You probably didn’t know that Queen’s Park had a younger sibling, but it does. And it’s not some dorky, nerdy, little brother either; it’s more of a cool, rebellious young upstart with torn jeans and wacky ideas about politics and marijuana and shit. It’s name? Kensal Rise. Look, I’m not saying Kensal Rise is the cutting edge of hip London – though Vogue did describe its main drag, Chamberlayne Road, as the hippest street in Europe in 2009 – but compared to the neighbouring mumageddon that is Queen’s Park, it’s basically punk rock, acid house and teen pregnancy rolled into one.
Chamberlayne Road sits neatly between Ladbroke Grove, Queen’s Park and Willesden, and it’s got a little bit of all of them: leafy and suburban, posh and refined, fun and young. It’s also home to more celebrities than you can shake a lavish Victorian three-bed at. Lily Allen, Paloma Faith and Rita Ora all call it home, and fortunately haven’t yet decided to form the world’s worst supergroup. Author Zadie Smith lives here too, as do actor Thandie Newton and punk pioneer Don Letts. It’s media-type heaven.
But there’s more here than celebs. There’s good eating, good drinking, good shopping and some damn fine culture too. If you like the idea of Queen’s Park without the prams, and with added bars and one of London’s best cinemas, the Rise is the place.
A good pint of beer at the best pub on Chamberlayne Road, The Chamberlayne, which also does a great steak.
Booze, tons of it, at Paradise by Kensal Green, the area’s only nightspot. Expect celebs and ‘Made in Chelsea’-ites by the bucketload.
Cocktails, out of – gasp! – jam jars at The Shop. It’s a small place, but lays on banging tunes and tons of alcohol. What more could you want?
A cracking flat white at the Rise’s first proper coffee shop, Cable Co.
Truly some of the best breakfasts in London are to be had at Parlour. They smoke their own salmon and do an infinite bread bar. A bread bar! This is one worth travelling for.
Seriously good jerk at either Tropikana Rise or Island on the Rise. The area’s had a massive Caribbean population for years, and that means their jerk is the jerkiest.
Properly authentic Neapolitan pizzas from Sacro Cuore. These people are actual, 100 percent real Italians. I know, crazy.
Turkish barbecue from Shish Mangal, a Kensal outpost of the famed west London kebab hotspot.
Take in the beautiful yet spooky sights of Kensal Green Cemetery further down the road. It’s the final resting place of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the great JG Ballard, among many others, and is one of the most stunning graveyards in the city.
Fresh kicks at Supra, another outpost of Portobello Road’s fine streetwear emporium.
Fresh meat and fish at high-end butcher and fishmonger Brooks, one of the best independent retailers for miles.
Craft beer and fine wines from Borough Wines, a long way from Borough but still packing in tons of great boozy produce.
If you only do one thing…
Catch a film at The Lexi, not only one of London’s absolute best independent cinemas but a charity to boot. It doesn’t get much better than that.
By Eddy Frankel, who has more of a Kensal Droop
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