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Dalston area guide

Clubs, kebabs, markets and independents of all sorts all make Dalston a great place to explore

It may not seem the case as you peer out of the Overground station, but Dalston is packed with fun nights out, affordable (delicious) meals and unique bargain buys. Our guide to Dalston's best bits will help you get to grips with an area that's a glorious blend of London's many tastes and characters.

Dalston highlights

Things to do

Dalston Roof Park

A mere hop, skip and ladylike stumble from Dalston Kingsland station is the Print House, a four-storey former factory which is home to the innovative Bootstrap Company and the annual outing of the Dalston Roof Park. Designed by Zector Architects it's a staggering space – and not just because of the views over the City.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Rio Cinema

New indie and mainstream releases are brought to Dalston by this friendly independent cinema.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Dalston's best bars and pubs

Bars and pubs

Railway Tavern

The Railway Tavern, on a residential street in the fringes of Islington, is essentially a local – but it’s to its credit that drinkers from locales further afield will travel to visit. The owners of the Pineapple in Kentish Town returned this pub to its original name and gave it a thoughtful, mid-century-style makeover, with a few bits of artful railway ephemera here and there. Food is Thai; there’s live music. But the beer selection is something special, and served with a dedication that prospective London publicans would do well to emulate. There are six regularly changing real ales on tap, and they’re often made in London – from Redemption, Brodie’s or the East London Brewing Company, for instance; on the recently expanded keg taps are Meantime London Lager, König Pilsner, Black Isle Porter and Brewdog’s 5am Saint. The bottles pay homage to the microbrewing nous of the Americans, with the likes of Brooklyn, Anchor and Sierra Nevada, although there’s also a good few Europeans. It’s also a place to sample the latest hop explosions from Bermondsey’s cult Kernel Brewery. No mainstream sops for the unadventurous sipper in sight, and brews are served in handled, dimpled pint mugs: magic.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs

Ruby's

The phrase ‘hidden gem’ is on Time Out’s list of banned clichés, its use punishable by being forced to write out ‘Does what it says on the tin’ 100 times. But a bar called Ruby’s, accessed via a flight of rickety, lino-clad stairs off a quiet bit of Stoke Newington Road, its presence barely advertised… you get the picture. It’s below Ruby House, a five-storey townhouse hired out as an artfully dishevelled backdrop for fashion shoots and music videos. The style continues down to the basement bar – it’s tiled with glorious glazed bricks, the wooden floorboards are battered but sturdy, and there’s an assortment of original features probably imported from somewhere else that make the place look even more atmospheric. The only things less than 20 years old are the staff. The decor feels half-finished or half-started, depending how you look at it. It’s restrained, but intriguing enough to hint at a mysterious past – apparently it was the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant, but before that… It surely holds a few stories. Upon the house-clearance tables is placed a collection of very nickable vintage beer mats (I didn’t, though); upon these can be placed something from the small but carefully assembled drinks menu. Five simple cocktails, elevated to something more special by clever presentation (piled with crushed ice and berry garnishes in an antique milk bottle, say, or in an enamel mug). There’s the full range of craft beers from Redchurch Brewery, and a wine list. There’s no need fo

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs

Ridley Road Market Bar

Last summer a furniture and computer shop in Dalston’s Ridley Road, following a quickie remodel, became home to a very different type of enterprise. Not that you’d know it from the sign: in that knowingly understated east London style, ‘Furniture & PC Sales’ remained above the entrance, reminding those who sought it out they were about to enter a wilfully DIY operation. It traded as a café until a few weeks ago, when a liquor licence turned it into a bar proper. Inside, fake-wood wall veneers clash gloriously with homemade cymbal lightshades, a checquered dancefloor, mirrorballs, a bar made of offcuts, cheapo seating and piles of exotic fruit. DJs play and sometimes there are bands. It’s like a Club Tropicana where strangers don’t take you by the hand and drinks aren’t free – but they’re pretty cheap. The nightspots up and down the nearby Dalston drag of Kingsland Road can be a bit intimidating for those not in leotards (men) or without undercuts (women), so RRMM, although clearly aware of its ironically tacky trendiness, feels brilliantly egalitarian. On our visit, a giant but very friendly bouncer ushered us in; staff were assembling cheerful and uncomplicated cocktails. The short list was displayed on a peg-board menu: the likes of ginger mojitos, or gin with fresh pomegranate, served in plastic pint pots with a straw and piles of crushed ice for a fiver. Beer, appropriately enough for a tropical-themed bar in east London, is Red Stripe. Instead of trying to cram a kitchen

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Bars and pubs

Spurstowe Arms

This Hackney pub might look like a traditional East End boozer but the range of its food output suggests the kitchen isn't playing second fiddle to the bar. Starters include a soup of Jerusalem artichoke and roast garlic, or smoked duck breast with pickled plums and baby watercress. Mains range from lamb rogan josh to pan roasted guinea fowl on sourdough with girolles, sauteed rainbow chard and masala sauce. Traditional roasts are available on Sundays, too.  There are four ales on tap, complemented by continental lagers, guest beers and cocktails such as an elderflower cooler made with Boxer gin, St Germain, strawberries and mint. They also open a new wine 'find' each day, served by the glass. Bar snacks are also available.   

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Comments

10 comments
A.M.
A.M.

Try small stall with Trinidad food on Ridley Road Market, which is served by merry woman.

A.M.
A.M.

Try traditional portuguese bacalao a bra (salted cod) in The Portuguese Conspiracy 

writtenbyfitton
writtenbyfitton

Ruby's cocktail bar - underneath the vintage cinema sign on Kingsland Rd. Great drinks. Quirky place.

- Nina

Have You Heard Of It? bar & restaurant blogger | HYHOI.com

HitachiSpotter
HitachiSpotter

The A10, so I can leave all the hipsters behind.

Valeria T
Valeria T

I think the best Turkish food you can find in Dalston is in Umut 2000. I been going there for the last 2 years at least once every 2 months; the quality of food is very consistent and the service is excellent!

GR8KATSBY
GR8KATSBY

Ridley Road Market Bar - killer ginger beer mojitos

Alice
Alice

For 2 years I have been eating at Stone Cave for at least once a month. The food is great, Atmosphere is great, Service is exceptional and it is well priced. Great place for all occasions. Recommended place in Dalston.

Tallulah
Tallulah

Has anyone checked out the Anglia Grove Snooker Club? It's underneath the Victorian railway arches under the Hackney Downs Railway Station. Recently refurbished. Very atmospheric, proper East End snooker club, very authentic unlike those glitzy american clubs. This is a club for serious players. 10 Full size snooker tables , 2 pool tables , Slot machines and licensed bar. Friendly, fun staff. Off the beaten track but well worth finding, it's a local secret. Has large tv screen so that you can watch football whilst waiting for a table. Real mix of clients which adds to the uniqueness of the club. Busy on the weekends and public holidays so book a table in advance.