If Shacklewell lane feels like less of a lane and more of a self-contained hamlet, it’s probably because that’s how it began life back in the fifteenth century.There were natural springs (or ‘wells’) in the area, and this Hackney street is named after these. There are no wells around nowadays, but it has a wealth of other amenities such as a cinema, eateries, a yoga studio and a tree-lined green where you can head with a coffee or sandwich for some peace. And because you’re sufficiently far from the hugely popular, hugely busy Kingsland High Street, you’re even likely to find a bar with a spare seat at any given time. You heard me right: you’re in east London, but you have room to breathe.
Wedged neatly between Rectory Road, Dalston Kingsland and Hackney Downs stations, Shacklewell Lane brings together people from the multicultural melting pot of Dalston with young parent types of Stoke Newington and artists from Hackney. The official vibe is easy-going: this is the kind of place you go to find homemade houmous at cosy café Mouse & de Lotz, or discover up-and-coming bands in the backroom of The Shacklewell Arms, followed by a stroll to Akin Supermarket to ease the hangover with their selection of Turkish biscuits. What’s more, Shacklewell Lane is free of chains – except for a fancy Nando’s on its Dalston corner – so offers a bevy of unique experiences. All you have to do is discover them.
Something appley at Hand of Glory – supplied by a rotating cast of indie UK brewers they offer flat to mulled to so-strong-it’ll-floor-you ciders. Take a punt on a newbie and if you like it, order a flagon, because that’s how they do here.
Sniff out a fine wine at independent importers Aleksic & Mortimer, who source from more than 50 producers in France, Italy and Spain.
A great cup o’ joe from Mouse & De Lotz, which offers coffee by East End roastery Square Mile alongside a range of breakfast, lunch and sweet options.
A proper Latin American meal at Viva, which serves authentic dishes including moqueca: a prawn, plantain and coconut-milk stew. The tequila cocktails ain’t bad either.
The courgette linguine at Floyd’s. Run by a former fashion model, its decor is deliberately low-key so as not to upstage the alluring food.
Chicken at Nando’s. Yes, it’s a chain but this branch offers a worldly-weird experience thanks to its ornately tiled walls and mosaic tables, which give it the feel of an Italian bath house in a Moroccan bazaar. Really.
Watch live music or dance until 3am at The Shacklewell Arms. There are events on every night, usually of a rock persuasion, and the front bar still has a satisfying old-man’s-pub feel.
Catch a movie at Lux Cinema on the third floor of Shacklewell Studios, where you’ll discover independent artists’ films and exhibitions.
Drop in on a vinyasa yoga class at Yoga on the Lane. With mats, blocks and straps aplenty, you don’t need to lug anything with you, and there’s even a heated floor to ease the chill in winter.
If you’re feeling flush, commission an elaborate neon sign from Kemp. If not, just stop by to stare at all the pretty lights in the window.
Beautiful jewellery and printed home furnishings made by women’s cooperatives in rural Southeast Asian communities from Roots Retold, an environmentally conscious fairtrade shop which becomes Brewer’s Bar by night.
If you only do one thing…
Pick a up a Partizan Celebration Ale at Brewer’s Bar. An old butcher’s shop transformed into a cosy drinking hole, it reveals its past in the original marble worktops and giant weighing scales.
By Danielle Goldstein, who wants these shackles off her feet so she can dance