too well, the proof is in the pudding, and there is little to suggest this second in a planned series of satellite bakeries represents any sort of over-extension. Sandwiches are petite but massy affairs, more in the 40 Maltby Street mould than the stunt sandwich school of the late twenty-teens; bakes are a greatest hits of recent London favourites (cinnamon scrolls, ‘Basque’ cheesecake, babka) with some notable savoury options (sausage rolls, cauliflower cheese puffs) thrown into the mix. Chocolates are tiny, delightful, and currently only available as a mixed box of six: a perfect gift for chocoholics and Instagram aesthetes alike.

13. Yield N1

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97 St Paul's Rd
London N1 2NA, UK

Superseding Provisions as the Islington Natty Juice Bro’s first port of call is this petite offshoot of Stoke Newington’s justly adored Yield N16. As with another new arrival to the area — Upper Street’s Superette — anyone who has set food in a fancy food shop in the past 18 months will feel very much at home: Torres crisps, posh conservas and Natoora dips are all present and correct, as is an appealing range of cheeses and cured meats. But the wine is the true draw, especially since it can be enjoyed at one of the small tables that teleport inside and outside of the building depending on the weather. Regular tastings and excellent bread from E5 Bakehouse are just two more reasons to pop a head in whenever the mood strikes: All one could want from a neighbourhood wine shop, really.

14. Prawn on the Lawn

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292, 294 St Paul's Rd
London N1 2LH, UK

The POTL origin story is as convoluted as some chunks of comic book canon, involving an initial London fishmonger importing the best of British seafood from the West Coast, a coals-to-Newcastle / shoals-to-Boscastle journey to Padstow for a second site, a move a few hundred metres down the road in North London, and the bucolic Glastonbury-for-spider-crab-nerds vibes of Prawn on the Lawn on the Farm over the past couple of summers. Phew! All that really matters is the fish is fresh as it comes and cooked with appropriate sensitivity: small plates for the indecisive, whole crab, lobster and other denizens of the deep for those fonder of larger formats. Get some oysters in, add a couple of slabs of Coombeshead sourdough, pluck a bottle at random from a short, seafood-friendly wine list. It’s not as complicated as the backstory makes it sound, really.

15. Tofu Vegan

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105 Upper St
London N1 1QN, UK

The wave of hype that seemed to engulf this Upper Street newcomer immediately after it had opened appears to have receded somewhat, meaning there is a decent chance of someone reading this actually being able to book a table. Things to expect: very good cold noodles, beautifully wibbly silken tofu, a clever mock “fish” in sizzling chilli oil that uses seaweed to uncanny effect. Things not to expect: any actual meat or fish (duh), grim lab-produced meat substitutes from startups backed by Randian venture capital douches (yay), vegan food co-opted by the ‘wellness’ movement (ugh). Especially fun with larger groups, so bring friends, and maybe don’t wear a white shirt.

16. Vertige Café

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154 Canonbury Rd
London N1 2UP, UK
020 7354 9657

Islington residents, staunch Remainers one and all judging by the window-dressing back in 2016, love themselves a French cafe/bakery. There’s Le Péché Mignon, snuck away in a residential street just of the Holloway Road; implausibly, Belle Epoque and Joie de Vie find themselves operating a baguette’s length away from each other on Upper Street. Best of the lot, though, is Vertige, where the shop-front counter display is enough to seduce anyone with a hankering for enriched pastry or bechamel. The croque-monsieur-esque cheese toastie is epochal, the pains aux chocolate are just so, and the croissant is quite possibly London’s best, a marvel of flaky layers with an almost custardy centre. Weekends see a short, simple brunch menu including a very good, classical cheese omelette; really, though, the best time to arrive is whenever something is being taken out of the oven.

17. The Little Viet Kitchen

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2 Chapel Market
London N1 9EZ, UK

Camden Passage may have the kooky antique shops and bouji chocolatiers, but Chapel Market is the real beating heart of Islington — nowhere else do all the area’s various strands of DNA fuse together so comprehensively. This is another way of saying Chapel Market can be kind of overwhelming — it is hard, sometimes, to see the wood for the trees. This is another way of saying that it is eminently possible to overlook Thuy Pham’s discreet little whitewashed dining room, which would be a shame, as it represents a singular take on Vietnamese food in a city not short of excellent Vietnamese options. The menu changes regularly but a fiery chicken curry is a mainstay (and well worth a look); a Lovecraftian burger melding beef with a whole fried softshell crab is deliberately A Lot but transcends stunt dish mediocrity in its incorporation of bánh mì staples like chicken pâté and pickled carrots. Those unable to make the trip to North London should keep a close eye on Dishpatch — LVK regularly makes its Feast kits available for nationwide delivery.

