Stretching from Kensington Olympia in the north to Fulham Broadway in the south, North End Road might run through the middle of posh west London but it’s a beguiling place nonetheless. Bookies, boozers and chicken shops sit side-by-side with vegan cafés, outrageous gay bars and contemporary art galleries. And North End Road Market is one of London’s busiest – the kind of place where you can buy a phone charger, a toothbrush, some cheap sunglasses and a bowl of 12 wonky carrots.
Here’s one good reason to visit: the food. North End Road is fussy-mate-proof, with Chinese, Indian, steak, Korean, cor-blimey British, North African, Mediterranean and Italian grub all on offer. And here’s another: there are loads of places to grab a drink, from cocktail bars and smart jazz joints to no-shame happy hours and no-nonsense boozers. Chuck in dog walkers’ paradise Eel Brook Common, less than five minutes’ walk from the bottom of North End Road, and you can see why locals feel no need to leave their manor at the weekend.
South Ken might have a museum or two more, but how many times have you taken visiting friends to the V&A? Too many times, that’s how many. Mix it up and head to West Ken for a different slice of west London life.
A strong double espresso from compact café Bonjour Brioche, which also does excellent pastries.
A pint of Camden Hells from the Cock Tavern, a stylish, vintage-inspired boozer with a decent garden at the rear.
A spicy San Giuseppe from Porcini Pizzeria, a no-nonsense Neapolitan café that also serves pasta dishes and stays open until 11.45pm.
Homemade kimchi at Simya, a Korean restaurant serving up massive portions at very reasonable prices.
Cruelty-free stroganoff and a raw chocolate torte at 222 Veggie Vegan. Ignore the name – everything here is 100 percent vegan.
Chorizo and seafood paella to share at the Cumberland Arms, a smart gastropub with a Mediterranean menu and plenty of ales on tap.
Manakeesh flatbreads from popular Algerian café Jaffa Bake House, which also does a mean baba ganoush.
All your vegan and eco-friendly food, household products and toiletries from GreenBay, a one-stop shop for ethical essentials.
A vintage chair from The Furniture Shop, one of those stuffed-to-the-gills second-hand shops that spill out on to the pavement.
Think long and hard about what it means at Arthill Gallery, a handsome former church that now houses contemporary Asian and European art.
Bop to live jazz and blues – but also soul, rock, funk and reggae – at the intimate Nell’s Jazz & Blues bar.
Guzzle Red Bull and double vodkas at Ted’s Place, a glam gay and trans bar with rock-bottom entry prices. Wallflowers, steer clear of the dark rooms.
If you only do one thing…
Hit North End Road Market. Charmingly unpolished and mostly tourist-free, it celebrates 130 years of service on Saturday September 23 with live music and even more stalls than the usual multitude.
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