1. Tanakatsu

10 Wakley St, London EC1V 7LT, UK

It’s not often that a breaded, fried pork cutlet plays second fiddle to a side salad, but this is the genius of local hero Tanakatsu — its secret-formula Mighty Salad Dressing™ is so beloved it is even possible to order bottles of the stuff direct on Deliveroo. The menu contains plenty of sushi and snacks for larger, hungrier groups; for the solo diner the correct move is one of the katsu sets, which feature impeccably fried pork or chicken, with a bonus prawn katsu and pumpkin croquette thrown in for good measure, along with rice, pickles and a bottomless cabbage salad. And, of course, that dressing: a zippy, assertive presence that cuts through the richness of fried food and kewpie mayonnaise like a surgeon’s scalpel. At £13.95 per set it’s perhaps Islington’s most complete, and most completely unimprovable, meal.

10 Wakley St
London EC1V 7LT, UK

2. Delhi Grill

21 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ, UK

A stalwart across multiple editions of Eater London’s essential 38 restaurants, Delhi Grill knocks out affordable, (largely) Northern Indian in which the flavours are every bit as arresting as the dining room plastered in pastels and Bollywood posters. Anything from the tandoor is sure to be a success — sheekh kebabs and tandoori paneer are especially strong — while dhaba (roadside food stall) classics like railway lamb and butter chicken are just the ticket for anyone on the hunt for a more conventional Great British Curry. At lunchtime, heaping thalis give even Indian Veg a run for its money in the affordability stakes. It may not be fancy, but so few truly essential things are.

21 Chapel Market
London N1 9EZ, UK

3. The Drapers Arms

44 Barnsbury St, London N1 1ER, UK

The Drapers actually fails The Beetroot Test (like the Bechdel Test, but for gastropubs: does the menu feature a goat’s cheese and beetroot salad?) but this is perhaps the only misstep in a venue that otherwise cherry-picks the best of recent British culinary history. It’s easy to look at lamb sweetbreads with bacon, steak tartare with bone marrow and a hulking suet-crust pie and diagnose another Modern British boozer in the vein of the Anchor and Hope, which of course is not bad thing in itself. But in a dish like the duck heart and liver vol-au-vent with a watercress and mustard sauce, the influence of the House of Henderson meets with a strain of French classicism also present in magret de canard with bacon sauce and the beef fillet with pommes salardises and peppercorn sauce. All this is evidence, along the with cult favourite cheese spring rolls on the bar menu and one of London’s most interesting wine lists, that the Drapers does things slightly differently. Sunday lunches book out weeks in advance, with good reason: a long boozy sesh in the high-ceilinged first floor dining room is what chilly winter weekends were made for.

44 Barnsbury St
London N1 1ER, UK

4. Llerena

167 Upper St, London N1 1US, UK

London has never quite got tapas right. Of course, the capital’s Spanish restaurants are frequently fantastic, but the more common method of enjoying them is to bed into a single location for a whole afternoon or evening, blitzing through pretty much the entire menu. Llerena is an advertisement for the more quintessentially Iberian practice of stopping in for a couple of really good things at a place that does them really well, then moving on elsewhere for a couple of other really good things, and so on. The stuff to go for here is simple: a range of cured meats, cheeses, and caldos (stews) that make the best possible use of prime-grade Extremadura produce. Perhaps skip the tortilla, and definitely tuck into more than a couple of pint-sized G&Ts, then toddle off elsewhere.

167 Upper St
London N1 1US, UK

5. Sunday

169 Hemingford Rd, London, Islington N1 1, UK

Pro tip: Sunday takes reservations (via phone) on weekdays, so anyone working from home from Tuesday through Friday can lock in a leisurely brunch slot without having to endure what is one of the area’s most reliably lengthy queues. Once inside, there’s not really any way to get an order wrong, although an especially savvy one will include the smoked haddock rarebit, banana bread and a half-portion of pancakes “for the table”. Don’t overlook the salads, either: judicious use of crunch, spice and acidity makes them far more than a mere afterthought, more evidence of a kitchen that knows exactly what its customers want, and exactly how to give it to them. Pro parent tip: don’t bring a big buggy.

169 Hemingford Rd, London
Islington N1 1, UK

6. Black Axe Mangal

156 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2UP, UK

After a nervous wait that dragged on for so long it seemed that the unthinkable might actually have happened, it’s official: BAM is back, baby. Back, but not quite the same: a £45 set menu now greets hungry customers: an economic necessity for a space with Black Axe’s quirky floorplan, but one which also allows visitors to sample some of the restaurant’s all-time classics like the squid ink flatbread with cod’s roe whilst Lee Tiernan and team mix things up on the specials board. The argument that this most chaotic good of restaurants may be settling down into a more sedate middle age may gain some credibility from the presence, for the first time, of a reservations policy and a growing wine list; then again, the enduringly loud playlist acts as a reassuring reminder that BAM will only ever age disgracefully.

156 Canonbury Rd
London N1 2UP, UK

7. Trullo

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

Countless others have come and gone, but still Trullo endures. Then again, it’s not hard to understand the secrets to Trullo’s success: the pasta is exemplary, the puddings to die for, the wine list an intriguing meander through the next generation of Italian superstars. Add in the smart, sophisticated room and occasional setpiece dishes like the legendary T-bone with gorgonzola fonduta, polenta chips and Marsala gravy and it’s easy to understand why it remains a neighbourhood favourite, as perfect for Sunday lunch with the in-laws as it is for a Friday night carouse with friends. Like the robust Apulian structures from which it takes its name, built to last.

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

8. Zia Lucia

157 Holloway Rd, London N7 8LX, UK

A North London derby to put the Arsenal-Tottenham rivalry to shame is brewing. In the rosso corner, the newly arrived Santa Maria: the latest branch of a critically acclaimed mini-chain with a savvy social media presence and some truly excellent meatballs. In the bianco corner, Zia Lucia, the original branch of a critically acclaimed mini-chain with a brand personality that feels like every cliché about the Italian temperament all rolled into one. In a move that may appal carbohydrate monogamists, Zia Lucia has also changed its format recently to incorporate its pasta concept Berto next door, making an already busy menu (four different doughs to choose from!) even more of a Rubik’s cube; it might be easier to pick a favourite if the core offering wasn’t so damn good and genuinely affordable in both venues. Perhaps it’s best just to call it a win-win for all involved. [Editor’s note: North London is red.]

157 Holloway Rd
London N7 8LX, UK

9. Sambal Shiok Laksa Bar

171 Holloway Rd, London N7 8LX, UK

Once, Islington’s main thoroughfare was so full of popular restaurants that some in the press renamed it Supper Street. These days, all the good stuff is happening at right angles to Upper Street – on St Paul’s road on one side of Highbury Corner, and on Holloway Road on the other. Mandy Yin’s Sambal Shiok is unmistakably one of the driving forces behind this change – a focal point for any Malaysians in the area who miss the flavours of home, and a no-brainer for anyone else with a taste for punchy laksas, excellent nasi lemak and some of the best fried chicken in town. Next door, Sambal To Go emerged out of the unfortunate demise of Nasi (which never really got a fair shake during the pandemic) and now offers a tantalising selection from both menus, curry puffs mandatory.

171 Holloway Rd
London N7 8LX, UK

10. Westerns Laundry

34 Drayton Park, Highbury East, London N5 1PB, UK

There are better things in life, conceivably, than sipping a Picon bière and eating some fried fish while awaiting a parade of perfect small plates, but it’s pretty hard to think of many. A dining room that elicits an audible ‘whoa’ from first-timers, a blackboard menu replete with no-holds-barred bangers, a drinks menu that pairs low-intervention wines with some of the best post-prandials to be had in London: Westerns holds all the aces. And, only its slightly out-of-the-way location can explain why it isn’t fully booked for every available service. If this was on Upper Street, it would be full from now until kingdom come — then again, if this was on Upper Street, it wouldn’t be the impossibly alluring Westerns that so many locals know and love.

34 Drayton Park, Highbury East
London N5 1PB, UK

11. Xi'an Impression London

117 Benwell Rd, London N7 7BW, UK

The best thing to have happened in the vicinity of the Emirates Stadium for about as long as there has been an Emirates Stadium, Wei Guirong’s tiny and unadorned restaurant may lack the scale and bombast of later jewels in her crown, but it remains an essential fixture for anyone interested in the best Islington has to offer. The world has changed since Xi’an Impression opened halfway through the last decade — the house cucumber salad was immortalised in Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage’s recent book Flavour; lockdown last year bore witness to carb enthusiasts making their own biang biang noodles at home — but that doesn’t mean the repertoire here has lost any of its ability to hit home. There isn’t a winter day in history that could stand up to the Xinjiang stir fried chicken with hand-pulled noodles; there isn’t a hipster burger in town that is fit to thrown down buns with the house rou jia mo. Also available on Deliveroo for the lazy and / or hungover.

117 Benwell Rd
London N7 7BW, UK

12. Jolene Colebrooke Row

16 Essex Rd, London N1 8LN, UK

The decision to open a bakery and chocolatier practically equidistant between a celebrated bakery (Popham’s) and a celebrated chocolatier (Paul A Young) is one that bespeaks a certain confidence on the part of the overlords behind the extended Primeur / Westerns / Jolene / Big Jo universe. But as pastry chefs know all too well, the proof is in the pudding, and there is little to suggest this second in a planned series of satellite bakeries represents any sort of over-extension. Sandwiches are petite but massy affairs, more in the 40 Maltby Street mould than the stunt sandwich school of the late twenty-teens; bakes are a greatest hits of recent London favourites (cinnamon scrolls, ‘Basque’ cheesecake, babka) with some notable savoury options (sausage rolls, cauliflower cheese puffs) thrown into the mix. Chocolates are tiny, delightful, and currently only available as a mixed box of six: a perfect gift for chocoholics and Instagram aesthetes alike.

16 Essex Rd
London N1 8LN, UK

13. Yield N1

97 St Paul's Rd, London N1 2NA, UK

Superseding Provisions as the Islington Natty Juice Bro’s first port of call is this petite offshoot of Stoke Newington’s justly adored Yield N16. As with another new arrival to the area — Upper Street’s Superette — anyone who has set food in a fancy food shop in the past 18 months will feel very much at home: Torres crisps, posh conservas and Natoora dips are all present and correct, as is an appealing range of cheeses and cured meats. But the wine is the true draw, especially since it can be enjoyed at one of the small tables that teleport inside and outside of the building depending on the weather. Regular tastings and excellent bread from E5 Bakehouse are just two more reasons to pop a head in whenever the mood strikes: All one could want from a neighbourhood wine shop, really.

97 St Paul's Rd
London N1 2NA, UK

14. Prawn on the Lawn

292, 294 St Paul's Rd, London N1 2LH, UK

The POTL origin story is as convoluted as some chunks of comic book canon, involving an initial London fishmonger importing the best of British seafood from the West Coast, a coals-to-Newcastle / shoals-to-Boscastle journey to Padstow for a second site, a move a few hundred metres down the road in North London, and the bucolic Glastonbury-for-spider-crab-nerds vibes of Prawn on the Lawn on the Farm over the past couple of summers. Phew! All that really matters is the fish is fresh as it comes and cooked with appropriate sensitivity: small plates for the indecisive, whole crab, lobster and other denizens of the deep for those fonder of larger formats. Get some oysters in, add a couple of slabs of Coombeshead sourdough, pluck a bottle at random from a short, seafood-friendly wine list. It’s not as complicated as the backstory makes it sound, really.

292, 294 St Paul's Rd
London N1 2LH, UK

15. Tofu Vegan

105 Upper St, London N1 1QN, UK

The wave of hype that seemed to engulf this Upper Street newcomer immediately after it had opened appears to have receded somewhat, meaning there is a decent chance of someone reading this actually being able to book a table. Things to expect: very good cold noodles, beautifully wibbly silken tofu, a clever mock “fish” in sizzling chilli oil that uses seaweed to uncanny effect. Things not to expect: any actual meat or fish (duh), grim lab-produced meat substitutes from startups backed by Randian venture capital douches (yay), vegan food co-opted by the ‘wellness’ movement (ugh). Especially fun with larger groups, so bring friends, and maybe don’t wear a white shirt.

105 Upper St
London N1 1QN, UK

Related Maps

16. Vertige Café

154 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2UP, UK

Islington residents, staunch Remainers one and all judging by the window-dressing back in 2016, love themselves a French cafe/bakery. There’s Le Péché Mignon, snuck away in a residential street just of the Holloway Road; implausibly, Belle Epoque and Joie de Vie find themselves operating a baguette’s length away from each other on Upper Street. Best of the lot, though, is Vertige, where the shop-front counter display is enough to seduce anyone with a hankering for enriched pastry or bechamel. The croque-monsieur-esque cheese toastie is epochal, the pains aux chocolate are just so, and the croissant is quite possibly London’s best, a marvel of flaky layers with an almost custardy centre. Weekends see a short, simple brunch menu including a very good, classical cheese omelette; really, though, the best time to arrive is whenever something is being taken out of the oven.

154 Canonbury Rd
London N1 2UP, UK

17. The Little Viet Kitchen

2 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ, UK

Camden Passage may have the kooky antique shops and bouji chocolatiers, but Chapel Market is the real beating heart of Islington — nowhere else do all the area’s various strands of DNA fuse together so comprehensively. This is another way of saying Chapel Market can be kind of overwhelming — it is hard, sometimes, to see the wood for the trees. This is another way of saying that it is eminently possible to overlook Thuy Pham’s discreet little whitewashed dining room, which would be a shame, as it represents a singular take on Vietnamese food in a city not short of excellent Vietnamese options. The menu changes regularly but a fiery chicken curry is a mainstay (and well worth a look); a Lovecraftian burger melding beef with a whole fried softshell crab is deliberately A Lot but transcends stunt dish mediocrity in its incorporation of bánh mì staples like chicken pâté and pickled carrots. Those unable to make the trip to North London should keep a close eye on Dishpatch — LVK regularly makes its Feast kits available for nationwide delivery.

2 Chapel Market
London N1 9EZ, UK

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